From the quil of a first time novelist; a short gothic sotry about a young teenager and the darkness inside her
Kamshinen Obadiah Golu is an indigene of Kanke local Government, Plateau State. The author bagged his LL.B in 2019 from the prestigious Faculty of Law, University of Jos. He is currently a student at the Nigerian Law School, Kano Campus. His hobbies are football, listening to music and writing of poetry. Vanilla Villains is his first book.
One last shrill cry of agony and pain, and alas it was dead, slaughtered by its owners. A tear came to Nenlap’s eyes but it was a Pharisee tear though the hen has been part of the family for long and was almost considered and treated as a human being, it was still a hen. She had mixed emotions; she was happy and sad at the same time. She was sad because she grew fond of the bird, on the other hand she was happy because there was going to be meat and she was eager to devour the flesh, ribs and every part of its carcass. meat was seldom available, but this was the 24 of December, the eve of Christmas, the voices in her head were all screaming “Tomorrow we feast!”.
After the execution, she picked her pot and was off to fetch water, on her way to the stream all she could think of was the Christmas celebration, Christmas was her favorite holiday, the fun, meat, food and drinks, it was a season of plenty and generous giving, everyone shared, the rich and poor alike, for love was in the air. The water at the stream was crystal, you could see the pebbles underneath, it was the only source of water in Dungung village, Kanke local government area of Plateau State, and thank the heavens it was there because if it hadn’t, all the people of the village will have to quench their thirst will be the thousand un-kept promises of boreholes by politicians, this promises never saw the light of day, they were all trick cards employed to get votes from the electorates during elections, it’s pathetic, but this is the system!. Balancing the earthen pot on her head she made to begin her journey home, when a voice called out,
“Haba Nen my friend, you left for water and didn’t even call on me to go with you” She knew the voice, it was overly familiar, a voice she has heard a thousand of times, she turned around and replied mockingly;“ I thought you only make friends with those from the city”
She was referring to Ritmwa’s cousin that arrived few days ago from Jos, Ritmwa chuckled, made to fill her pot and after filling it to the brim, they began their journey home. The road from the stream back to the village was narrow and stony, a lot of pots have met their disastrous end on this very path, thousands of Baobab trees lined up both sides of the road, these clusters of trees gave the name T“ ori ” to this particular part of the area in the village. The girls chatted and made plans on how they were going to enjoy every single minute of this Christmas, last year was fun but this year was going to be legendary. There is going to be a cultural show after the Christmas service Ritmwa informed Nenlap, it’s the talk of the town
Who is organizing it? Nenlap ignorantly asked, “Who else but our very own Ngolong, Ritmwa replied. They got to the end of the path leading from the stream, the road ahead was a snake’s tongue, it forked out two paths, one to the left and the other to the right, the girls bade their goodbyes and each took a path leading home. Nenlap continued alone on her journey home, as she drew nearer, she could hear the goats bleating from her father’s compound even before she stepped in. Her father was seated at the foot of his hut, smoking on his pipe and immersed in his thoughts, there was a pot over the fireplace, it was boiling hot and was threatening to take the lid off, it must be the chicken over there she thought to herself, and then proceeded to carefully put down her pot of water in one corner of the hut. Nde Silas Golkitda’s compound was not a palace, two huts with thatched roof faced each other, there was a third that stood apart from the rest like the proud Golden goose, it was reserved for visitors, a pen for the goats and a R“ umbu ” to the far left, it was not much but this was home for her, it was all she had known from birth.
That evening’s meal was one of the best they had that year, part of the saucy water that boiled the meat was used in preparing the spinach soup, and little pieces of meat were thrown in as bonus by her mother. Nde watched as she swallowed her food with gusto, morsel after morsel ofTuwo , the way she ate hurriedly one will think she had not eaten for a week and was starving, almost at the verge of death.
“Are you okay?” He asked, she shook her head responding in the negative, “come and eat with me he offered”, he didn’t have to offer for the second time, the invite was much welcomed.
She rushed to his side and continued the party. He smiled andpatted her head, you are not eating she said, go on child I don’t have an appetite. Nana as he fondly calls her which meant mother in the Ngas Dialect, like Isaac in the bible, she was the child of his old age, thirty years of marriage and no child, he had given up all hopes of a child and made peace with himself. Until 13 years ago in the middle of September, his wife Nawok broke the pleasant news to him; she had not seen her period for two consecutive months. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” He asked full of joy he lifted her up and danced around with her in the air. Nawok explained that she was not sure it was pregnancy and did not want to raise his hopes only to later plunge him back into misery over a false alarm. He loved this child and doted on her, he didn’t have much but he ensured she had everything she needed. He enrolled her in the village’s L.G.E.A primary school, a waste of money his peers called it, in their opinion a girl should stay in her father’s compound and learn how to cook and take care of the home until she is ripe for marriage, educating a girl child was a waste of resources, resources he should have used to get himself a younger wife, probably the same age as his daughter. But Nde Silas was not a man moved by opinions, he knew the value of education, having been taught by the white man himself, in the spell of two short years he attended primary school. He was baptized Silas by the British and thus he had great reverence for the church and School.
The next morning was Christmas, the D-day. Nenlap barely slept the night before, she was up and doing, and was half way through her chores before the rooster alerted the neighborhood that dawn has broken. She was filled with excitement which flipped into a bask of euphoria when her mother told her to go and deliver a plate of the Christmas rice and some pieces of meat to her grandmother, and on her way back stop by old Soja’s compound, the village’s only tailor to collect her Christmas dress. The news brought great joy to her as she was unaware that such an arrangement has been made and was already planning to wear her old Christmas cloth from two years back.
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