Novel: 'Throes of Agony' - Chapter Two

The home was a small one contained two single rooms, a toilet and a small yard. The house was built from red earth and roofed with thatched.

 By Musaddam Idriss Musa 

Chapter Two

Aisa lived with her parents in a small, moderately grown village of Yanda; a beautiful, little busy village which served as headquarter and center for local market to the surrounding hamlets.

Yanda is located in the suburb of Jalam about three miles away from the city's central area. The hamlet stood in the center of three other small villages and shared boarder to the east with a great river known as amu manep, ‘the sweetened river’ because of the good taste of that river as the people claimed. The river served as the people's main source of water; they washed, bathed and fetched home for domestic works.

People in Yanda hamlet are merely farmers and the most privileged of them practiced irrigation farming. The hamlet is blessed with huge, rich green fields for growing all cereals and many other crops like maize, rice, sorghum, millet, groundnut, cotton, sesame and wheat. There were plenty of fruit trees grown in many places of the hamlet. Yanda looked more like a garden for its green wealth. In between the trees, lie the muddy huts of the villagers, a mile distance from their farms.

The village is besieged by a thick, dark forest which the natives hunt bush meats which they either sell or carried home to their family. Other hamlets closed to Yanda were Yaayu, Kurkur and the Kalam village.

Although only a small village, Yanda had a primary school built for the people in the entire arena. Despite the fact that very few children could attend the school and though there were no school fees demanded to admit a child, yet, the villagers with the exception of few considered it more important for their children to become good farmers than going to school. Also, there is a local market in the village, the biggest in the area with visitors coming from distant places to either buy or sell goods.

On Wednesdays, the market day, the village received many strangers from near and far away towns who would come for the market with their goods overloaded on old wooden Lorries which moved slowly like chameleon alarmed from afar by their noisy, rattled sounds.

Aisa's home stood towards the outskirts of the village, a mile and half to the village central compound. The home was a small one contained two single rooms, a toilet and a small yard. The house was built from red earth and roofed with thatched. Inside the house was a big neem tree which covered the top of the house and provided enough shelter for them. The only path to the village crossed to their door step. Also, in the backyard was a mango tree which produced fruits.

Almost every time, the house received strange visitors from the people passing by whom usually beseeched drinking water to quench their thirst from the long foot journey. Apart from that small house, Aisa's family also possessed a small farmland near the river bank, a mile distance from their home.

Aisa's father, Malam Ari is a man of advanced years. He was once a small farmer and wood seller before he became blind. He was a kind and very humble man. He lived in peace with all his kinsmen and that made him became much respected.

Malam Ari was a very experienced and learned man. He was among the most acknowledged Islamic scholars living in the village. He had spent most of his life time seeking Islamic education before he finally got married to his teacher's daughter, Majiya Ndivu with whom they lived happily given birth to Madi and Aisa.

Once, a long time ago, when Ari was in his fifties, an incident occurred which made the day unforgettable to him and indeed all his loved ones.

It was on Monday; Ari woke up from sleep at the first crow of the cockerel which always raced the village adhan who usually made called to morning Salaat. 

“Allahu Akbar... Allahu Akbar!” The adhan’s voice echoes into the hushed village. Malam Ari rose to his feet and washed his face, then took proper ablution and went to the mosque.

After the usual Morning Prayer, Ari set off to his farm with his axe over his right shoulder holding a janjamiya in his left hand. He was going to clear the land and fetch some firewood for the morning breakfast. By then their two children Aisa and Madi were extremely young to help with such task.

In the grey light of the dawn walked Ari, his feet crushing against the fallen dried leaves given noisy crashed sounds as he gently paced on the leafy ground.

Soon, he arrived at the farm, a mile distance trip from his home. He moved straightly toward an old mango tree in the center of the farm, one of its branches had already desiccated for a very long time and had stopped producing any fruit. After reaching to the tree, Ari hangs his axe on the dried branch and begins to climb up the tree. 

Regrettably! There was a hidden snake lying on top of the tree and one of Ari’s hands was placed over its tail unknowing of its presence. The snake gave him a festering attack on feeling the pain in order to defend itself. As luck would have it, the poison spread from its mouth reached to his eye. He quickly released the branch he was climbing and fell down by his back hitting the ground.

 “Yawai Idaunau! Idaunau!” Ari shouted to the pain. He rolled over and over on the farm ridges, his hands on his face wiping the eyes.

A neighbor to his farm Malam Bazam who was just passing by walking to his farm heard Ari’s groans. He quickly ran to his aid carrying a cutlass in his hand. When he found out what had happened to his friend, Malam Bazam took him home on his shoulder and explained the misfortune to his wife.

The trouble experienced that day became the bedrock of changing their fate. Everything seemed twisted for them especially Ndivu who is burdened to do all the things now without assistance.

Jaji, the traditional herbalist living in the village suggested after trying effortlessly that they took Ari to Kalam hamlet; there exist a famous ndirama who could help with the cure of such poison.

“Firstly, I must know the type of snake that bites him…” said Dambe the herbalist. “…though you said it was a cobra but I doubt why the herbs I gave him hadn't yields any result yet…” His voice sounded annoyed. 

“…He must have vomited the poison if the snake was really the cobra. Now I advised that you hurriedly take him to Saban, the great herbalist. He lives in a small thatch hut at the outskirts of Kalam, tell him that I send you to him he will give you all the necessary assistance. Go now…get to the place on time else all the attempts to have his eyes back would end up in vain.” The herbalist concluded.

Ndivu on hearing his words became so much worried. She would love to help her beloved husband recovered his eyes but she had no means of getting the money for taking him to such a distant place. Finally, she decided to sell all the little few belongings she had and gather the money that journey.

The following morning, Ndivu gathered all her belongings; an old sleeping mattress with one pillow, two clay pots leaving behind a single small gabi reserved for cooking the family’s meal, her recent sewn local curtains and a mat. She also brought out their recent made dresses of the previous Eid-ul-fitr festival from her old acaku and tied them inside the headscarf which she spread over the ground. She then called a middleman and sold him all the belongings. Yet, the money wasn’t half of what she required for the journey to look for her husband’s medication.

So the only thing she could do further was to seek the assistance of their fellow villagers. But to her amazement no one had volunteered to give her a kobo although they were very concerned to her. She had already known that it will be too difficult to get the villagers came to her aid because it was end of a summer season where everyone’s hope was to gather his money for hiring a tractor or oxen to plow their farms. Had it been it wasn't money she requested they would have all assembled and help her. But whenever it comes to money, especially in such situations the villagers became too parsimonious and thrifty.

Ndivu's only alternative now was to either sit backward and watched her husband became blind or sell their only treasure, the small farmland. She therefore approached Malam Ari and suggested that they sold the farmland and search for his health but the old Malam Ari rejected the idea until when the Ndivu began to show her angst that he finally agreed in order to avoid conflicts between them and that was a week long. By then Ndivu had collapsed in the throes of agony for never knowing what might happened to her husband after taking him to Saban, the great.

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