Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Goat that did not Eat the Potato Leaves

Segbwema 
It was a hot day in Segbwema. The sun's heat radiated in visible waves off the old asphalt. Most of the grass was dead, a crumpled mess, disintegrating into fine dust.

It was the end of the dry season and even the town's major stream, the river Nyeya, a tributary of the great Maleh river was drying up, the brown water down to the base of the stream bed, flowing sluggishly like a lazy python that had just swallowed a prized catch, meandering over the ancient rocks that formed the foundation on which the bridge dividing Segbwema into Taiama and Kono town was built.

The primary school pupils no longer went to MM Kallon after school to swim. MM Kallon,  the deepest part of of the river Nyeya was dry, and the hard rocks were visible on the river's bed. There was no place to swim.

Kinie Sipo Kpandeyengay was looking for his old Goat. He was not originally from Segbwema. Some said he was from Blama, a small dusty town off the main Bo-Kenema highway. It was said that in Blama, the small small boys had very little respect for their elders. In Blama, it was rumored, even the cockroaches were so proud that the sparrows lived in awe of them. The cockroaches in Blama were prouder than the birds.

Others said Kinie Sipo came from Nyandehun Mababway, a small village in Kailahan of people who thought they were the most educated.  In Nyandehun, even the primary school pupils thought they were the most educated in the world. The only book that was compulsory in Class 7, was the Oxford English Dictionary. Any pupil finishing class 7 who had not memorized all the words in the Oxford dictionary up to letter Q, was disowned by the town's inhabitants for bringing shame and disrepute upon them. This was not even Giehun Luawa.

Still, some other people said that Kinie Sipo came from Bo town, that sprawling southern metropolis where the great Bo School was located. Where Jesus Christ told the Catholic fathers to build his college. Where the great engineers from the south first learnt to do integration and differentiation.
Important people came from Bo, ambitious people, honorable people. Almost everybody who grew up in Bo was a chief. There were so many chiefs in Bo that even the town crier and town drummer were chiefs. The rest wanted to be Presidents. Since Independence,  in every multiparty election in Sierra Leone, there would be a candidate who was either from Bo or went to school in Bo. It just had to happen.

The oldest woman in Bo said it was the water that ran under the town. Whoever drank from Bo's water wells would feel important until the day they died, even those who were just smart, but not very clever. The old woman was right. In Bo, even the poor people were important.  Bo has the greatest number of important poor people in all of Sierra Leone. They were good people,  fine people, and their daughters were beautiful.

The old goat did not care where Kinie Sipo came from, it was a goat,  and did not care about such things. All the goat cared about was grass. But this year the rains had been late to come and the grass had all dried up in Segbwema. The orange pills strewn carelessly on the streets were so hard and tough that it was better to chew on paper.

Kinie Sipo's goat was an old animal, it did not have the teeth to chew anything strong. But it was also a wise goat, and stayed away from plastic. Plastic was soft, but it had killed many sheep, in and around Segbwema.

While Kinie Sipo looked for his goat, the old goat was running towards Holy Ghost, the Catholic secondary school near  the old railroad to Kenema. The goat had smelt some fresh, succulent, mouthwatering potato leaves. The smell drifted slowly the air from the direction of Principal Ngombu's house. The goat was a wise goat. It had seen principal Ngombu's old Volkswagen drive by. It would never forget that Volkswagen, the vehicle had almost killed the old goat two weeks ago. Now, whenever it heard the loud sound of the trusty old engine,  it ran like there was no tomorrow. Whoever said goats could not run, has never been to Segbwema. Kinie Sipo's goat was old, but it could still run.

The goat came to the garden plot containing the fresh, succulent, mouthwatering potato leaves. The leaves stretched for as long as the eyes could see. Alas, there was a fence surrounding the potato leaves all around the garden plot. The goat ran along the length of the potato plot, but the fence was all around. There was not even a single opening to squeeze in. The old goat hated these Holy Ghost students. How could they do this, build a fence and not leave even one tiny hole?

The old goat tried to jump the fence. On the first try, it went up halfway. It became convinced it could do it. On the second try it fell so hard that it's stomach sounded like a loud drum on the tough concrete. But it would not give up. It rested for three minutes, goat time, and decided to try again.

This time it went  backwards a considerable distance and the came forward with full speed before it made the leap. The old goat almost cleared the fence, but it was just an inch too high and the goat fell all the way down. Unfortunately this time, it landed on its testicles. The pain was so intense that tears streamed down the sides of the goat's face. It was a marvel, seeing a goat cry. But nobody saw the goat cry, nobody was around.

The goat limped back home, hungrier than ever.

"Maybe," the goat thought, " those potato leaves were just fresh, but were not even sweet."

"Maybe," the goat continued to think, "not only were they not sweet,  they could have even been poisonous. They must be poisonous,  otherwise why did they have to build a fence so high? I am lucky I did not even eat those potato leaves. They surely were poisonous."

Kinie Sipo's old goat limped home, the pain in its testicles still intense. It was still very hungry, but also very happy that it did not eat those poisonous potato leaves that grew on the fenced garden plot in Holy Ghost.

By the time the goat got home,  it was sure that it had made the right decision. Thank God it had not eaten those potato leaves. It would surely have been dead by now!

Sheku Sheriff -An adaptation of an old tale.

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