The Dying Body Chronicles 16: YOURS ETERNALLY
The eternal movement, the moon, the silver in the puddles, intermingle like faceless shadows dancing in the barely lit arena of my mind. It is a disordered place, where anything can be dangerous. Where words birthed can be no less carnal or primal than the body that does the deed. You should know that words are crude objects even in the most eloquent tongue, as long as the mind is delinquent enough.
In the mire of all that above, i rise to the occasion, i rub the faded flowers on my lapel with my thumb, feed the bird perched on the broken window swinging in the evening breeze, light my pipe & listen to the news on the old radio sharing the shelf with old books that trap dust & cobwebs for the cleaning lady every weekend. Someone must be about their business while i sit here, marinated, wrinkled, aging well. I guess any lie i tell now will be acceptable. I have age as my defence. I cannot lie.
The rains have left the earth parched, her throat stretched into the wind, her tongue lapping the dust in gasps. She must be fed with something & if there’s no water then there’s blood. When has the earth ever rejected blood or meat? When has she declared herself sated & pushed the tray of our traumas from her face? The cattle herders were the first to raise the cry. Someone had been coming to milk the cows at night. That was bad but understandable. Now someone was coming to drain the blood from the cows as well. The cows were dying & the herders didn’t know what to do. I was wringing my boxer shorts over the wash basin when the first screams reached my hearing.
The herders accused the farmers for stealing their cows, milk & blood. The farmers claimed that the cows had drank the little water left in the stream that fed the whole community. I was pressing my trouser when the sound of gun fire reached me. It was not the ordinary dane guns favoured by the hunters. It sounded like machine guns, something only a policeman or a soldier on duty would have. It was terrible the sound that frittered through my space.
I did not come out. I said it is none of my business. I am not a farmer or a cattle herder. I am a prospector. I sell ideas. I cleaned my suit well then dressed myself for the night. I had a meeting with the councillor of the ward. My clients were looking to invest in the possibility of finding gold in the lands about the community. I was there to ensure that the community leaders saw reason & the youths were pacified. A war between farmers & herders had nothing to do with me. We may share the sacred trust of the earth but while they battled for what was above, i am more concerned with what lived beneath. I opened my door & met mayhem.
Houses were burning; you could taste grief in air & hear the mad cackle of fire in the sky. It was a lurid picture dressed in pain. I coughed & the smoke tore my eyes open with tears. I forgot the path to my meeting point. I had not known that the fight was this bad. I wandered through the smoke & ash, listening to mothers call after their husbands, lovers call after their children. It felt as if this world had collapsed into itself.
I managed to arrive at the train station, a few metres from the restaurant where i was supposed to meet with the councillor. There was a crowd there. I pushed through & found the why. On the ground was my daughter kneeling & the councillor lying. The councillor was dead. They were both naked. It made no sense. I stumbled to my daughter’s slight frame & even as i held to her, a scream wetted the night. It was the councillor’s wife;
“The bitch! The Bitch! She killed him! She has killed my husband!”
I looked from her to my daughter. She was in a daze, her eyes vacant as my heart. I rose & lifted her with me. Some young men demanded that i step away so they can deal with the witch. The councillor’s wife was throwing herself on the macadam, as if dementia had eaten into her. Some men held her & attempted to stop her. I just kept on walking away from the gathering mob. If i speak, i will die. If i stop, i will die. I moved with my daughter until we got outside the crowd. I guess my age, my hard face & the fact that i am a tall man checked some of their bloodlust. Maybe they were not as riled up. Maybe the fire & smoke & the grief it caused made it difficult for them to be angry. Maybe the gods were on my side that night.
I took my daughter to a corner that was yet untorched. There was no water to wake her to her senses. I slapped her arm but she gave no reaction. What was she doing in this town? What was she doing naked with a married man’s body? I pulled off my shirt & covered her body then i tore the earth open on the side, pulled her through gently & shutting the rift, moved.
In my room, i placed my daughter in the bathtub, opened the rift to a hot spring several miles away & proceeded to bathe her with the hot water. She barely made a sound, her eyes fixed on whatever horror that lingered in her mind. I had to manage the water. My powers are not what they used to be.
When I was done, I picked the transmitter on the table & switched it on. Kabir came on immediately.
“It is done,” i said.
“Good. Let them focus on that mess for a while. We can move to the second phase,” he replied.
“I need to fix something personal. It will take some days,” i said.
“You have until Friday,” he replied.
I nodded even though he could not see me. I turned to check my daughter & there she was standing, staring at me, her body on fire but not burning.
“what did you do, papa?” she asked.
“Broke the world again, what else?” i asked.
“You beast!” she screamed as she sent all that fire towards me.
I welcomed the fire into my bones. They healed the scars & tears of centuries of fighting the same old fight. I dove into her & we burst into the bathroom, breaking the bathtub. The fire bursting from her pores flared as anger pulled on her powers. I am more focused but this was going to be a long fight. I sighed, opened the rift & dragged a spear from the other place. She attacked & we merged in our eternal hate & love for who & what we are.