The Carcasses in the Desert
By Olatunbosun Adetula (Nigeria)
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
THE CARCASSES IN THE DESERT
By Olatunbosun Adetula (Nigeria)
A black bird flew across the moon, then two helicopters whirled in the dark night sky. The whirred sound of the helicopters’ blade woke the villagers, who came out of their huts frozen with fear. Suddenly the fire began - the helicopters shelled the people from the sky. Men women and little children, their hearts gone out of their bodies - ran helter and skelter all over the village in a cacophony of chaos. The villagers became demoralized as hot lead tore into naked flesh, men fell and women followed suit, and no one came to their rescue as they wailed and died in their sorrow and everlasting pain. Nobody came to help them and their shrieks of terror disappeared with the cold night wind.
The helicopters disappeared into the night like a streak of lightning and then came the terror, like a great lion that crouched in the darkness. Some men appeared, covered in ignominy’s veil and wrath, an A.K 47 dangling on their chests. They rode on fat and well fed horses and camels. They mauled down the faint, weak and helpless villagers with their guns and swords, killing anyone they could find. The women were raped, the little children were killed and livestock and other animals were slaughtered in the thousands. All lay dead on the red, muddy earth. Ralia wailed for her children in the dim light of the serrated moon. One hour later the men disappeared like thieves in the night, leaving a trail of sorrow, tears and blood.
The sun rose over the baobab tree in western Darfur and the smoke of desecrated, ravaged and abandoned huts billowed and formed an arch in the sky. Black skins and grey dusty faces sat against half-baked and damaged huts. Villagers wept and gnashed their teeth in lamentation and agony, crying for nobody but their loved ones who were dead and scattered all over the village.
While the survivors wept and cried in agony, the naked children, their parents gone to the other world, were left in the world of skinny and malnourished children who ran around the piles of hot burnt clay in witches’ chants. Surviving men among them worked and pilled up the dead like a mould of clay. A small group of men stationed in the area to protect the village was overrun by the invaders known as the Janjaweed, a group of Arab militiamen who continued to attack black people living in Darfur even after the end of the two decade war between the north and the south.
As the people died, a few escaped. Among the surviving was Grandpa Yol, a sixty year-old man. Yol watched in misery as the young men piled up corpses of loved ones in the middle of the village. Suddenly like a bolt from the blue, he saw the corpse of his only daughter May, and he wailed in agony.
May was Yol’s only daughter. She was eight months pregnant when the men attacked the village; she and her husband were killed by the rampaging Arab militiamen. Yol went to a corner and sat down. The agony on her face was fathoms deep. Then, as he sat on the stool in front of the burnt hut, he cried and spoke incoherently with nobody but himself. A man sat beside him and tried to pacify him but tears trickled down his wet and sad face.
“I lost everything; I lost my beloved daughter,” Yol wailed in agony and cried. He gnashed his teeth in agony.
“Everybody is dead in the village; we gain nothing but pains and agony,” the man said, crying and watching the distant tree that danced in the melodrama of the early morning wind.
“It’s so painful, Baba. Everyone perished like a dung,” Yol said. In the distance he watched a group of men carry the body to the burial site and tears ran down his face.
“At least you didn’t lose everything; thank God your wife and your grandchildren escaped the pogrom,” Baba said he could see a ray of light on Yol’s face.
Yol stood up and cleaned his anguished face with a dirty cloth from his pocket. He left Baba and went outside. He went to the entrance of the village and looked at the distant hill like a lone man desperate to see his lover. He smiled when he remembered that his wife and grandchild were alive and were not with any of the corpses that the young men wanted to bury at the back of the village. Like Baba said, no one gains anything. He shrugged his shoulder and wiped his face in breathlessness.
His wife Nyot was a clothes seller in the village. She traveled down south to buy the clothes. When she left the market, it was dark so she stayed with one of her relations who lived nearby and that was the singular decision that saved her life. Not only her own, but also her grandson Goi had escaped the pogrom.
Nyot loved Goi ever since her mother gave birth to him. She hardly let May take care of the baby; everyday she would take the child from the mother and play with him till the break of dawn.
Yol cleaned his face, looking in the distance for his wife. Yol had lost his perky self lately; his happiness was gone with the wind. At least, now the assurance that he would see his wife submerged his former pain.
Nyot’s strength snapped like summer wind when she saw billowed of smoked over the village. She had a discontented look because she knew she would never see her people again as she looked at the sky. The driver of the small car was shocked, too, when he saw the smoke. He stopped the car suddenly. In their hearts they knew something terrible had happened in the village. They hadn’t expected it, even during the civil war, as the village had not been attacked. As the car moved to the village and sent gusts of white sand to the sky, Nyot spoke to the bangles on her left wrist.
As the arid air drove the smoke away and the white sandy dust danced to the blue sky, Nyot wept uncontrollably when she was told about the calamity that had befallen the village. She became inconsolable; it pained her so much that she lost her only daughter. Yol tried to give her confidence but she became weak in his embrace.
The men dug a large pit behind the village and buried their dead. Two days later, the villagers coordinated themselves and repaired and built the damaged hut that looked like a moth cocoon. Inside the small hut, Nyot spoke to the bangles on her wrist. She worshipped the bangles religiously. She was from the Zagawa ethnic group. In her family line the bangles was said to possess mysterious power, so it was compulsory that everyone wore it.
Goi looked at his granny’s face when she slipped the bangles onto his tiny wrist and rubbed them with a dark ointment. Nyot rubbed the ointment upon Goi’s head. She nodded to him and he ran out of the hut.
As Yol lay on a mat inside the small hut, he couldn’t sleep. He knew the militiamen would return to the village very soon. He stood up and went outside, where he saw some groups of men keeping watched over the village. He greeted them and went to sit in front of his small hut.
As months went by, many of the African villages in Darfur were raided by the militiamen. Many of the black and tribal people flew away like a dream and like straw before the wind.
In Kiba, western Darfur, the people’s occupation was farming. They practiced a lot of traditional farming in the arid region. Goi had grown to be a big boy. At twelve he ran around the neighbourhood with his friends. The local schools in Kiba were run by an international nongovernmental organization, but because of the spate of attacks, many of them went back to their country. Goi was very intelligent; the teachers were fond of him.
Presently Goi was not happy. He was particularly flabbergasted when he saw a lot of people trooping into the village daily. Everyone ran from the militiamen. In the north, the people were bruised, weak and hungry. Some of them, the returned people, had flashes of sadness and frowns on their faces. Many of the men had wounds in several parts of their body.
Yol explained to Goi that the people were driven from their homes by the Janjaweed. The village was populated, the escapees were many and there were flashed of skirmishes between the indigenous villagers and those that escaped the pang of war.
There were rapes, stealing and abuses at night. One day when Goi returned from the farm he sat down and wept. The extremes poverty of his people touched him. All over the village, the desert had encroached on the farmlands and many crops withered off. Granny Nyot had no fertilizer to spread on her farm. Still she tilled the land all day long under the scotching African sun, her dark face dripping with agonized sweat. Sometimes Goi wandered around the surrounding farmland and looked for foliage for the donkey. Sometimes he got lucky and found some but at other times he went home empty-handed.
The village became boisterous with people trooping there on a daily basis, so the elders in the village held a meeting and Grandpa Yol was made the paramount leader of the village .He was ordered to restore order and discipline and also to punish offenders. As the population grew, new huts were built. A young man called Amun was mandated by the elders to assist pa Yol.
One day in the night, Yol stood in front of a large hut that the villagers built for him, when he looked at the sky, he saw a black bird flew across the moon, he shook his head he knew the Janjaweed would attack another village. Goi came to his side and touched him. When Goi looked at Yol on the face, he saw sadness and fear written across the old man face.
“What happen to you Grandpa?” Goi asked when he saw the concern in the old man face.
“Nothing is wrong with me my son.” Yol said and his voice cracked.
“Okay grandpa.” Goi said.
“Look guy, take these tubers of yam, go and give it to Baba.” Yol said and gave the yam to him.
Ten minutes later, Goi rode a donkey to Baba’ house, when he got there he gave the tubers of yam to the old man. The man thanked him and he climbed the donkey and went home. On his way he saw two men, they ran after a girl and soon caught up with the her, later one of the men carried the girl on her feet and raised her upon his shoulder, the man carried the little girl into an abandoned hut and his second followed .Goi got down from the donkey and ran after the two men, the two men were about to defile the girl when he saw them and he raised an alarm. He shouted with a loud voice and many of the villagers heard him.
The two men left the girl in the abandoned hut and ran outside, they were caught by the villagers as they made attempt to run away, when they were interrogated they discovered they were among the many people that came from the northern village, they were taken away and kept in a make shift prison behind the village. After the men were caught, Goi went to the little girl and helped her on her feet; the girl wept and thanked Goi. Goi held her in the hand and took her to the donkey and they both rode home.
As they went home, Goi looked at her face and asked her of her name.
“What is the name?” Goi asked and looked at the girl innocent face.
“My name is Moi.”
When they got closer to a hut, Goi saw her mother, she had wept all day long, and when she saw her on the donkey with Goi, the happiness on her face was divine. She ran to the donkey.
“Moi, Moi, Moi, my beloved daughter.” the woman wept and shouted as she ran toward the donkey. Goi came down from the donkey when she got to them, he helped Moi got down, Moi mother was too happy, she embraced her beloved daughter and kissed her many times. She wondered where she was all this while.
The woman looked at Goi and smiled, she questions her daughter.
“Who is this boy?” her mother asked her.
“Goi, he is the one who rescue me.” Moi said gently.
She told her mother how two men accosted her and made attempt to rape her and how Goi rescued her from the fang of the two evil men. The woman cried. She knelt down and thanked Goi many times for rescuing her daughter from the two evil men.
“Thank you my son.” the woman said and coughed. The woman invited Goi into her small hut.
Later Goi and Moi developed fondness for each other, they were always seen together. Two years later as the war raged in north Darfur, the unexpected happen; Moi mother fell sick, a local doctor came to treat her; he gave her a lot of herbs and her condition remained stable.
The news from the north disturbed a lot of people and Grandpa Yol especially, and nobody could sleep in the entire village. In the middle of the night, rockets of explosion tore into the village and disturbed the solitude. People left the village in droves, moving toward the southern part of the country.
As things became difficult and people moved out of the village in droves, Moi and Goi grew fond of each other. Any time that Nyot saw them together she would smile and pray that their friendship last forever.
One day in June Goi was asleep when he was suddenly awakened. He stood up and peeped out of the window. Seeing some men behind the window, he talked with them in hushed tones. The men came in large trucks. Later they worked and unloaded several cartons of steel boxes into the hut. Goi got to know the men later. They were the SPLA soldiers, with trucks painted with the colours of the Sudan People Liberation Army. In the morning when it was still dark, Goi tiptoed to the back of the hut where the soldiers kept all the boxes.
He fumbled with the lock of one of the boxes. Suddenly it opened. Goi was shocked to find the guns neatly arranged inside the box. Two weeks later the soldiers crossed their village into the north.
Amun watched as the soldiers left the village and he counted the remaining steel boxes inside the hut. Amun was appointed by the villagers to assist Yol. He was a young man still in his early thirties. He was broad, tall and muscular. He lost his wife a few years ago. She had been in labour for thirty-six hours. The only maternity shelter was built in the early fifties by the colonial master and was now dysfunctional and located in another village. Amun was taking his wife to the maternity centre about ten kilometers away on a motorcycle when he had an accident. The road was bad and inaccessible, and sadly the motorcycle fell down and went down on the road. While Amun had a fracture in his left hand, his wife didn’t make it and she died before any help could reach her.
Amun’s world fell apart when his wife died. He became a shadow of himself and pined away. He was a sad man until he met a beautiful damsel, Mary. Amun and Mary came to love each other, and Mary that brought excitement into his life.
One day Mary came to visit Amun in the night. They sat on a mat inside the hut and discussed their future together. Goi was inside the hut too. Amun thought Goi was asleep but, unknown to him, Goi cottoned onto all what they said. Goi saw Mary remove her brassiere in the dim light inside the hut, her fresh and beautiful mound of flesh dangling like coronets. Mary was ripe like a green tree in its native soil.
Mary was lascivious; Amun drew her close to himself and laid her on the mat. Minutes later he fell on her and sent passion down her veins and they slept tight as she felt him, Mary moaned silently as she felt him inside of herself, Amun was strong as Mary moaned and begged him for more. As they fought on the mat like wild jackals, Goi woke up. He couldn’t control his manliness again, so it peaked and was ready to burst. He held on to it and Mary saw his condition in the dim light inside the mud house. Mary pointed at Goi and Amun saw it.
“Look at your brother; he is so strong.” Mary said in a whisper and stared at Goi as his phallus rose.
“He is still sleeping; don’t wake the little man.” Amun said and kissed Mary on the lips. Goi was behind him and he could not contain himself.
Goi heard their ecstasy as they made love and it pumped adrenaline into his heart. As their moans disappeared with the cold night wind, Goi could not sleep.
At daybreak Goi was still on the mat. Amun went to Grandpa Yol’s house, as Goi slept on the mat, dreaming Moi. He used his hand to hold his manhood. When Mary saw the way Goi acted on the mat, she went beside him and slept on the mat by his side. Goi suddenly woke up, surprised to find Mary by his side, so he made attempt to speak, Mary closed his mouth with a kiss. She unzipped his trousers, Goi was happy when Mary touched him. Mary pushed him to the mat and fell on him; she guided him into herself and twisted her hip toward him. She knew he was a novice, so she helped him, Goi felt her as they met, and Mary rode him and each thrust brought joy and happiness into his heart.
Goi didn’t believe his luck; he thought it was a dream. He hadn’t expected it to come true too soon. Her body was hot, sweet and great. Goi felt the taste of heaven. It was so deep and so true, and nothing could ever be compared to it. He felt no guilt as Mary turned him around and they kissed, as they held to each other. Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, Amun opened the door. Goi was startled when he saw Amun; Amun was in shock when he saw Goi and Mary in nakedness on the mat .Amun ran toward Goi with deep anger.
“You did this to me, you bastard,” Amun shouted. He took a cutlass behind the door and ran toward Goi. Goi, alert like a ferret, jumped out through the window in fear and ran as fast as his legs could carry him .Later Goi and Amun became bitter enemies. The situation turned piquant later when the two men became rivals in love, Mary always visited Goi whenever Yol wasn’t around.