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The Prophecy by Lino A.K



“In this world, only a few women will remain with their first husbands till death do them apart.” My uncle told my mother. At that time I was only eight but I remember it very well. Not only the words come to me when I recall this. The cold December weather comes too and I shiver. You can say what you like but yes, I shiver. That northern Bahrelghazal winter rashes back with this memory, a winter without snowfall. Like anything else that uncle ever said, mama agreed with him on this one. I remember nothing more about the conversation but the eighteen words that uncle said that day and the only ones I remember have come to mean a lot to me. The words connected so well with what happened in the same family in which they were said. In a way, I have come to believe it was a prophecy.
    In January of the following year, my aunt took me from our home in Makom village so I could live with her in Aweil town. I hated Aweil. The place was so noisy with calls for prayers by Muezzins. Aunt joked that she felt like walking into a mosque and kicking each of those bottoms tilted upwards in prayer. Of course that was a joke because she was a woman. Men actually kicked the buttocks of those Arabs, especially if they were in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army. It was so boring in a way the five months I spent in Aweil felt like five good years, bad years I think. I looked forward to returning to Makom and when the day came, I was overjoyed. But the problem was, the joy was short lived. If I had actually known what awaited me in Makom, the calls for prayers would have sounded like some sort of rhythmic music.
    When I arrived in my village of Makom, the first rains had just started falling and the grass was green. The goats and donkeys grazed on it. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Beautiful at least until I reached home to be embraced by a four months pregnant woman who was my mother. At first, I took it easy. Maybe father had returned from Khartoum and went back in my absence. But it was an empty consolation. Mama said father had not returned. I was eight but not stupid. I knew a lot of things; I knew that Baba and Mama had to sleep in the same room to make a baby. Older boys always joked, why do Baba and Mama sleep in the same room? and they always answered their own question, to make baby junior! To them it was a joke but to me, it was a precious piece of information. So I was learning, see. But when I saw Mama four months pregnant, I wished I hadn’t learnt anything. Seeing Mama that way sent shock waves into my heart. My heart felt like it was struck by a lighting bolt. I sweated and instantly knew that Baba and Mama would never ever sit down to tell me stories together by the fireplace. My family is ruined, I remember telling myself. The shock was so much that I now feel it would have killed me if I was an old man. Mama released me from her embrace and I was sweating amidst the cold evening breeze of Makom. The sun had yet to go down the horizon and yellow and white butterflies still flew about the green grass in the still uncultivated area of our garden. I used to chase butterflies but that evening, everything seemed dull. The butterflies looked dull and grotesque, like some unknown ghosts in disguise. I felt threatened. In fact even Mama looked like some ugly alien in those movies we used to watch at Paul Malong’s home. Uncle was nowhere to be seen.
    “Mama, where’s uncle.” I asked. Mama smiled (I noticed she was faking it).
    “He has gone back to Madhol to live with his parents,” she said
    “But he was supposed to be here until Baba returned.”
    “Old people change plans, Imma.” Mama said. I said nothing more but another channel of thought had been opened. Uncle Bol, Baba’s younger brother; would it be uncle Bol killing off our family? I did a double take. It was hilarious thinking about uncle doing that. But there was a possibility there, my young brain told me so. Then it came rushing to me, rushing like a waterfall in a mountainous area. I pictured the man who always came to Mama’s restaurant in Allah Kareem market. He always ate his food, paid for it and started bargaining with Mama on something I always missed. Mostly, I found him saying, “Adut please, please!” It was him! I told myself. That tall guy who lived on the other side of Makom swamp and had now relocated to Malualkhon. There was no doubt about it. I went into the house poured a good amount of tears, it always worked. After some minutes, I felt relieved and took a short walk to the neighborhood. Whoever saw me looked at me in a very funny manner. Some of my friends just laughed when they saw me.
    Makom was a village and a small one. Apparently, everybody was aware of what had happened in Chol Deng’s house (Chol Deng is my father’s name). Such a thing was unheard of in Makom. Only girls got pregnant with no clarity of who was responsible. The incident therefore was a misfortune to the elders, a subject of gossip to the women and girls and a comical addition to the boys’ jokes. Even today in Makom if you tell a lady that she looks like Adut Aken, the lady will fight you and the village boys will only laugh. I turned around and walked homeward. I heard someone shout behind me,
    “There goes the son of our village whore.” The words cut sharp into my heart, I sobbed. I did not see who uttered those words but I now think it was Malual Kuel because he repeated the same words sometime later. The phrase soon spread so that the next day when I went to play football at The Makom playground, the boys repeated it in unison. When I dribbled past someone, he would stand still and say out loud, “Why, the son of our village whore is playing so well today! “ They were saying the truth and truth pains. My muscles stiffened. My fists clenched themselves but I wouldn’t fight. It was like being beaten by your your parent. You get annoyed but don’t fight, at least if you have got your sense of reason. As I left the playground, Malual Kuel began to chant, he shouted, “Fat oh, fat belly eh! I wonder where the old man has gone. You could think he comes to swell the belly overnight and back to Khartoum.” Tears rolled down my cheeks uncontrollably but I didn’t feel relieved this time. My face just became hot as if some sort of fire had been lit there. At that moment, I realized Makom was no longer home. I didn’t return home as I didn’t want to look Mama in the face. I footed all the way to Aweil. When I arrived there, aunt did not ask me about why I had walked alone for miles. She just welcomed me. She knows, I remember thinking. I lived in Aweil, listening to the rhythmic music of ‘Allah Warkbar’ five times a day.
    All was well save that sometimes I heard a distant chant while I slept in the dark room; “Fat belly oh, fat belly eh......”
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