Aggiornamento: 13 feb 2020
Tantinga, a little village in a lost region of Western Africa, is struck by a series of mysterious events. Where did it start? Where will it lead? No one can tell. But one man - Mansu - is determined to survive and save his family at all cost.
The rays of the sun smiled gently on the green grasses, herbs, trees and the dusty gravel road. Mansu and his two wives were returning from the farm on his donkey cart. Nabou and Mba were sitting on the sides of the cart facing the tall wet grasses and singing melodious songs whilst their husband sat at the steering beating the donkey repeatedly to speed homewards. It was Nabou who first realised that the grasses were shaking violently as if someone was paving his way hastily out of the bush. She stopped singing and whispered to Mba. She, in turn, whispered to Mansu who was vividly concentrating on the road and the movement of the donkey. He slowed down and eased the donkey and the cart to a stop on the roadside. He jumped down and went into the bush. What Mansu saw not only baffled him but surprised him as well. Hundreds of different animals, both predator and prey were crisscrossing heading out of the bush as if they were tormented by something Mansu did not see nor comprehend. He headed back to the donkey cart and they continued their journey home.
That night Mansu’s donkey remained restless. It had made several attempts to escape but the rope it was tied to was too strong to break. However, many domestic animals ran out of the village before daybreak. Even Mba was surprised to not see a single rat in the house barn that was infested with the rodents. Something quite sinister and utterly strange was happening she thought to herself. Early that morning, the village elders assembled in the village square to share their experiences of the evening and the night that followed after they were summoned by the town crier. It was discovered that all the animals that were untied actually escaped. News quickly diffused into the village that even animals from the surrounding villages left!. “Animals are sensitive to natural calamities said Masaneh, one of the village’s eldest. “We must get prepared to leave for what might follow could spell doom for the whole village” Masaneh concluded. The rest of the elders nodded in agreement with fear and complete discomfort clearly visible in their eyes.
There was panic and confusion all over. Where do we go Nabou? asked her husband. Mansu looked at his three children including two-year-old Nano, his house and his donkey. In his state of confusion, he held his head with both hands with his gaze stuck to the earth below his feet “somewhere and anywhere, definitely not here” he replied to Nabou with a deep frown registered on his face. His mind was completely disoriented, He couldn't think of anything sensible. “What about our farm?, we have finished weeding and the crops are doing very well,” said Mba. “I wish we could sell the farm and the donkey with the cart to Jula the businessman and migrate but everyone is planning to leave,” said Mansu , we don’t have a choice, we must forget all we laboured for and leave before it's too late Mansu concluded.
The glorious sun rose and fell, giving birth to the usually cold night. However, tonight was widely different. A strange heat wave hovered over the entire village of Tantinga. Mansu and his two wives could not sleep in their thatched huts. This was indicative of the beginning of a series of unexplainable events that embraced the village.
Nabou was the first to raise the alarm. She went to the back yard to take a bath with the water she fetched the previous evening. She undressed and used the bathing calabash and poured some water on her body, shoulder down.
Mba abruptly sprang up from her wooden bed, woken by screams orchestrating from the back yard. She immediately rushed there to see what was happening and found Nabou lying naked on the ground with vapour rising from her body as if she was just from an oven. Mba quickly grabbed a wrapper hanging on a tree branch nearby, wrapped Nabou and ran to call Mansu. Mansu arrived almost immediately and the two found Nabou trying to stand up and helped her back to her room. The water was so hot that it mildly burnt Nabou on her left shoulder.
What occurred in Mansu’s compound had repeatedly occurred in other compounds as women and children attempted to cool down their body temperatures when warm air got seriously disturbed. Shouting, crying and lamentations could be heard everywhere. As the night grew old, silence ushered tranquillity over the four corners of Tantinga. Darkness gradually gave way to light and activity as dawn approached. Daybreak, however, was not welcomed by roosters, most of them died of the night's heat and the remaining few were negotiating with death to allow them pick the few remaining grains left around the compound. Mansu lay in his bed looking blankly at the roof of his thatched hut as if he was reading some major solution to the problem at hand.
[To be continued...]