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Cro-magnon Episode 4

Aggiornamento: 13 feb 2020

Tantinga mourns the death of Nabou. What will this mean of Mansu? Is all hope lost?

Mansu walks slowly on the grass-covered sidewalk of the road leading home. His mind holding a decent grip on the sequel of unfortunate events that have so far ravaged Tantinga. How will I explain this to my wives? What will my family eat? How can this happen to me? Mansu ponders as he folds his arms on his slow walk home. I shall attend today’s meeting and consult chief Mbali and elders he thought, bringing his mind to a temporal rest. A gnat flies by and lands on Mansu’s shoulder. With rage and the little strength he has left, Mansu swats the fly as if it was the equation of all his problems at hand. Mansu now decides to pace up, reach home and get his family prepared for the afternoon meeting and any subsequent decisions that will be taken.

At the great lake Wassadou, Mba’s eyes are swollen red. She has been crying for two hours as she holds her co-wife’s body in her arms. Her exquisitely woven grayish-white wrapper turned black, stained with dirt. Mba has never felt so devastated in her life. This is grief of epic proportions. Singing a folk song she always sang when she was little, Mba drags Nabou’s body up the sloppy edge of the lake and carries her on her back. As she slowly walks away from Wassadou under the weight of Nabou, a trail of blood follows. Mba continues crying as she thinks of the joyful conversation she and Nabou had on their way to the great lake. A conversation that proved to be their last before catastrophe struck. Weakened in the legs and arms, Mba loses her grip on Nabou’s body and falls on the ground. She looks up to the dark clouds above her, ‘’why gods?’’ she cries with a broken voice that echos far and wide.

A young Tantinga hunter follows a trail dotted on the earth below his feet, hoping it is some wounded antelope that has escaped his trap. He has not had any luck with any of his bush traps. This could be a miracle, he thought to himself. Following the trail, the hunter meets up with Mba and Nabou’s body, both on the ground. He is staggered to know of the demise of Nabou and offers to carry her body. Mba offers to help and together they progress home.

Mansu arrives home and is welcomed by his two-year-old son Nano who runs up to him. The brief father-son moment brings joy to Mansu’s heart. At least I have my family Mansu thought with a smile. He calls Nabou and Mba but there is no reply. He goes into the women’s hut but finds out that they are absent. His mind is bought to rest after noticing the absence of the fish basket. It was now clear that the duo went to the great lake Wassadou. Mansu puts Nano down on a bundle of dry grass and goes into his hut to prepare for the afternoon's meeting.

By now, a crowd of villagers including Masaneh joins Mba and the hunter as they bring Nabou’s body to Mansu. Loud cries and wails by women of Tantinga probe the village, an expression of grief and sadness. As they finally arrive at Mansu’s compound, dark ominous clouds gather above them in ever-increasing numbers. Mansu rushes out to see what is happening. Mba comes running to Mansu, and falls on the ground beside him. With her tear-soaked eyes, she looks into the eyes of her husband, ‘’Nabou tata’’ she said.

The words of Mba strike Mansu to his core with his heart hurdling in his chest. He walks up to and falls on his knees beside Nabou’s body laying flat on a huge banana leaf on a wooden plank placed in front of bereaved men, women and children of Tantinga. In the total silence, Masaneh comes up to Mansu and taps him on the shoulder, take heart, my friend, he said. Young Nano sits behind his father, seeing his mother motionless on the ground and unsure of feelings to express.

Mansu is helped up as thunder claps and the skies start releasing their burden. Four young men of Tantinga put Nabou’s body in her hut as other villagers console the Mansu household and leave under the rain. Mansu and Masaneh get into Mansu’s hut for men’s talk. Mba picks up Nano and checks on the other two babies in her hut. I am sorry for the loss of your wife, Masaneh tells Mansu as he explains the circumstance leading to Nabou’s death. We shall postpone the afternoon meeting for funeral rites he concluded. Mansu sits speechless on his bed and nods in agreement. Grief, confusion and sadness plunge his mind into oblivion. He has reached a point of no return. For the sake of my family, I must leave Tantinga Mansu thought as tears roll down his cheeks.

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