By Akut Francis
(Based on true Life stories and events)
You know when as a young man, you discover that you have almost 30 teeth inside your mouth; the appetite to eat a wholesome meal begins. You have at least a pair of each of the critical teeth. A desirous season to Eate. Eate. Eate. Eate. And a multiplied belief that even stones is edible. Satan too once thought so in the Bible. Lol.
So it came to pass that one afternoon we were seated in the village chewing sugarcanes that had been brought by our ‘good’ neighbour (The other bad one didn’t travelled). It is ‘Heaven-Paradise’ moment back in the day, when you hear your siblings free-styling on this popularly chorused song ‘Mama Ja, Didïng Ja, Mama Ja’ (My mother has come ×2) and realized your Mother have been away for a week. You would juxtapose yourself strategically so as to be able to purchase the correct scene and position, to inspect what Heavens has brought you through your Mother who just arrived from where she travelled. The prime moment is when you notice this weighty mountain-looking bags perhaps containing all that featured in your prayers earlier – You make sure you are the favourite child to carry it inside. We lastborns dutifully love this task, always.
Well, let’s focus on the Chewing
One good old evening, as we sat there chewing sugarcane; swallowing sweetness and juice while spitting away the by product. We, as is required by ‘comestible orientation of our age’ – we were also chatting about chewing other living things. I was not old enough to chew living things myself so I would listen to the strategies that my cousins spoke about lest I needed to use them later in life. In retrospect, I suspect I had fewer teeth because I only majored on the sugarcanes. I was not even known by the government so I could not commit any crime yet, let alone write something like ‘Yin nhiaar Nyandengda’ or ‘Bar yök een ë tim thar’ on the sorghum leaves. Assuredly, those who used to write on leaves are visual artists and painters today. The chewing and swallowing was my major and a minor in spitting and empting the trough. When you are done chewing the cane, properly, you swallow the sweetness and spit “Anyiëi ee Bël” into the gutter. No moisture. One could actually light a fire using it. It was as dry as I don’t know what. I also don’t know what ‘Anyiëi ee Bël’ is in English so let us not disturb that word from where it is already placed. Context matters.
One of the chewing days, my friend, who was just repatriated back from ‘New Kush’ had a plan of chewing more than sugarcane. With absolute poor tact he tried chewing a grasshopper, he logged in at our joint later that same day with a terrifying feedback about the manner the living thing almost tear his lips with the serrated rear legs. Ashan Tahni Mara!!!
Young people like me (errand boys) need to leave the scene when older ones have what was called ‘Kaman’; a word that is used to refer to a visitor in Dinka language (Dinka Bor version). This visitor arrived when we had just filled the gutter with the by product and was ready for emptying. If that particular ‘kaman’ is not yours, you do not sit there talking a lot, you get busy by doing errands like getting out of the radius or going to take the cattle to waterpoint which most times stretch to 2kms away. They don’t have to be your family cows. You don’t even have to know if there were cows nearby, you simply disappear to look for cows and not come back. Before I was able to leave to get something to do, there was drama, as I am running out of ink to continue with the story…………………..
You know, when you grow up in a large family or a poor one for that matter in the village; there is the standard practice of being served a liter of soup, two pieces of meat and a huge assida followed by the instructions, “Mith ace cam bik yic tïc” (Children don’t eat til their stomach exposes).
I need to go back there.!!