Village is lush and green. It has rained really well. Dung beatles are pushing giant balls, to (they-know-where!). He-goats bleating. Grasshoppers with serrated hind legs are hopping here and there from the swinging grass. Weaverbirds are chirping yearning great ‘country homes and songs.’ Rabbits racing in hastiness, nearby – as our fierce Dog “Pinyda” is chasing them, unleashing a bout of boyish nostalgia in me; and an urge to chase too.
So while reminscing in the shadow of grandma’s tukul (hut). I recalled grandma’s trick when we were young and sinless; the use of water as a lie detector among children in simsim and groundnuts growing families. The genius grandma would summon us (children); having noticed a considerable reduction in the quantity of simsim & groundnuts in the store/granary. The theft probe would swiftly commence with grandma as the lead Chief investigator, jailor and a prosecutor combined.
The search for culprits is greatly prophecied by how grandma glide past unsmiling with a ‘deafening cold’ silence on her face. You could clearly tell Lucifer himself left the dungeons to come and enter our sweet ‘habouba’. “Who ate them?” Grandma demanded.
We children will remain as silent as human beings could possibly get. We would all look pious and innocent and pretend the question is too big or not meant for kids.
Grandma: (Walking away to return with a jug of water and several cups. Proceeds to hand each child a cup) Okay children. Here we go, each of you will take a sip of water, gaggle, rinse your mouth and spit on the bowl here. Okay!!
The lie detector would work perfectly. Those who had simsim or groundnuts in their mouths would have generous particles in their spit. Some chose to swallow the gaggle and claim they misunderstood the instructions. They remain the conmen and women of today.
Notably seated on the portion of improvised slabs my grandma arranged at the door of her tukul (hut) – Dusk was due, and sunshine in abundance, providing thick and cold evening shadows leading my short visit into sumptuous end filled with a treat of elegance at grandma’s sanctuary. Biding me farewell, she said; “Akut mɛnh ë nyandië ye cam, kuar’du Apɛɛc Mayïth e yee mëngɔɔr ɣɔn yen ranthii”.
And having said that, she turned and scanned through her brood enclose of pure chicken and declared, “I must catch you a good chicken you will go back to town with”. Being the cunningly wise grandma that she is, she disappeared into her house, fetched a handful of maize and tricked the tribe of chickens with a ‘kut kut kut’ summon as she sprinkled two, three four grains near the door. Suddenly a chicken stampede ensued, all hens and chicks (not side chicks) trampling over each other towards grandmas’s surmon not realizing that it was a race to a selection for slaughter.
Granny “Nyan Amaŋthiau”, for that is a lovelier way of calling her, had already identified a stunning young-adult chief cock which she felt was worth my size; and as the masses of these sweet Kentucky birds fought in the trapping small maize-grains space she shouted, “That one! Catch that one!” Without hesitation, I jumped and landed amidst the scrum of maize-picking chickens and arrested my allocated victim.
Now this is yours, ‘Nyanjuur!’ (my other name), I must secure it nice and good for you lest it flees”. Ever resourceful, she went to her kitchen and, only a nanosecond later, came out at a gazelle speed with a string. She tied the legs, using well considered knots, a lathe scouting ones. She promptly apologized for not having more strings, otherwise she would have secured the wings too. “Careful how you handle it so that it doesn’t slip from your grip or hurt you”, My sweet grandma cautioned.
Bam! And just like that, I became a proud owner of a chicken and happier like, or than Kentucky. I scratched the skies and left having carefully caged my bird in an improvised carton box with breathers and found a cosy place for my hearty gift in the peasant jalopy in my town. Many ‘moons’ hence, the yet-to-be roasted rooster from “Nyan Amaŋthiau” will be crowing in the pretender-city, our small township waking us all up to go build this democratic, sovereign and working republic that is South Sudan.