By Efeh Flora 6 months ago

   He run as fast as he could facing the road that leads to the stream where his elder sister went to get water for home use, he run fastly with a weary face not stopping to greet the elderly people he come acrross on the road, panting heavily** finally get to the stream looking round the stream area he saw his elder sister trying to lift the water pot on her head

 "Kerubo!  He shouted,!!

 He call out again,

 "Jaali what happen to you why are you shouting my name, what happen "!

" Kerubo hurry is Mama I dont know what happen to her she is  coughing heavily please come hurry please, ehn!  My god!"  She said leaving the water pot beside the stream and run as fast as she could with her younger brother, Jaali who was leading the front. They got to their mud house,seeing their mother on the floor with blood splattered on the ground,while the youngest child of the family Ohon is beside her crying," mama what happen Jaali get me water!"  the boy run to the kitchen hut and get calabash of water for her. 

"Jaali is coming soon with the native doctor to help us out." After a while Jaali entered the house downcast as the native doctor refuse to follow him and help them out. "But why would he declined.. why?" Kerubo said crying uncontrollably holding her mother close to her body.."Kerubo I dont know why he refuses he send me away and even use dog to"... Jaali said crying while petting the little boy Ohon. "My children look here,,, nothing will happen to me okay" their mother managed to say. For a while they are in the same spot not knowing what to do,, kerubo look helpless..she didn't know her mother has stopped breathing in her hands. she raise her head up and see she's not breathing again she put her head on her chest to confirm. "Mama! mama! Jaali ! mama is not breathing again, Jaali cried like a little baby holding is younger brother close to his body as that one was looking at his elder sister and brother not knowing what is going on. Seeing the two crying, ohon burst into tears ,crying. 

   Kerubo keep talking to her mother as if she will wake up,but she has gone to the other world leaving her 3children all alone. Years pass, Kerubo become her siblings mother taking care of them. She is just a young girl and has this responsibility on her head. She and Jaali work hard everyday by doing menial work for people in the village, that is where they get their daily food and things they needed. 

"Jaali, tomorrow morning, we are going to Chief house his wife has work for us. you will help in weeding grass around their surroundings while I wash clothes. I know we will get good money this time around and we will go and get some food in the market after completing our work"..." okay I've heard you" he reply her, the three were sitting in the kitchen preparing food they will eat that night while ohon was busy playing with the wooden toy Jaali made for him. Sometimes, Kerubo feel the absence of their mother but she always gather herself together not to think of it too much. 

The next morning, Kerubo wakes Jaali up to get prepared ,she took ohon and bathed him  dress him up and strap the little boy to her back after eating... she wait for Jaali who was looking for his cutlass. For a while Kerubo stood outside waiting for her brother before he comes out and they head together to the chiefs house. 

"Good morning ma", Kerubo said greeting the Chief wife who was outside talking to one of the neighbors. "Kerubo you are here, how are you " we are fine ma". "okay the clothes are at the backyard with the water you need and soap. if the water is not enough you dont need to go to the stream. you can take water from the well and be careful not allow you younger ones move closer to the well it is very deep." She said, looking at Jaali who was quiet and shy. Jaali you will help me weed the grass around  my kitchen hut and the backyard too 

"okay ma, now you can all start and kerubo, how much will i give you. ?  10cowries, okay that's is fine. she said. 

Kerubo and her siblings go to the backyard, she looks at the clothes on the ground they are not that plenty but they are clothes she need to handle well while washing. Jaali pull of his cloth and change into brown short and shirt he use to work. Kerubo spread her mother wrapper on the ground beside her  for ohon to sit on ,she gives him the two toys Jaali made for him and they start working. Kerubo sing sweetly her favorite song while washing the clothes ,Jaali join in singing too weeding the grasses with his sharp cutlass and hoe.. For long they are doing this and after a while, Kerubo finished her washing she cleaned up where she wash.She wakes Ohon who was asleep and gives him his afternoon food and call on Jaali to come and eat. they eat silently  after resting, she help Jaali to weed the grasses too,. 

They finished the work for the day,kerubo went to call the Chief wife and tell her they are through and ready to go home. She inspect all the work they did and go inside to give them money. she comes out with a frown face.". look here who took the money I put on the chair in the kitchen," she said... "we didn't see any money or even taking anything" Kerubo said, "you are lying that is the money I want to give you but I can't find it anymore, who weed the grasses beside my kitchen, is it not you" she said looking at Jaali.. "yes... I am.. thhhe one but I swear I didn't see any money there or even touch anything. "

"you're a liar! and a thief... you steal the money I put on the stool to pay you"..."please ma my bother and I are not thieves we didn't see any money or touch any of your things, we did everything you want us to do and you should pay us by now".."wait are you talking to me like that, ehn you this animal"!...." my sister is not an animal... stop calling her names".. Jaali restort with a angry voice.. 

"I can see you two want to be caned,... you first steal my money and you two stand boldly infront of me and talking back to me.. you have no respect for your elders.".. "please ma, we are sorry for talking back but believe us we never take any of your things at all. maybe you should check inside very well you might have misplaced the money by putting it in another place", Kerubo said.. "so im now blind again,or I dont  any memory to know where I kept money. is that what you saying she said giving Kerubo a slap on her right cheek... "kerubo bow down with the boy she strap on her back and weep. "why did you slap my sister, what did she do to you?!, Jaali said standing firmly infront of the heartless woman as if he want to beat her, "are you raising your voice for me" are you... guards come here" I will teach you a lesson you will never forget,... take this boy and give him 12 strokes of cane for disrespecting me".. "no, no kerubo said with tears all over her face, "please don't beat him, we will go away please"... she begged kneeling down to beg the woman who ignore her plea... "are you now deaf guards,I said beat him up for me, a child that is not trained from house will be trained  outside!",. Jaali was taken to the backyard where he was beaten, he cried so much calling, kerubo's name.. Kerubo was helpless,she continue begging the woman but she refuse to. listen, she left the place and ran to the backyard dropping Ohon from her back and flung herself on her brother covering him with her body, the cane hit her, the guards drag her but she refuse she was beaten with Jaali who was rolling on the ground and crying for help. 

"Its alright now...the woman said, now you thieves can go home"... she said and walk away from the backyard. Kerubo took Jaali up, he was wounded with the cane giving him different marks all over his body.He cried so hard, Kerubo too was weeping dusting the sands away from his brother body.. ohon was crying to, crawling to where his sister is.Kerubo strap ohon to her back and carry the little basket they come with and head back home. It was a bad day for them all... 

Kerubo boil water for Jaali which he bathed with and clean his wounds. For that night they eat nothing to bed. only Ohon eat the left over yam. For night, Kerubo couldn't sleep she wake up in the middle of the midnight crying, she wished her mother is alive, all this wont have happened to them. Her mother and father relatives lives far  waway from the village, they all promise to come and take them away but for a year now she hadn't seen any of them. 

The next morning, Kerubo take the remaining money  they have and beeen saving, and head to the market leaving Jaali and Ohon at home. She comes back early bought food stuff and prepare food for them to eat. For a week they are like that, not working as they haven't seen anyone yet to call them for any menial work to do. 

...Kerubo was playing outside with her siblings when someone called them for work to do. Kerubo and Jaali quickly go to the place and do the work. They were both happy as they are paid double for the money they charged them., they were happy and bought a lot of things that they needed.  Things were going fine for them ,days pass, week sleep on weeks,

Jaali went to the stream to get water for home use one fine evening, he was about to go home after swimming and fetching the water he needed, he saw a little boy wearing a piece of wrapper tied around his body with beads on his neck and hands. sitting down on a stone , Jaali look around to see who the little boy about his own age is waiting for. 

"Who are you waiting for ,he ask the boy... "im not waiting for anyone I dont know where I am ,im scared ,....they are after me... "who?"... men, 2 men are after me  they kill my mother and father, and are running after me.. where in this village.. jaali ask. No not here, is a far village, 

" Okay okay... what's your name?.." Masi.." do you know the way to your village, no i don't, and please i don't want to go there again" he said with a weary voice. 

"Okay follow me let's go home". Jaali took masi and they both head home. getting home, Jaali explain how he met him and everything to her elder sister, Kerubo question masi and see truly the boy has lost his way home and probably there could be dangerous things he is avoiding. Kerubo accept the boy to their home within some months, they become close as family,working together, eating together. Kerubo take good care of the little ones in her hands... Like a mother would take care of her children.  

" This is unusual, why is the village silent like this," Kerubo ask as she was going to do her menial work with,Jaali,ohon and Masi. She notice everywhere was quiet unlike before where children would have been roaming up and down and people going to their daily work,she ignore and keep walking telling her siblings to walk fast as she is getting scared. They've reached half of the road when they heard noises of some people chanting ."wait,where is the noise coming from? " Kerubo  i think today is the priests day,you remember what our mother told us then that it happen once in a year" " ah god... it can't be so,she said come on let's hide inside one of this bushes here*" ...kerubo direct them into the bushes she cover Ohon mouth from talking and warn Jaali and Masi too not to make noise. The festival is about cleaning the village from bad omens and whoever they come across with will be use as cleaning sacrifice.

Inside the bush,Kerubo was shaking in fear, as the people were beside the bush already ,She close her eyes ,seeing this Jaali and Mask too close their eyes, she remove the second wrapper on her body and use it to cover Jaali and Masi,while she hold ohon tight close to her body.for some time they were inside this bush ,until they left,they come out from the bush and started running back home, "Jaali hold Masi hand and run back home...I will be right behind you " she said strapping the little boy back to her back and run after them.They got home and rushed inside as the people were coming towards their home.She lock the door and close all window instructing them to sleep and not try going outside even if she is asleep.For that day ,Kerubo never allow them to go out ,she managed to cook inside of the empty room in the house for them.

Becoming a mother to the children she didn't give birth to she teaches them how to behave well and never hestitate in scolding any of them who go wrong.Masi was happy finding peace with his new family,he loves them so much.For days they were like this and things were going fine,until a bad incident happens to them... Kerubo, as usual was preparing evening meal when Ohon started shaking on the ground, his eyesballs  change,Kerubo drop the pepper she was about  to cook rushed to where he is she carried him but could feel his body were so cold she screamed out.." what happen Jaali ask coming out from the house with Masi ...Ohon body is cold lets run to the native doctor place.. they all run down to the native doctor place."

"And why do you bring in a dead child for me, he's dead already"... the man said having touch his body .

"Ah no no... nooooooo!  Kerubo screamed... can't you see you have exposed him to so much cold,. is late.. he's dead. take him away and bury him". 

Kerubo cried so hard.. Jaaali couldn't control himself,he was rolling on the floor.. Masi too was there shedding tears... no one to console each other.. Ohon was buried alongside where their mother was buried. For that week it has been a bad one for them... Kerubo cried, wished their mother is alive .."ah gods why all this, our mother is taken from us, now our sibling..Ohon!... jaali stood up console her. For years they were together snail and its shell moving about. 

For Masi,he  Was a young prince from a far village, the day he ran away from his village was when his parents were killed by unknown men, he took to his heels as his father told him before he died and find his way to Aru village where Jaali and Kerubo lives. He was the crown to the throne in his village but he is now far from there.. unless he was seen and crowned no any other man would mount the throne. 

Kerubo! kerubo!  ...what is this time around ,answering Jaali who was coming with some men and women all dress with fine clothes. Kerubo I meet these people in the market today, they want to see Masi. Masi? 

"yes we  are here for his highness,, the Oracle direct us here to come and look for him in this village, is time he mount the throne of his father and rule us"said one of the servants . Masi comes out from the house everybody bow down for him except Jaali and Kerubo who are just having clue of what is going on ,Masi could recongnize each of them,"Im here" he said"

"Your highness it's time you mount the throne of your forefathers"..Masi look around he went to Kerubo and Jaali.. hug them and bades them goodbye having thanking them for all what they have done for him. 

Jaali was in tears already holding Kerubo hands,not wanting him to go, they hold each other looking as Masi followed the people. The bond in between them has gone far. there is nothing they can do they have to allow him to go.. Masi stop all of a sudden run back to Kerubo and Jaali.. Two of the servants followed him, "I want them to follow me back to my village, this are my family. Jaali is my brother and Kerubo Is now my mother, he said aloud. " As you wish your highness. the servants reply. 

Jaali and Kerubo couldnt believe their eyes,they were so happy they hugged each other. and pack a few things and followed them.Holding their hands together  Kerubo look back at their house. "There is nothing left here anymore, she said with the tears that filled her eyes already and followed them to start a new life with them.




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