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Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Echoes of Fulladu: Parsing the meaning behind silence

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The night air was thick with concern as a crowd quickly gathered around Yerro, offering words of comfort and support. With gentle hands and whispered reassurances, his friends carefully lifted him from the boat and onto a waiting donkey cart. The sturdy cart, adorned with woven blankets and cotton-filled cushions for comfort, would serve as Yerro’s carriage to the village herbalist’s home, where healing awaited.

The journey through the village was slow and steady, the rhythmic clip-clop of the donkey’s hooves providing a soothing backdrop to the anxious whispers of Yerro’s friends. As they made their way through the winding pathways, guided by the light of a kerosene lamp held by one of the concerned neighbors, Yerro thought about his family, especially his half-brother. Seven years his junior, Kadeh was a constant source of worry for Yerro. Deep down, he knew that Kadeh was both incapable and, as he secretly suspected, unwilling to shoulder the responsibilities of carrying their family should anything happen to him.

Kadeh’s behavior through the years was a perplexing mix of friendliness and hostility. Sometimes he would show a friendly face, even engaging in casual conversation. But at other times, he barely tolerated Yerro, acting more like an adversary—defensive and almost dismissive.

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Yerro recalled a recent encounter where a simple question about Kadeh’s farming turned into a series of dismissive and reactive grunts—short, almost caricatured responses that hinted at a certain rancor Yerro could not pinpoint.

“Perhaps he thinks I judge him,” Yerro thought wistfully. But what was it that hinted at that? Was it his style of conversation with his half brother? Or was it something deeper? As he mulled over these thoughts, he winced, the emotional pain manifesting physically.

All he knew was that despite his efforts to connect with his half-sibling and include him in various aspects of life, Kadeh remained detached. Yerro had seen firsthand how Kadeh went all out for his peers, showing effort and camaraderie that he never extended to his own family. He understood that scornful emotions could arise in any family, but it pained him to see them so vividly in Kadeh.

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Upon their arrival at the herbalist’s, he greeted them with solemn determination. His weathered hands moved with practiced precision as he prepared a concoction of healing herbs. Drawing upon generations of traditional knowledge passed down through the ages, he carefully selected herbs known for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. He ground them into a fine powder before steeping them in boiling water, the aromatic steam rising like a promise of relief.

Yerro watched the herbalist work, his thoughts still lingering on Kadeh. The image of his half-brother’s dismissive face was hard to shake. Yerro’s efforts to pull him closer had always been met with lukewarm effort. Whether it was inviting him to work together in the fields or simply trying to share stories of their father, Kadeh’s responses were unpredictable and often tinged with a coldness Yerro found baffling.

As the herbalist administered the herbal concoction, Yerro’s mind wandered to the possibility of reconciliation. He wished he could understand what drove Kadeh’s resentment. Was it a deep-seated rivalry from their childhood? A perceived slight that had festered over the years? Or was it simply the natural friction that sometimes arises between siblings of different temperaments and ambitions?

Despite the uncertainty of his own condition, Yerro’s thoughts were dominated by a desire to mend the rift with Kadeh. He believed in the strength of family bonds. It was just the three of them, after all: himself, Kadeh, and their sister Mariama Kordu. In the quiet moments as the herbalist worked, Yerro resolved to continue his efforts to reach out to Kadeh, hoping that one day his half-brother would recognize the strength they could draw from standing together.

Yerro’s thoughts then shifted to a more somber note. Should he no longer be able to care for his family—God forbid it—Kadeh would need to step up. But he felt helpless in the face of such an eventuality, knowing deep down that Kadeh might not rise to the occasion. For the first time in his life, Yerro thought about his own mortality. The thought was unsettling, but it also gave him a new sense of urgency. He needed to ensure that his family would be taken care of, even if it meant confronting Kadeh’s hostility head-on.

Yerro’s wives stood by him through the long hours, as the herbalist tended to him with unwavering dedication, their presence a steadfast source of comfort and strength. Borogie, with her gentle touch and soft words, and Neneh Dado, with her fierce determination and unwavering gaze, provided a balance of tenderness and resolve that enveloped Yerro like a protective shield. Their faces, though etched with worry, remained composed, reflecting the inner strength that had carried them through many trials.

The herbalist’s experienced hands moved with practiced precision as he administered herbal remedies one at a time, and offered prayers for Yerro’s swift recovery, his chants rising and falling in a soothing cadence that seemed to resonate with the very fabric of the night. The rhythmic intonations of the herbalist’s prayers intertwined with the whispered words of comfort from Yerro’s wives, created a harmonious symphony of hope and healing.

Outside the hut, the village was cloaked in a profound stillness, the usual nocturnal sounds muted as if in reverence to the solemn work being done within. The occasional chirp of a cricket or the distant wail of an owl served as gentle reminders of the natural world, their presence a comforting constant in the midst of human uncertainty.

Back home, the night was deliciously quiet. Nata lay on the bare floor on a thin mat made of cowhide. Her siblings, lying nearby, had fallen into a deep slumber. Except for the occasional screech of crickets and the frightening wail of night owls, the night was serene.

The events of the evening had reached a crescendo when Alpha Omar Baldeh, the village crier, announced the arrival of Yerro and his friends. Both her mother and stepmother had rushed to the house of the village herbalist, where her father was being transported upon his return to the village.

As Nata lay there, her mind raced with the events of the day. The image of her father, strong and vital, juxtaposed with the reality of his current condition, filled her with a gnawing worry. The darkness of the night seemed to amplify her fears, each shadow in the room playing tricks on her imagination.

She recalled the moment Alpha Omar Baldeh’s voice pierced the evening air, his words carrying a mix of hope and dread. The entire village had held its breath, waiting for news of Yerro’s condition. The arrival of Yerro, supported by his friends, had been a moment of both relief and anxiety, the villagers crowding around to offer their assistance and prayers.

Borogie and her stepmother had moved with purpose, their faces set with a determination that Nata admired and hoped to emulate. They had gone to the herbalist’s house, a place known for its healing remedies and calming presence. The herbalist’s compound, with its shelves of dried herbs and pots of mysterious concoctions, had always felt like a sanctuary to Nata, a place where ailments were treated and worries eased.

Now, in the stillness of the night, Nata felt the weight of responsibility pressing down on her young shoulders. She glanced at her sleeping siblings, their innocent faces oblivious to the turmoil surrounding them. Drawing a deep breath, she reminded herself of the strength her mother had shown. She would need to be strong too, for her siblings and for herself.

As the minutes ticked by, Nata found herself whispering silent prayers into the darkness, hoping for a sign that everything would be alright. The familiar sounds of the night—the chirping of crickets, the rustling leaves—gradually lulled her into a state of calm. In this moment of quiet reflection, she found a flicker of hope, believing that, like the night, their troubles too would eventually pass, giving way to a brighter dawn.

…………………………………………

As the first light of dawn broke through the darkness, signaling the arrival of a new day, there was a subtle shift in the air. The soft glow of morning bathed the village in a golden light, casting long shadows that danced across the ground like silent sentinels. The herbalist, sensing the change, concluded his prayers with a final, fervent plea to the spirits, his voice filled with quiet conviction.

In the dim light of dawn, Yerro stirred slightly, his breathing more even, his face less drawn. The glimmer of hope that had been kindled through the night now shone more brightly. He struggled to open his eyes, instead shutting them tight at the first attempt. A beacon of optimism pierced through the lingering shadows of fear in his mind. The villagers who had kept vigil outside the herbalist’s hut began to stir as well, their faces reflecting a cautious optimism as news of Yerro’s slight improvement spread. But was there any improvement? Yerro could not tell.

All the same, the power of community, friendship, and the healing wisdom of the herbalist’s craft had worked their quiet magic, weaving a drape of support and care that enveloped Yerro and his family. It spoke to the unspoken understanding that in times of crisis, the community would come together, united by their shared history and mutual respect.

As the sun continued its ascent, casting a warm light over the village, there was a renewed sense of purpose and determination. The events of the night had reinforced the importance of unity and the enduring power of love and care. For Yerro, his wives, and the entire village, the dawn brought with it a promise of recovery and the resilience to face whatever challenges lay ahead.

To be contd.

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