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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Echoes of Fulladu: The fight for dignitys (Part 24)

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Unaware of the brewing turmoil within the compound, Borogie spotted Nata sprinting toward her from a distance. The bundle of firewood perched on her head shifted ever so slightly as she embraced her with one arm, deftly maintaining its precarious balance. With a warm smile, Borogie turned her attention to her eldest daughter, feeling her small arms tightly wrapped around her. Her heart shuddered in pride as she felt her hold linger a bit longer, conveying both her affection and an unspoken meaning she could not make out at the spur of the moment.

To Nata, the air around them held a mixture of antipication and tension, like the calm before a storm. Nata longed to express the urgency of the situation, to share the ominous conversation she had overheard between her stepmother and their neighbor. However, her attempts were stifled by an unexpected paralysis – her mouth felt dry, and the words that danced in her mind refused to find their way out. Moreover, she could sense the penetrating gaze of her stepmother burning holes behind her back, as if daring her to speak out.

In her mind’s eye, the compound, once a haven of familiarity and routine, appeared as an unpredictable battleground, each step they took towards it, fraught with the tension of an impending confrontation. Nata grappled with internal conflict, torn between the instinct to shield her mother from the brewing storm and the frustrating inability to articulate the danger lurking ahead.

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Approaching the heart of the compound, Khadja Bobo’s cries echoed in the background, a haunting soundtrack to the discord that awaited them. Borogie hastened her pace to comfort her distressed baby, with Nata following persistently. Her eyes flickered between her mother and the middle of the compound, where her stepmother stood in wait, seemingly oblivious to Khadja Bobo’s wails. Every step Nata took behind her mother felt heavy, burdened with unspoken words and concealed apprehension.

Unaware of the tumult swirling in the air but sensing her daughter’s growing distress, Borogie stopped suddenly, fixing an inquisitive gaze on Nata. “What’s the matter, my daughter? Why do you seem so agitated? Is there something you want to tell me?”

Caught once again in the struggle between sharing the impending turmoil and preserving her mother’s momentary peace, Nata managed only a strained smile in response, lowering her gaze to avoid meeting her mother’s. “Nothing, Neneh. Nothing is the matter,” she replied, the weight of unspoken truth settling between them. “Uhm. Funny,” Borogie sighed, before she continued her pace with a sense of lingering unease.

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Borogie couldn’t also help but notice the obvious indifference of her co-wife toward the crying baby, leaving her uncertain of the underlying significance. Recognizing the intricate complexities of spousal relationships, however, she chose to withhold judgment, allowing the situation to unfold without interference.

Watching her mother as she walked on ahead, Nata pondered the possibility of silent communication, a mind-to-mind transfer that could convey meaning without the need for spoken words. “Is there a way people convey meaning and thoughts directly in their minds? Is there a mind-to-mind transfer that, without words, could explain what is in one’s mind?” she soliloquized, the yearning for a supernatural connection intensifying.

Khadja’s cries, once a dissonant backdrop, transformed into a chaotic symphony as they got closer. The noise she made, created flinging thoughts in Nata’s mind much like an overzealous madwoman wielding a sharp object at anyone and everyone. To Nata, her discordant thoughts mingled with the baby’s cries held a mystical power, capable of transforming her present turmoil into a future of pleasant understanding. The interplay of emotions and unspoken words continued to clash through the air, creating an atmosphere charged with anticipation and uncertainty.

With Nata’s assisting hands, Borogie carefully arranged the firewood near her cooking area in the kitchen, ensuring it was conveniently accessible. As the task reached completion, Borogie’s attention shifted to the piercing cries resonating through the compound – the unmistakable sounds of her youngest in distress. She swiftly navigated towards her in a purposeful, sprint-like walk.

Approaching Khadja Bobo, Borogie enveloped the distressed baby in her arms, providing a motherly embrace intended to soothe the cries that had disrupted the serenity of their surroundings. With whispered coos and gentle swaying, Borogie endeavored to pacify the infant, creating a brief interlude of calm within the familial abode. These loving gestures, meant to comfort Khadja Bobo, became a momentary respite amidst the escalating tension that had begun to weave its way through the compound.

However, the fleeting tranquility of the moment was abruptly shattered by an unexpected turn of events. Out of nowhere, Neneh Dado, akin to a striking serpent, lunged forward with an aggression that seemed to materialize from the shadows. In a sudden and forceful movement, she seized a handful of Borogie’s hair and began to pull earnestly, causing Borogie to let out a soft whimper at her co-wife’s unexpected attack.

Undeterred by Khadja Bobo’s startled cries in her arms, Borogie, fueled by a surge of defiance, cast aside the tranquility of comforting her baby to confront her co-wife. Swiftly transferring the infant into Nata’s arms, Borogie adeptly twisted Neneh Dado’s arms, the sudden move forcing her to release her grip on her hair. The ensuing clash unfolded like a chaotic dance, a symphony of exchanged slaps and fiery words echoing through the compound.

Nata’s anguished cry resonated through the compound, a stark contrast to the once-tranquil surroundings that now bore witness to a brewing tempest of emotions. Her voice, fraught with fear and desperation, cut through the chaotic atmosphere like a knife, a visceral plea for help echoing far beyond the compound’s walls. In that moment, she felt small, her vulnerability exposed in the face of escalating hostility.

Within the growing tumult, the air thickened with tension as Neneh Dado’s incendiary accusations soared above the cacophony. “Repeat what you said about me, Borogie!” she demanded, her words slashing through the air with razor-sharp precision. “It’s easier to gossip than confront me to my face, isn’t it?”

Borogie, maintaining a measured tone, countered with calculated words. “Do you think I have time for discussions about an old woman of ill repute, known for lies and witchcraft? How can I communicate about someone worthless to me?” Her response cut through the accusations like a surgeon’s scalpel, a precise dissection of the verbal battlefield.

The confrontation escalated into a bitter exchange of insults, each word heavy with years of resentment and animosity. Undeterred, Neneh Dado retaliated, “This worthless woman stole your loving husband, taken from a younger woman. If you knew how to care for a man, he wouldn’t stray, would he?”

Borogie’s retort was a continuation of the verbal onslaught, sharp and unyielding. “Prove your worth, then! If snatching another woman’s husband is a testament to your charm, prove it with offspring. You barren cow. Let’s hear a baby cry, and we’ll know you are what you claim to be, cow!”

The accusation hung in the air, a poisonous dart leaving an indelible mark on the already strained atmosphere. The once-warm compound now echoed with the bitter confrontation, the clash reaching a fever pitch. Nata, torn between rushing to her mother’s aid and comforting Khadja Bobo, found herself ensnared in the crossfire of a dispute threatening to shatter the family bonds.

The dissonant soundtrack of a baby’s cries and Nata’s screams reverberated through the chaos. The escalating commotion drew the attention of men at the bantaba and concerned neighbors, their faces mirroring a mix of worry and urgency. The serene haven had transformed into a stage for a painful spectacle, as onlookers rushed to separate the warring co-wives, attempting to salvage the remnants of familial unity.

Suddenly, like a tempest emerging from the depths of chaos, Yerro, the husband of both warring co-wives, emerged from his own mud hut. In his hand, he brandished a menacing cutlass, a tangible manifestation of the heightened tension that pervaded the compound. His commanding voice pierced through the commotion, a thunderous proclamation that resonated, “Leave Dado alone, you shameless whore!” The weight of his words hung in the air.

In an abrupt and shocking turn of events, fueled by a surge of anger, Yerro struck Borogie with the side of the cutlass. The impact reverberated through the compound, sending shockwaves that transformed the once-hectic scene into a chilling moment of violence. Both Borogie and Neneh Dado stood stunned, the sudden eruption of brutality leaving them momentarily paralyzed. Horrified onlookers, who had initially rushed to intervene, found themselves frozen witnesses to this discordant spectacle.

Borogie, reeling from the unexpected blow, managed to utter words of disbelief as she turned to face Yerro, “You hit me because of her.” Her voice carried the weight of pain and astonishment. “Alhagi, you hit me,” she repeated, struggling to comprehend the harsh reality of the situation.

As Neneh Dado observed the unfolding scene, a man from the bantaba reacted swiftly, snatching away the cutlass from Yerro in a timely intervention that prevented a potential second strike at Borogie. This added another layer of chaos to the drama, accentuating the disarray that had befallen the once familiar and harmonious homestead.

Undeterred, Yerro retreated briefly into his hut and reemerged with an even larger cutlass. He poised to strike Borogie again when a commanding voice boomed through the turmoil, “I dare you to hit Borogie one more time, Yerro, and you will not live to see daylight again!” The voice belonged to Kadeh, Yerro’s uncle, injecting an authoritative tone that halted the impending violence.

Yerro, with a silent acknowledgment of his uncle’s authority, lowered the cutlass and retreated into his hut, leaving the compound in an eerie silence, punctuated only by the residual echoes of the confrontation that had shattered the tranquility of their once-cohesive family.

To be continued…

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