19 of 21
Wekesa’s entire family perished in a road accident. At the time of the accident, Wekesa was at his grandfather’s place where he had spent the night. People called him The Lucky One, even though the ulcer on his foot and the jiggers in his toes threatened to cancel that luck. His foot was rotting and it pained him so much that sometimes he could not sleep for the entire night. It was the pain in his foot and the pain in his heart. He saw his family at night and sometimes he laughed and talked with them. People whispered that the insects in his foot were going to his head. It was a matter of time, they said, and he would be a full-fledged madman, walking naked and talking to the voices in his head.
But far from it, Wekesa was an ant:
He was a tiny underrated person who had the ability to eat a whole elephant, to reduce an entire forest to sawdust and bring down a whole house. Of his five friends, he was the bravest and the strongest, but his foot stood in the way. He had the courage of ants, entering a person’s privates and weakening them. It is no wonder that he went into people’s homes stealthily sometimes and made away with a chicken or maize or whatever he thought he deserved. He was an ant that intruded food stored in pans and plates.
Staying with his aged grandparents, Wekesa worked hard to relieve them of any duties. He would weed or dig for an entire day so that by the time he left the farm, his body was on fire and the tiny things in his leg too active that he couldn’t sleep at all. He already knew too much for his age, had experienced things beyond his age and had a mind above the average kid. When he talked with his dead family, he would be happy the entire day and casually tell his friends, Look, my mother is still looking at me. She’s over there, under that tree. His friends turned to look and when they didn’t see her, they said he was stupid. But when he told the adults this, they were horrified and hurried away. One time he went to Musa’s shop to buy cooking fat but he had less money.
Just give me the cooking fat, he said, my mother will pay the rest in the evening.
Musa asked, do you mean your grandmother?
No, I said my mother, Wekesa said, then turning to his side to an imaginary person he said, Mum, won’t you pay the rest today?
Musa stood from his seat, handed over the cooking fat and said, please go. Don’t bring the rest. I don’t want. All this while, he was looking around, trembling.
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