I racconti del Premio Energheia Africa Teller

An eye of a needle_Dominic Chege

consumo3_Africa Teller 2007. 


The moderate whistling of the wind with the controlled swaying of the

trees apexes brought a wave of peace and harmony in the rain forest.

Morning sun had just almost done away with the evaporation of the water,

which its rays could reach, on and in the deep brown soil. Little vapour

was however rising in almost invincible wavy lines with the heat so moistly

and deep that anyone could have sweated.

Abruptly, a big hornbill flapped his wings disappearing into the green

cover of nature, in any rain forest. It was somehow normal in a matter

of minutes before a baboon appeared from nowhere swaying the big

branches. Some of them broke soundly due to the much water absorbed

on the last month; October. He then disappeared not even daring to set

a glance at his environment.

The small wind however turbulented the water pool in front of them.

Response came instantly with water moving in ripples to the edges of

the pool. Nothing more was expected to stir anything, except maybe the

tormenting sounds of their AK_47 rifles if ever they got lucky, that is

if they got a wilder beast to shoot at, or if leopards wanted human flesh

so deeply. It did not matter nevertheless, if ever he appeared, they could

perfect their shooting.

Hunting was an art they had practiced since their mid teen-age. Supposedly,

an inherited skill in each of them from their grandfather. Obviously

what they had spent their time doing every vacation, when

schools were closed down. So it was their hobby and their skills had suf-

ficed. They knew how to shoot, perfect shooting not at all mentioning

the laying of snares and the skinning of an animal. Earlier along they

had used bows and arrows, which the old man did not advise on. “An

arrow is a danger to a skin which we desperately need!”, he had repeated.

Of course for decoration and making of some traditional music instruments,

beds, sometimes the old “papa” making a traditional wear and

putting it or them on, out of the various animals’ skins.

“It’s a nice day buddies, isn’t it?”, Kaisi asked. The tallest, strongest and

the oldest of them all.

“Of course a brilliant midday to stir all the tsetse flies in this forest”.

Replied Jimo the kid as they had always called him. Being the youngest

among them steered some inferiority complex occasionally. Nobody permitted

Jimo to carry a riffle therefore he was being forced to lie beside

Kaisi as he shot at an animal in many cases. Jimo was the one who checked

on the snares every time.

“Life’s flowing happily in everything around us Kaisi. Can’t you see that

ever Jimo want to climb to the top of the tallest tree around and view

the deep green?” It was Moine with one of his humorous attacks.

All of them guffawed heartily making an echo, which died so far from

them. Silence feel upon them again but this time, a bit murderous. They

were ready against any game attack especially at that point in the forest

where dangerous carnivores habitated. Rifles ready and bows and

arrows singing from their build up shoulders. Water filled up their boots

as they crossed the small stream rapidly. Impatience swept trough their

thinking faculty as they went up the gentle escarpment like a hungry lioness

sprinting behind an antelope.

It was the way to their two snares. Squelches of their heavy boots took

over the nagging silence with huge water drops dripping momentarily

on their anoraks. Significantly, the canopy below which they walked and

had moved under many times before, had not completely gotten rid of

the last night’s rainwater. Tall trees far beyond the roof of the canopy

had not yet dried un making it a kind of water transfusion. Neither Kaisi

nor Jimo noticed. Not even Moine who hardly and effortlessly focused

his big eye irises in front as if the soil would wear off and leave them a

vacant space wound out of nowhere in front of them.

The path snaked eastwards and the canopy squatted low and low. This

made them stop at first and then crawl. Their hands groped the cold wetness

on the dead leaves, which lay a top each other making a natural

layer – just a thick mattress. Two shallow trenches appeared when the

last Crawler had taken cover. A loud fatal roar had raised high their blood

pressures activating their adrenalin. They waited. It came a bit louder

again and again tormenting their eardrums like a powerful blast.

“Flat on the ground!”, Kaisi shouted with his finger on the trigger and

lying on a comfortable gun point but totally carried away by fear.

“Harrr… Harrr…”. The roar again but this time in a motion-high velocity


“Kid! Test an arrow or your muscles will be munched fully like a birthday

cake!” It was Moine, who was the first to spot the fierce cub running

towards their hiding place. Sometimes he was lucky to kill instantly

with the fist aim with his hands shaking the way they were but sincerely,

he couldn’t for then, they couldn’t take a strong grip of the already

wet rifle. The cub was a killing step in milli-seconds towards him, eyes

sharp, so sharp not to lose a glance at its prey and so eager to taste and

drink some human fuel to the last drop.

“It’s a bit loose Moine, furthermore perfection is highly called for!” The

kid shouted! “Why not lose one bullet to attain one skin, which we desperately

need?” He added stressing the last phrase in a sarcastic tone.

“No time for games or any senseless joke kid! He’s fully almost onto

me now!” Moine said unable to control his always-cool voice.

Kaisi’s bullet thundered cutting the directionless conversation short but

it was one of his greatest misses as the bullet went over the running cub’s

head. No one could believe as they could see danger lurking above them

on a very weak branch and the wind so violent and determined to tear

it off. All of them sat transfixed with their mouths wide open like the

hell’s gate when a sinner dies.

“Four!… three!… two!… on…”, but he couldn’t finish his counting. He

already had had one powerful hurl from the game’s fore-legs before the

counting was over. No sooner had the lion gotten rid of Moine’s voice

than he started rolling him over and over powerfully trying to get its teeth

on his bare face. Moine couldn’t lift his leg, the left leg, easily. So com-

fortably the knife lay with its blade shining, ready for duty however hard

it may be. He couldn’t withdraw his hands from its furry neck. Danger!

Of which no one could least entertain. The cub’s saliva started dripping

on his anorak repetitively making every drop sound bigger and malicious.

So energetic trying to push its head towards his chest but it was

too late as an arrow swished from the bush and got into its body making

the cub fall in a thud. Moine breathed deeply as the other two came

fearfully to where he lay. Scene of blood on his hands brought out the

catastrophe of the whole episode. Reality. It was real to the last bit. Of

course none of them had fathomed it out as being serious although

Moine knew the stress it forced into his mind. Another new experience

and a skin of a lion cub.

“You believe now Jimo?” Kaisi asked. At least you were accurate this

time and you got the intruder on the neck!

“Noone can stand the scene of his brother draining into the deepest gallows

of the Blue Nile”, commented Jimo, “another millisecond wasted

would have gotten Jimo into the tomb”.

“Cant you just stop your nonsense now?!” Moine spoke, the first time

since the cub died. He stood up and collected his rifle hang it on his shoulder

and went forward. Jimo and Kaisi followed reluctantly exchanging

glances in a blaffing manner.

Unlucky enough on Moine’s side but a bit lucky on their side. Snare number

one had caught an antelope. A big one who started struggling with

the synthetic chod when he saw them approaching. Aesthetically, he

pushed his whole bulk to one side in his last effort of rescue. Nothing

yielded for the antelope. Nothing against the trapper’s wisdom could have

set him free. A few seconds passed before he stilled and gave the three

gigantic creatures that stood a few yards from him an innocent look. It

passed away un-noticed as the shortest one stooped and removed a

knife which had been expertly tied with his boot laces. He stooped forward

grinning. Mister antelope could’t stand the scene of the glittering

blade, which wagged on the hunter’s right hand grip. Nevertheless, he

had to curb his nerves to welcome the last bits of life and the last pockets

of oxygen.

One life was forced out of an innocent antelope by the hunter and his

bloodthirsty knife – four eyes watching happily as the steel blade dug

deeply into the deep brown skin. Blood trickled out of its veins and arteries

like countless distributaries drawing Water from a Lake.

“Pass on the knife Mr. Butcher! Or you want to skin the soil Jimo?” Kaisi

asked having been deeply drawn into the kid’s slaughtering that he

wished he had started it.

“I wish I had existed before the dinosaurs became extinct. I could have

been a skilled skinner. From what I hear, the animal was too big that

you could have started slaughtering it from the back without it noticing

or even entering into its stomach, scooping out some flesh, packing it

in a sisal bag and getting out through the same mouth that you entered,

when it slept”. Jimo said although Moine and Kaisi had almost fell to

the ground by the time he finished, laughter!

“Drop it!”, Moine said with laughter interrupting his fluency. “I still doubt

the writer who put that information about dinosaurs down. Kaisi, do you

think man had fully evolved? Furthermore, no one is there to believe

any narrator who stands up and start talking about perfect than men. I

think they controlled men. Art of writing had not yet been discovered.

Maybe carbon dating proves it but don’t you think the early man’s tools,

which were discovered, weren’t stones fragmented by some natural

forces like weathering? But why in Africa? Yes it’s the cradle of man

but cant we just say that these tools were used before the arrival of white

faces? We hadn’t gotten any technology then!”, Maine said.

“Lets call it a lesson as you may end up sloping out the bones of Charles

Darwin for questioning!” The kid.

Rays of the afternoon sun filtered through the canopy at interval making

different figures on the leaves on the ground. As they went, the path

became thinner and thinner. Branches had grown towards it from both

sides across wanting to make a natural grip of green. Some yellowed

leaves hanging on them made the whole aura appear like an orange plantation

at the start of ripening. Definitely, most of them wanted to shake

hands with the fireball of burning gases. Millions of miles up to enable

them photosynthesize not at all quoting the absorption of green ray

from the sun to give them chlorophyll. Some of them were loose leaves;

highly wanting to fall off and decay other than hung loosely on stems

with insufficient supplies. It was easy however for them as they effortlessly

plucked off and swirled in air and felt peacefully as Moine shook

them. Each one of them had his right hand lifted to keep off the hanging

apexes from tormenting their faces, especially their eyes.

Two weeks had passed since they had last visited trap number two

meaning that plants-branches, had overgrown rapidly. But October is a

rain month and plants sprints up when they take in some water at nights

and controlled sunlight during the day.

“Aren’t we headed to ‘Wanuis’ compartment or to the land where Lucifer

crucifies those who disrespect him?”, Kaisi asked.

‘Wanui’ had frightened so many people as it was said. For many years,

fear had enveloped many people’s vein whenever they visited the deepest

portion of the forest. He wasn’t an animal or evil whatsoever; he was

human being who nobody knew his origin not even why he had chosen

to reside in the forest. His whole body was hairy specifically; hair covered

his whole body as in from the head to toe so it was a shock to confront

him. Animals had grown used to him for supposedly, he had acquired

some of their instincts making his whole life simple. Who can

spend years alone in some very harsh conditions without speaking to

someone? Harsh conditions? Yes, the weather. It was always so so cold

under those big trees in times of rain, fog and mists. But Wanui ate well

which highly made his body adapt. Meat made his daily food and it was

always said that an antelope was his breakfast and lunch. Supper was

not quoted in his mind whenever he caught a wilder beast in the morning.

“Footsteps guys, suppose someone had been here before us?”, Moine

asked pointing at an exposed portion where maybe a nocturnal had dug

a hole throwing too much soil on the leaves, dead leaves.

They were not so small, not even so big but they had been made by some

heavy military boots not a long moment ago. Only the left one appeared

on the soil, which clearly signified that the intruder or whoever he was,

inside there was watching them if ever he was interested. Maybe he was

on his way to where none of them could guess. Everyone was deeply

interested in ignoring it.

“Its Wanuis!”, Jimo exclaimed. His small echo passed undisturbed.

“He doesn’t put on shoes, you fool!”, it was true what Kaisi said. The

remnant of the Mau Mau guerrillas strolled bare feet. He had been luckily

spared by the white man’s lead as all of his gang members had been

torn apart by the blasts of some merciless bullets. He didn’t know when

the revolution took place us being left alone lingering from corner to

corner in there. There had been rumours that he had gone over his past

due to a bullet wound at his hip.

“Those ropes have been untied! Can’t you two see these big steps here?

You can also note that a dog had been present. A hound perhaps!” Bewilderment

was on Moine’s eyes as he said that.

“Hunters are becoming interested in these portion?”, Jimo asked, much

of disapproval than a question.

“Someone is up to some hide and seek. A big stump has just shown up

in our smooth road”. But it was all Moine said as an arrow shot out of

nowhere and pierced through his chest from the back. Its force made

his knees loose and synovial fluid absorbed the whole shock as his hard

knees made two depressions as he fell. His body became green within

a swerve of a duck’s tail making him appear like a statue with some fungal

plants like Moses and algae. The undergrowth surrounded his knees

and body simultaneously as his life forced its way out of him.

The carcass lay just next to Kaisi’s legs. A big stain of red appeared from

the path of the arrow’s prickle and vigorously transformed into a stream

of blood, which rapidly rinsed its brown anorak and his blue jeans pair

of trousers.

Ten seconds were not over. Everything seemed to take a drastic change.

Fifteen yards from the corpse, just behind their stand, Kaisi and Jimo’s,

a dark figure in a black anorak moved. If any one of the two stranded

figures turned he could have seen its boots with a green military trouser

tucked in them. It put its back into its quiver. He had removed it from

its place in case the first one was a mess. It then moved comfortably to

its right barricading its body behind a thicket, which screened a big trunk

of a mahogany tree. Certain that nobody saw it; it removed a pistol from

its anoraks pocket and another one from its holster on the gun belt tied

tightly on the waist. Slowly, it removed a green handkerchief and wiped

some tiny water drops on his quiver then set it aside. From its trousers

pocket, it’s removed a small parcel tied in a black polythene paper. It

unwrapped the polythene paper slowly and from it, a brown matchbox

like package emerged. It removed four tiny bullets from it and put two

in each pistol then put the pistols in the holsters on its gun belt on both

sides, right and left, before closing the ‘match box’ rewrapping it and

putting it back into the pocket. It drew in a deep breath with eyes fully

closed and meditated. Then it removed a black object from it’s pocket,

scrutinized it before it put it in its mouth. it’s only a thick headed fool

who couldn’t make out what made such a sound. Only an imbecile

wouldn’t know that a whistle had been blown!

Confusion swept through their nerves as they squatted one at a time. They

exchanged some ironic glances before Jimo spoke, “a whistle, isn’t it

Kaisi? We have got to elude our terminators!”

Kaisi didn’t speak, instead, he stretched his right hand fully and parted

Jimo’s lap. “Lets join our fingers brother, its different ways now. Lets

bet we’ll meet again alright kid, its our life and you have to sprint for


None of them waited for the malicious arrow of the unknown assassin

to wedge through them. Jimo fled to his left and Kaisi straight forward.

Their rifles swung rhythmically to each cheetahs like sprint and swiftly

vanished behind Jimo after he knocked his whole bulk against a tree

trunk in his attempt to escape. He didn’t notice, neither did he care even

if the tree felt.

Kaisi skidded and thudded on the ground with his buttocks greeting the

soil first. It was a steep relief which accelerated his slide downwards

piercing through some oversize undergrowth fiercely like a glacier erosion

luckily, his right leg stepped on a stump ahead of him, but it was

greatly rotten away that it broke to release the strain he caused on its

weak grains. It made him move forward again and this time, it caught

him between his legs. A searing pain moved through him as his private

parts were blasted unaware.

Jimo and Kaisi were out of sight. A bit far from their hunter for of course

no one, not even a soldier, could withstand a poisoned arrow. But far

then within half an hour, two life’s had been taken and some other two

were fleeing free, them.

Six figures uncovered from their hidings when the second whistle went.

Their heavy military boots made a mocking stampede, which somehow

sounded fatal. “No! Go… No! Go!” They sounded their hands tightly

gripping some very heavily built sniffer dogs.

The dogs, almost being dragged behind them sniffed at their masters’

boots occasionally straightening their ears and wagging their furry tails

as sign of instincts. All of them paraded around their master who squatted

beside Moine’s corpse. His eyes bulbs were expressionless as he gave

a warrior’s scrutiny on the blood rinsed body. The six watched eagerly

when he opened the petrol container and started spilling it on the corpse.

Controllably, he stood up, faced each of them momentarily then grinned

in approval.

From his anoraks pocket, he removed a pack of champion cigarettes,

took one out and put it between his lips. He set on a matchstick then

threw backward over his shoulder when he had lit his tobacco. A yellow

greenish blaze was what took in Moine’s remnants. Mercilessly.

“Skip one boys!”, the leader said. “Its now three minus one, lets go now!”

Seven men parted ways following their dogs who moved at a scuttle with

their heads bent. No one spoke, not even dared to for it would have created

alertness to the fugitive. All of them moved briskly but in a tiptoeing

manner riffles tightly held and fingers timely on the triggers. A moment

of silence overtook their realm but was soon stirred by some faint steps

of dogs and men as one dog picked the fleers direction.

Scuttles broke into sprints as the ‘hounds of blood’ ate space between

them and the escapists. Deep and deep into the forest they went clouding

the air around their faces with their rapid breaths. Their faint steps

had been transformed into tramps. A big run to try and keep un with the

paces of their dogs. Sweat trickled through the eyes openings on their

black masks. “Stop!”

It was their Leader’s voice. Every one of them became transfixed at the

shock of the fatal command. “One of us is sprawling on the ground, he’s

got an arrow in his bowels! Come here all of you!”, he’d continued.

“Oh… ouch!”, was all the dying man said before his whole flesh became

still, his breath ceased and his heart beat died. The six ‘blood hounds’

watched expressionlessly. None of them squatted beside. They all knew

the procedure. Petrol was removed from one of the heavy bags they carried.

As usual, the living dead got a flesh bath of it before a big flame

and a smell of seathing flesh fancied him. A long while ago, a hunter

was hunted instead and was roasted into ashes. Blood hound number

one was gone. Under the cover of the deep green, just in front of God’s

very eyes, a third life was taken.

“He’s rested men. So you don’t worry your cerebrums out! The hunt is

still on commence. It was a short practical on how some pre-mature hunting

gets the hunters unaware. Lets go now! He’s near here, please yourselves”,

the leader said.

Nobody paid attention as the five of them had been conquered by the

barking of one of their dogs, some metres from them but into the thicket.

They knew not where exactly but it was worth a try to search. It was

in front of them. The motion of the other dogs signified it. Soon, the thundering

of their barks just like the devil’s parade brought a miasma of

fear in everybody’s vessels. Adrenalins’ levels, in all the men, including

the fugitive who was on top of a tree, rose. All men took cover though

the dogs noticed nothing.

Someone is up to some hide and seek! The man on the tree recalled the

clear voice of Moine. Though totally shaking, he was biased to risk. No

soldier could give up so easily. Some little nerve would do it. If all the

dogs died, no one could trace him, even if they could, no one would get

to his partner. Totally prepared he was to lose his life but not alone. He

has to compensate for his and Moines life. He had taken Moine revenge

by an arrow, perfectly.

“Shoot instantly!”, he heard the six say. Vis-à-vis them, he had taken

cover too with instantly being the word. Comfortably on a twig, he pointed

his rifle downwards and within a second, bullets fell down on the dogs

like fire on Sodom and Gomorrah during Lot’s time.

Luckily enough, he took four dogs and got one on the leg.

In agony, the hurt dog bark tormented everyone’s ear drum but a bullet

tied his tongue in one very powerful blast. All of them listened as echoes

died far beyond their hiding places. Plus three, in the same aura, five

more lives left their bearers.

“His bullets have run out! Ha! Ha!”, someone commented.

“Lets prove that otherwise our courage could make us past tense like

our spaniels if the nincompoop has one left. Have you forgotten about

that Mr. Everest-Like-Man called Goliath and the Grain-of-sand-likeboy

called Daudi?”, another one said cocking his gun and lying at an

uneasy gunpoint. He closed on eye and aimed at the tree.

“Shoot fast otherwise we will have some grafts put to your buttocks like

some calico patches. You wont fancy that mister, will you?” The vexed

leader asked gritting his teeth and tapping his thumb on his rifle.

Luckily, Kaisi had seen him long before he had started shooting. He did

not shake a bit as he lifted his bow with an arrow set towards the lying

God technology.

A arrow swished in air perfectly that the shooting man didn’t even realize

what had split his cranium into two, through the face. He let go of

the gun undeniably not accepting what had happened but all in all, he

has gone. Three plus five plus one.

Concentration in all the five men did not allow them to pay attention to

the corpse. Everything around absorbed the nagging sounds of gunfire.

Five men against one with an added advantage of dogs. Disastrous, especially

to the young man screened by green leaves who did not even

know why he was being hunted. It had turned our to be serious some

minutes ago when he had seen dogs.

Violently, something hit the branch on which he was sitting. In turn his

body swirled in air like a tiny leaf exposed to the desert winds. Ten metres

to the ground but such a speed would break anybody’s spine. His

didn’t break whatsoever when he hit the ground. Shock absorbed by the

decaying leaves layers had helped him. However, he wasn’t lucky, the

thud was too big for him to withstand. Moderately, his eyelashes shook

hands, all in all, Kaisi passed out. And passed out forever.

Deep down the narrow path, Jimo ran. Fat drops of sweat dripped on

his already sweat rinsed anorak. He dared not look back although the

faint sound of gunfire reached him.

A drizzle started spattering on the tree leaves as darkness enveloped the

green in one very powerful wave that even the fleeing man didn’t notice.

An added advantage, he thought even if he was sure the men after

him had torches. But torches on their hands would make his arrow per-

fect if ever they reached him. Jimo hadn’t seen the dogs but as the

whimper grew into a bark almost a kilometre from him, awareness

nagged at him.

He still had time to run even if he knew not where. Forest hadn’t been

one of his favourite at night.

The bark drifted closer and closer as he ran faster and faster. Certainly

he knew he’d lose if he delayed a bit. Water was dogs’ one greatest enemy

for he couldn’t have his instinct picked on. One thing was clear to

him and that is ‘Ngoce’ river was a short distance from him. He could

swim if ever he got there.

A heavy weight hurled itself against his back. Pushing him on the

ground. One of the hunter’s spaniels! He couldn’t see him nevertheless.

Jimo was sure that a moment wasted would steer him into a lion den.

Only a faint back of the dog was beard as Jimo’s sharp blade dug into

its neck. He hadn’t taken five yards forward when a strong torch beam

and a loud sound stopped him. Another one appeared from the front blindening

his eyes. Last breath, he thought when some other running steps

neared them. Deep breaths conquered as everyone tried to stabilize their


Some minutes dragged by un-meddled before the leader spoke. “You

can go now Jimo! But where. You should be on your knees repenting

now before a very big flame swallow you!”

“Do I have to die?”, Jimo asked unable to conceal his courage. His fingers

on his heavy bag. He’d drop it. A moment passed. His bow, quiver

and rifle lay on the leaves in front of him. They couldn’t help him.

A deep thud of his bag conquered the hunters’ attention that they did

not at once note that Jimo had fled. Their faces shifted from him and

lay on his big bag on the ground. Soon they faced him. Shooting perfection,

all of them thought as they aimed their guns at him and shot.

The force on him thrust him forward. He had neared the river and all he

could have done was to jump into the frothing water. But a force of lead

assisted him into it due to his great weight.

The hunters’ hunters laughed sarcastically. They placed rifles on their

shoulders and went waste, a job perfectly done although one of them

knew well. Well that he was spotless as nothing else in this world would

prove that he had raped the seven years old girl and killed her. Only the

three knew and all of them were gone.

The night breeze warmed the water, which in turn warmed the hands of

‘kagori the farmer’. His hands became clean. He stood up ready to go

but a black speck moved near him moderately. He waited, not sure

whether to touch it or to let it go. Nothing of such kind had ever passed

there before and maybe; it was a bag carrying gold. But why at night?

He wondered stooping and grabbing it. It was heavy. A magnificent grin

was on his lips as he pulled it up to his astonishment, he pulled out of

the water an unconscious body of Jimo.

He knew him though not clearly but he’d know better when the bullet

was out of his left shoulder. All he didn’t know was that the door,

through which he came out couldn’t be seen with some naked human

eyes. So so! Microscopic. An eye of a needle. But the villagers still danced

to the tune of the music instruments Jimo’s grandpa made. That night.