Love conquers_Fanis Odhiambo
_Africa Teller 2003.
It had been a hot and long dusty day for Mr. Hasira and all he could
think of was a cool home brewed drink under his favourite mango tree.
As he sat under the shade of the tree with his cool drink in hand, Mr.
Hasira looked around him to see the other villagers running around
preparing to settle down for the evening. He had this expression on
his face that made him seem like the chief elder, when he was just but
an ordinary villager.
It was the location of the tree that gave him an aura of superiority
since it was at the heart of the village. This allowed him to practically
see what all the villagers were doing, as a hawk would look at the
chicks from up above.
Mr. Hasira was a man who had seen many days and nights, he had
seen many depart to the ancestors and many come into the world. He
was a man who believed in working hard and he never had a lot to tell
but the few words he spoke were engraved into the heart of the
recipient for a long time. The reason why Mr. Hasira’s few words had
so much impact to the listener was because they always had a tinge of
anger in them and he hardly chose his words. He was one man who
rarely smiled and always had something bad to say about everyone
and everything. He was as bitter as bile and not many could stomach
him lest for his two grand children who were the only family he had.
Mr. Hasira had outlived his wife and his three children who died due
to a season of famine that killed many in the village. This surprised
many villagers, as he was the only one among the elderly who was
not affected by the famine. He never went hungry despite the fact that
his family starved and eventually died leaving him with his two little
grandchildren, Nguvu and Imani.
Many of the villagers claimed that Mr. Hasira survived the famine
because before the famine got to its severe stage in the village, Mr.
Hasira made a pact with a witch from the far lands beyond the
horizon from a place where no one had ever gone.
Despite the fact that many want to believe this tale there is no
evidence to prove it and no one ever witnessed what actually
happened lest for one old man who also survived the famine but he
can neither talk nor see yet he knows what usually goes on in the
Nguvu grew up to be a skilful hunter and a strong warrior with
strengths that are feared by all. His sister Imani, two years his junior,
is of a dark chocolate complexion, with eyes sparkling brighter than
the stars and a body that would put a skillfully mould gourd to
Mr. Hasira’s grandchildren always made sure that their grandfather
lacked nothing. They always ignored the villagers who tried to badmouth
their grandfather. As far as they were concerned he saved them
from the famine and he made sure their needs were met. He also
ensured that they grew up to be respectable and loving. He taught
them to love both old and young, wise and fools alike with no
The Mr. Hasira that was known to them was not the same old man
that was known to the villagers. People always said that he had put
them under his spell, which he got from the witch. This never seemed
to bother Nguvu and Imani, as they knew better than to listen to talk
carried and dispersed by the wind.
The bond that existed between the grandchildren and their
grandfather was one that had endured the test of time and was envied
by many families in the village.
Life was good for Mr. Hasira and his grandchildren. They never
argued and they never wept.
One evening as Mr. Hasira was relaxing under his mango tree as he
would every evening, a villager came running towards his hut to
“Mr. Hasira please come quickly a miracle has just taken place”. The
outburst of the villager was heard by Imani and Nguvu who were
busy preparing for supper at the back of their hut and caused them to
come running to see what was going on.
With a heavy and yet soothing voice Nguvu asked, “What is the
commotion all about? What miracle is this you are talking about and
what are the villagers hustling about?” “Nguvu you have to come and
see for yourself. The blind and dumb old man can talk and he asked
to see your grandfather only…”
“What? Are you insane, that man has been unable to speak for years!”
Exclaimed Imani, who by now headed towards the direction of
“Wait”, said Nguvu “why does he want to see my grandfather?”
“We will only get to know if your grandfather accompanies us”,
replied the villager.
Mr. Hasira was unmoved by the actions that were surrounding him.
He stood up weakly and his grandchildren who knew their
grandfather well are the only ones who noticed this. Nguvu went to
help his grandfather up as Imani tagged behind. The three of them
walked slowly towards the vast crowd of villagers that had gathered
to witness the miracle.
There was a lot of murmuring as Mr. Hasira and his grandchildren
approached the old man’s house with precaution as they did not know
what to expect nor what was in store for them. Nguvu acted as a
strong pillar that his grandfather could lean on and Imani acted as his
source of hope and faith that he could lean on.
“Mr. Hasira I am glad you have come. I can see the years have been
good to you. You look strong”. Said the old man with a creaky voice.
The old man’s statement put many to awe, as he had been known to
be blind yet he spoke as one who could see.
All except Mr. Hasira stared with their jaws agape, and for several
minutes the place was so silent that heartbeats could be heard
thumping away creating an unknown rhythm.
Mr. Hasira tried to put a brave face but his also caved in not because
the old man could speak or see, but because the time had come.
“Grandpa, you look like you want to say something” said Nguvu
while holding up his grandfather with a firm arm wrapped around
In a whisper with a tone so soft, Mr. Hasira said, “the time has come.
Everyone leave, I need to talk to the old man alone. Go, now”
For a moment everyone held their breadth as they waited for insults
to roll out of his mouth, but none was uttered. This caused all the
villagers to disperse without a word. Nguvu and Imani stayed behind
with their grandfather in the poorly lit hut that smelt of so much dust.
Propping himself up, the old man said, “The time has come Mr.
Hasira. I need to depart in peace with no more lies and secrets in my
heart. Please, tell them, as I do not have a lot of time. Nguvu, Imani,
please sit down and let your grandfather begin”.
“Begin to do what? What is going on, how is it that you can see, talk
and you even know who we are, who are you?” asked Imani with her
sparkling eyes darting from the old man to her grandfather. Nguvu had
no strength to say anything his legs willingly agreed to give in and he
found himself a spot on the dirt ground to rest his shocked body and
soul waiting for the answers to questions that tossed in his head.
“Quiet down Imani and let me begin”, said her grandfather who had
his eyes fixed on the ground. “It all happened many years ago and I
know by the time I am trough both of you will hate me but I had to do
it”. Mr. Hasira looked around for a place where he could rest his
fatigued body, and he found one, a distance from his grandchildren
and the old man. All eyes were fixed on him waiting for him to
“The day had been hotter than any day the two of you have ever
experienced”, he continued as he turned to look at his grandchildren.
“The year had not been good and no rain had fallen. The land was dry
and many animals had migrated in search of food. Our food stores
were empty and there was nothing to eat. The village elders met to
discuss the solution, as there was no sign of rainfall. As we sat under
what used to be a mango tree that had dried up, on the same spot
where I love to sit to date, the elders decided that two men should be
sent to the far lands beyond the horizon, a place where no one had
ever gone. The two to be chosen happened to be this old man and I.
Having been chosen by the elders to perform a task was great honour
and though we were weak and knew of the danger that awaited us on
our journey, we obliged.
As we said goodbye to our families and friends not knowing if we
would see them again we left. I left one of my daughters expecting
you, Nguvu. It was a painful departure but I had to go. There was no
point in staying behind to see my family and other villagers starve
when there could be a solution where I was sent.
As we left with only spears in our weak hands, we heard the cries of
our wailing families bidding us safety.
We travelled for days with no one and nothing in sight, not even a
firefly in the night. The places we went to were desolate and the smell
of death lurked in the air.
Everyday we walked, we became weaker and we could no longer
carry our spears so we left them on the way. We walked with no
direction hanging on to the hope that we would find life even if it was
going to be a single green grass. Yet all we saw was dirt and dry land.
We lost track of days after walking for a fortnight and the soles of our
feet had broken out in sores that hindered us from walking. Our lips
had cracked into gaping wounds and our bodies were emaciated
Since we could not walk we pulled ourselves forward using our
hands, until our hands were bruised and cut with sharp stones and
The night had dawned and the owl could be heard hooting from a
nearby tree. Sadness filled the village despite the events that had
transpired during the afternoon. The villagers were in their huts
waiting for a new day with a new atmosphere apart from those who
tried to sneak near the old man’s hut to hear Mr. Hasira’s tale, but
they were too scared to draw near hence they could not hear a single
In the dimly lit room, the only voice that whispered in the dark was
the sad voice of Mr. Hasira, as he continued with his sad tale with no
“As that day turned into a cold night, we could not pull ourselves any
further and we lost hope in reaching the land beyond the horizon”.
We lay down to die when out of nowhere we heard thunder and saw a
flash of lightning that almost blinded us. We could not believe our
eyes and ears. We were ecstatic and we forgot the wounds on our
soles as we arose and I looked towards the heaven. For a few minutes
we waited and there was no more thunder and no more lightning. Our
hopes failed us again but immediately we settled down to await death;
big, cold drops fell from the sky. It was raining and we opened our
mouths to take in the special liquid we had not tasted for days. With
outstretched hands we lay on the ground and laughed like little
children as we let the rain soak us to the marrow, as we were already
bones. No sooner had we enjoyed the rare commodity than it stopped
abruptly as it had started. We looked at each other with astonishment
and we could not explain what had transpired. Then out of the
shadows came a figure that looked like an animal and yet spoke like a
human. This figure said to us, “Do you want that rain to fall in your
village and bring you a harvest saving you from the starvation that
continues to kill your people?”
With weak voices we replied and said, “Yes we do. Can you help us?”
“Indeed I can help. I have already given you a taste of what I can do
and yet you still question? Are you willing to pay the price?” We
looked at each other for a while debating what to do and for the sake
of our families we both agreed. Therefore this figure continued.
“For rain to fall in your village and save your families from death you
have to promise me a grandchild each. This grandchild should be sent to
me after many years when the time is right”. When my friend here heard
the terms he immediately declined saying, “I would rather die than
sacrifice my grandchild to you a beast with no name”. At his utterances,
the beast grew mad and roared with furry and out of fear I agreed to its
terms so as to save my family, my village and us from death.
“Since you, Mr. Hasira have agreed to my terms, I will send rain
and your village will be saved. As for your friend I will spare his
life but he will watch as his family dies one by one and he will not
be able to save them. From today he will not be able to see or speak.
The day he will speak will be a sign that the time has come for you
to send your first-born grandchild to me”.
With that Imani immediately turned to her brother and hugged him as
though her life depended on him as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Nguvu lost all the strength he had and he felt faint. Words failed him
and he did not know how to react. All he could do was murmur. “I am
sorry Nguvu I never imagined this day would come, I am sorry”.
With these words Mr. Hasira looked down out of shame.
The old man groaned in pain and he knew time had come for him to
depart to the land of his ancestors. He looked at Nguvu and with his
last breath said, “Nguvu, do the right thing. Do what your heart tells
you to do”. The old man’s limbs dropped to the ground and he was
gone. Silence filled the tiny dimly lit hut.
“Grandfather what have you done? Why did you do it?” Imani asked
amid sobs and anger. With pain in his voice Nguvu said, “No Imani,
do not accuse him. He did it to save our family and this old man as
well as us. It is fate”. Nguvu heard the old man’s voice whisper to
him again saying, “Nguvu, do the right thing. Do what your heart tells
you to do”. Nguvu obeyed the old man and he followed his heart. He
went approached his grandfather and with love in his hands he lifted
him up and embraced him tightly as he whispered, “I still love you
grandfather and I understand”. Tears rolled freely from Mr. Hasira’s
eyes and he embraced his grandson. Imani joined them and hugged
her grandfather and brother. As they held in tight embrace, Mr. Hasira
said, “I have something else to tell you”.
Both Imani and Nguvu moved back and listened. “That beast told us that
should my grandchildren choose to forgive me and love me even after
they found out the truth, then the curse would be broken by that love.
Thank you for forgiving me and choosing to love me at your own will”.
The trio rejoiced and embraced as they planned the old man’s burial
that would take place the next day. Love had saved them from pain
and despair and their bond grew even stronger.