We raided the tree. Sat atop the tallest and hopped from one branch to another, plucking ripe yellow things. We thrust our teeth into them as cold yellow juices trickled down our hands. We ate in haste as though we were being chased by rival mango-eaters.  When we had stripped the tree of its fruits, we hurried down for Raid No 2. A few of us stumbled and fell on scattered peelings lying lazily below. We headed for the swamp.

The sugarcane had grown, taller than all of us, including uncle Ocii who planted them. We wrapped our hands around one stem at a time and pulled it off the marshy ground. We prepared a leaf-made mat and sat. We chewed and chewed the sugarcane until our lips and tongue complained.

Then the walk home began. Suddenly Owelo stopped under the tamarind tree and pressed his stomach against the trunk. He belched – long and hard. We all did the same and felt lighter as we carried our weights home. The yellow lines of mango juices and the whitish ones from the sugarcane gave our cheeks and stomach a dirty make-up. We didn’t care.


Our stomachs tormented us. They were an unwanted luggage. But Ma insisted we had to eat. In her home, nobody refuses food. So we looked for parking space in our stomachs to accommodate the plate of pasted peas and millet bread. Then we stood behind the main hut, washed our legs, arms and face in disguised baths.

It was soon time for Ododo. We sat in a circle around the wangoo and listened to Ma’s tales about the tortoise and the elephant, the hyena and the ogre. Our ears consumed each story with infant greed. But when the moon flashed its rays upon Ma’s home, our bodies begged for the bed and our eyes impatiently closed beneath the luggage of sleep.


The sound of snores fled our throats and hovered above thirteen sleeping heads. Legs and hands were strewn across the shared papyrus mattress in careless, childish fashion. On the dung-smeared floor, heaps of blankets lay dejectedly. And the grass-thatched hut was perfumed with air from over-fed stomachs and moist fragrance from urine-soaked mats.

Outside, goats ran about the compound with passion-laden steps. The chicken perched on the tree and chirped with sleepy energies.  The moon patrolled the sky with gentility, sprinkled its rays upon Ma’s home and bore witness to activities outside and within.

[Extract from The Dogs Are Hungry]

7 thoughts on “[…]

  1. Reblogged this on the bat philosophy and commented:
    The beauty of words is not in ‘size’, for words have nothing to do with Gagamel Crew, the only place where size matters. Here, simple diction rules, and short sentences are accentuated with ripe punctuation to make you feel the words in your lips, live the vivid description. A nice piece. Just can’t wait for the continuation and the end…


  2. I love the short sentences. I wonder where my high school dreams of being a poet and writing such sentences burned out. Nice work, I can re-read it as much time as I like annoying people!


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