Winner, June 2012 KidPub Writing Contest
There was once a boy named Lysander James Nitti who lived in Kenya with his ‘mama’, ‘papa’ and little sister called Adiira in a little round hut deep in the village. In the late evenings or very early mornings, Nitti and papa set out into the bush to hunt the day’s meat. They usually returned early in the morning. On lucky days, they caught a wild pig or deer but most of the time they returned with a rabbit or bird. Mama and Adiira set out to go digging in the garden when Nitti and papa returned. They came back in the afternoon and mama used the vegetables from the garden and meat from the hunt to cook a delicious filling afternoon meal. For supper, they ate what was left over from lunch, accompanied by a cup of tea and then it was story time. All the villagers came to the community hut to listen to the stories that were told by the elder people of the community. They told stories of the gods, how they created the Earth, how they always made sure that rain watered the crops, how they gave couples children and other ways that they kept us here and happy on Earth. They always ended the story by saying, “If we show the gods a bad side, then they will show us a bad too but if we show them a good side, then they will shower us with blessings.” After the stories, papa, Nitti and all the other men and boys went hunting.
One night, papa and Nitti went hunting as usual. The moon was not yet out when they left but they were sure that it would come out and give light like it usually did. They arrived at the bush but the moon wasn’t up yet. Nitti had a very bad feeling about hunting without any light. “Papa, I think that we should go back now. I don’t think that we should hunt without any light,” he tried to reason with his father.
“No my son. We must hunt. The whole family can’t starve because we were too scared to get them food. We are the men Nitti and we have to do our manly duties.”
He looked over at his son and said, “You can stay here and wait for me. You are young anyway and it is too dangerous.” He then proceeded into the bush to catch the next day’s meat. Nitti did as he was told and stayed where he was. Minutes passed by and they soon turned into hours. Nitti was starting to get extremely nervous and worried. Also, the fact that I was still pitch dark wasn’t really helping so he decided to enter the bush after his father. Nitti had to crawl on his hands and knees so that he could feel the ground ahead of him before moving towards it. He was touching around when he suddenly felt something cold. This made him freeze where he was. He kept on touching and suddenly, he felt human features. A nose, lips, chin. Nitti had no idea what was going on but then it struck him. His papa. This dead man that he was feeling was his own papa. Without even thinking, Nitti got up and ran. He did not see where he was going but he did not care. He just ran and ran and then suddenly, he stopped.
When Nitti woke up, he was lying in his hut with his mother next to him. She was putting herbs on his forehead and singing an old traditional song. Nitti’s mother was in the middle of her song when she noticed that her son had woken up.
“Thank you Annora, goddess of health,” she quickly said and grabbed a bowl of soup that was lying on the floor next to Nitti’s mat. Slowly, she fed her son the hot warming soup until he had finished every single last drop of it. All this while, Nitti was still a bit dazed. He was not really sure what was going on. After he had finished his soup and gained a bit of energy, everything suddenly came back to him. The hunt, his dad, the very cold body…..
Nitti screamed and fell into his mum’s arms. He knew very well that warriors like him weren’t supposed to cry but he couldn’t help himself. Nitti cried and cried until he fell asleep again. When he woke up, the hut was empty. Nitti decided to go outside and take a walk. He then saw that there was a light inside the community hut and remembered that it was story time and since it was his favourite part of the day, Nitti couldn’t miss it.
He entered the hut, trying to keep a low profile but failing. Everyone looked at him as he walked to the end and took his seat. The elder had to cough in order to regain everyone’s attention. The story time had just started so Nitti had not missed anything yet. To his surprise, there was no story. The elders talked about what had happened to Nitti’s dad. He told how all the men except Nitti and his father had returned. About how they had gone out to search for them and found his father’s body. How it contained the marks of a poisonous snake bite. How Nitti had fainted and been found a little distance away. While the elder was telling the story, Nitti’s eyes were filled with tears. He wasn’t about to cry in front of the whole village though. Now that his father was gone, he was supposed to be the man and warrior of his family and warriors definitely did not cry. His mother and all the other women were wailing since it was perfectly okay for women to cry.
When the elder had finished narrating the incident, he paused for a second. Then he continued, “The gods have let us down. We didn’t do them any wrong but they have taken away one of our greatest warriors. We showed the gods a good side but the showed us a bad side and now, we shall show them a bad side too.”
This statement scared everyone. The gods were very powerful and if they were angered, then they could destroy the whole earth. Nobody dared to argue with the elder though.
“From now on, no one shall make any sacrifices to the gods until they show us a good side,” the elder finished.
That night, the warriors did not make a sacrifice to Wamala, god of the hunt before they went hunt and the women did not make a sacrifice to Anouk, goddess of the garden, before they went digging. It took a lot of courage to ignore the gods but they did just as the elders told them to. The hardest time was when it was time to eat. Everyone was so used to giving a bit of their food to Nora, who was the goddess of the harvest.
Things went on that way for about a week. Everyone had expected the gods to give them a severe punishment by then but still, nothing had happened. The elders told the people to go on like that until they got any news from the gods.
Since his father’s death, Nitti had to do the hunting on his own. When he returned in the mornings, he was so tired and he did not hesitate to go and get some sleep. He had the most peculiar dream that morning.
His father was standing there and waving to him. He then said, “I am so proud of you Nitti. You have proved yourself as a true warrior.” Nitti was going to reply but his dream suddenly changed course. Next thing he knew, he was standing next a very tall, pretty lady with long hair and big blue eyes. She was shining with a light blue light. Judging from the elders’ descriptions, this was Meelah, the moon goddess. Nitti moved closer to her and saw that her face was filled with distress. She looked very worried.
“What’s wrong?” Nitti asked
“It’s your people. They have stopped giving us sacrifices and it is making us weak. Why? Why do they do that?” she replied in the sweetest softest voice Nitto had ever heard.
Nitto stood for a second. He was rather bewildered that they could also make the gods suffer.
“My father. You let him die yet he had nothing wrong. We are only doing this because you showed us a bad side,” Nitti replied.
“What do you want us to do Nitti? What should we do?” asked Meelah.
“If you show us good deeds, then we shall show you good deeds.”
At this point, Meelah started fading away and Nitti woke up. He couldn’t remember most of his dream but he knew that he had talked to his father and……..
Nitti couldn’t remember who else he had talked but Meelah did not forget and from then on, she showed her same side on Earth as she travelled through the month. Her good side.