Gobah and the Killer
(Chapter One) By Bob G. Kisiki
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange
Gobah and the Killer Healers
By Bob G. Kisiki
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
Gobah and Marla were inseparable. Gobah was fourteen, and Marla was two years younger, but as it is said that girls grow much faster than boys, many people thought the two children twins. The belief was even helped more by the keen resemblance the children bore to their father, Mzee Wadua. Mzee Wadua was very proud and fond of his two children, for they were his only biological children, not counting Sama, the boy his wife came with in the womb, when they married. Sama was now Gobah’s senior. He lived with his aunt in Buwenge.
Mzee Wadua’s family lived in Idudi, a village covering three giant hills in Butembe County. Butembe is very well known for its hills, many of which carry horrifying stories on their backs. The three hills, on which Idudi lies, however, are harmless ones, and people had always lived there in unprecedented harmony and tranquillity. It was only when you left the valley on the western side of Idudi that you ascended one of the most deadly of the Butembe hills. It smoked on the top, like a constant bush fire was always going, and it was said that no one who ever ventured to go up and see what caused the smoke had ever returned. Some people with modern and others with Christian tendencies denied these stories, but not even they had volunteered to go up and verify what the cause of the fireless smoke could be.
Our story, however, is not about Idudi, but about Gobah and his sister Marla. These two children loved each other so much, where Marla was, Gobah was, too, and if one saw Gobah approach, one just had to wait a while, and Marla, too would approach. And then people would say, ‘How are you, the twins of Mzee Wadua?’ and the supposed twins would beam at each other, beam at the Idudi people, and answer that they were fine, thank you. They were the darlings of the three hills, because not a person who lived in Idudi did not know the Wadua family, especially this pair of miraculous children, Gobah and Marla.
Marla was a particularly beautiful child. At twelve, she had already started attracting peeping eyes and whispered remarks, yet she was only in Primary Seven. Yet who could blame anybody? She had these big eyes that were like two miniature mature moons, and a smile that made people crazy with love for her. Many Butembe people believe that a great woman must have big behinds, and if anyone had big behinds, Marla did. So what feature of beauty was lacking in this girl?
Which could be why Gobah was so fond of his sister, and did not want her out of his sight. They loved taking distant walks together during their holidays, going as far as the valley of their hill, and sometimes beyond.
They were taking one such walk one day, when the sun went down on them. They were very far away from home, and Marla started to panic. ‘We’ll be fine, Marla dear,’ her brother comforted her.
‘I know. I just don’t trust the dark, that’s all. Times are changing, Gobah.’
They hastened their steps back toward home. They had not gone very far from where they turned back toward home when car head lamps hit them on their backs, and on the road ahead of them. Taking his sister’s hand, Gobah drew her away and they stepped off the road. The car slowed down, however, and stopped by their side. A young lady was at the wheel, and another woman, more advanced in age, occupied the co-driver’s seat.
‘Are you going far dear twins?’ the elderly lady said with a king-size smile.
‘Yes, thank you,’ Marla said, as she disengaged her hand from Gobah’s grip. Gobah, however, was hesitant. A red light flicked on in his mind.
‘No, Marla, come-‘ he was saying, but the back door was already opened, and Marla was stepping inside.
‘Marla! Marla! Come out!’ Gobah screamed, alerting the two ladies to his being more informed than they had suspected. Acting fast, the old lady opened her bag, removed a small bottle, pressed a lever on it, and sprayed some sort of perfume all over Marla’s face, as the young woman pulled away at top speed.
‘Stoooop! Stop them! Thieves! They’ve stolen my sister! Maaarla!’ all Gobah got in response was a cloud of dust, and echoes to his voice. The darkness around the hills had intensified.
Gobah practically ran all the way back home, a distance of over five miles. He ran, and did not know that he ran. He ran so much, when he got home; somehow, he just collapsed before his bewildered parents and passed out.
Picture, then the panic and confusion that followed, when Mzee Wadua and his wife received this sight. First, they had been anxious about their children. It was already dark and they were still out. They had always told Gobah not to stay out late with his sister, but the children loved each other so much, anything that let them be together, alone, they would do, with little care. Now what had happened? Where was Marla?
That was the big question: where was Marla?
They called out Gobah’s name. No response. They shook him like an inanimate thing. No reaction. They poured cold water on him, and he revived, but he could say nothing intelligible, except an absurdly rhapsodic repetition of Marla’s name. He would call Marla, laugh without mirth, cry, and keep on calling Marla, becoming more frantic by the minute. Time was running out.
Mrs Wadua was ecstatic, to say the very least. She was just holding back, but her entire system wanted to scream, to call out to Marla. So when she saw her husband’s panic also reach to the skin, she gave in. she let out a wail that brought in not just the neighbours, but even other Idudi residents, to find out what had befallen the wadua family.
There was a big crowd in Mzee Wadua’s compound. Some people came with torches, some with clubs, while others came in with whatever they were eating still in their hands. Everybody was talking at the top of their voices, asking the nearest person what had gone wrong. Was someone dead? Was it a robbery? There was a small rumour beginning to sneak around, that Mzee wadua had beaten his wife. Else, why was she crying?
The men of the hill pushed their way through the clusters of women and children, and got the true story from Mzee Wadua himself: his girl Marla, the beautiful Marla of the hill, was missing!
The search party was formed in a flash. Dividing themselves out into groups to cover the entire hill, old and young men, plus a few daring women set out to look for Marla. Marla, the favourite of beholders on the hill. They had to help the Wadua family in their time of great need.
By the time the search party left, Gobah was in a high fever. The delirium had subsided, but he had developed such a temperature, Mrs Wadua’s crying now took on a new facet. She was convinced that she was losing her two children the same day.
‘Somebody help run to Nurse’s house,’ Mrs Wadua pleaded to the few people who still lingered about. This Nurse was actually not a nurse. She was an elderly woman who had once worked in a hospital, far away in Buwenge, for well over twenty years, and had now retired. No one knew for certain what her work had been, but it sure hadn’t been a professional job. Some suspected (and whispered, of course), that she had been a cook, while some said she used to clean patients’ wounds before real doctors could dress and treat them. Whatever she had done, however, had lent her some knowledge on essential drugs, and how to dispense them, and to inject the injectibles. Now she was the nurse of the village, and that’s how she had got her name, Nurse, from the villagers. Nurse.
Someone did run to Nurse’s house. She had just returned from treating a man who had been bitten by a snake, when the young boy entered her compound, looking like he had just encountered a leopard.
‘Nurse, Mrs Wadua’s son… she wants you,’ the boy panted.
‘Mrs Wadua’s son, she wants me? Make some bit of sense, child!’
‘Her son is ill. Please rush over.’
In a tick,’ she said, dashing into the house post-haste.
‘What is he- but you wouldn’t know,’ Nurse mused.
‘Complicated. His sister was maybe stolen, he came home running, and then the fever grabbed him,’ the boy explained, piecing together what he’d heard the crowd say.
Nurse knew what to take. Take a bottle of PPF, some sedatives and tranquilisers. And maybe quinine.
When she got to the Wadua home, they had already done their part. They had put water in a kalai, an aluminium basin, and it was boiling on the fire. A smaller pan lay by the side, scrubbed to a glitter.
‘Where’s the boy?’ Nurse asked, her frame erect, hands akimbo and eyes opened to fully capacity.
‘Inside,’ everybody around chorused.
Bring him here… no, I’ll go in. Somebody please bring in the water.’
The water and the pan were taken in by the same boy who had gone to collect Nurse. Once in the room, she dropped the syringe and needle into the water for a while, then pulled PPF into the syringe, and emptied it into Gobah’s bum. She repeated the process for a second shot. ‘This is a high fever,’ she explained, as if to justify the second shot. People had always accused her of doing anything to fatten her bill at the end of the day. They likened her to a coffin maker, who was never happy when people were alive and well.
After the injections, Nurse left Mrs Wadua with three packs of quinine tablets, just in case there was another emergency, and they didn’t know where she had gone.
Two search parties were back by the time Nurse left the Wadua compound. There was no news of Marla. Slowly by slowly, the other people returned, the last group turning in towards ten o’clock in the night. This group reported some people as having heard a child scream about his sister being stolen, but since no such thing had ever happened in their neighbourhood, they had ignored it as a case of children out playing in the night.
The answer was out, then. Marla had been kidnapped!
End - Chapter One