The Carcasses in the Desert
By Olatunbosun Adetula (Nigeria)
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THE CARCASSES IN THE DESERT
By Olatunbosun Adetula (Nigeria)
In the morning just before the laborers began their work, Mr. Fisher and Goi took a tour of the site, as they moved all over the land and inspected the work the men did, they got to the Jacaranda tree and stayed under it. The sun was hot and fierce on the azure sky. As they discussed under the Jacaranda tree, Goi held his head with his two hands. It was the same headache that hit him before under the Jacaranda tree and now it came back again with even more ferocity.
“I think you better go back to your room. I will come and meet you there.” Mr. Fisher said as Goi left the place and walked back to his room.
Mr. Fisher looked at the tree branches; he examined the tree and discovered nothing strange or spectacular around the tree or under it. Later, as he stood watching the tree, Elthon and Gabriel came to meet him.
“Hello Mr. Fisher, good morning sir,” Elthon said.
“Good morning Elthon. How are you Gabriel?” Mr. Fisher said.
“I am fine,” Gabriel replied and Elthon looked at Mr. Fisher. He wondered what the man had found under the tree.
“Mr. Fisher, I hope everything is okay sir.” Elthon said.
“I am not sure, Elthon.”
“Why did you say so, Mr. Fisher sir?”
“We are yet to discover anything on the site except an old neck chain,” Mr. Fisher as he resettled his glasses on his nose.
“Calm down, Mr. Fisher, I believe something is under the ground. Please let your men continue the work.”
“You better be sure, because if I don’t see anything, I will collect my money and get the two of you arrested,” Mr. Fisher said as the workers filed out to begin work on the site.
Later in the night, just before he longed for the oblivion of sleep, Goi thought about the Jacaranda tree and the mystery that surrounded it. He got up from his bed and went outside. Then he looked at the site again. In his heart he pictured that the site looked like the refugee camp at the border of Kiba where he had stayed with his family and Doctor George, but as much as he tried to picture the whole scenario, it remained a jigsaw puzzle in his heart.
The next morning the men dug and dug. They discovered many strange things like slippers, torn clothes, an old pot, cooking utensils, rubber mats, clay pots and lots of beads. Mr. Fisher was confused when he saw what the men brought out from the soil. He tried to picture the whole puzzle that stared him in the face. He took some of the discovered items into his room and examined them. By and by the men dug out bones from the soil. Goi saw one of the men who he wanted to pull something out from the ground and he went to meet him.
“What did you find there, Abdul?” Goi asked.
“I found plenty of bones,” The man said and Goi called Mr. Fisher. Mr. Fisher came rushing to the place with excitement on his face.
“Look sir at what the men are finding here,” Goi said and gave one of the bones to Mr. Fisher.
“These are carcasses,” Mr. Fisher said, examining the bones.
“Carcasses? I am not sure, Mr. Fisher,” Goi said
“Yes, these are carcasses in the desert,” Mr. Fisher said and Goi looked at his face.
“I am really confused sir. Look, these are human bones. They don’t look old at all.”
“Look Goi, as far as I am confused, these are carcasses until proven otherwise.”
“Okay, let’s prove it,” Goi said and they went back into the room. Goi brought out his equipment and worked on the bones. Mr. Fisher eyes were wide in disbelief when Goi read out the results of the bone examination for the bones were just a few years old.
Later, as the men worked, they discovered more bones. The men brought them to Mr. Fisher, who smiled and told the men to continue their work. Many bones and skulls were discovered on the site. Goi and Mr. Fisher looked at them with shock, surprised with disbelief.
Goi couldn’t sleep. Gradually he realized that the site was indeed the place where the refugees’ camp was located and all the bones found on site belonged to the people that died when the camp was invaded by the militiamen. He looked out through the window and cried. Elthon and Gabriel heard the men talking about the site and the bones and anticipated that they would soon be discovered, so they planned their escape route. The following day the men working around the Jacaranda tree discovered two human skeletons, these two skeletons were special. Unlike the other bones scattered in the soil, these two skeletons were still intact. Mr. Fisher, as supervisor, helped them bring the intact skeletons to the room.
“Goi wake up, wake up quickly!” Mr. Fisher shouted and Goi quickly left the bed.
When he saw the two skeletons on a board, he was shocked; there was something strange about the two skeletons. When he stared at them at length, it was as if they resembled his two grandparents, Yol and Nyot. As he knelt down to examine them the headache came back, this time, more intense than ever, and he fell down beside the skeletons. Mr. Fisher called three men to come and lift him to his bed. Mr. Fisher was confused; he couldn’t fathom what got wrong with Goi ever since they got to the site. He had been behaving so strangely.
Later, as he wrote on his desk inside the room, one of the men brought out two silver bangles and gave them to Mr. Fisher. Goi had just woken up. Mr. Fisher stood up from his seat and went outside to examine the two bangles; Goi stood up from the bed and followed him. When Mr. Fisher examined the bangles, Goi saw him and he went to him and stood by his side. Mr. Fisher was surprised to see him.
“Look what the men found with the two skeletons,” Mr. Fisher said and gave one of the bangles to Goi.
Goi examined it, looking at it for a long time and compared it with the one on his wrist. Then he ran back into the room. Mr. Fisher was shocked by this reaction; he shrugged his shoulders and went to meet Goi.
Meanwhile, Elthon and Gabriel had perfected their escaped. They packed their bags and other things they brought to the site and went to dump them at the back of one of the jeeps. Soon three jeeps and a big lorry followed Mr. Fisher to the site. Some of the guards occupied the jeeps and other stayed with the big truck that had brought all the workers to the site.
Unknown to Mr. Fisher, Elthon knew his onions and peeled them with much skill and dexterity. Gabriel was an immigrant and had worked as a cleaner at the Mayflower Hotel in Addis Ababa. Although he himself was a former refugee at the camp, he was the one that told Elthon about the dead people in the camp. One day Elthon thought about what Gabriel told him at the hotel and he planned how to dupe Mr. Fisher. He brought out a pot that someone gave him as a gift and smiled. Later he went and cooked a concoction of lies to Mr. Fisher after he sought Gabriel assistance. Out of the ten thousand dollars Mr. Fisher gave them, he gave Gabriel only one thousand dollars. Elthon needed money badly. He wanted to pay his hotel bills and have a go at the most beautiful girl in Ethiopia. He knew Mr. Fisher was desperate and he was ready to work on his psychology. Naturally he hated Goi for his interference and he knew if he had his way he would tell Mr. Fisher to sack him. Later, when Mr. Fisher entered the room with Gabriel by his side, they got within the car and drove off. When the guards saw Elthon and Gabriel they couldn’t challenge them, so they drove out of the site and went back to the Sudanese capital.
Mr. Fisher was transfixed and left in shock when he saw Goi weeping over the skeletons inside the room. He thought Goi must be mad. He touched Goi on the shoulder but he refused to raise his head. Mr. Fisher knelt by his side and looked into his face. He knew there was a connection between the skeletons and Goi, but the link was so strong that nobody could decipher it.
“What is happening to you, Goi?” Mr. Fisher said and Goi stood up and went to the bed and sobbed.
“These are the remains of my grandparents,’ Goi said, sobbing.
His word left Mr. Fisher in astonishment, Mr. Fisher was confused. He didn’t know whether he should cry with him or smile and tell him to get back to business. Goi rolled his shirt and showed him the bangle on his left wrist. Mr. Fisher collected the bangle from his hand and compared it with the one in his hand. He looked at it for a long time, removed his glasses and looked at it all over again.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable, it can’t be true.” Mr. Fisher intoned. He was transfixed and left in shock. He couldn’t believe it was true. He looked at Goi in disbelief.
“They are my grandparents; I have been feeling their presence since we got to the site,” Goi said, his head still racked by pain, Mr. Fisher could hear bitterness in his voice.
“I am so sorry, Goi. This revelation is shocking,” Mr. Fisher said and wiped off the sweat that formed a ring on his fore-head. Goi refused to be mollified; he cried all over again, knowing his grandparents would never rest until he gave them a befitting burial.
Mr. Fisher was so tired by the sudden revelations he went to his desk and sat down. It now dawned on him that Elthon and Gabriel had lied to him. When he thought about what to do next, Goi looked at him and spoke.
“Look Mr. Fisher, this place is our refugee camp and the bones you saw belong to the people that were killed by the militiamen when they attacked the camp.” Mr. Fisher removed because he was overwhelmed with sweat. He was so tired that he wanted to faint on the chair. Goi called two of the guards and they took him outside. The sudden realization that he had embarked on a wild goose chase pained him so much, rearing its ugly head like the Frankenstein monster and penetrating deeply into the fabric of his heart.
Mr. Fisher ordered the guards to arrest Elthon and Gabriel after he took a picture of the bones and the site. Later, when the guards got into Elthon and Gabriel's room, they found it deserted. The two men had run away. When the guards came back and told Mr. Fisher, he promised to track them down. The next day they buried all the bones in an exclusive area in the site. Mr. Fisher ordered the workers to erect a concrete marker with an inscription that read:
HERE LIES THE BODIES OF THOSE MASSACRED BY THE MILITIAMEN (THE JENJAWEED) IN KIBA VILLAGE.
When they were about to leave the camp, after they had paid all the workers and guards, Mr. Fisher looked at Goi and asked him what he wanted to do with the bones.
“I will cremate them and show them to my children,” Goi said and smiled.
“That is very good of you,” Mr. Fisher as they entered the jeep. Goi couldn’t look back as the jeep departed to the Sudanese capital.
When they flew back to Addis Ababa, Mr. Fisher gave Goi two months’ break, Mr. Elthon was arrested for immigration offences in Libya. Meanwhile, in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Goi sat at a restaurant and drank beer in the evening. He had already booked his flight a week back. He would have traveled but bad weather had delayed his traveling plan.
As he ordered more beers in the restaurant, he suddenly saw her. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He thought it was a dream, but here she had come to the restaurant, so happy and so full of life. She came out of his dream and into his life, right there in Addis Ababa.
Moi didn’t see him as she entered the restaurant. In fact, she was so happy that she wanted to come and tell her friend what her husband Richard had done for her. He had just given her a new car for her birthday.
Goi cleaned his face with a handkerchief and left his chair. He buttonholed her as she was about to enter the large restaurant. When they looked at each other they were both transfixed and stood rooted to the ground. They were confused, shocked and undecided, so they just stared at each other.
“Moi, Moi, and Moi. I see you at last,” Goi moaned and embraced her. It was like a dream come true. She had appeared in his dream but now she appeared in his life.
“Goi, Goi, oh I missed you my love,” Moi wailed and they embraced for a long time. Tears of joy flooded their faces as they kissed and kissed.
Pagan was shock when he saw the two embrace each other. She had just served Goi his drinks and she knew Richard very well, and she wondered what Moi was doing with a stranger. She went to meet them. When Moi saw her, she left Goi and didn’t let her ask question before she narrated her story\. Pagan was so happy for her. Later they both left for Goi’s house. When they got to his house, Goi narrated everything that happened to her, and Moi was confused when she got home that night .She visited Goi every day for one week without Richard’s knowledge.
When she lay on the bed with Richard, many questions popped up across her mind. She couldn’t sleep and she was afraid to lose Richard, who had done so much for her. He was the one that gave her a new life. Without Richard she would have died but her heart was somewhere else; her heart and desire was with Goi who she loved with all her heart. Later that night, before she slept, she took a pen and began to write.
The next day Goi waited for her at the airport. When the time struck five early in the morning, she left her bed and went to the bathroom. She cleaned herself, dressed, and left the letter on the bed. She walked to the door and waved good bye to Richard as he snored on the bed and bolted the door. Inside the taxi, she was full of smiles as she looked out through the window. Later, when she got to the airport, the first person he saw was Goi. He stood there in the distance with a smile across his face. Moi waved to him happily.
Goi smiled and ran to meet her with a long embrace. They kissed and he wound his arms around her and they went together to the terminal to wait for their flight.