The forgettable Ura

A story is told of a young man, Ura. There was nothing much to write about Ura. He was in his mid twenties; he would do what was expected of him, wake up at 4am till the land, at 6 am milk the cow and hand it over to his mother to prepare breakfast. He would clean the cow shed and get the cows, goats and sheep tethered to eat the dew filled grass before they left the homestead to graze.  Chicken would be fed with the left over Ugali and the dog litter cleared by 8 am when he would sit at the table with his widowed mother for a cup of milky tea with nyoyo.

“erokamano nyathina”

Ura looked at his mother and nodded, she didn’t have to thank him. He did what any decent child would do with a 75 year old mother. Ura wasn’t ambitious at all. Something his mother didn’t mind much, she was more desperate to keep his company. She didn’t want anyone to take him away; no college, job or woman was going to do that to her. Ura was hers to keep.

After Breakfast, Ura went to the river as always to fetch water to clean the dishes and the week’s laundry. It was a 10 minute return trip from the river. Ura used his ‘black mamba’ bicycle with two 10 litre jerricans tied to the carrier. It was so much faster, and he didn’t have to stay away from Mama too long.

But when he arrived at the river, no one was there. It was 9 am, women should have been washing their clothes; there was an eerie silence. He quickly offloaded his jerricans and hastily filled them. As he filled the second jerrican, there was an unusual stirring in the water. The river water began to froth and increase in volume rising rapidly immersing his jerricans, his bicycle was drawn in by the waters. He couldn’t get out in time to make it to shore. The waters began to swirl in a rapid circular motion.

And just like a toilet flush, with Ura letting out an awkward yelp, he was sucked in with his bicycle and jerricans never seen again. The river waters quickly receded and fell calm. It was now going to 10am; Ura’s mother began to get agitated and began to call out for him.

“Ura! Ilal kanye?”

“Ura? Ura yo! Ura?”

Ura’s mother saw one of her neigbours pass through her fence. She disregarded pleasantries and instead asked the neighbour if they had seen him. The young man shrugged his shoulders and walked off. A group of young ladies chattering with buckets in hand were also asked.

“Dawe!” they chorused, they had not seen him either. The elderly woman grabbed her walking cane; a wry thick tree branch. The woman steadily walked from her homestead to the riverbank. No sign of Ura anywhere. The young girls she saw were nowhere to be seen either. That didn’t make sense, this was the only river for 50km. They had to have been there. As she looked round the river bank she noticed the orange bucket she had seen one of the girls with. She inched to that side of the bank and called out for the girls to come out from hiding.

“I know you are there trying to steal my son from me. I know your family history; your mother was no saint!!! Come out!” she demanded.

Ura’s mother called out for another 15 minutes before she broke down in tears by the river bank, cursing everyone in the village. Just as her tears hit the rivers shore, the water began to stir and rise, she was too slow to move, the water drew her in. And in an instant she was gone just like that. It has been 30 years since the incidence and to this date no one has seen the girls, Ura and his mother or the Ombimo’s 20 missing cattle and herdsman.


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