It was a warm morning Mum had awoken her city spoiled children at 5.00am to go to the fields with hoes to plant. The next three weeks in the village would awaken Onyango and Bera to the realities of life. It had taken Bera half an hour to get out of bed, it took a cold jug of water to get her up and running shivering and pouting. Onyango yawned in her face saturating the air around Bera with his foul morning breath. Bera was so irritated she yelled and began to tear. She couldn’t believe she was going to be stuck with her annoying brother and this early in the morning.
Neither of the two listened to their mum when they were told to sleep early the night before. They both thought it was a joke. They traded school stories for hours sleeping at 1am. What did they care? It was school holidays and there wasn’t much to do in the village without electricity. Bera was very grumpy she wasn’t the morning type at all. Onyango on the other hand was chummy and chirpy in the morning. He hummed his way to the field to Bera’s disdain. They had been walking with a kerosene lantern balanced on the handle of a hoe lighting their path. Mama led the troop; Bera was in the middle with her brother trailing.
Mum had to keep turning behind checking that Onyango wasn’t up to anything mischievous. 5 minutes into the walk, Bera felt something fly past her head, it was inches away. She ignored it; then a second and third time she felt something miss her by an inch and fall. She jumped screaming.
“Mama! Mama! Mama! Onyaaaangoooo!!!! Stop! Stop it!”
“What is it now?” Mama was so fed up of the sibling teasing, she shone the light and right behind Onyango was a huge hairy man with a fat hairy finger on his massive lips gesturing for her to stay silent. Mama screamed out for Onyango. Onyango had been busy plucking guavas from a tree which had a not so visible occupant. Mama was shaking but did not utter a word. Bera was on the ground, passed out from the sight of this mammoth man. He was now busy giggling very abnormally and drooling. He ran toward Onyango, playfully, who was busy ignoring his mother.
Mama pulled off her khanga which fell and partly covered Bera on the ground. Onyango screamed like a girl stunned by this mammoth man who had a very retarded laugh. Standing at 7 feet tall, with 4 dirty locks, his face looking like the weird guy from The Goonies, skin as dark as night, belly distended and his mammoth hands flailing in the air, shaking his tanned loin cloth. His laugh shook through the village. Mama began to shout for help loudly. As she did so, the occupant of the guava tree emerged, it was leopard. The hairs at the back of Mama’s head stood. She got goose bumps and she began to choke.
The gargantuan being inched toward the stealth leopard kneeling down and patting it; Mama instantly knew who this was. It was the hermit; Marende. He had emerged from his dug out cave in the forest. But why was he this far out? And at 5.30 in the morning where people could see him? Stories had been told about him. It had been said that he avoided being seen in daylight because his skin would melt.
Onyango had also passed out holding a guava in his hand. Women who had left to fetch water at the river passed dropping buckets and running as fast as they could when they saw and heard Marende. They screamed and soon the men came in their droves wielding machetes. Bera had come too and was screaming hysterically, Mama fell to the ground next to her, holding her to her bosom. Onyango was still unconscious.
When the men arrived they quickly pulled Mama and the kids to safety. They were left facing the mammoth man who towered the average 6 foot tall man. What was to become of the men at the hands of the grotesque giant and his feline companion? Only time will tell. And the next tale of Marende would be told to future generations.