Opot sipped his millet and sorghum porridge from the calabash watching his cattle graze in his vast fields. He was poised on a stool observing his surroundings intently. Nothing was going to take his cattle from him. His forearm was wrapped in banana leaves, and was due for a new dressing. The wounds were fresh and would take time to heal.
Just a week earlier, Opot had fought off leopards attacking his cattle; he lost his most productive cow reducing the milk yield substantially. The leopard had become more antagonistic and aggressive the past 3 months.
“Hunger!” Naiserian, his mother stated. She had seen this many years before when she was young girl. When the wild animals faced starvation they would seek new hunting ground and because of the increase of the inhabitants, the new hunting grounds were now human settlements. The Leopard’s desperation meant attacking livestock.
“Do you know what that means Opot for you and your age set?” Naiserian looked at him knowingly. It needed to be done. It was something he had been prepared for as a younger man during initiation. But it felt unnatural. It was the only thing that was viable to keep the predators at bay. Once Opot’s wound had healed they had to hunt down the leopard and kill it, as well as any others that may have eaten the cow.
“Any animal that has tasted something will seek it till it can find it no more.” Naiserian uttered to a nodding Opot. She had seen the vengeance of Lions when she was younger and living closer to the Tsavo area. The man eating lions of Tsavo tasted human flesh and couldn’t fight the urge. The Impala and Gazelle was no longer a match for the salty and supple human flesh.
Opot hissed as his mother peeled off the Banana leaf to reveal a green gunky residue on his forearm. Naiserian drew a basin of water filled with bougainvillea petals. She scooped it with a small calabash and Opot screamed. Naiserian laughed out loud, “Even grown warriors feel pain? What kind of training do you receive? I thought you were immune to pain Opot?” She stated sarcastically bursting in to laughter afterwards. Opot gave his mother the evil eye.
The afternoon sun shone as the grazing cows began to moo. It was time to take them to the river to drink. Opot whistled and the cows led the way to the riverbank. The reeds by the river bank were unusually still, unmoved by the gushing breeze. Opot was suspiscious. There was something improper about the scenario; save for the sound of the cows splashing around in the water there was no sight of anyone fetching water or washing clothes.
Opt pulled out his dagger from its sheath, something heavy and fury jumped him from behind and pinned him to ground. It was too fluffy to be human. The leopard was back and this time for his blood. His eyes and the leopard’s were now eye to eye, who would take the first and probably fatal move to survive would be determined in the next moment. But the weight of the Leopard and his now exposed arm; stinging in pain, made the situation less favourable for Opot.