|< Back to Stories||April 2000|
BOY WHO WANTED HIS MOTHER DEAD
A long, long time ago, there lived a widow on the edge of the village with her son. Her husband had passed away when the boy was still very young and she had to work on other villagers farms to get enough food to feed her son.
Sometimes, she could take the boy along with her to the farms where the boy could spend time in the nearby bushes looking for wild fruits to keep his hunger down. At times, whenever she went to work in the gardens, the owners of the gardens would bring some food to her but sometimes she was forced to work throughout the day without any food.
In the evenings, the widow would cook the little food she had kept but the boy appeared never to have enough. Each time after their single meal, the widow would ask her son to sit near the fire and she would narrate to him why they had very little to eat. At times the boy thought his mother was just giving excuses because whenever he went around the village, he saw other homesteads with granaries full of food. He would always wonder why they did not even have a granary in their homestead.
The poor widow never gave up on trying to make her son to understand that people were not equal. There were those who had the privilege of being rich and therefore, having more food in their granaries. There were those who had very little and although they worked hard throughout the day, they always had very little to eat.
One day, a close neighbour who was very rich passed away. Activities stopped in the whole village as it went into mourning. The man who had passed away was a village headman and so elaborate funeral plans were put in place. This was the first time this boy saw a ceremony of this magnitude and from his naiveté he thought that funerals were just a celebration which were to be enjoyed by people.
He picked up this misconception from the fact that there was plenty of food to be eaten which went with the music that made people to dance throughout the night. Everybody in the village moved to this large compound and beasts were slaughtered to feed them every day.
To this boy who had not had enough to eat throughout his life, this was the ideal condition to live and he loved every moment of it as the funeral ceremony continued. Together with the other boys, he ate, danced and enjoyed himself. There was not time to accompany his mother to the fields where he could spend the whole day looking for wild fruits which were part of his daily meal.
The ceremony lasted for a week and the boy was convinced that each time a person died, there was going to be an elaborate ceremony where there would be plenty of food and dancing for the villagers. He did not understand that this ceremony was this big because the deceased was a rich man and was a village elder.
On the burial day, things went like this boy had imagined and immediately after the ceremony, there was a lot of dancing which everyone in the village took part in. Throughout the night, people sang, danced, ate and drank. This was according to the custom of this people that after a burial, they would come out in celebration to get rid of the bad luck that came with death. They also had elaborate celebrations because the were trying to send the deceased away to the next world with all the happiness and wanted to join him in his new journey.
But normally, the rich ones had this kinds of funerals because they had the means to take care of may mourners. The poor boy had other ideas about funerals as this one had left a mark for him.
After the funeral was over, people went back to their homesteads and back to their daily chores. Those who had fields to till went back to their work. The poor widow went back to the routine work of working on the farms of people, taking her son with her. But instead of looking for fruits to eat, the boy would sit under trees and dream about the food that came with funerals. He dreamt about those moments when people in the village would come together to dance and eat.
He never saw the sadness that came with the funeral as food and dance were the biggest point in his life. After a few months, another rich man was cutting down a tree and accidentally, a branch fall on him and he died instantly. The whole process of celebration was repeated. For a whole week, there was dance and music in the village. Beasts were again slaughtered and people spent time in the ceremony.
This second incident made the boy to be more than convinced that funeral and death brought about a lot of food.
Again as it had happened during the previous funeral, people dispersed and went back to their chore after the mourning time had ended.
This time round, the boy went back to his day dreaming as his mother worked in the fields. He thought about death and started to enjoy the idea of his mother dying so that there will be plenty of food during the funeral.
One day when there was nothing to eat because his mother was sick, the boy said it out loudly to his mother that he wished she would die so that a funeral would bring food for him. On hearing what her son had said, the mother became so upset that she cried uncontrollably. She wept because she understood what the son who was so greedy wanted out of funerals the food that was served.
She told the son that even if she died, there would be not food or ceremony because they were poor and could hardly afford food to eat everyday and so could not be able to have anything to give to the mourners. But the boy insisted that there would be no problem if the mother died.
As days went by, the mother became weaker and weaker partly because of the disease she was suffering from and partly because of lack of food. After a week, she passed away and there was a very small funeral for her and after two days, everything was over and the boy was left on his own. There was nothing to eat and he had to look for a job to herd cattle to survive. He learnt that funerals were not about fun but about people who had departed and would not come back.
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