I am a little boy. Someone sat me in the heart of a circle of men and women in sparkling white wrappings around their heads. They are so white that I have to squint while looking up at their hazy faces foggy in the light. The bright sun enables the sparkling further. They are all engaged in a singing frenzy. Jumping and shouting so hard I can hear nothing beyond the ever rising crescendo. Some of them have rusty metallic rings the size of a compact disk and they are hitting them with small metallic rods to produce sharp piercing sounds. Some have leather drums slung across their shoulders. All these amount to a steady fast tune.
Suddenly everything stops for a while. Then without warning the ceaseless hitting of the drum resumes. A voice of a man shouting with a disgusting guttural voice joins it. Small voices of women struggle to harmonize the performance.
The scenario steadily fades away until it merges with sounds of dogs barking and growling fiercely. A bang on a wooden structure draws distinct lines between the singing angels and the happenings in the aroused dead of the night. Soon I am fully awake and staring at a gloomy room dotted with tiny balls of light.
Another bang, louder than its predecessor, raises the unanimous barking of more than a dozen dogs with two sounding much closer. A man’s angry voice follows.
I know from the face of it when people are fighting, from experience too, and I jump out of bed like a startled a man whose blurred picture is pinned to a tree with the words WANTED screaming at the top of his head.
“Open this damn door! I know you are in there. Open!”
Armed with nothing more than a torch, machete and Machete valor, I walk up to the angry man banging at my cousin’s door with so much vigor he almost breaks it down. He is a tall figure, medium built with a cap on. His voice borders on a shrill with lots of tenor on its edges. From the way he is speaking I can make out that he is drooling from burning fury.
Overhead the moon is gleaming hazily as if ashamed of the people under it. Streaks of light squeeze out through the crevices in the wall of the house under siege. Through them I can see the brown torn patch of the leather jacket worn by the angry man.
“Open this door or I will break it. Aren’t you done banging her? Open!”
I know my cousin is behind that cursed door. Scared to death. The man demands to smoke out his wife from under my cousin’s blankets. According to him, his are new and warmer than this devil’s. He exerts more vehemence into the bang until I beseech my cousin to burst it open, if he is sure to be alone like he kept stating from behind the closed door.
Confused from all the ruckus and allegations, I hand the man the spotlight and he rushes past my armed cousin into the bedroom. He gives an impression of a thirsty bull that has been let into the watering spot.
Moments later, followed by his broken anger, the man emerges flaccid with disappointment. However, he tries to veil it under more blunt outbursts. He moves to the face of my cousin. They stand while breathing into each other’s face like Sparta gladiators in an arena full of bewildered spectators. I clutch my machete tighter.
“Go ahead and chop me if you are man enough.” He shouts spraying my cousin’s face with saliva.
“Stand away from me man. Just keep off” My cousin retorts while pushing the man away.
“What are you gonna do? Fuck me like you fuck my wife?”
“Haven’t you searched the house already? Have you found her?”
I watch in silence. Waiting for something better to come out of it. The dogs long stopped barking and the whole world is stock silent save for the retorts and accusations. Although the man can’t produce his wife even from under the bed, he still feels her presence in that haunted house smelling of dirty socks and rotting kale.
Nothing happens despite my expectant expectations. It is only shirt pulling and pushing and insults. So much of a womanly fight. Tired and sleepy, I step in to separate the men who the closer they can come to putting up something worth their balls is blatant threats that result in nothing. Nada.
The angry man walks out wounded and defeated. He is clearly upset that he cannot find his wife with my cousin. The man he had pleaded with his heart into accepting to be laying around with his woman. He is clearly embittered that his wife is more than a cheat. In his sepulchral voice I can single out the loss.
“Go look for your whore woman elsewhere.”
“You started all these. You did. And I won’t ever forgive you for it.”
“Come again into my homestead banging on doors and I will paralyze you and still sue you for trespass.”
“I swear I will chop you into a thousand pieces and rot in jail.”
“Go fuck yourself. Foolish man who can’t satisfy a woman.”
“What do you really want from me? Isn’t fucking my wife an insult enough?”
And he walks back towards his combatant. My cousin rushes to him and delivers a hot slap across the angry man’s face. I hear a splitting sound like a slipper hitting a wall. The angry man is sent sprawling on dew laden grass. The angry man gets on his feet and in the gloom of the night I can barely see his figure heading for a counter blow and I swing into action.
I push my cousin away, block the fist and sweep the man’s feet off the wet ground. Collecting everything he came with and found at my cousin’s house; fury, pain, disappointment and bitterness, the angry man crawls and leaps into darkness. His fractured voice full of threats runs with him.
With little contentment, I stand and suddenly realize the icy breeze pinching my cheeks and gnawing my knees. My cousin is silent, perhaps inhaling the wave of pride brought in by my unwavering solidarity. The light pouring from the open door falls on part of his frame and he looks chopped in half. Then, stealthily, a big woman emerges from the back of the door.
I look at the time on my phone. It is 12.00.