Mbanda's Mystery

When the first drops of April’s winter rain reached the soil,

Mbanda was standing in the vastness of his land, perched in the high mountains of Kibilira,

For years Mbanda had dug this ungrateful soil with his hands, like his father before him and his grandfather before his father.

For a decade, every morning, Mbanda watched the sky blessing his land with the first morning sun beam 

Every night, for a decade, Mbanda sat in his land and listened to the sound of every life that inhabited his land, from insects singing to herbs bending gently under the evening cold breeze. 

In some of those nights, the dark was darker than darkness. But, with his bear eyes, Mbanda would see the spirits of his ancestors wandering around the land. In a wailing voice, Mbanda would sing to his ancestors a worship melody. In the song he would exhibit all his kids to them, by naming their names, they were: Rutabingwa the firstborn, Mashira the only girl, Mbanda the darkest of the skin and Bushayija the last born. 

In some of those nights, the moon was shinning very bright. Mbanda would lean on his back and watch the vastness of the sky and the stars twinkling. Mbanda knew nothing about astrology, but every time his eyes were staring at the universe, he would understand that he was part of a thing way bigger than him. He felt that there was a mystery that was beyond what eyes had seen. He understood that the stars were bigger than how they appeared, it made him feel very small and humble. 

The dry season had been long, and Mbanda’s hair had started to turn white, time had drawn wrinkles on his forehead and his walk was slower than before. As much as Mbanda was respected in his village, the mystery surrounding his lifestyle created a controversy that echoed from hill to hill. Some said he was a mental retard others said he was a sorcerer, but Mbanda never seemed to care about any of that. 

Mbanda’s mystery was a burden to his children though. Rutabingwa his first born had started to come of age, his chest was growing bigger and his shoulders were growing large. Every time he tried to prove himself a man to his friends, he was brought down by mockery and rude impressions of his father’s strange behaviour. Rutabingwa self respect was deteriorating and he decided to confront his father for the first time. It was dusk, when Rutabigwa walked to his father’s door, he was holding a petrol lamp in his hand. Mbanda was lying in his room in the total darkness as usual, but he was awake, listening quietly to his small Panasonic radio. When Mbanda saw the light approaching his doorway, he felt a twitching sensation in his gut. He knew this was a special moment, he had the same twitching sensation the day he laid his eyes on Rutabingwa’s mother more than a decade ago, she was not an exceptionally beautiful woman, but her eyeballs were always shaky, and this is what made Mbada fall for her. Mbanda was fond of mystery and nothing was more mysterious than those shaky eyes. After the third birth, and six years of marriage, the shaky eyes of his wife were no more mysterious to him…So unannounced, one random morning, he packed his stuff and his kids and left her with all their possessions.  

Before Rutabingwa knocked on the door, Mbanda opened, and they were there, in the lamp light, father and son, for the first time they faced each other as men. There they were standing unable to utter a word, they stood still in a deadly silence: 

“I’m sorry son I never confessed my affection to you. Your heart is chained by my silence, but you must break free”. Mbanda broke the silence 

“I tried hard to follow your steps but I got lost, I tried hard to be like you but I don’t know you…forgive me father I’m not even proud of you”. Rutabingwa confessed to his father. 

“Son! If I had it my way I would be immortal and meet you three decades from now. You think a man can only be a man by the approval of other men, I can’t persuade you to believe the opposite, only time will. I have dug my land for ages and the nature blessed my hands with prosperity, but the only memory that remains with me is the sensation of slow wind drying my sweat on my back.”. Mbanda answered. 

For a moment they stood again. Rutabingwa was trying to make sens of all he just heard. With a satisfactory smile, Mbanda tapped his shoulder and whispered “Sleep tight and dream large son!”. He turned his back and disappeared in the darkness of his room. Rutabingwa remained silent with the lamp in his hand 

That night Mbanda would sleep very deeply, as he understood that he just planted a seed on his son’s mind, an idea that would will grow slowly to change a boy into a exceptional man. 

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