Kingdom of Africa
Benedick Kuah | Author
rowning and choking in the air that he was so desperately trying to get into his lungs. As he tumbled towards blackness, the keening wail of a hurt animal who sounded as if her heart had just been ripped apart brought him back from the brink.
Mawo ripped him from his perch beside his daughter with a strength he would never have credited the woman with, gathering the broken, torn and mutilated bundle to her breast as she rocked him back and forth, wailing brokenly.
Killam Kighoor stood up, with a face like death, for who could confront death and not be affected by it? No, I don’t mean a dead body. Death. Apart from Kighoor, Mawo, and the child Sahinda, everyone else stood frozen in the field. They stood exactly as they had been standing the moment their eyes fell on the scene in that clearing. And as Tantee Kighoor stood up and turned around, though numb, he could actually feel the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. On the edge of the clearing, two lions lay dead, well, one was, the other all but.
As they gathered the evidence on that clearing, it became obvious that the first lion, the one that was dead, had been the lucky one of the trio of combatants who had obviously done battle. His death appeared to have been swift and clean, but in stalking and killing it, it appeared as if the young man had been blindsided by the second lion, lost his weapons and had then engaged in a mortal hand to hand combat with the beast.
The beast had fared just a little worse than the young man. But just the idea that this fight actually happened, had them all in a state of shocked awe, tinged with a healthy dose of fear. The fear was not just that something so unthinkable should happen, but that there were live lions about, probably watching them. Even armed, and in a group, these men still felt insecure this deep inside the jungle, inside their lair. For a full grown warrior, hand to hand combat with a lion was unheard of. It was crazy, suicidal, it never happens. Even beasts in the forest do not engage full grown big bone lions like the two lying on that field in combat. Not alone, not even in packs. That a child had engaged them, not been torn apart into unrecognizable pieces, but instead have the bodies to prove, if anything, a victory over not just one, but both, spoke of an ability no one quite knew if they would like to know how he came by it.
“Everybody, out of this room, now!” Kitu Katse shouted as he shepherded everyone out of the room where the shredded pieces of young Kintari was lying. “I mean it Mawo, you too Kibu. Please clear out of this room so that we can do our work.”
“I am not leaving,” squeaked a voice from the bed, focusing suddenly all attention to herself. Sahinda was glaring fiercely at Katse as she held Kintari’s hand in a death grip. “I will not leave, you cannot make me and don’t try.”
“Of course not, Lady Sahinda, may I call you Sada?”
“If you can keep him alive, yes.” Then the child in her came out, “can you keep him alive?” she asked plaintively.
“We will do our best, Lady Sahinda. Now, if everyone will just leave, that is, everyone but Lady Sahinda, then I think we can try to give the little miss her wish.”
“Until my son is lying in his own bed, in his own room, in his own home, I do not intend to keep him out of my sight. I don’t trust anyone! I don’t know how he could have been brought here and not to his home. So you can forget about me leaving this room, okay?” Kibu stated, folding her arms across her bosom as she planted her feet firmly on the ground for the battle.
“Don’t forget that he is my son too, Kibu” Katse spoke sharply, “So get out of here so that I can begin to salvage whatever there is to salvage here, okay?”
“Why are you even here?” Kibu asked belligerently, Katse’s less than optimistic words breaking the brave façade she had been putting on. “You left for the Kingdom of Oku and said you might be there for upwards of six months. Why are you so suddenly back and who are these strange individuals you brought with you?”
“It does not matter how or why I am back or who or what these individuals are. What is of utmost importance is that we, jointly, might just be able to salvage the life of young Kintari. You are not helping.”
“Why will you be sending everyone out but my daughter?” Killam Kighoor asked a Katse who had threatened to visit such vengeance on the Tantee’s family if he insisted on bringing in his own diviners and herbalists to displace him from Kintari’s side.
“You wouldn’t understand. Even if she does not know it, at some subconscious level, she realizes that to let go of him will be the end of him. Kintari has no right to be still breathing. If she had not been stubborn enough and accepted to let go of him at any point since she found him in the forest, he would have died. She has been sharing her heart with him.” Katse whispered his reply back to the Tantee.
“Everyone out!” Killam Kighoor growled in a voice that had everyone speeding for the exit. After holding the gaze of his daughter for about a minute, glare really, he spun on his heels and ordered Kibu and Mawo to be brought into his private quarters. By force if that is what it took…
awo quelled the snort and sarcastic laughter from Magwi and Kibu with a look. “It is my understanding that you actually weren’t informed and if circumstances had not been what they are, I would gladly have left you in ignorance….”