Bruises of the civil war: “My 75 cows, 35 goats as your dowry, and two steers killed…” (Part 9)
By Kur Wël Kur, Adelaide, Australia
March 30, 2017 (SSB) — After her dream, Akuol Manguak wasn’t suicidal but she refused to talk to anyone in the compound except to her niece, Martha. The two guards left behind to look after Akuol and the girls observed everything in silence. Their job was to stop any violence but any cold, thorny relationship among the family members stood in their faces with impunity.
In one of the mornings of her stay in Ngalangala, Nyankoot had no regards for Akuol’s emotional buttons. She pressed any of them and Akuol was more stressed. “Akuol, what’s going on?” She asked.
“Shouldn’t I suppose to ask the same question?” Akuol shot back in a disrespectful manner, narrowing her eyes to the point of seeing nothing.
“My 75 cows, 35 goats as your dowry, and two steers killed to seal your marriage! Then, 7 years later, you have nothing to show me; and you’re talking to me as if I am your maid (domestic worker),” she barrelled out these words in Aliab’s accent.
Akuol winced at every word; her mother-in-law’s words landed on soft sides of her emotions. And she broke down, burst in self-pity tears.
As she melted herself into the darkest bitterness of her soul, she drooled. Unfortunately, she salivated not for something delicious but mourning for her self-worth, which her mother-in- law was testing and questioning. She staged a horrific scene, a scene comparable to a scene one witnesses from someone suffering from rhinorrhoea.
Head down, watery mucus dripping uncontrollably, Akuol ran into the hut, laid face down and doused her pillow with tears and mucus.
“Yeah, show me what you’re good at; running from your responsibilities, your fears is what you have been doing for last 7 seven years,” Nyankoot fired these words after Akuol.
Nyankoot screamed, letting out a sound made by women (probably most African women) only when they’re in excruciating pain, or when a loved one is dead. Peter Bol, a twenty-five years old, the senior guard among Nhials’ guards, one of the two guards left to look after the family (Akuol and the girls) was basking in the eight-thirty sun on the eastern side of the compound.
On hearing Nyankoot wailing, he rushed to the scene. He tried to calm Nyankoot down because all liberated areas were being run by the liberation army’s administration. So, strict discipline was observed and required from everyone: soldiers or civilians. None was allowed to scream or howl at will.
“What do you want? Blind you with my nude body, or keep looing right here in the middle of the compound?” She asked Peter.
“None, mum.” Peter begged her.
“Then I want to leave right now; I can’t stay in this compound for another hour; if an hour passes, then you’ll peer down on my lifeless body,” she said with every possible seriousness.
Peter wanted to say something but nothing came out of his mouth. His lips quivered in a helpless manner. He paced to where his assistant, the second guard was sitting on a wooden bench in the western side of the compound. He advised him to monitor Nyankoot.
“Don’t let her near Akuol and keep throwing some glances at her; she might be suicidal. I will be back; am racing to the headquarters to see Cdr. Baak Baak,” he said to the second guard.
(For those of you who missed part 6, Cdr. Baak Baak is the commanding high commander of Ngalangala and all areas in the radar of Ngalangala).
In all liberated areas, in or out movements of the people and vehicles were controlled and monitored for security reasons. The enemy was paying some local militias and LRA of Uganda to agitate the freedom fighters; they planted land mines, planned and coordinated attacks on liberation army-held areas.
The headquarters’ guards reported Peter Bol’s presence to the Cdr. Baak Baak who was happy to listen. To Baak Baak, Peter narrated the whole story in details. Cdr. Baak Baak ordered an escort of 45 soldiers for Nyankoot.
One wonders now on how organised the guerrilla was. A country was being run in faces of raining bullets, of scourging hunger, of crippling illiteracy and of offending enemy. Many high-ranking officers enjoyed some possible privileges, because their families or families’ members would occasionally receive upper hands. Those occasional privileges were token of their payment to encourage them to fight the war as there was no payment for anyone by then.
You could ask, could this favour be done to a foot soldier or one of a low ranking liberation army officers? Well, any layperson would say a gigantic “No” to this question.
Alongside the forty-five soldiers escort, six minesweepers, by then, famously known as mohandessin (the engineers) their job was mines clearance (demining). Lack of tools wasn’t an obstacle for the freedom fighters so instead of metal detectors, they used fishing spears to fish land mines underground: vehicles’ and antipersonnel land mines.
Peter returned and informed Nyankoot Bolek of her journey arrangements to Torit. She sprang up. “Aliet, pack your belongings; I am not leaving you behind in this rotten compound,” she ordered her granddaughter.
Aliet hesitated. For years, she has been listening to one person, Akuol Manguak only because her uncle, Nhials was rarely home. So, to change gears of listening to her aunt-in-law for someone else was bigger an issue. Because her small brain couldn’t understand that her grandmother is the matriarch of their family.
Akuol pushed her way out of the house and stood right in the middle of the compound in an equidistant of Nyankoot, Peter and the second guard. All were looking on; she glared at mother-in-law.
“I have a respectable family; you and your son didn’t adopt me from the streets; I have a home and my father can welcome me back, but not with a disease I acquired from your son!” she said stressing every word.
“Oh my living dead father! What did you just say?” Nyankoot asked. She shivered not with cold but with anger and surprise.
“You heard me; I am not barren. I lost every foetus because of syphilis I contracted from your son,” she said.
After Akuol’s words, Nyankoot was left gasping for air, her lower jaw dropped that forced her lips to part in an angle of forty-five degrees. Peter requested Akuol to go back into the hut,
After five minutes, they paced to the station where the escort, minesweepers and a Nissan model military truck was waiting for them….
Bruises of the civil war: Mother and Son Locking horns (Part 10)
Stride by stride, a fishing spear down here and up there: the military truck, the escort and mohandessin, zoomed away from Ngalangala, gathering the red dust towards Torit….
Kur Wël Kur has a Bachelor Degree in Genetics and Zoology from Australian National University (ANU). He was the former General Secretary of Greater Bor Community in Adelaide, Australia. He can be reached via his email contact: kurwelkur@ yahoo.com
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