By Kur Wël Kur, Adelaide, Australia
April 9, 2017 (SSB) —- Stride by stride, a fishing spear down here and up there: the escort, mohandessin and military truck, zoomed away from Ngalangala, gathering the red dust towards Torit. It was a slow and tiresome journey for Nyankoot, Ajah and Elizabeth, but a drudgery for the six minesweepers, mohandessin because they had to spear most spots on the road especially unsuspicious spots. The enemy had trained traitors to plant mines in unsuspicious places such as rocky places or under rotting logs that lay about on roads.
Frequently, the contents (a corporal who was in charge of escort and Nyankoot with her daughters) of the truck had to deboard for the fresh air and to shake off the fatigue of sitting. The journey took a full duration that a footing to Torit could take.
The journey of Nyankoot with her daughters to Torit was reported to Nhials on the long range handset of radio set R-147. So, he was aware of their coming. He had stocked the food supply by applying for assistance. Granting assistances inform of sacks of sorghum, lentils or beans, and cartons of oil was common in the liberation times.
Assistances varied greatly. For high ranking officers, it was a sure deal and bigger in sizes, then relatives of the high ranking officers would follow, then guards with recommendations from their respective bosses, but the foot soldiers would receive assistances by chances. The births of nepotism, favouritism and corruption, one would think. But they’re bruises of the civil war that linger with South Sudanese to this day.
Nyankoot Bolek, at her age and with all she had endured as a widow and as an African woman in Africa setting, had learned to avoid the traps, men’s stereotypes about women. To her, just about all Women of her tribe were psychologically dead because despite carrying men with success stories on their shoulders, men always find ways to blame women for anything. Even God-given gift such as the gift of bearing children. When a couple fails to have children, men blame a woman for it; when a couple are blessed with all girls and no boys, men blame a woman for it.
However, when she was faced with the problem of her son’s childless marriage, she almost forgot her life’s principles. But after learning another side of the story from Akuol, Nyankoot was determined to be fair. So, the points in her mind were unforgiving on Nhials.
As they edged near Torit, Nyankoot played in her mind Akuol’s words: 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!
These words triggered a flashback of Manguak Mach’s words, words he said in Akuol’s handing-over ceremony. Manguak Mach was one of the top officers of 105, a tall and lean, and American educated economist. He said:
I am not after wealth; in fact, am not interested in cows or goats. Bride price, big or small isn’t my issue. But my mind is preoccupied with my daughter’s welfare and happiness. So, Nyankoot Bolak, you’re the head of your family, please take care of daughter for all of us. Remember, if I have my life, I will always be around to check on my lovely and beautiful daughter.
After these flashbacks, Nyankoot closed her eyes, held her head back. She thought about how she mistook ‘syphilis’ when she heard ‘Wεth‘ in English for the first time in her life of fifty-four years. She thought Akuol was saying “THIRBLINY” (a sleazy sexual desire) until Peter translated it in Dinka: “Ee Wεth (syphilis), mama.”
She trudged (in her mind) in hundreds of thoughts regarding her son’s health. Her son’s situation wasn’t then a black versus white. It wasn’t a matter of paying 60 cows and 40 goats as a price for the new, healthy wife. This discovery discouraged her and she was determined to protect her new wife from falling into the same pit as Akuol.
“Abake tuɔc paan de akim, I will send them to the hospital,” she told herself.
When they finally arrived, they found Nhials and his six bodyguards waiting. Elizabeth Aliet raced toward her uncle and hugged him. Ajah offered a hand to Nhials, a normal greeting between unacquainted people. Nhials asked, “My wife, can I get a hug?” But instead, Ajah gave him a shrug. Nyankoot melted in tears and hugged her son in a soulful manner. She mumbled some inaudible words at the back of her son’s right shoulder. After kisses and hugs, they spilled onto the path to Nhials’ newly-given compound in Torit.
His compound had a spacious four-bedroom house, roofed with concrete red tiles; it also had a separate kitchen, a latrine, and three huts with round concrete walls and a 8.5 by 4.6 metres shed, roofed and walled with corrugated iron on southern side of the compound. Also, two giant mango trees, named manga Hindi stood in the middle of the compound, their fallen leaves littered the room of the four bed- room house and compound.
They faded into the compound and the guards showed each of them a room. Their eyes boggled when they saw a modern built house. Nyankoot had seen concrete houses before in her marital town but she never slept in one. The girls were as well surprised.
They had dinner together. It was cooked by the guards. For Nyankoot and Nhials, it was their first dinner together since 1984. Alongside the dinner, a large bowl was full with freshly picked, washed and sliced mangoes, and it surprised Nyankoot and her second daughter-in-law, Ajah. Mangoes with dinner? They never had such a treat in their cattle-camped life. Ajah had some difficulties in eating with Nhials on the same table; she coyed, but Nyankoot talked her into eating and she let go her shyness bit by bit.
After dinner, all went to their respective sleeping places except a mother and son. Nyankoot and Nhials faced themselves in serious discussions about Nhials’ state of being childless….
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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