Short Fiction by Jonas Zaithwa Chisi
He stood in amazement. He was not sure to take the first step or not. He had to.
‘Yes, I have to’.
He straggled within himself. The black and white part within his head fought so hard. He was a black person.
It took him a million years to step into the road of no return. Indeed there was no return.
The reluctance had paid. Maybe yes. He was not sure.
‘Hie’ he replied back. No long conversation ever took place in the wee hours of the journey.
He could see people overtake him. He walked at snails’ pace. He was growing tired.
New people. Strangers. Some white as snow. Some dark as coal. All sorts of people crowded the road of no return. Many laughed. Chanted. Screamed in awe. He walked quietly with no friend. Just a few hie’s. Hie. Hie back.
The conflict within himself grew so intense. He was unsure if he was himself anymore. Only fifty four days or so had passed. To him each day seemed a year long. He had a lot to fight than to smile about. His clothes were torn. Hunger was at his mercy. Many felt sorry for him. Sometimes heavy rains would soak him up. Sun’s heat would scotch his bare bald.
‘Have a hat here please’
‘Take this wool cloth to protect you from this cold of snow’
Take this take that. Chit chat.
All the friends seemed so kind to him. Some of them were his fellow prisoners while others were the warders and others still the lords of the prisons; the owner of the prisoners. All were headed in the road of no return. He wondered…
He started feeling the white and black matters in his head fight again. But he was out of the prison. It no longer mattered. He thought and went on.
The sun sometimes would rise too high. Darkness sometimes would mask his face way too much. He had already crossed one river. He heard that there were so many rivers to cross ahead. How many he didn’t know but there were many rivers. The only thing he was sure of was that there was no going back.
Before he crossed the first river he would see many prisons along the road. He saw some people being released. It was always a sorry scene. But all the people had surpassed him. The new and old alike. Everyone was ahead. He no longer cared.
He hustled within himself. One eye would look at the other with rage. One arm would rock horns with the other. One leg would trip over the other. He tripped. Woke up then trip again.
It went on. He went on. The misery went on.
The terrors within his head of darkness were innumerable. He would fetch for a drink but all the taps along the road had forgotten to trickle water. The wells were dry, valleys cracked. He heard of tales of oil wells which ancient people with potbellies licked and sipped from with much disapproval of the community. But they were people of potbellies. People with huge heights. People as tall as the sapitwa peak. Despite all those stories banging in his head of darkness, he still dragged himself along the way. There was no turning back.
The journey was never going to end. He had to rest. But the rules never allowed a rest. Each tick on the clock counted. But this time he had to rest. He was the last person anyway. He sat there hopelessly. His eyes staring at the blank sky. The sky with no electric-stars to shoot light into the night.
Last time people saw him he was still crowded within the black and white matter. All the terrors-black and white, fears and regrets had finally burst out of his head.