Prompt: Three children are sitting on a log near a stream. One of them looks up at the sky and says…
The Hyena’s Marriage
Three children sit on a log near a stream eating sweet ripe mangoes from their grandmother’s garden. Mango juice runs down their chins, none of them stopping to wipe it away, to eager to savor the taste. The sweet delicious feast oddly exciting, as they had to climb the tree to get the mangoes.
After their grandmother explicitly told them not to climb the tree.
The fact that they had not listened to her, and had then gone to climb that mango tree, with the threat of her finding out, made the mangoes all the more sweeter.
Now, one of them looked up at the sky, and saw an old hawk fly by in a hurry.
“Where do you think Kito is going?” the boy asked.
“To cause trouble no doubt. Why?” the girl in the middle asked.
The boy wiped his chin on his sleeve and stared at the mangled mango seed in his hand.
“Kito carried a sweet potato vine in his beak. Where do you suppose he is taking it?”
“You’re seeing things, Munya. Why would a hawk carry a vine?”
“I don’t know.” Munya shrugged, licking on the mango juice escaping between his fingers. “Aren’t you curious, Lena?”
Munya sighed. He was the curious one. Everyone in his home knew it. He asked too many questions, and got into trouble because of his curiosity. Once, he asked his mother if being curious was a bad thing, but she’d smiled and said it was the best way to learn.
Oh well, Munya threw the mango seed and stood. He went to the edge of the stream to wash his hands, otherwise he would be sticky all day. Besides, their grandmother would take one look at their sticky fingers and know they stole her precious mangoes.
“Lena, Karua, don’t forget to wash your hands,” Munya said. “Grandmother might really beat us with that cooking stick she waves this time.”
“Yesterday, she wanted to hit me with it when I forgot to close the chicken house,” Lena said with a giggle as she rushed to his side.
Karua moved slower, he was the youngest in the family and often followed Munya and Lena on their adventures. Munya worried about Karua more than Lena, because Karua was slower. He didn’t like running as much as Lena did. Lena was a tomboy, or so their mother said. Whatever that meant.
“I want to know where Kito was going,” Munya said, looking above the trees near the stream.
The small forest near the stream bordered their family’s farm. Their mother and grandmother often sent them to collect firewood. That was how they met Kito, the old hawk that lived deep inside the forest.
“Let’s take Karua home first,” Lena said, watching their youngest brother splash water at the stream.
“That will take too long,” Munya complained. “Kito moves too fast. Please, I’ll look out for him.”
“You said that last time, and I ended up falling behind taking care of Karua.”
“Lena, I promise I won’t leave you alone,” Munya said. To convince her, Munya went to Karua, took his left hand and led him toward the forest. “See, he’ll walk with me. Let’s go, Kito is surely going to cause trouble. I want to know.”
“You’re going to get us in trouble,” Lena complained even as she followed them.
Munya ignored her and with determined footsteps, led them into the forest. Sunrays from the sun shone in intervals, breaking through the tall, tall trees with leaves that sang when the wind blew. Soon, Munya noticed they weren’t the only ones in the forest heading in the direction Kito had gone. Rabbits raced by, each carrying a gift in its mouth. Monkeys laughed overhead, swinging from tree to tree. More birds flew by, the great big elephant who sometimes came by the stream for water stomped by.
Each animal carried a small gift, and Munya wondered if he’d been wrong about Kito going to make trouble. They soon came to a clearing and Munya clutched Karua’s hand tight when he started tripping over a stone. Lena took Karua’s left hand and together they steadied him. They looked up to find the animals waiting in a circle in the clearing.
The silence was unusual, even the chattering monkeys sat in silence on the edge of the circle. Munya glanced above and saw Kito resting on a low branch on the tree next to them.
“Old Kito,” Munya said, his voice in a loud whisper.
“Shh…” Kito answered, not looking at him.
“But…” Munya started only for Kito to fly off his branch to land on Kito’s right shoulder.
“Stop making noise,” Kito said, dropping his sweet potato vine.
Munya caught it before it touched the ground.
“What is going on? Why have the animals in the forest gathered?” Munya asked, trying to keep his voice low.
“You’ll see,” Kito answered. “Here it comes. Look to the sky, my noisy friend.”
Munya and his siblings all looked up in time to see the sunrays dance into the middle of the clearing. Bright and pretty, they were golden yellow and almost blinding. Munya gaped when he saw two hyenas walk into the clearing from opposite sides. They moved slow, and only stopped when they met in the middle of the clearing.
Before Munya could ask what the hyenas were doing staring at each other in the middle of the clearing, a light rain started and all the animals cheered.
“Munya,” Lena said, her tone amazed. “Look, it is raining and it is sunny at the same time.”
“Yes,” Kito answered, his voice too pleased. “The Hyenas are getting married.”
Munya smiled in wonder as each animal walked up to the two hyenas in the middle and left an offering close to them. Munya lifted the sweet potato vine he held, looking at the old hawk.
“Why did you bring a sweet potato vine for the hyenas?”
“So they may have a prosperous and long life together,” Kito answered.
Munya gave the sweet potato vine to the hawk and watched him take it to the new family. The animals then included them in celebration and Munya and his siblings had a fun and exciting afternoon celebrating the hyena’s marriage.
This post is part of the East Africa Friday Feature entry. Still going with the writing challenge. I went out last week and it started raining while the sun was out and I remembered this story my grandmother used to tell us.
Read Other Stories from Participating Bloggers
The Other Woman – Olufunke Kolapo