It was not that his friend’s mum was a great cook, the soup was watery and a bit salty at the same time, but then, he mustn’t be choosy. He was just so glad that his best buddy had decided to share his mother’s pot of soup with him; he knew he must reciprocate the gesture sooner than later.
Two hands in a pot are faster than one and in no time, they were almost done with the pot’s content; it was then that reality struck.
Eating the soup was the easy part, but getting away with it was a different story entirely; as repeat offenders, they would always be the prime suspects. They had to come up with an ingenious plan to escape the looming punishment.
The goat, like other goats, was stupid and stubborn, but that didn’t make it guilty of the crime they accused it of.
As they watched it stroll lazily into the compound, like two genii thieves, they immediately came up with a plan.
The unsuspecting goat was easily cornered and caught.
They first proceeded by rubbing its mouth with the watery remnant of the pot before giving it a thorough beating and then tied it to a nearby tree. The loud bleating of the poor goat as they dealt with it attracted a passer-by who then asked what it did to call for such discipline.
“It ate a pot of soup” they replied him.
That night, he was almost through with his dinner when his friend’s mother knocked angrily at their door.
The following weekend, he was sent off to his aunt’s place in the city for an extended holiday.
He must have slept off because it took him a few seconds to recall that he was in a bus on his way back to the village. He noticed that they were on a long stretch of motor road surrounded by thick forests with tall trees in the middle of nowhere with no building in sight.
The agony of waiting for about two hours for a vehicle that never filled up to fill up was only surpassed by the horrible few week he had spent with his aunt and her family. His cousins were not that nice and he thought that they might be secretly happy as their mother drove him to the motor park and put him in a bus going to the village that morning.
He missed home and his friend; he just couldn’t wait to get back to his familiar hunting grounds.
It was bad enough that they were behind schedule and the bus was moving at snail speed, but that the driver had to stop every few kilometers to pick up more passengers was like really rubbing it in. The feeble protest of some of the passengers did not change a thing until he had filled all the vacant seats.
Sitting at the back, he didn’t initially see him, but the angry protest of some of the other passengers brought it to his notice.
“Mr. Man must you stop at every bedroom you come across?” someone asked angrily
“Where is he going to seat!” someone else added.
Quite unlike the driver, he apologized for the first time.
“Please don’t be offended, he is a member of our drivers’ union” he pleaded as he stopped the bus in front of the two men standing by a bus parked by the roadside.
From their ensuing conversation, it was obvious that they were acquainted.
“What happened?” the driver asked.
“It seems a leaky carburetor allowed air to mix with the petrol and caused all sorts of problems” one of the men replied him and lifted up what looked like an engine part.
“Please help me to drop my assistant at the next town to get replacement parts.”
All the seats were filled by passengers, but the assistant squeezed himself between the vehicle’s handbrake and the front passenger.
The journey continued, but about thirty minutes later, the bus broke down.
Parking by the roadside on a high-speed highway in the middle of nowhere was a foolish act, hence, the need for an early warning for oncoming vehicles to avert unforeseen accidents.
Maybe it was an act of selfless service or just to repay the driver and passengers for the free ride, they never found out, but the assistant they picked up on their way took it upon himself to act as an early warning system and help divert the other road users away from the broken-down bus while the driver carried out repairs.
He did this by standing some meters away from the back of the bus and holding one of his shoes in his hand, directing the traffic.
The plan worked perfectly until a power bike, from a distance, shot like a bullet towards him. All gesticulations by him to make it change direction proved abortive. He had to jump out-of-the-way as the bike zoomed past him and changed direction at the last moment; but not before he hit the rider on the head with the sole of his shoe. It was a big mistake and the lesson would be learned the hard way by the passengers on the bus.
As the bike rushed past, they realized that there were actually two passengers on it; the person on the back seat was putting on a military uniform.
The bike rode for a few seconds, made a U-turn and started coming back at them.
“Aaahh! They are soldiers, am in a big trouble!” the assistant shouted.
Without a second thought, he turned and jumped into the thick forest.
There was nothing special about jumping into a forest, the only reason this particular forest had the second mention was because of the undulating nature of surrounding terrain. The land sloped down into what looked like a valley; the thickness of the bushes made the valley almost impenetrable. The man was either likely to die from the impact of the fall or he could be attacked by snakes or other wild animals, but then, it was probably a better deal than what he will get from the soldiers if caught.
“Where is the fool!” the soldiers thundered as they disembarked from the bike.
“He is not here officers” the passengers replied with timid voices.
“This is the person!” one of the soldiers pointed to a passenger in the bright colored shirt.
“Aaahh! I am in trouble!” the accused shouted.
“Officers I am not the one!” he cried as tears instantly filled his eyes.
In this part of the world, the rich and important people do not travel on rickety public transports and the military men revered like gods; can get away with almost anything, even murders and are better avoided than confronted.
“You don’t want to point him out?” the soldiers shouted as they fished out their service pistols.
“All of you adopt squatting positions!” The orders were fast and the drills were furious.
After about twenty minutes of frog-marching, they were all commanded to get back on the bus and each person should sit on the seat he or she previously occupied.
The intention was quite obvious; if the man jumped into the bush as claimed, there should be an empty seat remaining. There was a big problem because all the seats were already occupied by passengers before the man boarded the bus and no one has so far disembarked.
It was one thing for the soldiers to drill them while having lingering doubts that they could be telling the truth and therefore innocent, it will be a different story if they have reasons to believe that they were telling an outright lie.
“Psst, young boy, let me carry you on my laps” the man standing next to him whispered to his hearing, and being a smart lad, he understood immediately.
With the vacant seat, the soldiers became convinced that they were telling the truth and ordered them to board the bus and drive off without the missing man.
They watched through the back windows as the soldiers hid their bike and went into the bush in search of the man. They prayed that the man should never be found or else he was as good as dead.
As he was massaging his legs to relieve the aches and pains he got for another person’s mistake, a lorry filled by farmers and their livestock drove past probably on its way to the nearest market. He could have sworn that the two goats by the back of the lorry were staring at him with what looked like smug smiles on their faces.