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Fear of The Forest

Everyone had a fear of the Forest. The thought systems and patterns of Amilo were all centred around the forest. Right from the days of the ancestors a lot of mysterious things had happened in the forest, most of them evil.
Apoda Forest carried with it deep buried secrets of the clan. And there was an open secret that if one saw anything strange in Apoda one was safer and the wiser not to talk about it. In fact the best thing to do was to pretend that one had not seen anything at all.
It is in Apoda forest that little girls who went to fetch firewood had been trapped by hyenas and were never heard of again. It is in Apoda that the jealous stepmother had killed her step-son and buried him in a secret hole. It was in Apoda Forest that the hyenas had torn Awuor Awuor into pieces after she visited her ailing mother and left for home at a time that coicided with the laughing hyenas’ night dance. It was at Apoda forest that a handsome young man had offered to marry a girl with a hunchbuck only to turn into a strange being with one buttock and a special craze for human flesh.

All animals lived in the forest including mysterious snakes with two heads. Pythons, cobra and flying snakes such as nyalhu that tapped the head of its victims and killed them instantly.

Then there was the dreaded leopard popularly known as “wang’e tindo” or the one with small eyes. The children of Amilo were often warned to be wary of hyenas. “When you see a hyena keep your hands on your head. If you swing your hands in the air, the hyena will hack it off and run away with it,” mothers advised.

Indeed it is at the Forest that the rainmakers of Amilo gathered  to make rain or deny the residents rain by closing the womb of the sky. The rains, it was said was kept in three black pots deep in the middle of the forest. Three huge snakes coiled luxurious around the pots and would only move away when the rainmakers arrived. Women were not allowed in the rainmaking side of the forest and whenever the dry season set in for too long, everyone knew that a certain woman, a bad woman had probably stepped on the dreaded grounds while fetching firewood. A bad woman…like Akinyi.

The rainmakers were ruthless. After making the rains, they would walk into people’s homes and picked whatever they wanted; chicken and grains and no  one dared stop them. The life of the community lay in their hands.

That is why nobody took Sangla’s prophecy about Akinyi lightly. When the forest ganged up against you, my friend, you were done. And now time was running out. The residents started hoping that Sangla would surface and at least tell them what to do. All efforts to get Akinyi a husband had failed and children had already started dying in the village for no reason.  Young women and female animals were no longer giving birth to young ones, it was as if a bad wind had tied their wombs and children had refused to grow in them! Yet nobody dared go into the forest to look for Sangla. Only a fool would try chasing the wind. Who even said she was in the forest? She could even be that little bird on top of the mango tree picking worms to take to her children. She could even be that irritating housefly buzzing in and out of the kitchen. She could be the grasshoper playing with the little children in the grass next to the granary. She could be the mosquito buzzing in one’s ear at night and denying them sleep.

The village of Amilo waited for Sangla for many seasons in vain until they got fed up of searching for Akinyi a husband.That was when a thought struck! It began as a whisper and  was immediately dismissed as a wicked thought. But it soon took a persistent path like a river flowing into the lake. Why not kill Akinyi? That would definitely end all the problems in Amilo. But who would do it? Who would dare challenge the oracles? Who was ready to give up their lives for Amilo? Only time would tell! But then Apunda offered to do it!

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