I waited patiently.
I heard clothes falling in the grass. I heard the click of a belt buckle and the buzzing of a zip being pulled open. I heard a scuffle in the grass and a cold current of air swept by me as a cloth was spread on the ground. I heard the whispered complaints of grass and weeds as a big body was laid down on them, breaking them, crumpling, crippling. Then there were impatient grunts and fluttery sighs. The woman cried wordlessly; and the man replied with a mournful quiver as though he was freezing. Then there followed a curious, sucking sound that was particularly wet and tremulous. And disgusting. A squelching sound; it was like that of feet stomping in mud; or of the tongue hammering against the inner wall of the lower lip; or of a finger when plunged repeatedly inside an overripe pawpaw. They were very close to me, these shameless adulterers, these cold-blooded murderers, and I heard everything.
I was as patient as God; still as a dead thing.
I had heard a lot of things said about people having sex. I had heard of the smells and the sounds and the screams and the spasms and the desperate thrusts and groans. I had heard of the intenseness of the orgasm—the point at which a man was forced by forces beyond his control to disembogue his seed inside a woman. In my school these things were discussed freely and openly by boys and girls of various ages. Even my age. Mostly they insulted one another by such references. A girl would, for instance, be told that she talked like a person experiencing an orgasm, or that she walked as though there was a penis perpetually stuck in her crotch, or that when she had an orgasm she cried like a cricket; and a boy would be told that his penis was so puny that when he slept with a girl he had to put in his testes as well, or that he had been born with an erect penis and it had grazed his mother’s vagina and given her an orgasm, whereupon she had farted him out like diarrhoea, or that his saliva looked like semen, that he spat semen from his mouth. Once, a long time ago, a grown man with a wife and children had been told that his penis was nonexistent and that his semen came out of his anus, so that when he had sex with his wife he had to turn around the other way and shitted the sperms into her, like what a cock did to a hen, except he didn’t climb on her back and bite her hair. That man had split his abuser’s head into two with an axe.
The stories of sex and sexual matters were picked from rivers like Ochido and Otuodo where adults and children shared bathing points, but especially where men and boys bathed together. The men always discussed women and sex and penises and vaginas; they discussed them dishonourably; and the little boys learned the same from them. But most, if not all, of the knowledge so imparted was despicably wrong and misleading: for example, they said that sperms were manufactured in the buttocks and stored in the spinal cord; that women urinated from the same orifice where men dipped their organs; that a woman’s vagina led straight into her stomach where food went—and that was where babies were made; that when a woman was sexually excited and there were no men about or she was afraid of sex, she drank a lot of water in order to cool herself off, since the water passed right through her vagina; etcetera, etcetera. I did not know what the women discussed on their side of the river, but judging from the intensity of vulgarity of which the girls in school were capable, I could tell that the nature of the education by the riverside was just about the same.
Here, children were spared nothing. They experienced, as did the adults, the full blast and impetus of life, unhindered and uncensored and smutty such as it was; unprotected from all the vulgarism and violence and seediness and pornography of an uncultivated and outrageous existence.
For these reasons I thought this place would never change. In any society, children were the future; when they rotted as they did here, the future rotted along with them. It was a future too untoward to look forward to. It was often said that after the rain came sunshine; but here it always rained. It had always rained. And the rain consisted of woe and folly. It was a downpour, accompanied by thunder and tempest.
I sprung to action when Ogutu’s groans and grunts started to become more and more frenzied. The woman, Sela’s wife, was agitated too, but the sounds she made were not as urgent and violent as those of the man on top of her. I knew they were approaching a climax and I intended to catch them at it. I had heard that people were most vulnerable during orgasm; that the brain almost shut down in that time. I was about to find out for myself.
I had planned to use my sword on them. But I saw the machete. The machete was there! It was an evil thing even by the look of it. It looked like something that may be used by the Devil to behead people in hell, or to cut off their testicles. Its sharpness and the way it shone and gleamed even in a place with feeble sunlight as this made it a singular and particularly hair-raising weapon in the entire village. It reminded you of the fangs of a black mamba, not by its shape—it was broad and slightly curved backwards towards the tip—but by its purpose—you saw it and knew it would kill you. It was something meant to kill.
I tiptoed and picked it up. Ogutu, in a frantic hurry to quench his fleshly yearnings, had dropped his precious possession slapdash on the ground. It was not very heavy for me, and just by holding it in my hands I felt small vibrations travel along my arm and I was inspired with confidence. I was energized and my heart kicked with anticipation. I had discovered that I was attracted to sharp things: to knives and machetes and swords and spears and arrows. I was attracted to weapons. It was a behaviour I had inherited from my father. He had been like that. Often did I regret it (I did not want at all to be like my father); but if it did help me to defend my mother then at times I had to work with it.
Ogutu heard me when I shuffled close to him. (The grass was too high and the weeds too long to allow for a perfectly soundless tiptoeing.) The confusion he felt, the shock, the terror, combined with the pain and the pleasure of his orgasm, turned his face into a hideous and distorted mask of wrinkled flesh, his bloodless eyes gawking, goggling, his thoughts wild and uncontrollable, a section of his brain shut down, and his mouth open like horrible wound. But worst of all his woes at that moment was the horror of seeing me there, me, his archenemy, his murderer, me with his dreadful machete in my hand, and he unarmed and utterly helpless. What always killed them fast, before I even lifted my arm to strike, was the horror of seeing me there, there where I was not expected; for up to then they had not known who their true enemy was. They terrorized my mother and ignored me, having judged both of us defenceless and prone to their ruthlessness, thinking that they were safe and untouchable and we were not, then they found out the truth just a split second before they died in my capable hands, when it was too late to do anything about it. The horror, the astonishment, the incomprehension, the sudden madness and alarm on their faces was always the same. I found it overly rewarding.
I swung the machete and beheaded him. I swung it with both hands and with all my might, and I imagined I could hear it tearing through the air as if the air were a fabric, making a definite arc. I could hear its premonitory whistle as it arced downwards towards the target. It passed through the neck as if his neck were made of nothing—I did not feel the impact—and continued down until it sliced the top half of the woman’s head, exposing her brain and freezing her scream. The machete stopped when it hit the ground, and that was when I felt its impact. Ogutu’s head jumped and kicked about in the grass. Blood spurted forth from his jugular and carotid like two waterfalls; his body jerked spasmodically; and a roaring sound was escaping his severed throat.
I kicked the body aside to expose the woman. I kicked it very hard in the ribs. Then I discarded the machete and took up my sword. I sank down on my knees for efficiency. And I started stabbing her on the chest. I was powered by a strange force, great and unequalled, and once I began stabbing I could not stop myself. I was helpless to halt. Images of my dying mother displayed before my eyes: images of Sela beating her; of him pinning her on the ground and punching her face as if she were a man like him; of this woman shouting and shrieking for my mother to die; of Nyadoo inciting her son to kill my mother; of Ogutu chasing my mother down towards the road with his hellish machete; wanting to cut off her lips, wanting to eat them, telling her he would cut them off and eat them; of Oulo, the man they had brought to finish her off; of those children yelling at me, calling me the son of Oulo; of my father carving off my mother’s face, wanting to remove her eyes; of him wanting to remove her breasts; of a certain tall man named Abud colluding with Nyadoo and Sela to plan my mother’s death . . .
I was transported with rage; with fury was I electrified; and vengeance stood by me. I could not stop; even after the woman was dead and limp I could not stop. I stabbed her thoroughly. Tremors of impact shook my arm; warm blood splattered my face; and my heartbeat was thunderous. Where her left breast had been, there were now jagged ribbons and scraps of flesh and a large hole fit to conceal both my hands. I saw her heart through the hole. It was shredded. Pieces of it were floating in a dark red pool of blood. Her lungs and liver had also been reduced to ragged tatters of flesh. But, I continued to stab and stab her, to puncture and pierce and lacerate, glutting myself, soaring with the bloodthirsty gory glory of the moment. Vengeance was mine. It was sweet, bittersweet; it was pungent and savoury, hot and cold, like I imagined an orgasm would be. I stabbed, stabbed, stabbed . . .