THE MANGO TREES

Wellofexcellence | January 25, 2019 | 7 | The Wonder of Books

The wind blew gently against the trees, whistling. ‘Now, this is refreshing’ said the Big Mango Tree to the Small Mango Tree, inhaling deeply and visibly happy. ‘Life is good and this is one of the magical moments’. The wind blew more, tugging the leaves backward giving the trees the appearance of a woman at the beach with the wind blowing her clothes backwards as she spread her arms and close her eyes to enjoy the moment. Like the woman, the trees numerous branches were well spread.

‘This was one of the moments that got your grandfather humming’ continued the Big Mango Tree. ‘I think I better make good use of this carbon dioxide’ he started collecting them for photosynthesis. The memory of his father saddened him in no small measure. He took a look at the stump that was the remains of his father I need to make good use of this moment; I can’t afford to be distracted. He admonished himself as he shuffled the thought away and concentrated on getting the carbon dioxide. The chlorophyll in the leaves of the Big Mango Tree absorbed the light energy and began the process of photosynthesis.

‘Your grandfather was a good tree’ continued the Big Mango Tree. The Small Mango Tree listened with rapt attention ‘the juicy tasty fruits we produce are a testimony to that. We inherited the trait from him. Your grandfather was 152 years old when his life was brutally count off.’ He paused. The sad memory came floating back. It happened one sunny morning with the breeze blowing gently and his father floating merrily in the wind. Two men came carrying a strange device. A device, he was to learn later was a bringer of untold sorrow. The device had a long, flat, broad blade, encircled by a chain. It was very noisy when one of the men pulled at it. The chain started rolling furiously around the blade. Just as he was puzzled and about to laugh at the amusing scene. The man with the device moved the blade to the bottom of his father’s trunk and his father screamed out in pain. He was startled and lost as to what was happening. His father continued to scream louder as the blade cut deeper into him. The men must have gone deaf or they were the most heartless of men, not to have heeded to the scream. Or so he thought, until in the months and years that followed he witnessed more of such cuttings.

‘Two men came and cut down your grandfather’

‘What did he do?’ asked the Small Mango Tree puzzled.

‘Nothing, nothing that I know of. Except maybe they cut him down for his good deeds, because as far as I can remember, grandfather used to produce a lot of good fruits from which a lot of the men feed on. Grandfather’s branches were laden with nests of birds as he housed and protected them. Trees make the air conducive for men to breathe by removing carbon dioxide from it and infusing oxygen into it. We produce our food and feed on same, they cannot even make the simplest of food, they feed on us. We break the wind to protect them and sometimes lose branches in the process’ his anger rose, and he spoke rapidly ‘we provide them with shelter from sunshine, we check erosion. And all they do is feed on us and cut us down. They then burn us as fuel, use us for furniture, use us for making papers, in short, the list is endless!’ He paused; panting with anger as the scene came flashing back.

His father fell with a crackling sound as the birds scattered and flee. The men proceeded to trim the branches and in a moment, what was left of his father was a disjointed version of his former self.

‘That was how grandfather died’ he heaved. ‘Enough of the sad story! Each time I think of it, it drains me emotionally. What! I just hit a gold mine’ he shouted in excitement, getting the Small Mango Tree wondering why the sudden change of mood ‘my roots just sensed a concentration of nitrogen. Now, isn’t that something to be excited about? Today is just so perfect.’ He started humming – just like his father – to himself.

  •  

John sat deep in thought, his mind hard at work; searching, analyzing and digesting. They are at it again, this endless dirty game. They will promise you and fail you. Then they will promise you that they will not fail you again, and then they will fail you again. Some called it politics, John called it felony. ‘Why should it be that when we lie to them they call it a felony but when they lie to us they call it politics?’ he always asked. As a political activist, he was always there to make sure that the people’s mandate was not abused. He has led many protests against bad governments in order to batter them back to the right path, and like the stick that goes into the fire to retrieve a walnut, he too, gets burnt occasionally. But his determination to rid his country of bad politicians kept him going. The incumbent governor of his state will be coming to his locality on Wednesday for a campaign, so he can be voted back into power in next year’s election. John knew he has to be there, and in time too. For him to be able to analyze and evaluate the progress of the government adequately, it will be of great help if he heard from the horse’s mouth. The day was Monday, so he quickly re-arranged his schedule and waited for Wednesday.

Wednesday finally came and the town square was filled with people. Five L400 Mitsubishi buses – three black and two white – rode into the square, speakers were mounted on them and were booming with hip pop music. Boys and girls in black and blue jeans, and T-shirts with ‘PNP’ boldly written on them, together with the party slogan and symbol, danced energetically. A girl in the bus stood and swung her waist, rolling her backside rhythmically to the music. A boy ran out of the crowd and joined her in the dance, his hands on his head and his front-side to her backside, he swung and moaned. After some seconds, she seductively pushed him away.

‘Killi me, killi me softly, softly’ he groaned as he turned away fully aroused, his trousers bursting forth from the pressure within. Other girls swung seductively too, this got boys rubbing their heads, biting their fingers and shaking it. This will certainly earn the girls wooers. There came a shout as people scurried away. Boys on motorcycles raced in amidst blaring of horns. They rode wildly, most of them carrying girls whose tightly worn jeans revealed their pantie or bums. The boys rode like they had spare lives. The performed dangerous stunts that got the crowd cheering. A boy whispered to the girl he was carrying and she alighted from the motorcycle. He then spun the motorcycle round and round amidst clouds of dust, by placing his left foot on the ground and tilting the handles of the motorcycles to his left very close to the ground and at the same time throttling it. The crowd cheered him on. He pulled the motorcycle upright and stood on the footrests, his thighs against the handles and his hands swinging by his sides. The crowd chanted ‘James Bond, James Bond, James Bond….’ As he rode.

John arrived and stood at the left wing of the square, here he was sure he would have a good view of the governor and rarely gets disturbed. Twenty minutes later the governor arrived in his convoy waving at the crowd with two fingers in the air. The crowd cheered and chanted the party slogan. Some minutes later; the chairman of the party mounted the stage and introduced the governor.

‘For years now,’ he began ‘you have been spectators. You were not given the opportunity to have one of your own mount the seat of governor in this state. PNP came and gave you your very own son; your flesh and blood as governor, when most thought it was next to impossible. Now, this same PNP has come back with that very son of yours seeking re-election. Will you not vote for him?’

‘We will’ the people chorused.

‘Will you not vote for him?’

‘We will’

‘I know you will, and because you will, he will win. Odum people have always been a hardworking people, who always get what they want because they know how to get it. Your ancestors, when they were migrating to this place, faced the challenge of crossing River Agri, a river that was deep and wide, a river with no bridge, a river that would have scared other people away. You know what they did?’

‘Yes’ the people chorused, visibly motivated and happy.

‘I’m sure you know. Your ancestors spoke to a giant snake, which came and lay across the river, forming a bridge with its body. Other people would have been too scared to walk on a snake, but your own very ancestors did! Today, I see you crossing this river of election with your industrious son to the winning side.’ The people cheered. ‘My good people of Odum state, permit me to call on stage your illustrious son, our God given leader, the strong man of our time, our arrow in the bow, the governor of Odum state.’ Applaud and cheers reigned as the governor mounted the stage.

‘PNP’ he shouted.

‘Government of the people’ the crowd chorused the slogan.

‘PNP’

‘Government of the people’

‘PNP’

‘Government of the people’ the crowd roared. The governor paused for some seconds and surveyed the crowd, feeding on the silence.

‘PNP – Progressive National Party, is the people’s party.’ The crowd responded warmly ‘PNP is a party sent from God to our people. We are a royal people and we are to rule, this is God’s mandate. PNP is the only party that can afford us the opportunity to rule, because it is from God, and we must rule because we are the head and not the tail….’ The people kept cheering with each pause.

‘The governor is my brother, he is from my village.’ Said a man, to another. ‘It is a good thing that we are separated from the other state to form Odum state at the time we did. At least now the governor can go up there and bring back our own share of the “national cake”.’ The other man nodded absent mindedly, engrossed in the governor’s speech.

John shook his head at the gullible masses. Maybe they enjoy being deceived, he thought countless times politicians come here and appeal to the people’s religious beliefs and emotions to get votes and each time, the people readily consent with their votes. When the politicians get into offices, they enrich themselves at the expense of the people. The people do nothing but grumble, then they vote them in again and continue to grumble.

‘… I will construct the road from Ugbe to Ukpoma’ this jolted John out of his thought ‘majority of you are farmers and need motor-able roads to transport your products to the market. I’ll have the construction begin in six weeks.’ The crowd cheered and applauded him thunderously, as he stepped off the stage. True to his words, the construction began in six weeks.

  •  

‘What’s that sound I hear?’ Asked the Small Mango Tree

‘I don’t know, the sound is not familiar. But let me take a look.’ The sight took the Big Mango Tree aback. It was a beast he saw. A huge horrible beast, a type he has never seen and it was uprooting trees with its mouth. The beast did not even bother to cut the trees down. It just uprooted the trees roots and all. The most terrifying part of it all was that the beast was headed in their direction.

‘I…I…guess…we are…we are…about to die.’ Stuttered the Big Mango Tree

‘What! Why?’ visibly shaken and terrified.

‘The beast you hear is approaching. And it is uprooting trees.’

Slowly and steadily, the beast approached dutifully uprooting trees with a man on the wheels. In no time the two mango trees were down.

  •  

John heaved, just when he thought politicians were getting better, he was dropped deeper into his pit of doubt. It was beyond two years since the road construction contract from Ugbe to Ukpoma was awarded. Trees were bulldozed away and the land left vulnerable to erosion but no road was constructed after. But of course, the governor won the election.

Eneji Matthew

Eneji Matthew

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