Allow me to refer to our dear Cordalia as Maro from time to time, an affectionately used term meaning little lister.
Maro tried to keep to the chores that were near the main room on the homestead so that she would be there when Haingura returned. She started with running a rake over the sand inside the perimeter of the homestead. Once it was devoid of all small pieces of trash, chicken crap, and all other miscellaneous items she stepped back to admire her work. The curved smooth lines imprinted into the sand from her rake were artful. Their pattern revealed something about their creator, steadfast, intentional, patient.
After a quick reflection, she tended to the mahangu grains that were outside drying. The ones she would eventually have to pound into flour. Not on this day though. On this day, she simply had to stir them and spread them out on the tarp that they were resting on to allow the grains to dry evenly. She moved her hands slowly through grains noticing the sensations as the grains passed through her fingers and ran underneath her palms. She made an effort to gently touch each piece of grain, as to not leave one feeling left out. She loved the aromas, tantalizing, she didn’t want to leave any of them trapped. She was so enchanted by the smell she could almost watch the aromas float into the air and wait patiently for a breeze to come and lift them away. She imagined them like small children being scooped up in one hand by their strong fathers. Like they were about to go on an adventure together. She would wish them good fortune on their journey to the edges of the earth.
The problem with all of those good smells was that she wasn’t the only one who enjoyed them. A few goats that belonged to a nearby homestead also caught wind of those grains. Goats can be crafty when they want to be or just so blunt forcibly stubborn. If all that stands between them and a potential meal is a bunch of old wooden posts, they will eventually break their way through to the food. And that is what they did on this day.
Four uninvited goats entered the homestead demanding food and Cordalia had the most difficult task to run them back out, especially considering how outnumbered she was. She would charge at the group, and they would scatter and run themselves into various dead ends. Just as she was getting one where she wanted it, another would be at the mahangu snacking or running over top of it, scattering the grains from the tarp onto the sand to be lost forever.
Finally she was able to create an exit point for the animals and herd them all in the same direction. As the last one was passing through the exit, in a rare moment of frustration, Cordalia went to give it a swift kick in the ass as to say shame on you and don’t come back. When she did this her sandal came flying off and one of those stubborn goats snatched it right. Cordalia and the goat locked into a staring contest. Maro’s eyes saying “don’t you dare.” The goats eyes saying “try and stop me.”
After a few seconds, that felt like minutes, the goat took off into the bush with her sandal, and Cordalia went chasing after. This was her last complete pair of sandals that didn’t have make shift thongs attached to them and didn’t have countless thorns embedded into their foot beds. The last way she wanted to lose her only pair of good shoes was to a stubborn old goat who stole it just to spite her.
She was consumed by the chase, determined to run this goat down and retrieve her sandal. So much so that she forgot for the time being she was supposed to be at home waiting to help Haingura. She didn’t know how long she was running, but by the time she tackled the goat and retrieved her sandal, she was down in the valley, and had an audience of people sitting outside of the little hookah shops and bars watching her wrestle a goat for a little pink sandal.
After she successfully retrieved her sandal and gave the goat a little piece of her mind, the intensity of the situation dissipated, and it dawned on her that she was way too far away from home. She tried to immediately head back home, but unfortunately the spectacle caused too much attention and some of the village elders called her over to them. There was no way she would be able to turn their invitation down as it would be a sign of disrespect, not only to the the elders, but to the home of Haingura.
She nervously went to her callers and hoped they would not talk with her too long so she could be home before her father returned from the farm. To her dismay it was not easy to get away from these gentlemen, regardless of how shy and non conversational she pretended to be. Finally someone asked her about Haingura and she was able to tell them that he was do home very soon and she was supposed to be waiting for him there to help him collect things for her cousins birthday party. Upon hearing this news, all of the gentlemen agreed that she needed to rush home right away, and that she was a naughty girl for being away from the homestead, as if they had already forgotten that they had just witnessed the reason why she left in the first place. And as if they didn’t know that she would have already been home if they hadn’t delayed her.
She rushed back to the homestead holding both of her sandals in her hands. She came flying through the back entrance to enter the premise. Getting to the main house, she was relieved to find that Haingura’s truck was not parked there. But she noticed that the sand was disturbed by the entrance of the home. She didn’t think in her standoff with the goats that she was anywhere near there, but then again, it was possible it was from her or one of the animals.
As she stood there pondering if someone was inside the home, she heard clanging noises. Father must be home she thought. He must have parked on the outside of the homestead to save time and also because no-one was there to open the gate for him. She got close to the door and called in for her father. She thought she heard a muffled voice call back, and she heard some more noises of movement coming from inside.
She slowly began to open the door. Coming from outside, it was hard to see inside the unlit room, as the sun’s rays were intensified by reflecting off the white sand. She thought she could see someone in the corner of the room in a crouched position facing the wall. As she stepped into the center of the room, she stiffened. Not fromm the presence in the room, not yet. From the smell. That horrendous sour, fermented smell. Like stale beer mixed with rotten fruit. The last time she smelled something like this was the last time it visited her. The figure in the room grew taller in front of her. Her heart broke as it emerged from the shadows, revealing itself once and for all.