The night out for the North Star (Part 2)

/, Opinion/The night out for the North Star (Part 2)
    Mustapha K Darboe is an award-winning Gambian journalist and senior reporter at Kerr Fatou who also writes for Anadolu Agency

To be born anti-social is a peculiarity that takes most people to the grave. Swandi and Nakaddy however feel quite surprisingly normal about it.

They had to defeat the society that is determined to get in their way; to kill a love that even God had so tactically planned to work. Swandi was back to his house after a second night outing. He could not hide his happiness. With little people in his circle, Swandi struggled to find someone to confide in his little tale of love.

He’s too shy to tell his father or mother. His only sister, Fanta, 18, came to mind. It was on a school holiday and she was home to help their parents.

He was late to arrive home on the second night with Nakaddy. The family was not worried. He spends a lot of time at his garden at times.

No one noticed the expression on his face that day. Fanta did. She saw the smile, the freedom from jail that loneliness is.

“You look happy and different,” Fanta teased. Swandi chuckled and passed her at the compound gate. Fanta likes to disturb her brother. She followed him into his house.

Swandi, burying his face into his palm, he is consumed in thought. The first kiss has left an irredeemable scar on him. He could only move forward.

Even Fanta knew his brother may not be open about everything relating to his life. That is his life trademark. But she needed a try. “Hey, I was disturbing you. You ok?”

Swandi took a deep sigh and looked at the sister in the eye, “yeah I am fine,” he said. Fanta knew he was lying.

He wasn’t completely honest. It was clear he was a changed person but something, it appeared, was bothering him.

He adjusted his sitting position and stretched is hand. He sat on the edge of his bed and stared at his sister.

“I have got a friend,” said Swandi. That was not so surprising. Even he could get a friend. However, she read in him that he did not say everything.

“Ok,” said Fanta. Swandi moved close to his sister and held her hand. He had a bigger news. “I mean a girlfriend,” he said, after minutes of hesitation.

Fanta appeared shocked. “This is a great news,” she said. “This is amazing.” But even Fanta did not know what sort of a woman loves a man who is almost always by himself. Perhaps his type, she thought.

She was just happy Swandi had someone to open up to. “So, you…,” she hesitated. Swandi said the news with so much happiness and concern at once. He, apparently, was not sure if the family would accept the girl.

Nyalankan Baara is a typical traditional society where anyone can feel justified to tell anyone how they should run their lives. So that one can only marries what society accept for you. So even for a girlfriend, the society has to accept.

Fanta realized this was Swandi’s concern. “I stand with you brother,” she said.

“Thanks,” he said. Swandi got onto the story. He narrated the tale from the beginning to the end. “Hmmmm, that is a short story. Love at first sight. Quick, huh,” she teased, leaving Swandi chuckling.

However, Swandi realized a changed in his sister’s facial expression. She forced a smile.

“There is a problem, isn’t there?” The sister fought to keep calm, except she could not. She was sorry her brother’s happiness might end even before it starts.

“I have heard stories of past disputes between Nyalankan Baara and Santo Su. People say we cannot have any sort of relationship,” Fanta said.

Swandi shook his head. For the first time, she has seen tears streaming down Swandi’s cheeks. She realized it would have been better if she did not tell that tale.

In between silent sobs, “not happening” was audible. The space in the house suddenly began to narrow. The place became inconvenient for Swandi. He started sweating.

Though Swandi’s bond with Nakaddy hasn’t gotten to marriage or even a promise of it, at least verbally, both knew they are too much a fit to walk away from each other.

For Swandi, it was like the roof of the sky had broken and the wild beasts in the unknown world have been unleashed. He could not take it in. The society was not only unkind to him but equally unkind to his kind.

He walked out on Fanta. He needed space. No one misses an encounter with an angel. Swandi knew Nakaddy was that angel but the society that felt justified to tell him what to do with his life did not know. How people can get wet and yet not feel the rain!

Fanta was worried. He walked out after him. He would not stop. Fanta felt Swandi needed space. She stopped pursuing him.

Perhaps something could be done about it, she thought. It occurred to her that their parents may have a way out. She ran to their house. It wasn’t too late for a little house discussion.

Meanwhile, Swandi was resting near his parrot in his garden. The North Star had left its position, disappeared into the wilderness. Swandi could not care less. For him it was still there. He rest on his back staring at its old locations.

The story at Nakaddy’s end isn’t any different. For her, it is her father who told her. She only got the chance to explain that she had a friend from Nyalankan Baara for her to be told the bitter truth. After an unsuccessful talks with parents, Fanta left home for the garden. She knew that was where Swandi was going to be. She broke the bad news to him. It was of course expected.

However, in their two-night experiment, Swandi and Nakaddy learned few important things about their lives. They are people with huge brain capacity who felt into the trap of rationalization—everything must makes sense. Until they realized how absurd love is. Logic ceased to makes sense to them. It is about desire.

So as old-age investigators say, when faced with two options often the simplest is the best.

So the duo have made up their minds. They felt abandoned by people who have decided to have history ruin both their present and future. Whatever the past friction between the two villages were, they have no interest knowing.

Coincidentally, they met at their old location, the spot for the Star.

“We are heading north,” said Swandi.

“You know a settlement there?” inquired Nakaddy.

“No,” answered Swandi. “But I have heard there is a village beyond the forest, about 40 kilometers away.”

The forest they are talking about is named Kuntu Balli by villagers. Stories are told of how people who went in that forest to fetch firewood never came back. It was a dangerous place, villagers believe.

They could not care less. Perhaps, as anyone they left behind—their whole world so to speak— they are insane. But what is love if not insanity?

Swandi carried a small five-liter bottle. He also bought two loaf of bread. That is what they were to sustain a 40-kilometer journey. The direction isn’t any clear.

The two knew they were heading north. They follow the direction of the North Star to know they are heading the right direction. After over two nights travelling, they reached a mountain. Beyond the mountain was a small village.

It was a very small village consumed in a very thick forest. A village they could only hear of was now before their very eyes.

As they climbed down the mountain through thick grass, they could still see the Star. It was their friend that brought them to the village.

The two have headed for the first house they have reached. It was a hut, mud house. The small compound has been fenced with trees. In front of the hut was a mango tree. And on both sides of the house were flower.

Njo baaliyeh,’ said Swandi as they arrived. They have found a young man resting on a ‘bentengho to’ under the mango tree. His name was Saikou Jammeh.

Nning si du la,’ responded Jammeh, after some pleasant exchanges. The compound has three houses. Two’s doors were open and one closed.

That signals happy news for Swandi. In traditional Africa, every compound in the village has a guest house. That must have been the one not closed.

Swandi and Nakaddy were welcomed to the bentengho to and given a cup of water. That is a tradition in the village.

Meanwhile, after some exchanges, Swandi asked ‘how do we call this beautiful place?’ Jammeh was not surprised. He too came to the village by accident. He was running away with a lover and found himself in the village of trees and flowers.

“Sonkodu Lolo, that is the name. Some call it the North Star,” said Jammeh. It is a village of run-away lovers whose union society refused to accept.

For Swandi and Nakaddy, they could only stared at each other. Jammeh offered to give them a sanctuary, an offer they took.

Welcome to the North Star (Sonkodu Lolo).

Mustapha K Darboe is the author of Playbook of a Tyrant, the story of Gambia’s two decades dictatorship.

 

 

 

2018-08-24T20:54:03+00:00

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