Prince Mabaya was born in a large city. He doesn't know anything about the village except the few stories his father and mother tell him. Despite all the turmoil in the small town, despite all the solicitations he received from young girls and the urges to love from his friends, Prince did not know love.
It was a teenager when he started dating his native Madiuka that he discovered love. In the middle of the bush, far from all modern beauties. In love, this is the start of an exciting adventure accompanied by several episodes, which end in a cruel tear. Is love real?
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Joseph NKAKA BEN KHON’.
Editions Aigle, 2020
All rights reserved for all countries. Any representation or reproduction in whole or in part made by any process whatsoever—photography, photocopy, microfilm, magnetic tape, disk or other—without the consent of the author and publisher, is illegal and constitutes an infringement.
Shewalkedbarefootonthesandyground,alreadywetatthisnotsolatehourofthenight, whichwasbathedinmoonlight,brightandblazinglikesparksofwelding.Theskywasserene, thefirmamentdottedwiththousandsofstars,whichjoinedtheirbrightnesstothatofthemoon. The universe was inharmony.
His small, light footsteps rustled on the fine sand of Madiuka. Trees and houses, as in broaddaylight,shadedthecourtyards.UnderAuntNiangi’smangotree,amangotreeasoldas the village itself, three beings stood out. Prince and Seley stood, like two mountain gorillas, in front of the young girl, resigned, helpless, defeated, unable to move, as if hypnotized and paralyzed.
Two columns of snow-white teeth adorned her sensual mouth with fine, appetizing lips. With a head smaller than Prince’s, but larger than Seley’s, a fine nose rolled up at the end, a glossyanddazzlinglook,Kalasawasalreadyawell-groomedteenager.Thewindwassweeping awayhersilkdress,whichcoveredaslender,well-shapedbody.Underherleftarmpitshewore the mortar she had just borrowed from Aunt Niangi’shouse.
She shyly smiled and replied:
Prince took an interrogatory look at Seley. This one, looking very serious, said nothing. Not because he was soft, but because he had not yet been asked his opinion. For, as far as the jibber-jabber of the youth group, Les Casques Bleus, of which Prince was the leader,he served asa messenger,scoutandliaisonofficer.Smallinstature,witharecedingforehead,Seleyalready had a bald spot, so that he could easily be put in his thirties. Hands at his hips, his stretched leopard eyes neutralized Kalasa, despite thedarkness.
Prince recorded the song of the wind in the trees, was inspired by it and replied calmly:
A deep silence hung over the horizon as the cool wind continued to whip the leaves of the mango and palm trees, which applauded mechanically and frantically, and seemed to join thetrioasiftobringbackthecommunionthatonceexistedinEden.Theheavenlyhostwatched the scene without comment, immortal witness of a life that was to be harmonious with regard to what was in the beginning, when the Creator placed Eve before Adam and Adam cried out, taking all creation as witness: “Behold, this time…”
ThreetimesKalasaraisedherround,sparklingeyesonPrince,walkedoverhimandover Seley, and three times she lowered them. Then she emitted a sudden and muffled laugh that moved the young schoolboy’sheart.
She ran away in short strides. Her muffled footsteps were absorbed in the night, carried awaybythemigratingwind,andahutswallowedhersilhouetteundertheadmiringgazeofthe youngmen.
Itwastheholidays.Sincethedeathofhisfather—whohadlefthimwhenhehadjust finished his Latin studies—two years ago, Prince has always come to spend his holidaysinhis nativevillage,wherehismotherhadreturned,inordertocommunewiththecustomsandhabits, todeepentheextendedfamilyandAfricansolidarity,inshorttofillavoidcreatedbylifeinthe largeurbancentres,reputedtoberebelliousbecauseoftheculturalmix,wherehehasevolved.
Prince has indeed spent his whole life in the immense and beautiful city of Popokabaka. Where dad is the biological progenitor, while the other’s is father or old man. Where one does nothavethecommonandnaturalrighttosharehismealwiththeneighbour.Wheredadisrarely given the opportunity to tell you the name of your village or to dissect the family tree. Where footballisstillthebestleisureactivity.Wheremoonlightdancingishollow,distractingandnot cultural.Whereyoudon’tknowhowtosetatrap.WhereyouhavetolearnalottobeanAfrican in the strictest sense of theword.
One of those cities similar to the capital Kinshasa, eaten away by the demon of regionalism and tribalism cultivated by totalitarian, inhuman, self-centred, monolithic regimes.
Afterahardperioddominatedbyend-of-yearexams,hehadchosen,thistimetoo,totake advantageofthepeaceandquietofthecountrysidetoresthishead.Whatcouldbemorenormal aftersuchintenseactivity!Thesingingofbirdsinthetrees,thefreshwateroftheriver,thecool and humid air, the hunting, the bush fires, the folk dances in the moonlight, the stories of the wise men around the fire, everything plunges you into a new, mystical and captivating world. No more questions, no more big books, no more restrictions, no more … but rather long weekends, long mornings, hikes in nature and on the highway, gastronomic jubilees and constructive talks with the wise men to learn, and with the young people to havefun.
He goes to bed late as he does almost every day and wakes up when the sun is already scorching the skin and the mothers have finished preparing breakfast: a steaming fufu that will keep you comfortable until the evening. He stretches, yawns and smiles at the atmosphere of the day. Unusual.
Whenthesunhaspassedathirdofitspath,allthatremainsinthevillagearecattle,poultry and a few elderly people to look after the younger ones. The only sound you can hear is the crying of children, the humming of cars on the road and pigs hiding under the verandas of the huts.Thesunshinesdry.AllMadiukaandthesurroundingvillageshavegatheredinN’koôngo for a bush fire. Thus, Madiuka is almostdeserted.
It’s a big village with a hundred huts. Straddling the main road, Madiuka is both a commercial and intellectual center all around. Its primary school in the east dates back to the First Republic and has formed more than one framework. In the administrative sector of Popokabaka, it is one of the rare villages to have a representative in every field of life: health, army, mechanics, politics … not to mention education where they abound like a swarm of bees, from the graduate to the short cycle graduate.
Themajorityofitspopulationisyoung.Haditnotbeenfortheruralexodus,Madiuka wouldbeasecondcityintheterritoryintermsofpopulationandsocialhealth.Thisisthenative villageofPrince,whosereputationisspreadlikewildfirebyitscitizensandbythesports activities they practice. Young people prefer the cooler Madé to the traditional nameMadiuka.
Well-dressed,aproudschoolboy,PrinceiswaitingforKalasainSeley’shut.Histhoughts wander in the bush, for it is during a bush fire that their first encounter occurs, fortuitous from therest.
He looked like an ordinary, solitary walker, with a stick in his hand, wearing sunglasses, wearing a light blue beret and a sky-blue scarf around his neck. Nothing of a country man.
She, among her sisters, seemed to have gone there to relax, to have fun, to escape the monotony in the village. Rather than looking for rats hiding places, she was running behind tondolo aframomum, succulent small red-skinned fruits three-quarters buried in the earth and whose only attraction was their tails.
For Prince, it was more than a wonder. A sentimental turmoil had overtaken him. Could one find a girl in the country as elegant and charming as in those big cities and towns? He was not used to the villages, so he thought it was a bad idea, thinking that in the villages one could find everything that was dirtier and uglier. But this was different. This could be confirmed in him, for he had never seen such an attractive girl since he had been with Madé. Or perhaps his eyes had narrowed waiting to open before Kalasa. Surely this was no coincidence.
Kalasa stood out among his sisters. She was the eldest, the yaya. Taller than all of them, with a slightly light complexion, soft and piercing eyes, a fine nose, thin lips, slender at will, medium Adam’s apples to the size of a handshake, the rump not exaggerated, at the limit of appreciation, she presented an admirable shape. One could not look at it a first time without insisting on a second, then a third time, even at length. It was certainly not the most beautiful in the world, but it did not go unnoticed.
He had then resolved to tame it, sooner or later. But how was he going to do it? Indeed, being shy by nature, he had not yet dared, in his life, to speak of love to a young girl. Hecould talk about it, but he wasn’t used to being around girls. So he had to try, or gethelp.
So, approaching her, he took off his glasses and said to her with a smile that he could hardly part with:
This was a heap of tondolo that Prince had picked for him, but that he intended for him immediately to please him and get into his life. She had stretched out her hands to collect this providential gift, looking puzzled. He had already turned his back on her when she thanked him. Until he was about ten meters away, the small group was silent, and she and her sisters had a stunned look in front of this stranger who could offer such a precious gift, a look that seemed to weigh on him. They did not know each other indeed. It was their first meeting. Instinctively, he turned around, waved his hand and walked away.
It had been almost a year since it happened and now his desire was coming true. At this pointinhismemory,someoneknocksatthedoor:Kalasa.Shecomesin,putsdownthepackage sheisholdinginherhandandwaves.Likeacrocodilelyinginwait,Princekeepshiseyeshalf—closed. An uncontrollable and elusive inner joy that he can’t yet externalize swims in his inner self. Under his blue plaid shirt, his heart dances to an unaccustomed and frenetic pace, as if the presence of Kalasa bewitches theatmosphere.
Her entry is followed by a heavy silence which she finally breaks:
This is, in a soup plate, roasted peanuts, yams and cassava that she tried to present carefully after cooking. It’s as if she already knew Prince’s taste! And without being begged, they lay down the table so that Kalasa faces Prince. Kalasa does not eat. She watches the two friends pounce on the food like hungry eagles. The atmosphere seems friendly, as if they were old friends. No discomfort, no complexes.
Whentheireyesmet,theysmiled.Thesmileseemedtounitethem.Itwasbothaweakness and second nature. They took their time to eat, without haste. The day belonged tothem.
After this hearty meal, Prince couldn’t help but thank:
She strikes him down with a seductive and pleasant look, typical of women. The goose bumps invade him, from head to toe; he gets up and takes a step towards Kalasa, after burping loudlyandswallowingacupoffreshwaterfilledtothebrim,drawnfromthenloondotheclay gourd that lay around thecorner.
To face the girl, Prince and Seley perch on the table as if they were interrogating the chick.Theinterview,fromwhichthefutureistobederived,isabouttobegin.Inthebedroom, hercousinMayiseemstobesnoozing.Indisposed,hecouldn’taccompanytheotherkidstothe bush fire. In spite of not being a member of the Blue Helmets, Prince considers it less usefulto get him out, not fearing that he might tell anyoneanything.
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