(Photo Credit: 123rf.com)
She sat sadly on the rickety rocking chair in the verandah looking lost in thought. It was evening. The dying sun casting long shadows on the verandah. She was alone in the house. Her husband had gone to the town square in search of food to buy with the last sum of money in the house. She couldn’t go with him. She was too drained, physically and emotionally. She couldn’t muster the energy. She was deflated. Her husband understood and didn’t bother her.
She had been in this position of shock since morning, against several pleas from her husband. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, she thought to herself for the umpteenth time, rocking gently. The squeaky sound from the rickety rocking chair was ominous. Her listless eyes on the brown crusty field across the house. The remains of what they once called a farm as recently as last night. Their only means of livelihood gone with the night.
It used to be a fertile land until this morning. The crops were coming along very well, looking healthy and promising. The farm was basically at a subsistence level, although they do sell a few over-flows once in a while in the town square. The harvest over the years has always been sufficient to keep them with food all year round.
They had no children. This wasn’t for want of trying. It just refused to click. So they resigned to their fate and invested their energy and time on the field, tending the crops with unreserved love and affection as if they were children. They often spoke to the crops while working in the farm, giving them words of encouragement to stand strong despite the challenges in the soil and weather, to be fruitful and give them grandchildren in the form of bountiful harvest. They were indeed emotionally attached to the farm. Especially her.
Yesterday evening, the couple had walked hand in hand through the farm, carrying out their routine inspection and of course lecture on the crops. They had later sat on the verandah enjoying the green scenery in the cool evening breeze. They were certain come harvest time, it was going to be a bountiful one. They had gone to bed with hope in their hearts, smiles on their faces, and a cuddle of satisfactory love.
So you can imagine the sharp contrast of events between night and day, and the shock that came with it. He saw it first from the sitting room window. A brown crusty field. He wiped his eyes carefully and took another look. He was scared to open the door to face the reality awaiting him. But it was his wife who took the initiative. Not because she had the courage. In fact, up to the moment she opened the door to the cloudy morning, she was totally unaware of the situation awaiting outside the house.
She got the full blast of the bleak scenery as she stepped out expectantly onto the verandah. The smile on her face dried up as quickly as it had come, and was replaced with withering shock. Her legs buckled under her, but her husband was quick to hold her up, having followed her to the door step. He had guided her to the rickety rocking chair, where she had sat all day, losing track of time, refusing food and reason.
They could not comprehend it. It seemed like something actually drained the life out of the crops and left them withered. There was no explanation. No sign nor indication of impending drought. She felt more emotionally devastated because she was so attached to them as she would have with her children.
It was now dark. Her husband touched her shoulder and she jolted out of her thought train. She hadn’t noticed his arrival. He had bought some food for dinner. He helped her get up from the rickety rocking chair and she willingly obliged. They stood hand in hand, giving the field one last forlorn look. The tears finally dropping from their eyes. Then her husband gave her a reassuring hug as they sobbed together.
He gently urged her into the house and shut the door to the night and their nightmare. Words were not relevant at the moment. But their body language spoke volumes. Yes it hurt, but they were survivors. They will eat dinner and go to bed. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
Ndifreke Efiok Akpan