Weep Not Child

Weep Not Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Read Free Book Online

Book: Weep Not Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
but a man with experience and ideas, only to find that for him there was to be no employment. There was no land on which he could settle, even if he had been able to do so. As he listened to this story, all these things came into his mind with a growing anger. How could these people have let the white man occupy the land without acting? And what was all this superstitious belief in a prophecy?
    In a whisper that sounded like a shout, he said, ‘To hell with the prophecy.’
    Yes, this was nothing more than a whisper. To his father, he said, ‘How can you continue working for a man who has taken your land? How can you go on serving him?’
    He walked out, without waiting for an answer.

3
    Ngotho left early for work. He did not go through the fields as was his usual custom. Ngotho loved the rainy seasons when everything was green and the crops in flower, and the morning dew hung on the leaves. But the track where he had disturbed the plants and made the water run off made him feel as if, through his own fault, he had lost something. There was one time when he had felt a desire to touch the dewdrops or open one and see what it held hidden inside. He had trembled like a child but, after he had touched the drops and they had quickly lost shape melting into wetness, he felt ashamed and moved on. At times he was thankful to Murungu for no apparent reason as he went through these cultivated fields all alone while the whole country had a stillness. Almost like the stillness of death.

    This morning he walked along the road – the big tarmac road that was long and broad and had no beginning and no end except that it went into the city. Motorcars passed him. Men and women, going to work, some in the settled area and some in the shoe factory, chattered along. But Ngotho was not aware of anything that went by him. Why had he behaved like that in front of all those children? The voice of Boro had cut deep into him, cut into all the lonely years of waiting. Perhaps he and others had waited for too long and now he feared that this was being taken as an excuse for inactivity, or worse, a betrayal.
    He came to the Indian shops. Years ago, he had worked here. That was long before the second war. He had worked for an Indian who had always owed him a month’s pay. This wasdeliberate. It was meant to be a compelling device to keep Ngotho in the Indian’s employment permanently. For if he left, he would lose a month’s pay. In the end, he had to lose it. That was the time he went to work for Mr Howlands – as a Shambaboy. But at first he did everything from working in the tea plantations to cleaning the big house and carrying firewood. He passed through the African shops, near the barber’s shop, and went on, on to the same place where he had now been for years, even before the second big war took his two sons away to kill one and change the other.

    Mr Howlands was up. He never slept much. Not like Memsahib who sometimes remained in bed until ten o’clock. She had not much else to do. There was something in Howlands, almost a flicker of mystery, that Ngotho could never fathom.
    ‘Good morning, Ngotho.’
    ‘Good morning, Bwana.’
    ‘Had a good night?’
    ‘Ndio Bwana.’
    Ngotho was the only man Mr Howlands greeted in this fashion – a fashion that never varied. He spoke in the usual abstract manner as if his mind was preoccupied with something big. It was at any rate something that took all his attention. His mind was always directed towards the
shamba
. His life and soul were in the
shamba
. Everything else with him counted only insofar as it was related to the
shamba
. Even his wife mattered only insofar as she made it possible for him to work in it more efficiently without a worry about home. For he left the management of home to her and knew nothing about what happened there. If he employed someone in the house, it was only because his wife had asked for an extra ‘boy’. And if she later beat the ‘boy’ and wanted him

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