Alieu Badara is the ashiest 8 year old in the neighborhood. He has a total of 8 scars, 7 of which he liked to flaunt, telling astoundingly exaggerated versions of how he acquired them. He would threateningly recount two or three heroic feats to boys his age, topping it off with “Mann maa la gaena doff son, hai!”
Other times he would, with a different tone, tell them to the neighborhood girls, who would roll their eyes in ridicule but would be betrayed by the slight expressions of awe and admiration on their faces. They would jump and clap, all skinny arms and giggles as Badara yet again emerged hero in his tale.
On such story was an encounter with a pregnant goat.
One hot afternoon, Alieu sat on the chipped cement platform in the yard, swatting at flies and giving a troop of hardworking ants a very hard time. He was bored and longed for some action. It was one of those days when he feigned sickness to skip school and ended up regretting it because he had no one to play with. He sat there bored, bullying the ants and wondering what to do. Just then a goat – I must say a very unlucky one – strutted into the compound. It was heavily pregnant and it’s udder was heavy with milk.
One look at the goat and Alieu had an idea. Did someone say fresh milk?
He sprang to his feet, already thinking of things to do with the milk. He counted them off on his fingers: ponseh, njarr, cherreh mew, fruusalad…
He locked the compound gates nice and tight and crept towards the unsuspecting goat!
Phase one: Catch Nanny Goat
This involved a lot of running, jumping, absolutely unnecessary somersaulting and war cries. The goat wasn’t as slow as he expected. Truth is, the goat was shockingly agile. It sailed over cooking utensils and kicked sacks of garbage, jumped through kitchen windows and startled chickens, with Alieu hard on its heels and the din of the offended in their wake.
In Alieu’s version of the story, the goat was four feet tall with muscles rippling under its hide, its beard trailed the floor and its bleat shook the dust off the window sills. The goat might as well have had wings the way he described it jumping across the yard.
He finally trapped the goat by flying onto it from a rack of firewood. He locked the goat in an embrace and let out a cry of victory – a bit too soon.
In his version of the story, he caught up with the goat and wrestled it to the ground, then held its forelegs together in a deadly armlock. It was at this point that the goat bit his arm hard, causing “great injury”. But he didn’t even notice he was hurt until he had finished milking the goat and started sipping on the milk – in fact he didn’t notice until his mother started screaming.
In Alieu’s voice: “Holal ahh! Bey bi dafma maata ahh, so giseh derret bi aah! Danga hom! Y mann yegumakor sah, bema ratta bey bi beh ma pareh! Hei! Rek yaaboye mu yuuhu! Mewi bey mor nekh!”
What really happened was, he embraced the goat and held pretty tight, but this goat was having no mboyo, bath-needing (we’re ignoring the fact that the goat never took bath either and actually smelled awful) child pulling on her teats. It waddled, Alieu still in place, to the nearest un-plastered wall and dragged him against it as hard as it could.
He flung himself on the floor and yelled in agony. The adults in the compound, who were very used to Alieu’s nonsense, took their time coming to his rescue. They found him curled up on the sand, one hand over what happened to be an ugly red patch on his arm where skin used to be. Hot tears and yellowish snot smeared his faced. He was bawling like a baby! The triumphant goat stood a few meters away, peering at him with smug eyes.
But of course he couldn’t tell the story like that. His street cred was on the line!
As is already quite obvious, the hero of our tale didn’t make it to phase 2 of the mission, which was to milk the goat. This I find a titbit sad, not because I don’t feel bad for the poor goat but because I’m overwhelmingly curious about just how Badara intended to go about extracting milk from this defiant and very pissed off goat.
As much as we’ve enjoyed the above, we must not forget that it was only intended to introduce you to Alieu Badara and his leprechaun tendencies. This story is about a different set of events, which involve Pa Mbowe, his dalasi-dashing granddaddy. But, since we’ve already had so much fun getting to know our main character, we might as well save that for next week.
Please allow me to use these much abused Gambian phrases in conclusion: “On that note”, “I hereby say”, “I am very looking forward to finisin’ this” next week.