Like their brothers; Amekwa, Quimekona and twenty three other sons of Samia had set out along a chosen path to find the Chirimoya but, as Amekwa said with a sigh, “All we have found so far is that we are lost”.
Amekwa thought of nothing but going home but Quimekona was a seeker of spiritual knowledge, “If there is life beyond even death then how can any situation be hopeless, with faith comes supreme optimism my brother, this path is a prophet that has thus far been silent but we must follow it to the end before we can call it false”.
“You follow your prophet”, grumbled Amekwa, “And ask it if it knows where to find water because I have a terrible drought in me”.
The white haired Gwaranga must have heard Amekwa talking because, after only a few more footsteps, the brothers heard the rumble of the great river and Quimekona smiled.
“What a coincidence”, he said, “That you should have asked for water and the great mother has provided it. It is a clear sign that she walks beside us”.
But, when they approached the great river they got an even stranger surprise, for down the waterfall which filled the river, plunged an old woman whom Quimekona automatically recognised, from her beads and headdress, to be a medicine woman.
“The fall has killed her,sadly, and all the wisdom within her head is lost”, said Quimekona, “But look what she was carrying”, and he fished, from out of the river, the large ankle bone of a dragon, “It must hold great power for working spells”.
The brothers buried the body of the old woman beside the river and carried on along its bank, “Where there is a river we are bound to find villages nearby.”, said Amekwa, “Villages like our own village”.
But Amekwa was only half right, for although they did find a village near the river it was nothing like Amekwas home, for one thing it did not have was any men or boys, only young women and girls.
“Welcome great travellers”, said the leader of the women, “We are all that is left of the Velidri tribe. We suffered a great plague some summers ago which only killed men and boys and we have been waiting desperately for some men to come who would help us to father a new generation”.
“That is very odd”, said Quimekona, “A plague that kills only men and boys. Are there any older women here? All I see is young women and girls.”.
The leader of the women, who introduced herself as Kilyako, seemed unable to answer this question but one of Quimekonas brothers, the 33rd brother whose name was Gonkwa or ‘enjoyer of life’, said “What does it matter. This place is truly a heaven. All these beautiful young women who want to feed us and wait on us and be the mothers of our children”.
“It is not my kind of heaven”, said Quimekona, “And I still think it is rather odd”.
But Quimekonas brothers did not want to listen and even Amekwa forgot his homesickness when he smelled the cooking of the Velidri women. “There are twenty five of you?”, asked Kilyako, “There are two hundred and fifty of us and we all desperately want to make you happy”, she said, feeding some fruit into Amekwas mouth.
Quimekona sat on his own in a corner while his brothers indulged themselves, eating and drinking a seemingly endless supply of delicious food and wine or making love to one of the beautiful Velidri women or singing bawdy songs as
the women danced,naked for their pleasure.
“This surely is not Chirimoya”, muttered Quimekona, rejecting the advances of beautiful women armed with food and wine that seemed to come at him from all angles, “Perhaps it is a test of some kind”.
“Why don’t you want to join in the fun with your brothers?”, asked Kilyako of Quimekona.
“I am a spiritualist!”, said Quimekona, “I must deny myself all excesses of the material kind. I eat only sparingly and avoid all intoxicating liquors and find uncontrolled lust to be a distraction from my path which is the path to greater knowledge of god”.
“Do you think that your brothers are sinful?”, asked Kilyako.
“No. My way is not their way but both flesh and soul are parts of the eternal sacred mother and so the flesh is no more sinful than the spirit. They are hunters or fishermen or farmers and all have their place within heavens tribe but the world also needs Priests and devotees of the spiritual path and so while they feast,I must fast; while they get drunk, I must abstain and however beautiful you are”, said Quimekona to Kilyako, “It is nothing next to the beauty of the great mother and the womb of heaven that awaits the spiritual man”.
Then Kilyako started to weep and Quimekona brushed away her tears and asked, “Have I upset you, Kilyako? What is wrong?”.
“You must leave this village now!”, she said, “I can help you to escape but not your brothers, they will have to stay, but you must leave quickly before the sun goes down!”.
“Escape?”, asked Quimekona, “Escape why?! What is happening here? What have you not told us?”.
“We are the bait in a trap set to catch men”, said Kilyako, “The men and boys of our village were not killed by a plague but were eaten by a monster with great power that sucks the life out of men. The monster keeps us prisoner here, eternally young and virgin, so that we may lure men in and feed them on a poison that makes them fat and docile, look!”, she cried and pointed to Quimekonas brothers, “Look how fat your brothers have grown in only a few hours”.
Quimekona only then noticed, to his horror, that his brothers were indeed becoming very fat as if they were heavily pregnant women, “Merciful mother!”, he exclaimed.
“Within an hour they will be so fat that they cannot move to run away and within an hour the sun will start to fall and that is when the monster comes to reap the harvest
that we are forced to sow for it”, said Kilyako, “But they deserve it. They are gluttons
and drunkards and men who only think of lust while you are different, you are good and wise. They have trapped themselves but you are still free and you can escape with my help”.
“No!”, said Quimekona, “You judge my brothers too harshly! They may be lustful, drunk and gluttonous but they are still good people and do not deserve to be fed to your monster. It is my duty to warn them or try to save them”.
“They will not listen to you”, said Kilyako, “Their craving for food and wine and women has a stronger hold over them than the little wisdom in their heads and it is already too late to save them; they are as fat as the pigs that feed on rubbish and roll in muck and like pigs they will be slaughtered”.
But Quimekona would not hear of leaving his poor brothers to such a horrible fate, “I will stay here and face your monster when he comes and if I cannot defeat him then atleast I will die beside my brothers whom I love deeply despite their flaws”.
With the sharp point of his spearhead Quimekona drew a circle around him in the red earth, all the while whispering sacred prayers to the great mother. He did not know just what to expect but he had faith that wherever a man was within the universe, Mother God was within him and worked through him, that it was not only his duty to fight the monster of Velidri, it was his destiny.
“Look! Look!”, said Kilyako, “The sky turns gold and soon pink, then red like blood and then the sunset beast will come. You have not seen its power nor the horror of its killing. Please. I warn you,one last time, to escape with my help”.
“It cannot be invincible, this sunset beast”, said Quimekona, “If it feeds then it has needs just like a man. If it hides from the sun then it fears just like a man and what feeds and fears is mortal just like a man and can be killed”.
“I’m afraid that I cannot share your faith that you will defeat the monster”, said Kilyako, embracing Quimekona from behind, “I’m sorry”.
“Why not?”, asked Quimekona.
“Because”, said Kilyako, her voice, strangely, seeming to deepen and her soft arms tightening like steel around Quimekonas waist, “I am the monster”.
Suddenly all was quiet in the village, all of Quimekonas brothers stopped their eating, drinking, laughter and cavorting and instead could only gawp, silently and with eyes bulging in amazement as they witnessed the beautiful Kilyako transform into a huge,terrifying creature, the height of two men, with sharp talons upon both hands, bright red scales covering its entire body and face and a long wolf-like mouth filled with sharp grinning teeth.
For a moment,as the creature tightened its grip around Quimekona and wept, the way
that such monsters do when they are happy, the apprentice medicine man had a lapse of faith and thought that perhaps he was now about to see the other side of death and rather than the voice of the divine mother he could only hear his own heart beating, but he need not have worried because, even before Quimekona had entered the village of Velidri, God had placed the means to destroy the monster within his hands and, the moment that the monsters scaly, left claw came into contact with the dragon bone of Malaguna, the last curse that the old woman had screamed as she had plummeted down the waterfall to her death, was invoked and the monster of Velidri was instantaneously transformed into a squealing and terrified pig and when Quimekona saw what had happened, he immediately plunged his spear into the pig and killed it,fearing that it might change back, “God be praised”, he sighed, thanking God that he was still alive and shedding real tears for the monster he had vanquished.
Seeing Quimekonas heroic act, the women of Velidri now sank to their knees in honour of the person who had rescued them from the monster Kilyako.
“Once Kilyako had been a woman like us but one day she got lost in the nameless jungle
where a red monster chased her and bit her, making her one of its own kind. One night she killed all the men,boys and old women of our tribe, then she appointed herself as our chief and used us to lure men to their deaths”, said one of the women and then all the women of Velidri pleaded with Quimekona,“ We would have warned you but we were so afraid of her, please forgive us, please, you who are our saviour, will you stay and be our chief!”
“The other brothers may stay if they wish and Amekwa may be their chief, since he is second eldest among us but I must return home”, said Quimekona, “Because I have just discovered what Chirimoya is”.
Amekwa had grown quite fat from the food of the monster but his embarassment and his desire to return home drew him to stand up, throw away the chicken leg he had been gnawing on and waddle over to Quimekona to beg for forgiveness,
“I have made a great fool of myself”, said Amekwa, “But I still long for home. Do not leave me here, please, I wish to go with you”, he said and so Quimekona asked the women of Velidri if there was any cure for the monsters fattening poison.
“There is a tree in the nameless jungle which, at this time of year, has rainbow hued flowers, called the Infanka tree. Eat four of the flowers and with each following hour you will grow a little thinner until you have returned to your normal weight”.
“Then we will look for this Infanka tree”, said Quimekona, smiling, “on our way home, Amekwa” and taking Amekwas hand, Quimekona led his portly brother out of the village, leaving their other 23 brothers behind to repopulate the Velidri tribe
and later the Velidri tribe would become part of the Imekana tribe and call themselves the “Umanuki” which means “Converted”.
Infanka trees grew near the edge of the great lake Konoko and indeed they did have rainbow hued flowers and Quimekona thought them quite beautiful but sadly Amekwa leaned too heavily upon the tree which he was picking flowers from and the tree fell over and both he and the tree fell into the lake.
“Amekwa. You fool! Look what you’ve done!”, said Quimekona, fishing his brother out of the lake with a broken branch.
“I am a fool”, said Amekwa, “But perhaps god made me a fool for a purpose, do you think, Quimekona?”.
“The universe is mysterious enough for such things, I suppose”, said Quimekona taking his brothers hand and leading him home.