Once there lived an old man with a donkey named Macamba.
They would wake up dutifully and sweep their front yard:
the man with a broom, and Macamba with its long hairy tail;
Thereafter, fresh dung from Macamba would be mixed
with water, and spread on the soil to give the ground a firmer
texture — to deter the ants that prevail in the countryside
of Sierra Leone.
The old man would cook porridge that would be
shared between the two; at times Macamba
would ask for linseed and cottonseed milk, both of which are
strictly reserved for the special day of Sunday.
They would then move together to the patch of land
where they would grow the oats; Macamba would dig deep and till the
soil and the old man would sow the finest oats and linseed that
he obtained from Padre Carvalho.
They would take a repose, as the midday Sun would strike them
harsh. They would drink water,
have a nap, have more porridge, before going for another shift.
The Sun would descend, and, they too, would retreat obediently
to their mud hut with a thatched roof; the walls adorned
with dry dung or a drawing made with coal of ancient hominids
walking the grounds.
In the evening, the setting Sun would deliver magnificent colours in the sky that Macamba and the old man would observe patiently and diligently.
The stars would peek and the Moon would shine, whilst
they would drink a glass of oat wine before retiring to sleep,
on a wooden cot strung with jute obtained from the coconut leaves
in the forests around.
Darkness would descend.
Macamba would guard the old man and would bleat heavily at the first sight of a
lion or a tiger that would roam at night to eat some fresh country flesh.
Dawn would appear, and the birds
would sing melodious songs.
Another day’s routine would begin
with clockwork precision.
The Sun would come, the floor would be hardened, seeds would be sown,
porridge would be shared and flesh-eaters would be deterred.
Sunday would announce itself and they would both thank the Sun God for
the sumptuous meal and dine to heart’s content with ample linseed flakes
sprinkled on their thick and sloshy porridge.