Precious than Gems: (The cold Water)
Akande must endure all hardship in other to be free from certain pressures. Though hardworking, dedicated and loyal, he was never encouraged by friends, family and the society. Would he throw away the virtue of selflessness, hard work, truthfulness and loyalty in other to survive the height of these hurdles ahead of him? Read up ‘Precious than Gems’, a compilation of five-story-parts about a very poor farmer, whom by virtue of his deeds, experienced life in its bid of telling folklore.
This story is drawn from certain African tales that has passed on from generations to generations. Though it has been modified by various writers in several languages, I intend to make this a version that will assist in unveiling a life admits imaginary characteristics that I presume you might like. It is meant to teach morals as well as implant the virtue of selflessness, hard work, truthfulness and loyalty.
Part One [The Man Akande]
As soon as he opened his eyes, Akande praised the maker for making him see yet another beautiful day.
He stepped out of his hamlet quietly so as not to wake up his wife- who was always starting trouble for the gentle fellow.
The cock has just crowed once, leaving some trace of darkness on the face of the skies, even though the moon won’t let that shown.
He was certain that it was already morning, so he would not wish to be late.
Akande is a very loyal servant of chief Utelu, the owner of a very large farm where he works as a servant.
He was very polite, kind and loving to his master, his wife and to all other workers as well.
He was always the first to leave for the chief’s farm day in day out, also would always be paid the least.
He was never greedy; neither would he ever complain about a thing.
He is ever smiling, ever free, ever bright, what a man of this immaculate gesture.
As soon as Akande got to the farm, he picked the hardest part of the extreme end of it to cultivate so as not to create argument when others arrived.
He worked for a while, hoping that soon another worker would join him, but was only trying to catch the wind.
He worked on not minding the late coming of others.
The day was not getting a different light- just that of the moon.
“When will the sun rise?” Akande hoped.
It was getting very funny being lonely hoping to find his fellow workers, whom even though are not treating him well, made him feel part of the living.
Several wind passed away, leaving his poor back cold.
He felt weak with time, his hands were trembling, so cold, but yet sweating.
When he could not bear this sudden weakness, he sat down to rest for a while.
“Was it hunger, or was it fear that made me stopped?” He asked his poor hand.
As he summed up the courage to continue, he feel down to the floor to gain stamina.
Something is wrong with me.” He assured himself.
He then realized that he was extra-early to the farm this time.
He hadn’t heard the crow of any rooster yet, which beyond doubt made him realize that fact.
He prepared a small nest to lay his head for a while, since it will be foolish to return back home at that point in time.
His eyes drew an image of his life, leading him to the realm of sleep.
Soon, Akande regained his strength as he heard a very lively crow, this time he was certain for it crowed again and again.
He jumped out of his dream and went back to work.
Though it was still dark, he could smell the scent of the early morning sun ahead in the east.
So, he revived his strength from there, weeding along the path of truth.
It was getting bright and clear, so is his might and works.
As he struck a particular portion of the land with his hoe, he felt hollow underneath.
He quickly dug out the portion, and lo it was a jute sack.
He paused for a while, and then opens to check the content.
The bag was housing up to forty cowries.
He was shocked.
“Who on earth would have hidden so much treasure in this busy cave?” He asked no one. “Perhaps, my master would know better.”
Part Two [The Crucifixion]
Akande stopped working, packed his tools and headed straight to his master’s domain.
On his way, he met two of his fellow workers.
They exchanged pleasantries and proceeded without letting them know the intention he had leaving so early.
“Something isn’t right. It is unlike Akande, leaving so early.” A fellow commended.
“He is with a bag, I can smell a rat,” the other fellow said.
To be certain like the sun, they followed Akande from behind, making sure that they weren’t caught under any circumstances.
Soon, Akande was at his master’s place.
He said, “Sir, while I was working at the farm, I saw this bag.”
“What’s in it?” The master asked.
“It contains money my lord.” He replied.
The master quickly grasped the bag holding it like hugging a beloved child who has just been raised from the dead.
Without a word, he moved back into his room, while Akande stood hanging at the door waiting for his master to release him.
After a while, his master said,
“Are you still there? Go back to the farm right away and stop blocking the air at the door!”
As soon as those fellows following Akande from behind heard their master’s usual yell, they ran straight back to the farm telling everyone what Akande did.
“I could not imagine myself, if I were to be the one, giving that wicked master a bag filled with cowries that I found.” A fellow complained.
The day became dull, even the blind can see the fog of foolishness that dwelt admits the skies of Akande’s circumstances.
So great was the lethargy, no one was working anymore.
The atmosphere at the farm was filled with Akande’s story.
Some even left with anger knowing too well that they won’t be paid well, for Akande has reduced their eagerness to work.
The story spread so fast, that it even went to Akande’s wife while she was still in bed.
His master’s reply didn’t sound so nice; Akande wished that his master will even for once smiled at him.
His heels became even weaker as he approached the farm, but hoped that probably the workers at the farm will cheer him up.
He built up a sudden strength as he entered into the farm, but no one even smiled back at him nonetheless say hello.
This was worse than it used to be, not even the older once could respond to his greetings, which was an unusual scenario.
Akande’s hoe became heavy, but he kept hitting the ground harder to loosen up the stiffed soil.
The early morning sun seems to be angrier than usual.
He was certain that the day didn’t want him to smile simply because he did wrong someone.
It was all different thoughts (discouraging thoughts) that filled his confused heart.
All he hoped for was to meet a friend, someone who will smile back at him.
The sun played hide and seek in the clouds, shaving off the whole thoughts in Akande’s brain.
Even his mind went blank.
This quiet moment went on in the farm for a very long time until the arrival of the owner, Akande’s lord to be precise.
He ordered a stop in the work and issued everyone payment for their job, of cause as usual,
Akande received an ugly ransom.
He was glad, not because of the long awaited payment he received, but rather, his master came to his rescue- letting them return home earlier than usual.
He would have given up if his master had tarry a little while at home.
Though he wasn’t sure why his fellow workers acted in such a manner, he perhaps hope that the following day there would be changes.
“I would have to sharpen my cutlass and hoe for the next day.
Tomorrow is another beautiful day,” he hopped.
He kept smiling and whistling as he headed back home so as to tell his wife the good news- his master had given him the money he worked hard for.
At the speed of light, right on the lonely path he took, he received double confusing slaps simultaneously, and his money fell off from his hand.
Before he could balance his emotional understanding of the nature, multiple strokes kept knocking at the gate of his entire body.
He kept smiling silently, what else can the weak do, when tears became too heavy.
He was beaten like the snake that is worthless, making him crippled with two healthy legs.
Then, one of the men said, “It’s a warning from the master, never have you stepped into the master’s farm.”
His hope went sour, his heart failed him.
“I have always been kicked around, but not like this.” He said.
He wasn’t only sad because they were sent by his master but also, they were all fellow workers in the farm.
Though Akande was filled with bruises, he kept his hope on the path to his domain.
Like soaking a loaf of bread in brown tea, he was totally ruined in the mud.
He managed to lift himself up so as to get home alive. He picked up his tools, footwear and his bag. He was certain that the money would have grown wings after gaining consciousness in the realm of the living.
And he continued his journey home filled with severe pain and empty with no money.
As he approached his house, he noticed his wife at the main entrance.
She was waiting anxiously, perhaps, she must have heard of the story of the gang that deformed his ability to stand upright.
He hoped that this time, his wife will be a little compassionate with him.
He guessed otherwise when he found out that almost all her belongings were sitting next to her.
Akande’s wife has been threatening him to leave if he continued in the path of foolishness, so to say.
“What would I have done to provoke her this time?” He lamented.
Instead of feeling sorry, she told all the day’s story to Akande as if he was not aware of that which had happened to him.
She started calling him all sort of names- those associated with dirt, filth, and waste.
She blamed Akande for handing over the money to his master instead of using it to build a way for his devastating life.
And that she was certain that it wasn’t his masters.
After much pleads for her understanding, she said she already made up her mind to leave, saying that Akande was never going to make it in life anyway.
What a scary day for a man.
Tears rolled down his squeezed chick as he watched his beloved wife walk away.
He kept standing for some minutes even after she had vanished with the romance of the earth and the horizon in the east.
What can the helpless do?
A decision has been taken.
A lost dog cannot heed to the tears of the hunter.
It was therefore too late for Akande to make amends.
Part Three [The Resurrection]
His wife’s departure made Akande realize the type of person he was forced to marry.
She was ever agile, sweet and dedicated when he wealthy.
After the incident that led to the destruction of his farm by flood, she stopped being all that.
If he had known, he wouldn’t have heed to the advice of his mother who misled him.
Now it’s over, bringing a new chapter of long-time loneliness.
He could bear it if everyone was mad at him, but not when the woman he ever loved left voluntary for another man.
Not even waiting for a while, but the same day she left.
For a week, he kept weeping out bloody tears from his eyes indoor, feeding on water alone.
Loneliness is like dying inside out, like fading away but by bit.
Like moving into the skies as soot, his world crumbled gradually.
Akande became more concerned with his yesterday than the tomorrow he was yet to see.
He abandoned hard work, virtue and prospect.
His entire mind was preoccupied with regrets, pity and displeasure with his being.
Then, an old man came knocking at his door.
It took him up to an hour to walk from his bed to the door, which was just a few centimetres away.
As he opened, tears almost dropped down his squeezed chin, but he quickly held it in and smiled.
It was his uncle.
“Uncle!” He called out.
“What brought you here at this time of the day?”
“Your story wondered around in the village too fast, but it took me an entire week to understand. Some said you stole from your master, others believed you returned some amount you found at the farm to your master” His uncle replied.
“I would prefer you get a chill bath first. You look terrible!”
Akande quickly rushed to the well to get some water and soon, took a refreshing wash, washing his skin to the extent of turning it into white.
He soon felt relieved after changing to a clean cloth.
Thereafter, he sat beside his uncle to discuss what actually happened as well as the way forward.
After his explanation, his uncle felt pity on him and handed him his calm palm on his shoulder.
“The crocodile doesn’t grow up in one river you know, you need to see beyond your limit.”
His uncle said. “An empty cup is filled with air and light, these are important to life.
You must change your situation, think of a way forward.
You cannot stop the bird from flying over your head; you can stop it from building a nest on your head.
Nevertheless, you mustn’t stop following the path of righteousness you have chosen, that alone will guide you.”
“Thank you uncle,” he replied.
“You have really raised me from the pit of destruction I found myself.”
“Well, the chiefs at the palace are recruiting new servants which I believe is the best avenue to make a way.
For I don’t think any farm will accept you for now, your master has broken your name beyond repair.”
“I am certain about that as well.
I will try my possible best uncle, and make sure I am accepted as a servant.
Thank you uncle!”
“I will be hearing from you soon. Take care of yourself.”
“Thank you uncle.”
Akande walked side by side with his uncle until the road became narrow- leading way to his uncle’s house.
He perhaps hopes that they chat more often, but his uncle is a very busy person, tutoring the children on virtue, loyalty, truth and so on.
He perhaps hopes to join his uncle soon, but firstly, he needed to be successful as advised, and clear his name off the slate of dirt.
His eyes almost became filled with tears as his uncle said so long.
It was the day before Kayota market; everybody was getting set for a busy day ahead, including Akande, that’s if he eventually got selected by the chiefs.
Today, they are to be given a very difficult task and anyone that passes this task will be rewarded by making them servants who would be serving the king.
This was an unusual tradition of the kingdom; selecting servants were done solely by the king’s head servants, this time around, the chiefs were doing the selection.
When he got to the place, Akande was amazed.
The number of persons at the king’s palace who were set for the test was only sixteen.
He wondered if others would join along.
Without unveiling his smiling face, he pulled himself together to be among, just like others. Shortly, a fellow laughed out his entire energy, pointing his dirty and bent fingers at Akande.
He said that he wondered how a thief managed to find his way into the king’s palace, and that he won’t even partake in the quest, nonetheless be selected a servant.
Akande looked around to see if some of them had already been selected, but noticed that those present at the courtyard were the only ones.
He wasn’t even bothered about what the fellow was saying, he was more concerned about the selection.
Some kept laughing like a fool, others were mocking, while the majority who were not certain about the story kept gossiping and murmuring.
“I don’t know why my presence altered the peaceful atmosphere.” He blamed himself.
The pressure on Akande only lasted a while, as soon as the chiefs entered the courtyard the environs became a graveyard.
A chief addressed them on fighting, as it wasn’t a virtue to portray to be a servant of the king. After which, they were handed a cutlass each and given instructions on where it would be used. Then, they were taken to the thickest part of the abandoned king’s farm to cultivate; were they were all allocated a specific portion to work.
One portion was more than three kilometres away from another.
This was to reduce distraction and prevent them from helping one another.
At the corner of each portion, a special treatment of the royal delicacy was served in a calabash with chilled water, which they were all instructed to enjoy after the day’s work.
The special treatment forced out a remarkable strength and everyone started clearing.
The sun became jealous and she grew angrier than usual, turning the grasshopper into a slug.
Her flame melted away all the clouds that was trying to come to the worker’s rescue.
They were all sweating profusely, like they had just been rescued from the river after an accidental bath.
To worsen the matter, these portions have no large trees with shade where they could even take refuge for a while.
Part Four [The Gem]
To Akande, the farm was similar to his master’s farm just that it was extraordinarily large, and much easier to work on.
That’s probably because it was the king’s farm or he wasn’t working alongside the abusive ones. Though he was sweating, Akande didn’t feel any sign of weakness.
He was still as strong as the horse, not minding the sun’s torment and the blisters on his palm.
The sun was superheating the air and the grass and shrubs weren’t helping as well; they were rejecting their cutlasses which were not sharpened on purpose they presumed.
About seven men who got to the farm left for their homes after a while due to the complexity of the work.
They abandoned their cutlasses in the portion allocated to them that was of cause after consuming the special treats allocated to them.
While others waited until they managed to complete their work so early by beating the bushes to bend over so as to seem as if it has been cleared.
They as well completed their meals and water but not the work, so to say.
Then, they all reported back to the chiefs’ one after the other.
They were told that they would be contacted the following day.
Akande could only keep on with his work because he understood the type of grass and has sharpened his cutlass to battle with the stubborn grass.
He was persistent and reliable, resting when he needed to and sharpening his cutlass when it got weaker.
After completing the work, he decided taking water to quench the flame of his thirst.
As he drank from the container, he felt relieved and happy.
As he picked up the calabash with the meal up, he noticed a small sack underneath.
He picked it up and untied it, lo it was cowries.
“Again!” He complained.
“Money in my master’s farm made me lose my work, friends and wife.
He thought for a while and decided reporting to the chiefs.
He knew he wasn’t going to be chosen among the king’s servants for he had decided handing over the money to the chiefs, which might give him a bigger problem.
“The money might be for the person that served the meal.” He thought.
“I wonder how the person would take it if he or she realizes that his or her hard earned money was missing, with no clue on how to find it.”
Though it was still bright, the sun was way in the west waving goodbye to Kayota.
Akande packed up and headed out to the king’s palace.
On his way, he met a woman and her daughter feeding on a kind of fruit from weeds.
He became touched and remembered the food they were served which he hasn’t even opened.
He brought it out and handed it over to them.
He was happier seeing the woman feed her daughter first.
He was moved by the woman’s smile.
It’s been a while since someone else, who’s not his uncle smiled at him.
After the meal, the woman handed over the calabash to him thanking him for more than a million times.
He collected the calabash and continued his journey to the king’s palace.
He kept whistling softly and calmly along the way, smiling like a fool, like a lady who was promised a wedding ring.
He kept this happy face until he got to the king’s palace.
Arriving at the palace, he looked around to check if anyone was following him so as to be certain that what happened earlier at his master’s domain didn’t repeat itself.
He went to the chiefs and returned the cutlass.
He as well told them what happened when he raised the calabash up and perhaps the money belonged to the one who served the meal.
He thereafter handed the money to them.
Then, he was asked to go home to rest, that he had done a great job.
And that he would be sent for the following day to see if he had made a way into being one the king’s servants.
Part Five [The Reward]
The following day, the gong from the town crier woke Akande from his sleep.
He struck it so hard that even the deaf should be able to perceive the vibration.
“Attention! Everyone should endeavour to assemble at the village square for an important announcement.
It is a punishable offence not to be there.
The king’s order!” The fellow proclaimed.
Akande thought that this urgent call for another reason.
He quickly dressed himself up in his usual attire and soon joined some other villagers heading towards the king’s palace.
“The king is really not feeling well lately.” A fellow assured others.
“I guess that he is trying to pick a successor.”
“That might be true, since he has no heir to the throne, it will be disastrous for his only child and daughter to rule.” Another added.
Or probably something came up that needed our interventions.” Suggested the other.
“Well, let us get there and see for ourselves.” Suggested another.
Akande kept thinking about what was said by these fellows as he walked quietly from behind. He knew something came up that needed urgent attention.
As he got to the village square, he noticed that majority present was wearing a stone face, probably because they were deprived the enjoyment of their beds.
While others kept gossiping at one corner.
Soon, the chiefs entered with the princess of the land.
Then, the announcement of the king’s death was pronounced.
Everyone not aware of the king’s health were shocked while others became certain that the rumour has unveiled itself to be actually true.
A chief stepped forward to complement the announcement.
“The king went to dine with our ancestors after choosing the next king of the land.
After a critical evaluation and study, he has chosen Akande, the son of Lamuludu to be the father of the land.”
Like melting the ice, Akande’s heart almost melted away.
His hearing went blank for a while not until he was called upon to step forward.
Everyone was amazed at the proclamation, Akande a king.
It was so sudden and unbelievable.
“To keep the bloodline of the kings going, the king has handed his daughter to you.”
When Akande looked at her face, the same smile the woman with a child smiled on his way to the king’s palace the previous day, was felt.
He was certain that it was the same person, though in disguise by then as a mother.
Akande was crowned instantly and was given special seat to relax his tension.
“Yesterday,” a chief said, “about seventeen men were tested for the throne, only Akande passed the test.
He was: one, patient- he stood to the very end, and completed the task he was given.
Two, tolerance- he wasn’t moved by the sun’s torment, neither by the complexity of the work. Three, agile- he was very hard-working, endeavouring to finish his work.
Four, innovative- he solved the problem of blunt cutlass by making it sharp.
Five, compassionate- he has the love of others in his heart, he fed the princess who was disguised as a mother.
Six, not greedy- he was the only one able to return the money he found in the farm, instead of using it to raise himself from the pit of poverty, he brought it to the chiefs thinking that someone left it on the farm.
He was more of a good character, loyal, humble, meek and sweet.
The king slept on with his father’s last night after hearing of this man.”
Akande could not believe his eyes, he woke up an ordinary person, hoping to be serving the king, now even the chiefs are prostrating for him.
What a dramatic day where his uncle, his ex-wife, his master, his colleagues at the farm as well as the entire villagers were prostrating at his feet calling him majesty.
Akande ruled with love, care, loyalty, dignity and honour for many years and begat sons and daughters with his beautiful wife.