Early that morning, the dewy cloud had enveloped a village of barely thirteen houses. A small thick rainforest of about five acres overlooked the village; the canopy of tall thick forest branches appeared like trained gorillas keeping watch over the village in the morning dew; it was not yet thoroughly dawn – the early morning smiling sun that brings glimmer of hope that the rural poor had a long day to go. They have also felt they might come across a miracle – a means of survival before noon – hope remained very high.
Oldman Dura, one of those poor rural dwellers, had taken his old rustic gun and was busy cleaning it when Sudi, his wife, sat by him quietly, with a face kissing hopelessness and frustration. That day might be another day of feeling the horror of going without food.
“Let me go and try, today might be positively different from the other days. I might have a good game, maybe, at least a squirrel,” he hopefully uttered to his wife who looked sheepishly into the emptiness of the air breezing on them gently. “I know, it’s okay,” was her soft dovelike reply.
Away he left, closely followed by his dog, Dragon. He took the narrow path, leading into the forest that stood just behind the mud houses. Oldman Dura was full of hope that he could get a game. Hunting wildlife was common in that part of the country. His sniffing dog combed every area they trekked. Sometimes Dragon’s nose was raised high, thinking that the smell in the air would betray a pack of animals where it would lead its master.
Gradually, the rainforest disappeared behind them – still no animal to be found, neither in the forest nor in the shrubs.
With renewed zeal, Oldman Dura and Dragon made their way further to distant bushes that had been left to fallow for nine or ten years, where animals like rabbits, squirrels, monkeys, and pigs could be found – such bushes were normally known to be their permanent homes.
They were never tired, once they were out for their living, there would be no turning back. They always thought of what use could it be if they were to go back. What advantage would that give them. Sudi expected that their return would make it possible for her to engage her pots on the traditional tripods to boil the evening meal. That action was contingent upon their success. How could they return with failed stories. Would the stories place her pots on the tripods? Certainly no. She expected to see at least a dead rat with Oldman Dura. What could he do?
“O poverty! Why have you treated us like this? Don’t we have right to live? Are we cursed like this till death?” These were the silent rhetorics on his mind when he fell on a big log and slept off. By the time he woke up, he saw an old woman standing by, with her hair on her head all grey. “Do you have a disciplined mind? If you have, I’ll help you,” the old woman said. “How?” Oldman Dura asked. “To have self discipline is to live according to the norms and values of a given society and to listen and take advice; neither go against natural laws nor ordinances constructed by man,” the old woman said quietly. “Now listen! Take the following instructions carefully and find you and your wife everlasting wealth. You’ll see a life you’ll appreciate,” she continued. “Give me your gun; take off all your clothes and give them to me,” she instructed. “Climb this tree, this tall cotton tree, up to the pinnacle. Clamp it with your knees, legs up and your head downwards. Leave from there and fall,” the old woman concluded.
Without entertaining any fear, Oldman Dura obeyed. No sooner did he touch the ground than he miraculously found himself in a strange town, together with his wife. While the wife was dressed up in a sparkling lace which non has ever imagined for her, Oldman Dura was naked as a new born baby. Instantaneously elderly men and women surrounded him and quickly covered him up with whatever clothes there was at that moment.
As a coincidence, the Kingdom of Tisana had just lost their wicked king to death, and divine revelation had it that they must not elect or appoint their own as king; if they do, he would prove worse than the dead king. Rather, the kingdom of divinities revealed that the Supreme Being will descend a king for them; so when they saw Oldman Dura, descending from the sky, they saw it as a fulfillment of that divine revelation. Together with his wife, the elders matched them to the palace which had laid in wait for the coronation of a great king.
The ceremony was quick, full of pump, flare, and pageantry. Oldman Dura was made king of Tisana Kingdom – raised from grass to grace. On that night of orientation, Elder Siati, Sultan, Dundi and Sowie moved with him to help him familiarize himself with the glamorous palace, showing him the different divisions of the powerfully constructed palace. They surrendered to him bunches of keys, instructing him on what to do and that what not to do. When all the rounds were made, they took him to a small room just by his bedroom on the main building. Every facility was at his disposal, but the imperative was not to ever open the room nearest to his bedroom. Of course he accepted with no reservation.
A year went round which dragged the entire Kingdom to the yearly festival. All workers were obliged to bring ten percent of their labour to appreciate the king.
Early that morning, dishes of different kinds were prepared, and Tisana was filled with people from every village of the Kingdom. Admirers came from other kingdoms to witness it all. The oldest men and women remarked that in the past years, it was never as grand as that year which saw King Dura in power.
The locally brewed palm and bamboo wine were brought for the King’s pleasure. Indeed the King enjoyed a good natural wine throughout that day. Even in their wildest dreams and thoughts, Dura and wife would not think of becoming bankrupt and needy. Everywhere around them was coloured with wealth.
The celebration took them late into the night and everyone had gone to bed. King Dura was left alone; except for the special bodyguards attached to him. They were strictly instructed not to go away until the king goes to bed. “Why should these people tell me what to do – which door to open and which one not to open? Am I not king? At least as much as I live?” These rhetorics crossed his mind as the wine worked on him. Looking up to the dozing bodyguards, King Dura told them to go to bed and leave him alone. “I must open that door which the council of elders instructed not to open – I am inverse,” he concluded as he took the bunch of keys and held out the little key for that little door.
His hands were trembling as he put the key into the lock; he turned the key, pushed the door. As he made the first glance at the room, King Dura found himself in the same forest where he encountered that old woman nearly one year ago, the old woman whose instructions saw him in Tisana and made him king. “Here is your gun and your tattered clothes; go home, where you will meet your wife,” she said, while shaking her head as she saw Oldman Dura lost an excellent opportunity as a result of lack of self discipline. Indeed, there was every regret in his mind as he made his way home where he spent his remaining years in abject poverty because he lacked that most desired discipline.
Juliet Rogers is a Societal Engineer, Life&Emotional Intelligence Coach.