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The Old Woman

The Old Woman

The flames flickered away, the chair rocks back and forth, the lips part and the words gently flow out. Hmm.

There was little to do. The afternoon was clear and the sun was gentle in its brilliance. Not many people were about and the trees swayed gently in the breeze, whispering softly to each other

I knew just the place- the mining valley near our home. Mining lakes were many in that vicinity. I set out walking silently towards my destination and I was soon on the path that gently descended into the valley. One usually met people, young and old on this path. On this particular day however, there was no one in sight, ahead or behind, which was very unusual, and I wondered why. I went on.

Now this valley contained a lot of farms, vegetable farms mainly. A river also flowed through the valley, its volume varying according to the season, sometimes threatening the farms along its banks. The farmers got water for their crops from the river, using pumps or the more traditional method of shaduf.

There were villages on the other side of the valley and people took this path descending into the valley and climbing up to get to the township. Everywhere was silent on this day. I soon got to the farms, usually one met the farmers tending their crops, but I saw no one here. There was perfect silence, perfect peace.

I stood on the bank of the river. I looked around and starred at the water. Suddenly, I had a feeling, turned round and looking behind me, I beheld on old woman. She had almost gotten to where I was standing. Apparently, she had nearly made me jump. She was carrying a big sack which seemed heavy from the way she was carrying it.

She got to the bank and made ready to wade across. The river was about knee deep as it was the dry season. I greeted her and she replied cheerfully as she carefully stepped into the water. A few steps and she almost lost her balance. She seemed to be struggling with the sack. I felt compelled to assist her and I walked into the river and offered to carry her sack for her which she relinquished to me. Lord, I almost fell into the water. The sack was heavy, heavier than I’d expected and I wondered for the sake of God, how she had managed to carry it, this bent, old woman. I had to pull on my reserve to get it across to the other side.

She followed behind me, showering blessing the whole time. We got on the other bank and I handed her the sack. She showered more blessings on me, and then began to ascend to the top of the valley where the villages were tucked. How she would get the sack up the hill, I had no idea. I felt sorry for her.

I crossed back to the other side of the river and after a moment I decided to head back home. I started up the path lazily, still thinking about the old woman and the unexpected weight of the sack. I wondered about its content, and how she was progressing, she couldn’t have gone far up. I was a bit up the path by now and everywhere was still silent, having met no one and looked back to see how she was doing. She was nowhere to be seen. She seemed to have simply disappeared.

© 2018 omololu dare

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