FANTAH BI PULLO 02/12/2023
“This series and the characters in it are fictitious. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and specific other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law." Copyright © 2023 by Hadiza Bagudu.
OCTOBER 1, 1884
The sun had almost gone down, and no game was caught. It wasn’t a perfect day for hunting, Hayah thought. He had been lying in wait all day long, hoping to kill something, but still had no luck.
“Ah! Those Bororo again!” he cursed under his breath. “They must have driven the animals further away.” He had noticed their temporary settlements the previous day and instantly knew they were going to be trouble. It was the beginning of the dry season, and the open savannah grassland of the Adamawa region was a known haven for cattle grazing. The Bororo nomads usually come around once every two or three years to graze in the area, and each time they do, they upset the natural balance of the wildlife found there.
The dry season was not only favorable for pasturing in that part of the savannah, but it was also a very good time for game hunting, a sport that he loved very much. Hayah was a soldier in his early forties and still physically fit, with the relentless enthusiasm of an adolescent. During the brief periods of calm experienced in the conflict between the Fulani and the indigenous Musgum people, he liked to go inland into the lush grassland for solitude and game hunting. It provided him with the quiet he needed to rest, reflect, and recuperate.
As he moved silently through the grass, he heard a sound that he mistook for a wild animal, so he cautiously crouched toward the source. However, as he approached the area, he saw a cow, and then another. Parting the tall grass behind which he was hiding, he saw more cows peacefully grazing in an open area. Annoyed, he considered going to meet the cattle rarer to express his frustration. But just as he was about to do so, he noticed a figure under a tree, separate from the animals. It was that of a typical Bororo girl. She was tall, slim, and had a light brownish complexion commonly found in the Fulbe tribe. Her face was turned away from him, focused on the cows. She wore a low-tied wrapper secured by numerous beads known as jigida. Her blouse was tiny, barely covering her upper torso, adorned with beads of different colors and little pieces of colorful cloth sewn onto it. Her hair was braided into cornrows of various sizes, accentuated with beads of different colors.
When she turned her face toward him, he held his breath. She had the most beautiful face he had ever seen. It was oval, adorned with big eyes and a pointed nose. Her lips were tattooed black, and her eyes were lined with dark kohl. Three dots were marked on each of her cheeks, and she wore large round earrings on her ears. He estimated her age to be around fourteen or fifteen.
She was so beautiful that, for a moment, he doubted whether she was human or jinn.
Suddenly, an uneasy yet familiar calm settled over the place. With the trained eye of an expert hunter, he swiftly scanned through the long, dry savannah grass, gently swaying in the wind. And there it was, almost imperceptible and seamlessly blending into the brown grass—a lion stealthily making its way toward the herd of cattle. The lion moved slowly and cautiously, undetected by anyone, including the girl. Oblivious to the impending danger, she remained deeply absorbed in her surveillance duty, her face projecting a tranquil demeanor from a distance. He couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for her, knowing that she was about to experience terror beyond her imagination.
Silently and swiftly, he drew out his bow and arrow, aiming directly at the beast. To his horror, he realized that the lion wasn’t heading toward the animals but rather toward the girl.
“A man-eater!” he thought as he swiftly dipped his arrow in poison and prepared it on the bow, aiming at the beast. “How could this be? There are only a few people living in this area, except for the Bororo who must have arrived in the past few days.” However, there was no time for contemplation; he had to act swiftly, or else the girl would lose her life.
Suddenly, the lion sprang from its squatting position and charged toward the girl, just as he released an arrow in its direction. The cows scattered in various directions, fleeing for their lives. The girl turned around and witnessed the approaching beast, emitting a piercing scream. Everything unfolded rapidly, and eventually, the lifeless carcass of the lion lay at her feet. Emerging from the grass, he hurriedly approached her. She stood frozen, overwhelmed with fear.
“Are you alright?” he asked, gasping for air. However, she didn’t respond. She remained frozen in her fear, her gaze fixed upon the carcass. “It’s alright. It’s dead now,” he reassured her as she slowly lifted her gaze to meet his, fear still evident on her face. It then dawned on him that she couldn’t understand him since he was speaking Hausa, so he switched to Fulfulde and asked her once again if she was alright, attempting to calm her down.
She must have suddenly regained her senses because she swiftly untied the veil from around her waist and covered her head. She turned her back shyly, away from him.
“It’s okay,” he said again. The Bororo people, especially their women, were known to be quite reserved, and he didn’t want to upset her. “You shouldn’t be out here alone grazing, you know! These parts are teeming with wild animals. It would be better if you came in groups, or even better, let the man handle it.” Still, she remained silent. “This lion is a man-eater, which makes it even more dangerous to be alone out here. I haven’t seen one in a long time, you know.” He kept talking for about two more minutes, yet she didn’t reply. Just as he was about to stop talking, he noticed from the corner of his eye that she quickly glanced at him before running away. “Great!” he exclaimed. “She ran away and left her cows. Well, she’ll have to come back for them.” He then sat down under a tree, waiting for her return.
Later that day, a young Bororo girl, dressed in a typical Fulani outfit, walked down a path with a stylishly decorated calabash filled with milk. It was balanced firmly on her head, and she moved gracefully without disturbing its contents.
“Hey pullo, waddu kosam!” She heard a familiar girl’s voice calling out, and she turned towards the sound to see who it was. “Fantah! What are you doing here?” she asked, walking towards her and placing the calabash on the ground. “Where did you leave the cows? It’s your turn to watch over them.”
“Oh, they are fine,” Fantah bi Pullo replied nonchalantly.
“You abandoned them again? Baba will be angry.”
“Don’t worry about them,” she said as she opened the calabash and took a sip of its contents. “Wow, you didn’t make any sales today!”
“Fantah! Stop drinking the milk. Dada will find out,” she said, snatching the ladle from her and using the woven raffia to cover the calabash once more. “Where did you leave the cows? What if something happens to them?”
“Come on, Diddi, you know those cows are smarter than most of the boys in this village... Believe me, they are.”
“What is wrong, Fantah? Diddi asked, sensing that her sister was concealing something.
“I met a man.”
“You did?” Diddi gasped, and they got up and began walking towards home.
“Yes. Oh, he was amazing.”
“I thought you said all boys were foolish."
“Oh, yes. But he is not a boy. He is a man,” Fantah replied, her expression filled with a dreamy gaze.
“Oh, wow!” her sister exclaimed in surprise, and Fantah proceeded to tell her about the handsome stranger who had saved her life.
[End of Chapter One]
Thank you for reading Chapter One of Fantah. If you enjoy it, please leave me a like, comment below and subscribe to my website. You can read chapter two below: