Tuesday, 25 October 2016


photo: dakpets.com

Mr. Smith was an American veterinary doctor, who was fond of animals. He was also a scientist and a researcher, who specialized in animal diseases. He lived in Kaloleni village and would occasionally be seen driving around the village, in his Peugeot 504. Everything about him was Okey………well! Almost Okey…..and every livestock farmer was happy to have him around.
There was one peculiar thing about him though, which was a source of gossip and attracted hate as well as amazement in the village. It was about ‘Scooby’ Mr. Smith’s dog. People in the village thought that Mr. Smith pampered his dog too much.

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“Did you know that Mr. Smith’s dog has a bed inside the house, complete with a mattress, blankets and even a mosquito net?” one woman asked in disbelief, shaking her head.
“Do you want to tell us that while some of us sleep on animal skins, on the floor, Mr. smith’s dog sleeps like a king?” an elder asked.
“Yes, that is what I mean. And as if that is not enough, he travels in the same car with the dog. Can you believe that? A dog who should be in the bush, chasing after rabbits, being pampered like a baby” came the reply from the woman.
Indeed, people could not understand why Dr. Smith ate with his dog from the same table and even slept together inside the house. To the villagers, that was a behaviour bordering on insanity.
“Do you think the man is in his right state of mind?” someone asked.
“I am also thinking along those lines. I think he is not a normal human being. This is the kind of person, who can bring a curse upon this village.’ Another one replied.
As they were still talking, the local shopkeeper arrived. He was shaking his head in disbelief. He faced the two villagers and said,
“Can you believe that I found Mr. Smith, washing his dog with soap and warm water? And as if that was not enough, he had the audacity to wipe it with a clean towel and brushed it’s hair?”
“Aiyayayaya!” one villager marveled.
“Are you sure of what you just saying?” the second villager asked.
“As sure as death.” The shopkeeper swore, the licked his finger, touched the soil and pointed to the sky, as a sign that he was telling the truth and nothing but the truth.
“Ncht! Ncht! Ncht! Ncht!” was all the second villager managed to say.
The rumours spread around the village like wild fire. Some said that Mr. Smith might be a witch. How comes he had no family? Where are his relatives and friends? Why was he treating his dog better than a human being? ‘Wasn’t a dog supposed to provide security?’ the villagers reasoned.
According to them, there was clearly something wrong with Mr. Smith.
Where the villagers got the rumours, nobody knew. It was claimed that one time, Mr. Smith had jailed a man in another village, far away just because he had shouted at his dog. It was even claimed that Mr. Smith, following the incident, had taken the dog for counseling and psychotherapy.
“Did you also know that there is another woman, from Mr. Smith’s clan who left a huge inheritance for her dog, when she died?” The shopkeepers asked, to the consternation of other villagers.
“Pwot!” that will not happen in my house as long as I live.” An elder swore. “May our ancestors curse Mr. Smith and his clan. May he set with the sun.” he added.
Elsewhere in the same village, Joseph had just arrived from Sokoni town. He was one of the village elders and was burdened by age. He had once been a clerk during the colonial period. He was shaking with rage. His sunken eyes, seemed to have sunk deeper into the two holes housing his eyes, hence making the eye lids hang loosely like empty sacks. He was holding his walking stick, which was also shaking vigorously, following the rhythm of the shaking of his body. His fellow villagers were concerned and they sought to know whether he was not well, but what Joseph told them also paralysed them to the core.
Apparently, Joseph had been given a lift by Mr. Smith in his car. He had happily gotten into the backseat of the car and Mr. Smith had sped off. Joseph was not prepared for what he found at the back of the car. He had found the dog sitting comfortably at the back seat and seemed less bothered by Joseph’s entry. He claimed that the dog had looked at him with a lot of contempt, as if to say, “Some people should know their place in life.”
“Don’t worry Scooby. We are only assisting our friend.” Mr. Smith kept on reassuring the dog.
“Can you imagine I, an elder of Kaloleni village, being called the friend of the dog? I had to alight before reaching my destination.” Joseph said, shaking his head with rage.
The biggest question among the residents of Kaloleni village was, “How could someone treat a dog better than a human being?” The villagers could not comprehend that. There was talk of the need to agitate for the rights of animals, “But what rights?” was all the villagers could ask. They could not understand why a sane man could spend astronomical amounts of money, just on a dog. Someone even went as far as saying that Mr. Smith might have been a dog in his former life, which was given a new lease of life as a human being. As far as the villagers were concerned, their dogs slept outside and ate their food from the floor, most times without a plate.
While Mr. Smith’s dog ate a balanced diet, the other dogs in the village survived on merely carbohydrates, from left over food of theirs masters. Occasionally, they would receive a bone, on a day when their masters were eating meat. Scooby would have died of heart attack, was it to be given the kind of food the other dogs received in the village. What would Scooby for example, think about those dogs in the village, who roamed all over the village feeding on human excrement and garbage? Unbelievable! Two different worlds on the same planet!
The villagers were treated to more juicy stories about Mr. Smith and his dog. Who would have thought that there was something in this world like a dog hospital? Could you imagine that Mr. Smith took his dog to a hospital for animals when it got sick? “What a lucky animal!” the villagers marveled. Their own dogs were usually left to die of the simplest of ailments and here was a dog, who could even be admitted to a hospital! There was even the rumour that the so called dog hospital had a theatre for surgery, an intensive care unit and a mortuary for dogs.
It was common knowledge in the village that games were for children and not adults. This was broken by Mr. Smith, who would sometimes be seen playing a game with his dog outside his house.
“Come on Scooby.” Mr. Smith would shout at his dog.
“Bow! Wow!” the dog would bark and run after him, jump at his back and they would fall down, then Mr. Smith would burst into loud laughter, which left people shaking their heads.
This time, even little children had something to laugh about. To them it was unbelievable that a whole grown up would play like a little child.
“Why would an adult be playing with a dog, instead of letting it look for and chase after rabbits?” the villagers kept asking one another.
One day his wife and kids visited him. A wave of wonder and amazement swept across the village. Who could have imagined that this man, who treated a dog better than a human being, had a family? Mr. Smith decided to take them for a walk, around the village. Of course the dog was not left behind. This revealed another wonder of wonders. Every time Mr. Smith introduced his wife and kids, he would also introduce the dog as a family member. This sounded like a taboo on the villagers’ part of the world. The village women thought that Mr. Smith’s wife was too naïve.
‘How could she allow her husband to mention her name and the children’s names, in the same breath as a dog? How could she keep on smiling at him as he degrades the children to the same level as a dog, in front of her?’ the women reasoned. They found it difficult to accept the dog as a member of the family.
When he finally left, the villagers shook their fingers after him and shook their heads behind his back. They did that, to disapprove the way Mr. Smith had disrupted the social order in the village. “Phew! Wonders will never end.” A number of villagers were heard saying. There was even a plan to compose a song about Mr. Smith, who loved his dog more than people, as well as his dog that could not chase after rabbits.

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