Billy Best was an incurable optimist, the life of any party, a man for the stage, always living in the moment, with never a care in the world, and with nothing that could possibly ruin his affable mood. Benson, his room mate at the training college, was a conscientious, calculating, intelligent yet reserved fellow. The duo got along just fine.
They were posted to a remote village as pupil teachers. Coming from lavish backgrounds, their plan was to register their presence, come up with a reason to return to the city, then goodbye.
But when they got there, the chief of the village begged on bended knees, promising the best of whatever resources he had, including material wealth, if they could bring formal education to the area. They reluctantly accepted.
In about a year they had put up a classroom block, with literacy classes for all ages. They run a shift system. It was tiring, but the results were evident, with about three hundred children actively participating. Adult education was free.
In exchange the chief gave them two acres of stool land to farm on (with workers and servants); maids to cater for their homes; and gold nuggets supplied by the chief every month. That was the life! They lived there for three years. Their combined wealth, at its peak, was estimated at one hundred and fifteen thousand pounds, something they would not hitherto dream of.
In their third year, however, a strange phenomenon took seed amongst the villagers. The men in the village began to complain, that their genitals were shrinking. Some even said that theirs had vanished. Like the stench of the village dump, the rumour was everywhere. The men were, one by one, losing their manhood.
Soon, the market women began complaining that their husbands were not potent. In these parts, this meant relinquishing your rights as a man (as though that was man’s sole purpose in life). The belief amongst them was that an evil spirit was in circulation. The gods had to be summoned.
To Benson and Best, this was just the height of backward thinking, an unevolved culture, easily flawed by mindless superstition. If it had started out as a joke, it had taken a wrong turn, they thought.
But it started to affect their work – the numbers in the school began to dwindle. The adults had stopped attending for months. No child had reported in three weeks. What was this all about?
Best! Best fell in love with an albino. Their escapades became quite popular. Benson cautioned him – the locals considered albinos to be deplorables.
Then Best…made love to a servant who was already bethrothed to the thunder god. A taboo! Benson warned him, coached him, drilled him, even threatened – that this could spell doom for both of them. But all Best could think about was his love interest and what a spoilsport Benson always was. A green-eyed monster with no life, he thought.
And Best went further – he made love to another on stool land. An abomination! Benson implored, begged, kowtowed, even offered him all his share of their wealth, just to be tight-lipped about this deed. At least this time Best tried, but in a few months the damsel was pregnant!
This was the reason the genitals were vanishing. The wrath of the gods was upon them – they had been disrespected.
While Benson was at his wits’ end, thinking of a way out of this, Best was out on his notorious nocturnal trysts – the worst kept secret in the land. As though bewitched, he had been reduced to seeking out his lovers in bushes, and defiling sacred soil flippantly.
The irate youth wanted instant justice. They wanted to be men again. Their disquiet was more evident as the annual cleansing ceremony drew near. Under duress, the chief washed his hands off the duo, allowing the mob to do as they pleased.
Benson and Best barely had time to pack. They had received a tip-off, and had made no arrangements for a perilous journey back, through the night. But even at risk of their lives, Best insisted on taking a sweetheart along.
As they raced through the mountains, Benson’s rage grew. He was incensed. Looking back he could see fire consume three years of hard work. The bungalow, the farms, even the school – were all in flames, with loud war chants drowning the bellows of the raging inferno.
Now they were going back to the city, where a pupil teacher was a nonentity; no wealthier than they had arrived. As they run, Benson had the strangest feeling below his belt, that his lunch box was missing. Ahead, he saw Best, grinning from ear to ear, holding on to his dream girl so delicately and flirting mindlessly, even in the heat of the escape.
Best turned briefly and winked.”Look on the bright side. At least we finally get to leave as we first planned”, he said, as he kissed his ‘trophy wife’ on the cheek, much to the annoyance of his ever sober companion.
Benson felt like ending their lives for ruining his. He was mad to the point of tears. He will deal with Best. He will have the last laugh. He will silence that idiot, the nincompoop, that buffoon of a comrade, Best, even if it was the last thing he ever did.
– Babysitting a Man : Billy the goat.
– A case of Satyriasis against Koro (Genital Retraction Syndrome)
– Based on a true story