My name is Stan and I’m the second of my father’s fifteen children. My mother died during childbirth and neither I nor my siblings ever got to meet her.
My father had a very big company, probably the biggest in Ndunezi community. My brothers and I worked effortlessly to ensure that father’s company did not collapse. We had never seen this company with our naked eyes. Perhaps, our residence took the blame for this. We lived in isolation from the other members of my extended family which I have never met too. Father never failed to make us understand how important it was to remain where we were.
“You are the foundation on which my company is built on,” he would often say.
I believed him because he lived with us too, beneath his company, in the dark underground chamber. I doubt if my father has ever seen his company for he never left us. He was the one who led us whenever we went in search of raw materials for his company. He was much taller than us but we were hairier than him. We would dig deep into the earth with our single foot while our hairs tried to absorb whatever it could find. Father called the raw materials ‘nutrients’. He said they were quite diverse and that they were very essential to the growth of his company. He didn’t know that I often stole some of the so-called ‘nutrients.’ My brothers did same too.
Another substance which everyone in the family depended upon was that clear substance which father called ‘water.’ Sometimes we had to travel long distances to be able to see it. Other times, it would begin to rain down on us from above. I normally hid during these rains; it always looked like it would kill us. Besides, my brothers told me stories of people who had been washed away and companies that have been pulled down by this water; I didn’t want to die.
Whenever I complained to father about the way our water was dragged upwards by our relatives, he would retort, “They need water too. It is vital for the success of our company.” I hated other members of my family. Father had told me most of their names. One was called Big Brother Stemmy, father’s half-brother. Another group of relatives were called Greenies. I hated this people most because they were numerous. And when they died, they fell on top of our roofs and end up decaying. Everywhere would begin to stink. Father would occasionally blame us for their deaths.
He would say, “You boys must have smuggled some of my raw materials. That’s why the greenies are dying.” He would then make us go on another hunt for nutrients. But we did not have to work hard at those times; the dead greenies miraculously transformed to nutrients too. Father never told us how this was possible; perhaps he did not know.
Our home was built mainly with dark brownish substances that often held us tightly inside to prevent us from wandering away. It was often dark and filled with strong irregular masses which father called stones. We had other tenants who lived and worked with us. My favorite friend was Slimy. He was brown in complexion and he was very long. His tender body had regular lines on it that ran horizontally from end to end. He was a restless lad, always moving from here to there. He liked tickling me too.
We often lived happily. Personally, the only thing I hated apart from my relatives was heat. Father said that there’s a big creature which lived in a distant place called ‘sky’ that caused the heat. He was called sun. Father also said we should embrace the heat; perhaps it is vital to our company too.
Then the news came; the giants had arrived Ndunezi. My brother had told me about them when I was two. He said they were not like us and that they had arms and eyes. They lived in gigantic houses and were distant relatives to the rodents who occasionally ate some of my brothers. Father had been notified by Uncle Stemmy. He quickly called us together for an address.
“My children,” he began, “I have long feared that this day would come. Our enemies from the space above us, the giants, have started destroying Ndunezi community. They have begun bringing down other companies and burning down small shrubby shops too. We have always served them; they steal our products, our priceless star apples. They steal sap and rubber from other companies and they do not care about how we cater for ourselves.” He stopped to allow the tiny teardrops from the corner of his broad face drop down.
Thereafter, he continued, “They say they want to industrialize. I do not know what this thing means but it does not look good. This is injustice of the highest order. Our greenies work day and night to purify their air and yet they want to destroy us. They have destroyed other companies and workplaces in other parts of this country just to build their own houses and yet it is not enough. I think they produce offspring so irresponsibly.” His face now had an ugly frown.
I could hear Slimy burrowing his way out of the house. He was running away and he didn’t say goodbye. He was very lucky to be mobile. We could not leave the community; it was against our tradition to run away.
Everywhere then remained silent. Nobody could speak, not even my eldest brother. It seemed I was finally going to die.
“Be prepared boys; one of these days, you would be pulled out from your rooms and be flung away to someplace to perish. We cannot fight them because they are superior. All we can do is to wait and pray that this industrialization madness they suffer from shall be cured before they get to our street.”