Kumo Adomako

July 18, 2014

Many years ago somewhere in Africa….

In the palatial colonial house on the top of the hill where the Chinaman Cocoa planter of Gabundi estate lived – the legionnaire deserter who worked in his kitchen knew that his master always preferred his eggs runny and his bacon flamed with Cordon’blue for breakfast.

He also knew that his master found the sonorous background drone of the BBC world service comforting whenever he scanned his estate from the upper deck of the alfresco roof top dinning area – usually, the deserter could make out that his master always began the morning by looking through his field glasses at the tiny village at the edge of his lands – the legionnaire deserter servant could tell that whenever a smile tore across the Chinaman’s face – that meant, he was training his eyes on the only well in the village where he delighted in feasting his eyes on women balancing earthen pots on their heads as they walked in straight neat lines early in the morning.

But that day the China planter did not smile as he peered through his field glasses. Neither had he smiled for that whole week either. Perhaps not even for longer – even the Chinaman’s tall Matabilli tribesman bodyguard who was a wired framed muscular man in his late forties who always seemed to follow his young master everywhere couldn’t remember when he last smiled either.

The only person in the vast expanse of Gabundi Estate who really knew the last time the Chinaman Cocoa planter smiled – was the new German school teacher, foot doctor and scientist nun called Eva from Germany who replaced – the sixty something two metric ton Fraulien Gunther from Muchen, Bavaria – who the Chinaman didn’t really care very much for.

With Fraulein Eva it was quite another thing. The Chinaman planter not only smiled very often whenever she was around. He even made it a point to improve himself – he had even exchanged his flared ridding breeches, boots along with open neck khaki shirt complete with shoulder holster and revolver with a stylish bush jacket and laced shoes that came in by special courier service directly from Cape Town.

The German nun and school teacher had even approved of this new look and mentioned that the Chinaman planter now looked like a dapper “gentlemen planter.” She was so pleased that she had even invited the farmer to attend a reunion party which she had arranged in the school to celebrate the return of a lost child that had been recently found by the ever wandering medicin sans frontier who had discovered the half dead boy somewhere along the porous Northern Sudanese border. The nine year old boy from the Adomako tribe had gone missing a year or so back ago along the river bank and had somehow been magically reunited with their parents – it was a one in a millionth – and the whole village had come out in full force to celebrate with beating drums, asseki juice along with generous lashings of K’du leafs which the women folk chewed.

Everyone remembered how happy the farmer had been as he stood beside the German nun – the boy had after all being presumed dead by all, eaten probably by a crocodile and now he had been magically reunited with his parents – who seemed eager to show off their child to the rest of the village.

The nine year old boy named Komu had after all learnt a range of tricks that seemed to enthrall the rest of the villages since his return – he knew how to drive a truck, operate a generator. But one of Komu’s most impressive tricks involved field stripping an AK-47. When the farmer watched Komu remove the linchpin of the Soviet Amotov with a small horn tip by clamping the entire barrel and stock against his tiny neck and limbs that held together the breach and firing mechanism he realized that the boy already knew the AK-47 had 8 parts – the hardest section to remove was the gas piston assembly and the cumbersome spring mechanism that often proved so unwieldy that even adults struggled with this section. In many cases giving up completely – in this case, the boy had used the Sudanese horseback open palm method of slapping this complicated mechanism apart in one single smooth action – everyone clapped. Except the farmer. Who insisted that Komu do this again. And again. Which he did specially for Dada Shahidi – as he was after all the guest of honor.

For the grande finale, the young boy was blindfolded and within a matter of seconds, he assembled back the 8 parts of the semi automatic flawlessly – the show ended when Komu finished off the show by cocking the assault rifle menacingly which the farmer knew chambered the first round into the breach and smiled to the rapturous applause of the villagers – that day, everyone smiled except the Chinaman Cocoa planter who looked stern and grave as if lost in his own thoughts.

That evening as the Shahidi approached the innocent nine year old Komu seated beside his happy parents – his eyes seemed to radiate an awareness that bordered between fascination and fear. He leaned close to the boy and in a slow and stern voice whispered,

“Komu tell Dada (in Africa, the prefix father follows before, as a sign of respect) Shahidi who taught you how to do this.”

From that day onwards the German school teacher and nun who ran the only school in Gabundi noticed the Chinaman Cocoa planter never ever smiled again.

Sometime back ago in Singapore….

Opposite a row of shophouses in Telok Kurau where Kassim’s Nasi Kandar served cinnamon flavored briyani every Friday. An abandoned row of prewar apartments which had just been sold off en bloc was where the tiny Ugandan student community in Singapore headquartered itself – though the building was scheduled to be torn down.

As long as it was still standing Mr Lim the consummate broker par excellence – who prided himself with the uncanny ability to see opportunities where others saw none considered it nonetheless kosher rentable space. In the version of Mr Lim’s capitalist theory, everything and anyone could always be reliably put to work to turn a buck. Even the square peg of eighteen African students who studied in NTU seeking super cheap accommodation could very well be made to fit into Mr Lim’s ‘something from nothing’ economic theory of a round hole – all they had to do as he once told them in a stern voice was, ‘don’t play music so loud (not that they could as there was only one working three pin plug point)…don’t disturb people…don’t kill people’s pet and cook and try to get along with the residents (which were mainly the rats and roaches)…if you all get caught, remember I dunno you! You also dunno me lah. Understand or not? It’s like that one lah. Welcome to Singapore.’

This the African students all managed to do without too much difficulty. As since they all left very early in the morning for either their studies or work and only returned very late well past midnight – the Ugandans were literally invisible to many of the residents in Telok Kurau. Even the pineapples eye Auntie brigade headed by the eager beaver always ready to please local PAP grassroots commissar, the consummate bible thumping spinster Madame Poon who prides herself in being able to smell out closet philanderers and reactionary bloggers in the ranks of seemingly ‘happily’ married men – thru her divine rapport with spirits who she often conversed with intimately in tongues had absolutely no idea an African squatter colony had been installed right before her nose – leading many irate residents in her constituency in Telok Kurau to ask later when the scandal erupted whether those ‘spirits’ had more to do with the buy one get one free extra sweet sherry Madame Poon was especially fond of and regularly stocked up on from NTUC supermarket in Bedok.

In the uppermost abandoned apartment where electricity and running water was not available was where Kumo Adomako lived all by himself. He much preferred his own company despite having to study under the wan of a torchlight to the boisterous city boys below who preferred to be pack like sardines five to a room – besides Kumo resented the derogatory term of endearment that city folk had a habit of using on those who scarred their faces as a tribal mark of coming into manhood – they called him ‘Gambi.’ And Kumo Adomako the man who studied water engineering in NTU knew deep in his heart that they didn’t know better than to call him a ‘Gambi.’

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