Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #68

Haina Baraka
by Samuel I. Jones


Kiletu Mbemba crouched on the edge of a rocky bluff. Like the gnarled acacias his black frame marked the flaxen grasslands, punctuated by huge grey rocks poking out like bones.

He stared awestruck into a large nest, at stones which threw color and light. Stones with clean, geometric shapes. Stones of incomprehensible worth.

His mind departed across alien possibilities. He could finally afford the dowry to marry Thilela. His family could buy enough food to grow fat even through the dry season; perhaps an automobile.

His heart was slow and careful as he considered, and was swiftly overwhelmed by hurdles. If he made it to the city, could he get a fair price? Would they believe a poor black villager found them in a raven’s nest? Would he be beaten or killed as a thief? They would tell him they are only glass, and then follow and murder him. Perhaps they would believe, then a company of men would come to his village, raping the women and land in search of more.

It seemed impossible this concentration of wealth could bring more joy than suffering. “Such as these,” he concluded, “would bring trouble on the head of even a white man.”

As his figure faded towards the village, goats ambling behind to his whistled tune, a large rough-plumed raven landed on the edge of the nest. Like a priest with its white-collar it laid to rest on the gemstones a white man’s identity: a passport sullied with blood.


(Samuel is an artist, programmer, and daydreamer in Tidewater Virginia.)

17 comments:

JaneyV said...

Samuel I truly loved this piece. I don't know what Haina Baraka means but I'm wondering if it has something to do with being wise enough to see the consequences of our decisions a Kiletu was.

It seemed impossible this concentration of wealth could bring more joy than suffering.

How wise to know the real value of things in life.

Mike Robertson said...

I agree with Janey. A smart, wise little gem of storytelling with a protagonist we can respect. Very well done Samuel.

Peter Dudley said...

Really great story, showing the thoughts very well. I like it a lot.

Joni said...

Loved the wisdom of the MC. Very nice take. I enjoyed this one.

Laurel said...

Echoes from me. This was thoughtful and refreshing; an MC who moves past the moment of greed instead of selling his happiness to satisfy it.

Very wise.

bekbek said...

I think Laurel picked a perfect word for this: Refreshing. I like it. It didn't drift into mysticism, but still had that hint of magic and mystery. For a moment, I wondered if the passport at the end was overkill, but I think it is needed to keep the mystery grounded.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Awesome! Loved how this was set in a different time and everything. Gorgeous work.

C.Sonberg Larson said...

Mbemba had the wisdom to walk away.
Nicely done. I had to read the last sentence several times to digest it because it was a bit unclear for me.
The bloody passport made me cheer for Mbemba. Very original.

Loren Eaton said...

Hmmm, I think Blogger ate my first comment.

Anyway, I really like this Sam. There's a dark-wisdom vibe to it, a grim context to any number of proverbs. Well done.

Deb Smythe said...

I like that this had the tone and structure of a fable without the preachy feeling. I wasn't sure about the bloody passport at first. It muddied things and made me go back and re-read. But after doing so, I now think that line adds depth to the story.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Samuel

Your MC is one cool customer and smart, most would have grabbed the jewels and followed the way of the guy with the passport. Best use of these jewels is to assume the raven.

Dottie :)

Aerin said...

I was SURE I commented on this one. *sigh* Now I can't remember what witty compliments I left. Well, you're obviously an excellent writer - you create whatever praise for this piece you want and attribute it to me, okay? :)

AidanF said...

I love the setting of this story. You also create a nice modern fairy tale where the protagonist is wise beyond his years.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I like the pacing of your story and how you ease into the conflict; It's not rushed, which makes the resolution even more plausible. Nice job.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I can see this as a painting. This is lovely. :)

Kimberly B. said...

Gorgeously written. I really love the sense of voice here.

Catherine Vibert said...

Your writing is rich and full of sense of place. Beautifully done.