Previously on The Night Niko Turned, Bonsasa had barged into Niko’s hideout after mauling Namde’s henchmen.
The story continues…
As he stood, time stilled. Dimensions altered. Perspectives shifted. Limitations left. Here, he was in absolute control. He was everything he wanted to be: big, strong, bold and the mighty conquering warrior he dreamed of many times. In this world, nothing controlled him; everything was under his rule. If he thought of darkness, the light dimmed, if he thought of rain, clouds gathered.
The light within him coursed through his veins and gave him the strength of the thousands of warriors before him who had also carried the mark. From where he stood, Bonsasa no longer towered above him. He felt equal to the beast. Bonsasa, sensing danger, came at him. Niko’s quickened reflexes kicked in. He ran towards it, leapt over it, and landed on his feet behind the beast, barely escaping the spikes on its tail. Grabbing its furry bit, Niko swung Bonsasa by the tail across the room, smashing it against everything in sight. When he finally let go of it, it slammed into one of the walls near the room Kono and Sosi hid, dazed.
Before Bonsasa could even let out a whimper Niko charged towards it again, sliding across the floor and kicking in its hindlegs from behind with the soles of his feet. Repeated punches from Niko filled its side. But Bonsasa fought back. Using its tail, it flew Niko across the room, punching Niko’s left thigh in the process. Rather than go in for the kill, Bonsasa turned its focus on Kono and Sosi under the bed. It charged at them, overturning the bed frame and mattress with its muzzle.
Niko distracted it with a loud scream and rushed at it. Sliding underneath the beast from behind, Niko slipped one hand under its muzzle drawing it downward, and clasping the other above it, he spread it apart, and as though ripping corn husk from the cob, he pulled the creature apart from jaw to tail, tearing it in two. Blood splattered across the room, drenching Niko and showering his siblings.
Panting, Niko let go of the dissected beast, rushed to Kono and Sosi, and examined them. They were fine. But they pulled away from him and crawled up against the wall, astonished at what they’d just seen of their brother. None of them able to speak a word. They simply stared at Bonsasa’s disconnected body, puzzled.
Niko turned to look at Bonsasa once more and took a moment to take in his victory. There, Bonsasa still lay – the dread of the forest, dead and its bloodied entrails scattered across the floor. He ran back into the living room and returned with Zito’s machete and cut off Bonsasa’s tail. He would show it to the elders of his village to prove that his father’s words were true.
“Come,” Niko said to Kono and Sosi, tail in hand. “We have to go back home.” “Home?” Kono asked weakly. He didn’t have the courage to challenge his big brother. “Yes, home,” Niko said as he took Sosi by the hand.
Niko and his siblings walked out the shredded door as the sun rose above the horizon to the welcome of Koboko and the village elders. They had been drawn there by the light. Niko walked to them and threw Bonsasa’s tail at their feet. They jumped back simultaneously, afraid of what lay before them. “I…I…I killed it,” Niko said almost uncertain of what he had just done. “I killed it,” he repeated, more convinced after he said the words a second time. Koboko gave her assistant, Sube a reverse nod.
He ran past Niko into the house, returned seconds later and nodded to Koboko, and rejoined the rest, trembling. Koboko nodded and let out a burst of throaty laughter, “Hahaha hahaha.” Taking a couple of steps forward towards Niko she turned to face the elders. “Elders of Sekura, the prophecy has been fulfilled,” she said standing by Niko. “This, elders of Sekura, is your protector,” she said as she reached for his right hand and lifted it up. “Hahaha hahaha,” she laughed again, and continued to laugh as she walked the boy and his siblings back to the village, followed by an astonished group of elders.
By this time, the entire village had lined up yards away from the clearing, back into the village; afraid to go beyond the tabooed boundary. Koboko whispered into the ear of her assistant, and he rushed off ahead of them. Upon reaching the entrance of the village, a loud chorus of ululation erupted from the village women while the men greeted Niko with celebratory drumming and dancing.
Namde sat next to the goat – defeated, his men scattered – watching the dying embers of the bonfire being quenched in the drizzle that had just started. His stare strayed from the dead fire to the sky then to Niko, who was being carried overhead by village men amidst the showers. They brought him to the very centre of the community and set him in the midst of his people.
“Bring me the calabash,” Koboko shouted. Sube pushed his way through the crowd that had gathered and handed the calabash over to his master. She knelt down and turned over its contents on Niko’s head, placing the overturned calabash on his head. As its contents trickled down his body, it washed down his blood-soaked chest and uncovered the scar. Pointing to it, she turned to the villagers, “People of Sekura, behold, your Protector!” She said, lifting up his right hand. The crowd echoed with oohs and aahs with ululation ringing through. A new dawn had come over Sekura, and Niko carried the light. Koboko held up her right hand and the noise ceased.
Turning to Namde, she declared, “For breaking the bond of peace within the boundaries of this beloved village, this disruptor deserves to be punished by death. But we are a merciful people. So rather than face death, the elders of Sekura have agreed to exile him from our midst forever!” With that, two of the elders lifted Namde up by his arms and carried him outside the boundaries of the village. The villagers followed, sweeping after him with palm fronds.
Nobu, released from his bonds, stood next to Niko and watched as his father was jeered and hooted at by the village women and banished from the village. Niko took the satchel of grain and nuts that still hung around Nobu’s neck and run to Namde. He stopped, hoping Niko had been sent to call him back. Instead, Niko looked intently at him in the face, handed him the bag, turned, and ran back to the village.
“Come,” Koboko said to Niko. “Let us prepare for another fight. Wolves always come in packs.”