The Hooting Owl!

The Hooting Owl!

01-17-2019, 01:55 PM


Post: #1
Title: The Hooting Owl!
Author: محمد التجاني عمر قش
Date: 01-17-2019, 01:55 PM

12:55 PM January, 17 2019

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The Hooting Owl
Mohamed Tijani Omer Gush
Riyadh- 2019
I was only four years old but I was able to remember incidents very clearly. One day my grandmother came to our house with her big wooden bowl full of milk. It was a hot summer day, and we were all clustering around my mother in the small hut where she used to cook meals. My grandmother put the milk in the middle of the hut and ordered a small bowl. She filled it with milk and told my sisters to drink. Then she did the same with me. We were really very happy and satisfied. My grandmother was a tall and thin woman with very stern look, yet she was kind and loving.My mother made some coffee and they drank it while talking about different matters concerning the family. In the afternoon, my grandmother suddenly said to mum: “this boy must go to live with me now. You know your brother has left for the Blue Nile Province with his friends to tap acacia trees for gum Arabic, and he may not come until autumn. I am quite lonely and I need someone to help me with the cows and goats”. In fact, I was very excited to hear this, so I immediately began to collect my few clothes and I took my boomerang and put my shoes outside the hut. Indeed, my mother could not say anything but agree to this idea, as boys of my age would usually live with their grandparents. My grandmother saddled her donkey and put me behind her. When we arrived at her house, it was almost sunset. The shepherd had already come back with the goats and cows. My grandmother milked the cows and began to make her evening tea. I took my boomerang and went out to hunt for birds in the nearby trees. The shepherd went with me and were able to hunt three birds! My grandmother house was located at the outskirts of the village. It was surrounded by big trees where birds of all kinds used to make their nests and lay eggs. It was great fun for me to live with that old woman. She used to tell me stories about our ancestors who fought bravely against their enemies so that they could establish themselves in this area. One day my grandmother took me into a small hut where she kept all the personal effects of my late grandfather such as his sword, spears, shield, armor, fetches, and his copy of the holy Quran, prayer beads and mat. She told me that she would keep those things for me until I would grow up! At night, we used to sit in the courtyard of the house and she would tell us about her youth, and how they used to move with their animals to far places during the rainy season and come back to their dwellings in winter. Sometimes, she would tell us stories about ghouls and devils. One night, while the sky was intensely dark and big stars were shining high up, and we were sitting as usual and having our dinner, a bird landed on the big tree next to my grandmother’s main hut! After we went to bed, the bird began to make an unusual noise. I was so scared because it was the first time to hear that bird. I moved closer to my grandmother who put her hand over me. I asked my grandmother about that sound and she told me that it was the owl hooting! I could feel that my grandmother did not sleep, either. She was obviously nervous and tired the following morning. She woke earlier than usual, and after praying, she wanted to make tea but she spilt the milk over the fire. This made her even more nervous and tense, so she recited some verses from the holy Quran to dispel those feelings. I asked her if anything was the matter but she replied in the negative. In addition, I asked why she was so anxious about that bird. She said 'the owl is hooting and your uncle has been away for many months". Anyway, my grandmother looked very sad for many days after that night. However, the bird made that noise every night. One day, some women visited my grandmother and they told her that one of the villagers had come back from the Blue Nile Province. The following day, we had a visit to that man. My grandmother asked him about my uncle but the man looked down gloomily and he did not answer her question. She looked very worried. The man had other visitors, so he went out to see them. We waited for several hours before my grandmother could talk to him again. He seemed not to hear her, but she asked him in a loud voice, “tell me please, what has happened to my son؟ Is he dead or alive؟” The man hesitated for a while, and then he said: “in fact your son fell down from a high tree and was badly injured. We took him to hospital and the doctor said that he had a serious fracture in the backbone, which caused damage to the spinal cord. He could not move and would stay in hospital for a long period”. It was the first time to see my grandmother crying and shedding tears. I tried to calm her but I cried, too. The men at the house gathered around her and she regained her strength. We went back home before sunset. My grandmother was still very sad and was crying silently. She did not drink her tea that evening. The owl was hooting all the night again so we did not sleep. My grandmother said she would shoot the bird if she had a gun. I took my boomerang and went out of the hut. I wanted to throw it at the owl but my grandmother told me that a child must not kill that bird at all! The whole family had hard time while waiting for news about my uncle. One day, another man came and said that uncle had already left the hospital but he was still suffering. Summer was almost over, and most villagers returned home to prepare their land for faring during the rainy season. My grandmother grew more concerned with the arrival of any new comer. She thought of travelling to that province to see her son, but that was not easy for her. She decided to wait. Another man came back with a very sad story. He reported that the last time he saw my uncle was a month ago. He said my uncle was in hospital again! However, the man added that after they had reached Kosti, a man from a nearby village told him that my uncle had passed away and they buried him in Damazeen! It was bad news for my grandmother who cried sadly. Everybody came to pay his condolence. My grandmother no longer looked as before. Every night she would wake up and weep. Autumn was about to begin but there was nobody to cultivate our land! That made my grandmother's condition even worse. Our way of life had greatly changed. There were no stories at night. The old woman would sit brooding silently for long hours. One night, we went to bed early but my grandmother did not sleep. Suddenly, we heard a knock at the door. We both got out of the hut and went to see who was there! My grandmother took a step backward, as she was aghast! The man at the door, hurried to my grandmother, and hugged her gently, and they both cried loudly. The owl was hooting as usual! Some people from the village hurried to our house. At last, my uncle was alive. We were really surprised! In the morning, my uncle explained what had happened. He said: "I was tapping a high tree and a branch broke so I fell down unconscious. All the men ran away. A man from a nearby village saw me at that place and took me home. He took care of me until I recovered, as there was no serious problem. That man has a big area full of acacia trees. I decided to work for him. We had a good harvest. I sold my portion for a big amount of money and I bought these two camels. Moreover, I am planning to get married before rains. My grandmother slaughtered a fat calf and invited all the villagers. Notwithstanding, the owl hooted even more my grandmother slept very well that night.