The Cold-blooded Killer
by Daniel Owino Ogweno
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Warning: This story reflects the side of reality that isn't easy for some people to come to terms with. If you are not 'strong', you may not wish to read it. It is a sad story.
Do you let your imaginations and assumptions stop you from hearing an alarm?
A mother had gone to the garden to weed. She had her two little kids with her. Miriam (3 years) and Zack (1½ years).
She had prepared some sweet potatoes which she gave them to eat under the tree adjacent to where she was weeding.
As she weeded she would sometimes have her back to the kids. She was close enough. There was no fear that anything could happen to the kids without her knowing.
The little girl had never seen a python before. When the reptile visited them under the tree, she strangely never shrieked the way it is natural when one encounters the cold-blooded killer. She kept her cool but only called the mother to inform her of what it was doing.
The python had gone straight to Zack and started swallowing the little boy.
Miriam called the mother repeatedly saying “Mama, he is eating”. With limited vocabulary at her age, she never elaborated on who/what was eating what.
In their language, they have same pronouns for everything, whether it is an animal, an object, or a human being—he/she. This meant that when Miriam said, ochamo, it could mean: “he/she or it is eating”.
In this language, people rely on the context to help them understand who or what is being referred to.
So when the little girl, Miriam, called saying “he is eating” the mother thought she was referring to Zack eating the potato she had given them. The mother was sure she knew what Miriam was talking about.
When the little girl was not relenting in her calls with the same message, the mother thought she was becoming a nuisance. She ordered her, “Keep quiet and let him eat”. Miriam kept quiet as the reptile made a meal out of her little brother. If only the little boy had cried! It is possible that by the time he realised the discomfort of being swallowed, his head was securely in the python’s mouth, choked and out of breath—he had no chance of crying and be heard.
When Miriam saw the last of her brother’s feet disappear into the python’s mouth she couldn’t keep quiet any more. She started calling her mother in a frenzy updating her of the latest happening, “Mama otieko muonyo” (he has finished swallowing). The mother would have silenced her one more time, but this time, the girl was screaming in terror.
The mother turned only to find a python preparing to go for the ‘second dish’.
“If only I never assumed to know what my daughter was trying to tell me”, she wailed.
The context of the life we have lived can make us not pick a warning that is being sounded by someone who doesn’t belong to our "level". Our level of understanding; education; maturity; endowment, etc. can hinder us from responding to or receiving a distress signal—or, really, must it be a distress call to pay attention?
How many times have we ignored people because they have limited "something"? We think we know what they are saying yet they are talking about something so serious we need to pay more careful attention, or move closer and find out more of what they are saying. How many times have we ignored people because they don’t speak our language; are from a different culture; a different race; are children, don't speak well, etc?
Teachers, pastors and counsellors—how many times do we jump in and “silence” people when they are trying to explain something? How many times do we assume that we know what they are talking about without taking time to listen to their inner anxiety causing them to speak? How many times do we fail to investigate before we instigate our therapies?
Think about it: Maybe what is being said is not as obvious as we assume it is.
For people who would want to draw their own application, I am sorry but for me the lesson learnt out of such stories is the most important reason I write. I am not sure if everyone would see the application the way I see it. There is no harm sharing what I believe God teaches us through such incidences. What other lessons do you learn in this story?—share it. We may not ‘see’ identically.
© 2006 by Daniel Owino Ogweno.
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Sometimes we can be so "caught up in our work", doing what is good and right, we fail to realize the enemy is just a few feet away, ever ready to strike and devour what belongs to us. What a story you have shared, Daniel! Very though provoking, indeed.
Daniel, Thank you, thank you, thank you. You must have sensed my desire to have guidance & clarifity in this matter. I have recently been a 'Miriam' watching others been ignored, swolled-up; seeing others like Miriam and being led to believe I am being a nuisance. The only difference is that this time there is something in me that makes me believe I need to speak on these people's behalf so that their cries will be heard. Your article helped me to put this into perspective and I pray God will further guide me on how to reach the perpetrators so their eyes will be opened and their hearts in tuned to the people's needs. God bless you. Janice
I agree with the lesson you have so graciously shared, but I am sure there are more if one would take the time to look. Thanks for sharing.