Zac 29: Episode 7

Zac 29 Episode 7

“And what’s that?” she asked, pointing to the chain of the leaps.

“A gift from Mr. Adokoh,” Zac said softly.

Mistress Ohenewaa looked around her furtively. She saw that the chain was a beautiful one, and its pendants looked like real diamonds, except that the two in the middle looked dull. She could always put the dull ones in the back, and then the chain would fetch a good price from one of her clients. She decided to take the chain as soon as they arrived at the orphanage.

She stepped aside.

“Get in, you dirty little rascal!” she spat out viciously and allowed Zac to board the bus.

“That’s a really beautiful chain,” Araba said as the bus moved off.

“Enjoy it, Zacky,” Bobo said with a twisted smile. “You know as soon as we get back the Ohenewaa Dragon will take that chain from you! It is as certain as Kweku Obi’s snore!”

“I guess she would,” Zac said with a little smile. “And she just might like it very much, I guess!”

 

***

An Incredible Dinner

They got back to the orphanage in the evening.

“Now go and take your baths and come down to dinner,” Mistress Ohenewaa said as they got down the bus, her eyes fixed greedily on the chain around Zac’s neck. “It’s quite unfortunate, Zac, but because of the trip we couldn’t prepare rice and chicken. You’ll be having kenkey, fish and pepper sauce for your dinner.”

Zac stared at her with a smile of his own.

“Thank you, Mistress Ohenewaa. That would be very delicious indeed!”

As he walked away the Ohenewaa Dragon scowled darkly, and then her face went all red as she turned toward the other companions.

“What’s the matter with that little fool?” she asked in an absolutely puzzled voice.

 

The bathroom was a long room with broken showers and a long trough on the floor that drained the waste water.

The children fetched water from the Wailing River and brought it to the bathhouse. Their sponges were made from the beaten bark of a particular tree. Their soaps were hard perfume-less balls that the companions made, and hardly lathered.

Standing in rows, the boys quickly took their baths.

Bobo and Zac were drying themselves with well-worn and torn towels when Kweku Obi approached them.

He had finished bathing and had wound his towel around his waist.

“That gift from Mr. Adokoh is really cool!” Bobo was saying as he reached out and fingered the amazing glittering lockets. “You better take it off and hide it. The Ohenewaa Dragon is coming for it.”

That was when Kweku Obi reached them.

“Yeah, take it off, worm,” Kweku said nastily. “I want it. Now.”

The bathroom was suddenly very quiet as all eyes turned to them.

Boys in various stages of bathing paused and looked on, most in anticipation of the beating Zac was going to receive from Kweku Obi.

 

Kweku had been beating Zac for a long time, and most of those beatings had taken place in the bathroom.

Normally tears would have come to Zac’s eyes, and he would have silently taken off the chain and handed it over to Kweku meekly.

But that late afternoon Zac wordlessly wound his towel around his waist and stood staring at Kweku with cold eyes. He was not cowering, and there did not seem to be any sign of fear in him.

“I’m not giving it to you,” Zac said softly.

The collective gasps were so loud they sounded like thunder.

Even Bobo gasped, and he looked at his friend with an expression that suggested Zac was going mad.

Kweku Obi, on the other hand, was so absolutely shocked at Zac’s response that for a minute he just stood there looking at Zac with his mouth so wide open that it reminded Bobo of a train tunnel.

The image caused Bobo to chuckle, and it was this sound that broke Kweku’s surprise. Suddenly his face was filled with the most insane expression of wrath, and with a little scream, he rushed at Zac and flung a blow into Zac’s face.

The only problem was that his right fist curled in the air, away from Zac’s face, and he smacked his own face with such ferocious fury that he moaned with pain as his lips and nose began to bleed.

“Oh!” Bobo said with shock. “Self-destruction!”

Kweku frantically brushed his face with his hand, and it came away wet with blood, and he stared at it in incomprehension.

When Zac took a step forward Kweku did a double take and retreated a step.

The whole bathroom was stunned into silence again.

Zac moved past Kweku, and when the bully saw that Zac’s back was turned he reached out and grabbed the chain, intending to tear it off, but the moment he touched it he was flung back forcibly such that his feet completely left the floor, and he smashed into the walls of the bathroom, and then he sank slowly to the floor and sat with his back to the wall.

 

“Rad!” Bobo shouted, unable to hide his glee and shock this time, and he stared at Zac with a face filled with amazement. “Hey, Zacky! Hey! What’re you doing?”

Zac did not even pause, and as he walked away he saw the looks of awe and incomprehension on the faces of the other boys.

Bobo caught Zac’s arm and spun him around. His round, pudgy face was filled with excitement as he looked at the sprawled figure of Kweku Obi.

“Can I hit him, Zacky?” Bobo asked excitedly. “Can I maim you? I can maim him now, right?”

Zac chuckled, shook his head, and grabbed his friend’s hand.

“Leave him be, BB,” he said and led him out of the bathroom.

 

Zac dressed slowly, aware that Bobo was casting glances at him as he also dressed. Zac smiled to himself, fully aware that Bobo would be on him very soon.

Zac picked up a comb, and that was when Bobo suddenly came forward and stood facing Zac. Bobo pointed to the chain of the leaps but was careful not to touch it.

“What is that?” Bobo asked quietly.

 

“A chain,” Zac said softly. “A gift from Mr. Adokoh.”

“That’s no chain, Zacky,” Bobo said with a comical scowl. “That’s something all right, but it is certainly not a chain. I saw what happened to Kweku when he touched it!”

“Touch it then, BB,” Zac said and laughed when a look of sheer dismay crossed Bobo’s face.

“Do you think I’m absolutely mad?” Bobo asked with indignation.

“It’s just a chain, BB,” Zac said calmly. “Just a harmless silver chain.”

“Rail!” Bobo screeched with some note of peevishness in his voice, turned away and proceeded to dress hastily.

Then he left the room without waiting for Zac.

Zac shook his head sadly; he and Bobo always walked to the dining room together. Obviously, Bobo was angry that Zac was keeping a secret from him.

Zac knew that he could possibly not tell his best friend about the chain of the leaps, at least not presently.

Zac finally walked to the dining room.

It was a huge hall. The floor had once been cemented, but the years had ensured that there were now deep holes and sand on the floor, most of the cement had eroded badly such that only patches of floor were now covered with potholed cement.

The tables were long, with long benches on each side. The boys sat on the right side of the hall whilst the girls sat on the left.

The food was always brought from the kitchen in round iron bowls and dished out by the Table Captains.

Zac and Bobo were at Table One, and their table captain was Kweku.

Mistress Ohenewaa and the companions sat at a raised platform at one end of the dining-room. Their portion was fully cemented and had ceiling and standing fans, and an electrified fly catcher that kept flies away from their food.

Zac saw that Mistress Ohenewaa and the companions were having rice and chicken, and he shook his head sadly.

 

The Serving Gong went once, and the Table Captains stood up and stood behind the iron serving bowls. The children were having kenkey and shito just as Mistress Ohenewaa had said.

Kenkey was a round Ghanaian food made from corn dough. Shito was a kind of pepper gravy made by adding ground pepper, fish powder and spices, bringing them to a boil and then letting it turn brown or black.

Kweku, with a rather dark look on his face, put one ball of kenkey in each boy’s plate as it was passed to him, and then put a spoonful of shito and a piece of fried fish beside it. His swollen lips and nose were testimonies of the self-bashing he had taken during bath time.

Bobo, who was sitting beside Zac, leaned over and whispered.

“Zacky, you’re gonna get the smallest kenkey and the tiniest fish on your birthday!”

 

Zac only smiled. His plate was passed on to Kweku, who looked at him and smiled wickedly.

Kweku picked up a ball of kenkey, split it into two, and dumped half on Zac’s plate, and then he pushed the plate away. He did not add shito and fish.

The other boys looked at Zac with pitying eyes, but none of them could challengeKweku.

“Enjoy your rice and chicken, pox face!” Kweku hissed down at Zac with real venom on his face and in his voice.

“Enjoy yours too, Kweku,” Zac said and put his plate of half kenkey down in front of him.

The Serving Gong sounded again, and all the children closed their eyes for a prayer, which was said by Mistress Ohenewaa; she came down from the platform and stood in the middle of the hall.

The children, knowing just how severely anybody who didn’t close their eyes for prayers would be punished, shut their eyes tightly.

No one saw Zac as he looked across the tables, moving his head slightly, focusing on his mind and giving silent orders. Suddenly one of the pendants on his chain glowed fiercely and then became a dull silver.

Another magical locket had been used.

Suddenly, on each of the dining tables, something amazing had just happened. Satisfied, Zac closed his eyes and smiled secretly to himself.

He had just used one of his magical powers, and he was sure there was going to be an absolute shock when the children opened their eyes.

When Mistress Ohenewaa said ‘Amen’ and they all replied, eating should have started then, but the moment the children opened their eyes there was a silence so loud that a paper dropping would have sounded like a bomb going off.

 

Every single child in the room was immobile and absolutely shocked into total rigid silence.

Mistress Ohenewaa, who had barely looked at them once the prayer was over and was now walking to her position up the platform, suddenly came to a stop when the silence hit her.

It was not something she had expected, and it was not something she was familiar with either. She had expected their usual commotion and unruly vigour as they attacked their food.

She turned slowly and looked at the tables and noticed a sight so terrible – at least, to her – that for several moments she just stood there and stared with a mixture of fear and confusion.

The other companions came down from the platform and stood staring at what had happened, and on their faces was the same shock and fear that had gripped their leader.

The spectacle that had rendered the fantastic Mistress Ohenewaa so speechless was that on each child’s plate, there was no longer kenkey, shito and fish, but steaming and sumptuous-looking rice cooked in tasty stew and hunks of grilled chicken thighs.

That was not all though.

Standing beside each plate was a plastic bottle of ice-cold Coca-Cola.

Mistress Ohenewaa was so confused and so scared for a moment that she almost fell, but she kept her balance and, barely breathing, she turned and looked in the direction of Zac.

That was when she noticed that Kweku’s plate still contained a big ball of kenkey, shito and fish. He was the only one who had not received a special treat.

As if by a secret command all eyes turned to Zac.

Zac was looking back at Mistress Ohenewaa, and there was no fear on his face now.

Bobo was the only one who did not appear to be the least scared of the food that had miraculously replaced the kenkey and shito. He looked frantically from Mistress Ohenewaa to his food, obviously torn between his fear of the former and his love for the latter.

Hunger and craving got the better of him, and suddenly he picked up a huge chicken thigh and bit into it, and the exclamation sound of sheer enjoyment that came out of his mouth in a long-drawn ‘aaaaaahhhhhhh’ was like a silent command that broke the stillness in the hall, and with trembling hands the children attacked their food.

 

Zac picked up a tender chicken wing, closed his eyes, and bit into it!

It was the sweetest piece of chicken he had ever tasted, and he thought to himself that indeed he had not wasted the gift of the chain in providing food for the children on his birthday.

Kweku Obi, sitting at the head of the table, was going through a terrible time indeed. First, by some strange miracle, he could not understand, the food for the evening had changed for everyone except him. Secondly, he could smell the food, how tantalizingly sweet, and he could see just how much the children were enjoying themselves! His belly rumbled, and he felt so ravenously hungry. He saw them opening the bottles of Coca-Cola, and heard the fizzing sounds they made, and he watched them drinking with relish, and he almost died with the terrible longing.

He wished he could move; he would’ve taken Zac’s portion from him!

However, something terrible was happening to him.

He could not move!

He could move his head and eyes, but he could not move his legs and hands. It was as if he were paralyzed, and this terrified him. He tried to scream and tell Mistress Ohenewaa, but he could not make any sound. His horrified eyes rested on Zac, and he remembered what had happened in the bathroom and remembered what Mr. Happy had told him, and he knew that somehow what was happening was caused by Zac.

Mistress Ohenewaa finally found her voice, and she bored down on Zac with a thunderous look on her face.

“What have you done, you maggot?” she screeched with fury, and her whole body shook with the power of her wrath, and succeeded in hiding the great fear she was feeling.

Zac looked at her with an innocent face and with his mouth full of rice and meat.

“I haven’t done anything, Queen,” Zac said.

“Oh, you did it! I know you did it, you ingrate!” she screamed, quite in a frenzy, and it terrified the children and caused them to stop their evident enjoyment of their meal for a moment because they all knew that when the Mistress Ohenewaa slipped into that mood somebody always got a severe beating. “What evil is this? Are you now dabbling in witchcraft, Zac? I’ve always known you’re the offspring of the devil himself! It’s that chain, isn’t it?”

 

With a passionate fervour, she grabbed Zac by the collar of his T-Shirt and pulled him back away from the table. Zac uttered a little startled cry and raised his hands defensively.

Mistress Ohenewaa, filled to the brim with fury, grabbed the chain of the leaps and pulled hard, intending to wrench it off.

That was when something terrible happened!

Her scarf flew off her head because all her hair stood up straight from their roots, and she began to shake violently as if she were receiving a great electrical shock!

Her shoes shot off her feet in tatters, and her earrings flew away!

Her cheeks puffed out, and her lips were pushed off her teeth as if the greatest wind in history was blowing past her face. She jerked violently in all directions, and then she was pushed backward where she sat down on the dirty floor with quite a plump sound.

Everybody stared at her with absolute shock.

Everybody was sure that when she got up she would simply rip Zac into pieces, but those close to her saw that she was staring at Zac not with maddened fury, but with panicked horror. She got to her feet and took shaky steps back, and then she turned on her heels and almost ran out of the hall.

Zac wordlessly sat down and pulled his plate toward him and began to eat.

There was a sudden excited outbreak of speech, and those near to Zac patted him on the shoulder. Soon they were making a loud happy sound, as coke bottles were opened and the children enjoyed their special birthday dinner.

The Companions, seeing what had happened to Mistress Ohenewaa, sensibly went back to their own tables, ate quickly and left.

That was when Kweku realized that he could now move, and slowly he pecked at his kenkey and fish. He had no intention of attacking Zac now; he had seen what had happened to Mistress Ohenewaa.

Tears of anguish and hunger coursed down his cheeks as he ate.

He put his hand into his pocket and grabbed the little green bottle Mr. Happy had given him tightly.

“You just wait, Zac!” he murmured fiercely to himself. “Just a few days more, and then I’ll have my revenge on you!”

 

 

Zac 29: Episode 8
Zac 29: Episode 6

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