Feb 6, 2009, 5:06 AM
Everyday we watched the saw men with their machines come to our village. The grrrrr grrrrr of their saws is all what you hear. It overrides the thump-thump sounds of our women pounding millet to make porridge for breakfast. My friends and I would gather around and look at these men with masks on their faces all day long and place bets over which tree would be the next to go down.
Sometimes we would miss lunch just because of this. I always wonder where these trees were taken to.
When I was younger there were so many trees in our village that some big trees were believed to be the homes of spirits. At night no one dared walk around idly.
When there was a full moon and so many winking stars, people came out; the children played, sang and danced, and the elders gather around fireplaces to talk about what happened in the farms, whose crops were doing well and whose crops are not.
The village comes to live.
The strange thing is nobody seems to care if there were spirits on moon-lit nights or not.
Looking back on all those years, the trees in the village were fewer. Even the big Iroko tree disappeared save for a short trunk which served as its tell-tale sign.
The great tree which seems to have no name except the spirit's tree also was gone. What disturbs me is why the spirit had not fought the men cutting the tree down. Perhaps it was only too lenient and patient and didn't want to hurt strangers.
I heard the spirit was so kind, still I wish that the spirit had fought them and scared them away.
Now that they have cut down every tree in sight, our village is dry; insufficient food, rain and water punctuate the harsh sun's punishment on us.
After some time, some community development workers came and taught our people how to replace our lost trees.
Some years after that, our village becomes green again and my friends and I are now standing admiring the scenery. Suddenly it starts raining, a teasing kind of rain, soft intermittent drops. My friends and I are lured by the rain. We carelessly throw our shirts and shorts to feel the rain on our bodies and open our mouths to drink some greedily even though we know that that wouldn't quench our thirst.
It is like a thirsty traveler on a dusty road who has accidentally come across water after so many days.
The village vibrates with life. Crickets could be heard, butterflies start flying around teasingly and even the birds start singing their melodious songs, and the ants are busy like never before.