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Henry Mzili Mujunga: A Work of Fiction

Posted by start 1 December 2009 No Comment
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Back in the day, many brave terrorists from south of the great lake tried to cross this devil’s corridor in pursuit of Evil-Fat- Daddy, but instead lost all their memory and all their programs in its red waters. Evil-Fat-Daddy escaped into the dry dunes to the North and later dried up due to lack of orange juice. Legend has it that out of the 27 terrorists, only the milkman made it across the slithering red slime.

Written by Henry Mzili Mujunga
Milking your dogs, Monoprint, Henry Mzili Mujunga, 2009

Milking your dogs, Monoprint, Henry Mzili Mujunga, 2009

Young Fabian once asked his mother, “What are colors made of?” His mother replied that they are fixed in our eyes by God. Little did she know the truth of her words and the impact they would have on her lad’s life.

He grew up to become a creative force that no one could ignore. In the course of his life, he befriended the birds of the air and the creatures of the sea. None could resist the charms of this handsome stud. He even made friends with the milkman from across the  grassy stretch.

They say that through this stretch once flowed a mighty red river and that none dared cross it without offering a tithe to the sorrowful red one. In fact, back in the day, many brave terrorists from south of the great lake tried to cross this devil’s corridor in pursuit of Evil-Fat-Daddy, but instead lost all their memory and all their programs in its red waters. Evil-Fat-Daddy escaped into the dry dunes to the North and later dried up due to lack of orange juice. Legend has it that out of the 27 terrorists, only the milkman made it across the slithering red slime.

Now it was not an easy thing to befriend the milkman. He was known to boast about his own cold demeanor and lack of friends. He was always too seriously occupied milking his dogs to have time to chit-chat with the idle painters and jesters that prowled his neighborhood. In fact, his main concern was how to put more thorny branches into his fence to keep them out.

The jesters were an overwhelming lot that relied on their tongues to wreak havoc among the sitters and runners. They would often prod the milkman with itchy questions such as, “When are you gestating the dogs?” or “When are you paying your first jug of milk to the ruler from the seven hills?” And so on. Such were the annoying questions that these senseless and unkind jesters asked the poor milkman! It was rumored that they were led by the owl keeper, a ruthless and dark fellow who had never tasted a jug of milk in his entire life.

Be Happy. Monoprint. Henry Mzili Mujunga. 2009

Be Happy. Monoprint. Henry Mzili Mujunga. 2009

Nonetheless, Fabian managed to break the taboo. He was from among the painters. A despised and unsightly lot, the painters were usually covered in ocher pigment from head to toe. No one dared engage them in a sensible discussion; they were full of dreams and empty words. Fabian was different. He had one great advantage: his toothy grin flashing against the red of his tongue. Unlike the other painters, he always ensured that the ocher did not get anywhere near his mouth. This preserved the white of his teeth and red of his tongue.

It is said that the milkman had a weakness for white and red contrasts. Legend has it that his forbears were mentored by a big- haired old druid from one of the fishing communities of the North who shared a similar weakness. In addition, Fabian regularly marinated his tongue in a jug of white spirits. This washed off any lingering stains of ocher that might have accidentally slipped passed his watchful eye.

But befriending the milkman was never Fabian’s intention. The big-haired druid had built two dwellings which proved too lonely for an old man with just two sons. He wanted some of the sitters and runners to visit more often. So he used the painters to make a very colorful but dark wall-hanging on the southern wall of the smaller dwelling. Fabian was one of the painters invited to the public viewing of this very important spectacle many years later. He was looking forward to the event.

It happened that at the time the wall-hanging was constructed, the milkman was employed in the druid’s kitchen. Although very youthful at the time, he was already gaining popularity for his curds. But his real interest lay elsewhere. He was always curious about the old druid’s doings. When the druid commissioned his wall-hanging, he had the painters use a lot of blue, red and black pigments. The milkman found this to be erroneous as these colors made the place too dark! Much as he loved red, it had to be in contrast with white to become pleasant! So he vowed to change the wall-hanging to a lighter and more palatable color some day. He did not have any particular hue in mind though.

On the day of the public viewing, Fabian, feeling thirsty, went into the kitchen to ask for a glass of milk. Upon entering, he was perturbed by the presence of a balding old man sitting with four of his relatives at the kitchen table discussing how to change the colors of the wall-hanging. This already, before its inauguration, he thought! Nonetheless, he shone his wide red and white grin in their direction, which sent the old man into a spasm of excitement. He called Fabian over and asked him what had brought him into the dwelling. Fabian politely answered that he was a humble painter who had been invited to the viewing. Upon hearing this, the balding man got even more excited. His entire body was now shaking with uncontrolled spasms of laughter. His wrinkled, beady eyes were wet with milk from his previous meal.

In between spasms, he noticed the ocher on Fabian’s body and turning to his relatives, the milkman bellowed, “You men, don’t you think we have got the answer to our riddle?Let us change the wall-hanging to yellow!” He turned to Fabian and, patting him gently on the small of his back, thanked him and sent him off with a glass of warm milk, but not before inviting him to call again. And that is how Fabian became a regular visitor to the dwellings even long after the drying up of the druid and the disappearance of his wall-hanging.

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