Escape From Friday


Baba Galleh JallowBy Baba Galleh Jallow

Second Genamin Gyant DaMidget ran! Along the endless desert space he ran as he had never run before, his ears flat on the back of his head, his tongue clenched firmly between his teeth. Behind him he heard the roaring of angry animals – a ragged, bloodthirsty pack with canines that stood out from their blood-soaked lips and the red claws of hungry vampires! They wanted his blood! Da Midget knew if that mob caught up with him that would be the end of his life. And so he flew like the wind in space, yelping and yelling, feeling neither pain nor fatigue, only the cold fingers of fear gripping his heart which, it seemed, had stopped beating long ago!

Just as he thought he was out of harm’s reach, the Gyant DaMidget felt sharp claws digging into his shoulders and jerking him harshly back. He yelled as he had never yelled before, twisting his body to break free of the evil claws, some of which now gripped his butts. With one last desperate pull, he broke free, flew into space, landed with a thud and rolled into a dark hole to safety. Slowly, the dazed Gyant realized that he was under his own bed. He hurriedly squeezed himself out and for a moment sat on the floor, leaning against the expensive executive bed, shivering all over. He frantically glanced around to make sure no one had seen him dash under the bed like a frightened little rat. It was all a terrible nightmare.

Gyant DaMidget had been having frequent nightmares these days and he had always woken up screaming, with streams of cold sweat dripping down his frightened face. One day, he dreamt that a hundred lizards were running up his legs, slipping into his nostrils and scratching his face with their scaly claws. Another day, it was a large swarm of flies covering his entire body, some disappearing into his ears and others flying straight into his nose and making it impossible for him to breathe. When he opened his mouth to yell, it was immediately full of buzzing flies. And just a day before he saw the wicked animals chasing him, he had dreamt of a black dog that just stood there, growling at him, baring its sharp teeth and ready to pounce upon him when he woke up screaming. He felt as if there was now a hole of fear in his stomach because he knew that these nightmares were no ordinary dreams. They were signs that his enemies and the spirits of the many people he had offended or killed were now after him.

Second Genamin Gyant DaMidget felt his rage boil and bubble like a volcano in his chest. He felt like killing someone just then! Why was the world so evil? Why was everybody trying to destroy him? Why was everybody so jealous of him just because he was His Poxillency the Oxygen, Head of State and Commander, and Life Chairman of the Armed Forces Porovisual Rugged Coven? Why did all those evil animals now rudely intrude into his peaceful slumber and give him all those awful nightmares? He would let them know that he, Second Genamin Gyant DaMidget, was no ordinary fool! That he was as constant as the northern sun! He would show them why he was called Shela, the dog that bit without a bark! And Munku, the fire that burnt without a flame!!

Second Genamin Gyant DaMidget agonized long and hard over why everyone now seemed to hate him. He could see it in their eyes – scorn, hate, a desire to kill! He could hear it in the endless tales of conspiracy reported daily by his network of spies, liars, sycophants and moles! No more tales of blind admiration! No more tales of Second Genamin Gyant DaMidget the great patriot! Only tales of Genamin Gyant DaMidget the tyrant and Genamin Gyant DaMidget the despot! Of evil forces prowling and lurking in every imaginable nook and cranny of No-Talk Republic and beyond, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on him and rip him apart! He could see it on the nauseating pages of so-called newspapers that pretended to be pious! He could see it in the lean and hungry looks of the throngs of poor, starving, helpless, frightened rabble that stared at his tinted-glass, siren-ridden convoy, escorted by fierce, gun-toting soldiers as it sped at breakneck speed through the pot-hole ridden streets of the almost ghost-like towns of No-Talk Republic! And he saw it every night in his gruesome nightmares – ragged devils with long, forked tongues and protruding canines, long emaciated limbs and razor sharp claws reaching out to grab his throat, rip him apart and suck his blood!

Gyant DaMidget shivered. He felt that the dreadful Sikundeek, the arch devil himself, was out to get him. He felt frightened, extremely frightened. He had, over the past few months, become a bundle of shaking, crippling fear, although he made a great show of being a fearless dragon. Standing in his hummer, escorted on all sides by his fierce-looking armed soldiers, Gyant DaMidget would raise both hands to heaven, make the U-for-Useless and V –for-Volume signs, and stiffly grin as his convoy sped through the streets of No-Talk Republic. But deep down, he was frightened and shaken. He felt insulted and belittled by the fact that people now sucked their teeth and spat at the mention of him name, that members of his own armed forces were now his arch enemies. The more he thought of this, the stronger his resolve never to let go of power and to crush any signs of dissent mercilessly and remorselessly. To hell with all promises he had ever made! Were promises not meant to be broken? Were promises not mere ladders by which to deceive the stupid people in order to climb up to one’s dreams? “I have sacrificed my precious life to save these wretches,” he would say to himself. “Anyone who wants to derail me will be buried six feet deep.”

Deep down, Gyant DaMidget wished that things were what they used to be at the dawn of his glorious revolution, when he led his gallant forces against the corrupt and unpopular regime of Sir Biggerface Bodyfat Joker. He remembered with heart-breaking nostalgia how he used to ride on the lofty crest of popular sentiment both among the ordinary people and among his fellow soldiers. How he used to relish that endless chorus of praise and admiration for getting rid of an inept and redundant political class! He remembered the pleasant nights when his dreams were full of stars and blue skies and sweet smelling roses and images of himself floating above the world, as if he had been elevated to the status of angel by a God happy with his glorious saving of the wretched people of No-Talk Republic! How he used to wake up every morning with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart! Eager to go meet the happy faces of the adoring masses who thought they had been saved!

But gone were those days of easy slumber; gone the days of adoring looks and unquestioned loyalty. Gone were the days when crowds lined the streets to see him past and sent a million cheers up to heaven. There were now elements both among the ordinary masses and within the ranks of the armed forces that wanted him dead. Stone dead! The two incidents involving the Pahaw uprising and his two former colleagues now languishing in jail were ample evidence that he was a hated man. From now on, Genamin Gyant DaMidget knew that some of the soldiers would try to remove him from power. And he was not ready to get out of power, not just yet, not as long as he was alive!

Genamin Gyant DaMidget’s fears were well founded. Some of his fellow soldiers were extremely mad at him for giving all the power to himself. There were at least three more attempts at removing him from power by members of the armed forces. Some of the soldiers who had fled after the Pahaw mutiny slipped back into the country and attacked one of the military camps, killing one soldier. They seized a jeep and headed for the capital. But they were only five in number and poorly armed. So when they met junta reinforcements, they were easily routed. One of the invading soldiers was killed, one fled and three were captured alive. Those captured alive were paraded before national TV, sent to court and sentenced to death. Just before he started having the terrible nightmares, the three condemned soldiers were taken out of their cell sin the dark of night and executed by firing squad alongside other death row inmates including a woman.

On yet another occasion, a group of six angry soldiers attacked another military camp. They killed at least three soldiers and captured the commander of the camp whom they held hostage for several days before they were hunted down by junta reinforcements and routed. The commander escaped with his life. The tragedy for the people was that the more threatened he felt, the more brutal Second Genamin Gyant DaMidget became. His secret police and death squads grew increasingly brutal and our once peaceful country was turned into a state of terror. People lived in mortal fear of even saying his name in public or in private; they especially feared the outbreak of civil war. They had seen it happen in other countries. They knew it could happen in No-Talk Republic. The scary red writings were forming on the walls thanks to the brutal nature of DaMidget’s politics.

After his latest nightmare, Second Genamin Gyant DaMidget consulted one of his oracles – the dreaded Kasumeh Kepp the red-eyed. The oracle had bad news for him: It uttered a fearful groan and gnashed its teeth and stared at the petrified Gyant. Then it said in its most guttural voice: “I see darkness. You must beware of Fridays. Don’t go out on Fridays.” But this greatly troubled DaMidget because he could not possibly stay at home every Friday while everyone else went to work. A brilliant idea hit his mind like a thunderbolt: He called the national radio and TV and announced that henceforth, no one must go to work on Fridays. He found the perfect solution to his dilemma by changing the five-day work week to a four-day work week. Everyone must now stay at home on Fridays and work on their farms and say their prayers even if they had no farms and did not need to pray on Fridays. When an important event fell on a Friday, Gyant DaMidget promptly postponed the event to Saturday. Since the oracle had told him to avoid Fridays, he was going to do everything to escape from Friday. He was going to rule our country for a thousand years and if that meant deleting Friday from the calendar, he would do it. There were already rumours in No-Talk Republic that Gyant DaMidget was thinking of changing Friday’s name to Gooday.


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