BY: NAIMA BAGHOZI
Long time back in Mwapata land lived a small boy of nine years. His name was Muja but famously known as ‘Muja the kind hearted’ by everyone, big and small.
Muja lived with his father and mother who were quite old, but they brought him up to be a very good boy.
Muja was always kind to old people and even small children and not forgetting the animals. He would always help an old person cross the road or help an old woman carry her heavy load and if a small child is in distress then yes of course Muja would be right there to assist in whatever the problem is. As for the animals, he always had a very soft heart for them and did not like to see anybody hurting them.
That is why he earned the name ‘Muja, the kind hearted’ , and all people referred to him that way. As soon as he appeared anywhere, someone would be heard as saying “here comes Muja the kind hearted” and thus was loved by everyone. No one would want to harm him in anyway but would always have a kind or a soft word for Muja.
Now, Muja’s daily routine would be to wake up very early in the morning at the first call of the rooster’s “cock-a-doodle do” in order to fetch water from the well to wash himselfup and also to make sure his parents had enough for use.
Then after drinking his tea, he takes his bag and on his way to school he goes – up the lane, up and up the hill then at the top of the hill he takes a breath and looks down at the view which awaits him and he says to himself “ Oh! What a beautiful village we have….” And then jumps and trots down the hill towards his school where he knows his friends would be eagerly awaiting his arrival so they can play together a little bit before the bell rings for assembly.
As soon as school ends for the day, Muja has no time for friends but he would rush out of school and climb up the hill and run all the way home for he knows he has got chores awaiting him. One of them being to go and fetch firewood from a nearby bush for his mother. He would always be cautious about his mother’s warning of never going deep in the bush for fear of wild animals.
The one thing that the Mwapata Land boys liked best to do was to hunt for the many beautiful little birds who were all over the place. So after school they would normally be out with their catapults trying their best shots with pebbles at them, for they say they are very tasty when roasted. However, everybody knew of Muja’s weakness where these little birds were concerned and wouldn’t even stop to fight in order to save them. So whenever the area boys are already at their mischief, one is normally kept on guard to look out for Muja and the moment he sees him coming, he would yell ‘run ,Muja the kind hearted’ is coming, then they would all scatter in different directions in fear that if they will be caught then anything can strike them. Oh! Yes, they would even go as far as calling the birds as “Muja’s Birds.”
One day as Muja was collecting his mother’s firewood not so far from his home lane, he thought he heard his name – so he stopped picking up the wood to listen but only silence met him, he then continued to pick his firewood but it didn’t take long before he heard it again and this time it was quite clear for he had moved up a bit in his collection and this is what he heard from a tiny small clear but sad voice ;
And it continued on and on as he moved towards the voice only to find one little bird trapped and could not free itself to fly off. It was so frightened that if it was found by one of the boys it would soon be on a fire being roasted and to be made into a nice meal.
So Muja rushed to it and said ‘Oh! You sweet little bird, don’t be frightened, Muja is here now to set you free”…. And you know what? Muja did just that, he carefully removed it from the trap and set it free to fly away in the skies and the little bird was so grateful as it flew away saying:
“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! Muja
Thank you for saving my life.
Ooh! You kind hearted Muja….”
Muja found himself smiling silently and went to collect his wood to take to his mother who would be waiting for it patiently in order to start cooking their dinner.
When Muja got home, he explained everything to his parents. His mother told him “Muja, you are a fine boy” and his father said “Muja my son, you will one day make a fine man”.
These compliments made Muja’s heart fill with joy for he always appreciates his parents’ comments as they meant a lot to him.
After his mother cooked dinner, they sat down to eat and then he helped her to wash the few dishes they had and prepared himself for bed for he knows again at the very early call of their rooster’s ‘cock-a-doodle-do’ he would have to be up once again.
Such was Muja’s daily life routine except for weekends when he gets the chance to at least play football which he loved very much with his friends. But of course this is after he had done all his chores first and then he would be free to play.
Days went on and fell into nights and nights dawned into beautiful mornings as Muja’s life continued but unfortunately with the busy schedule he had, his studies seemed to suffer. This was because the only time he had for his studies was when he was in class , so he had to struggle extra hard – more than all his fellow students in order to keep up with them. But Muja being Muja – he was determined to make it so that he may be able to have a better future than the current one he was having.
One Wednesday evening when Muja went out for his normal firewood collection, he was met with quite an incident that would make him remember this day for the rest of his life. He started picking the firewood at his usual spot on the edges of the bush, but this time his mind seemed to be quite far and didn’t realize that he had actually entered the bush which his mother always cautioned him about. In a trance like manner he continued on with his wood picking until suddenly “WHAM” right into a trap he walked and thus found himself entangled in a net and as much as he tried to free himself – it was just an impossible task. For the first time by looking around he realized that he had walked far into the bush and his heart started pounding so fast ‘doom,doom,doom’ that he could hardly hear anything else . He tried his level best to calm himself down so that he can think of his next move, so after just a few seconds which to him seemed ages he managed to calm down and could look at the surroundings properly. All he could see were trees and trees which seemed to be bending towards him and he could only hear the eerie sounds of the bush habitants whom he couldn’t see.
Time did seem to have stood still but he felt it must be quite late and was thinking “now my parents must really be worried!” and tears started to roll down his cheeks. He really wished for anybody to come by and help him, maybe a hunter…. Then he started screaming “help,help,help” at the very top of his voice but only the echo of his voice seemed to answer him with the same “help,help,help” screams – but he did not despair nor did he give up. He would rest a bit and call out for help at short intervals.
It went on this way until he started shaking with fear and when he was just about to give up – you won’t believe what happened. Muja had already given up and thought he would be a meal for one or another of the wild animals but his kind heartedness was about to pay now, for he suddenly heard that lovely from a long time back voice say:
“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! My kind hearted Muja,
Don’t be afraid – your friend is here
To help you…….”
And yes, looking up – guess who Muja saw? That’s right, that little bird he once saved and wondered privately how this little thing would be able to help him. In a matter of seconds the little bird started tweeting in the bird language and from all directions – all Muja could see were wings and wings flying into the call of his friend and it communicated to them to start cutting the net with their beaks. Since they all knew the kind hearted Muja who had many a time saved them from the Mwapata land boys with their catapults – they were more than happy to help getting Muja out of the trap.
They didn’t waste any time in doing just that and within no time Muja was freed by his bird friends and they started escorting him out of the bush right up to the main lane. That’s when Muja found out that it had already gotten dark and knew how worried his poor parents would be – his little bird friend said:
“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! Kind hearted Muja,
This is where we leave you for we
Have to go and sleep now…….”
And Muja said to them:
“Ooh! My lovely friends,
I say thank you very much for
Saving my life, I shall never forget
This for as long as I live…….”
Off they went back to the bush and Muja started running up the lane towards his home not even thinking about the firewood….and just as he was about to turn around the corner he bumped into an old man who held him steadily before he could fall and said in wonder “Is this you Muja? Is it really you my son…?” his voice full of emotion and Muja replied “father, father, oh! Am I glad to see you again”
They hugged and started walking together towards their home where they found his mother right at the gate with such a worried look on her face. She too couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her son and tears of joy ran down her cheeks as Muja ran towards and hugged her so hard while he too started crying not believing that he wasn’t actually eaten by the wild animals and that he was back home with his mother and father.
After resting and being given a bowl of porridge, he told the whole story to his awed parents and promised them that he will never venture again into the bush. Thus, he went to sleep with a big smile on his face knowing he was safe in his parents’ home.
THE – END
P.S. The book is in print form too if you would like to get a hard copy please inbox me in my Facebook page: strokes of my pen