An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Paga Hill Development Company
Award for Writing for Children
AN elderly man earned his income and cultural prestige from growing sugarcane. He had a hectare of land with a variety of sugarcane. He spent much of his day farming in his garden.
There was a court case in the village one day and he decided to take time off from gardening to attend the case.
While he was away, some village youths went to his garden and stole with the most valuable sugarcane. They dragged the long canes along a ditch and exited the garden over a fence.
The elderly man returned to his garden in the afternoon after the court case. To his dismay he discovered that some of best cane was missing.
He looked around and saw where the grass and weeds were crushed.
He saw some unfamiliar footprints. He followed the track the thieves had used, finally reaching a hideout beneath a shady tree.
The thieves used this site to eat the sugarcane. The waste was all that remained. He saw the waste and filled with rage.
The old man returned to the village and alerted the village court leaders and community members.
“Anyone stealing sugarcane for the second time will be responsible for his own deeds,” he said.
Later he went to the garden with a matured bamboo which he sharpened until it was like a blade.
He set up a human trap on the fence line, located near where the thieves had walked.
“I set up a trap along the fence to catch the thief,” he told the villagers, “Whether boar or being if should not enter through my fence.”
Sometime after in the late noon one of his adopted sons returned from a hunting trip and raced across his father’s sugarcane garden. He thought he was on the right path.
But the fence line and the trap looked alike. The poor boy had his first foot on the top of the fence when he met his fate.
The trap released the sharp bamboo blade which penetrated his abdomen. It cut the intestine and forced out a massive amount of blood.
He threw himself into the garden beneath the sugarcane, his face in the soil and his feet and arms stretched out wide.
At dawn on the next day, his father went to the sugar garden and discovered his adopted son dead.
“I thought it would be others but it was you, poor son,” the old man mourned.
He returned to the village and reported the tragedy to the leaders and they rushed to the scene and brought the corpse back to the village.
There was no one to blame but, these days, the old man still enjoys the life of the sugarcane while the adopted son enjoys life after death for jumping over the forbidden fence.