It all ended with the thud of a head; the cheers, the whistling, the finger pointing, the maniacal laughter, all of it. With the swing of a machete, the village executioner sliced the little girl’s head clean off her shoulders before an on-looking crowd of overly excited villagers. That was of course after she was dragged through the village in chains of shame getting stoned, spat on, and covered in mud by the men, women, and children.
‘Kill her, Kill her. By the gods, kill her!’
The words from her spectators echoed in her mind as she tried to shake herself out of what she desperately wished to be a nightmare. But there was no waking from this. The heat from the sun scorched earth reminded her of just how real her demise was. It was too late for regrets, too late for apologies. She had seen the execution ritual before but never in her short lifetime would she have imagined that she would be one on the other end of the machete. As a spectator, it was all too easy to be detached from the reality.
‘We bring before you a liar, a whore, and she is not even one of us. What shall we do with her?’ The executioner raised his machete in the air.
‘Kill her, kill her.’ The crowd echoed.
The little girl tried to speak, but with a mouth gagged and full with a boiling stone, she just about managed a whimper. She wore her desperation in her eyes but no one cared to read them. In this very moment she wanted to be anywhere but here, but who wouldn’t? The executioner proceeded to rip off her clothes for the entire village to see her nakedness.
‘Whore.’ A man screamed from the crowd before throwing a rock that connected with her forehead.
At this point, she was too frail to fight. Her body was weak, her spirit broken. She felt leaden and heavy. Her ears rang with a buzzing sound and her vision blurred to complete obscurity as the executioner read the charges against her for the very first time. Before he could finish the crowd cheered even harder for her head. As he was about to swing, she raised her head for one last time. In that moment, she experienced a glimpse of clarity. At first, she could only see the hate filled eyes and hear the bloodthirsty screams. Then a strange silence greeted her ears and rather than looking at them she was looking past them.
Some of these faces were familiar to her. The market woman she occasionally bought tomatoes from, the palm wine tapper that hummed old war songs in the mornings, the hair weaver she so wanted to be like, then they all became just faces. In groups, people had a way of losing themselves. Even before they had heard the charges against her, she was already guilty in their eyes, guilty enough to be executed. This was the nature of jungle justice. It didn’t matter that no one was present for her hearing at the King’s court. For the most part, they just wanted a spectacle to behold. Her mother had often told her that the wickedness in the hearts of men was actually a symptom of their own unhappiness and lack of fulfilment projected onto others. It took her head near the blade of a machete to understand what her mother had tried to impact in her for so many years.
The crowd did not care who she was, what she had done, or if she deserved to die for it. They just wanted a break from their own unbearable lives, and if it took her execution to make them feel they were better off than someone else, then that was exactly what they were going to cheer on for.
Before the machete came down she connected with one little boy in the crowd. He was the only one that seemed to be in shock about the entire drama unfolding before him. When he noticed she was looking at him, he buried his head. She wondered what he felt, fear, weakness, shame? What did it matter? Before she could phantom another thought, she ceased to be. Just like that, with the thud of a head, it was all over. The cheers, the whistling, the finger pointing, the maniacal laughter, all of it. With the swing of a machete, the village executioner sliced the little girl’s head clean off her shoulders before an on-looking crowd of overly excited villagers.