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I am most eager to set my eyes on a cow. In my mind, I see the herd ambling down the town’s main tar road in an alarming juxtaposition. It is normal here, but I imagine myself leaning my head on the car seat to muse; what must an outsider think? Does he, alarmed by the calm of the drivers that stop to wait patiently for the cows to move along, shuffle around the contents of his backpack to find his cheap camera? Does he sit slack-jawed, mulling over in his own head misguided conceptions of wealth and development?

It doesn’t matter, I think, because what my heart hungers for the most is to see a cow. I want to roll down the window and wave to the herd’s shepherds. Maybe I’ll get a wave back. I want to see a bull roll the muscles of its belly in anticipation, pushing itself against another body with hind legs rearing up to mount. It’s spring, after all. I want to hear the herd speak, its bellows baritone moans in the humid heat.

There should be one right around the bend when we cross the border. I reckon it will be the first thing I see through the gates leading to the land on the other side of the Great River. My thighs are tight with the effort of waiting. The rain is a good sign, I think, because I have missed the smell of wet earth, fresh grass, and cow shit. I wish to satisfy my yearning for home.

It has been an hour now, and not a single cow. I am nervous. It is becoming harder to open the little pipe in my throat responsible for the carriage of air. Every five minutes or so, I release a small hiccup. When I finally see it, a dot the size of my fingernail in the distance, I almost jump up from my seat. The closer the car gets, I know it not to be the beginnings of a herd, but only the felled trunk of a small tree.

Flash Fiction by Nkone Chaka
Picture: Rude Cow! by John Haslam under CC BY 2.0
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Published in Spring 2017


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