So there were Curious Silas and Johnny Tenda, each seemingly lost in their thoughts.
Tenda had decided to pause as he recalled his father’s favourite saying: “A man can learn more by watching than you can ever do by talking.”
These words were especially said when the old man wanted silence.
Whenever those words were said in the Tenda household, most of the children knew that it was time to sleep because any word or a giggle out of place would be dealt with swiftly.
Most times that swift action included a spanking.
Johnny couldn’t help smiling at how long it took him to finally learn his lesson whenever those words were said.
As for Silas, he was experiencing the same feeling he had as when he was first spotted by Tenda.
It felt somewhat like a trance; a trance so deep that while his mind wanted to ask questions, he was so fascinated by what the older man had to say that he swallowed his words.
Literally hanging onto to every word Tenda was saying, the words “I used to ask a lot of questions, just like you,” kept ringing in Silas’s ears.
“What turned Tenda into the quiet man he is today?” Silas wanted to ask.
“And what is this lesson that he learnt, which was more important than his father’s instructions?” the young man wondered.
And yet, despite these queries flying through his brain, Silas could not bring himself to open his mouth.
Instead it was Tenda’s voice that woke the young man from his trance.
“Are you done eating?” Johnny asked, seeing that the young man was not touching the small piece of traditional porridge on his plate.
Silas quickly gobbled down that last bit and handed the older man the dish, which was promptly put into the dishwasher.
‘A dishwasher; in those days?’ this author hears you asking.
Well, the person who told this story used to like making this joke about the dishwasher when relating the tale to his audience.
So, no! Tenda had not been the first man to have a dishwasher in his village.
But the legend does reveal that the plate was removed.
So let’s get back to the story.
After both men had put their dishes away, a silence returned.
It, however, was not an awkward absence of words.
Instead it felt like a silence that comes when two kindred spirits meet and realised that they are not alone in this world.
At least that is how Silas described it to his younger brother later that evening.
Johnny had seemed to have returned to the fond memories he had of his father while Silas’s mind was in overdrive, thinking about where this conversation would be heading next.
A barking dog outside seemed to wake both of them out of their respective daydream.
Tenda did not have a dog and was thus sure someone from the village was in the vicinity.
As it turned out it was Mr. Kamati, looking for his son.
After exchanging greetings with Tenda, Silas’s father looked at his son intently.
“I hope this one has not been bothering you too much,” he said to Tenda without leaving his eyes from his son.
“I’ve been looking for this boy the whole day and here is sitting as if he doesn’t have work at home,” the older Kamati added.
“He was no problem, Markus… In fact, it was nice to have someone help me with my work,” Tenda said.
This drew a scoff from Mr. Kamati.
“Work?!! Does a man who doesn’t till his field and instead just collects stones also work?” he said jeeringly.
Tenda chose to ignore this comment and instead asked if Mr. Kamati would like a cup of tea.
This caused a slight surprise in Silas’s father as he was ready for an equally harsh response.
He did feel a little thirsty, and not wanting to let on that work back home was already completed, Mr. Kamati accepted the offer.
The two older men spoke about everything except the thing that brought Mr. Kamati to Tenda’s house: Curious Silas.
When both men had finished their respective cups, Mr. Kamati thanked his host and took his leave; his son in close pursuit.
As was custom, a son was never to walk next to his father but always a few steps back.
Once they were out of sight and Mr. Kamati was convinced that Tenda could not hear him, the older man slowed down to allow his son to catch up with him.
“So did he reveal why he collects stones to you?” came the question.
“No, father,” came Silas’s timid reply.
“What?! You spent almost the whole day there and still you know nothing?” the elder Kamati almost shouted.
“So what did you do there the whole day?” Mr. Kamati said on the brink of losing his temper.
Silas was about to relay everything about his encounter with the mysterious Tenda, when the pair of father and son heard footsteps coming from the direction into which they were travelling.
Both men’s jaws almost dropped to the floor when they eventually saw who it was.
Catch part Five of The Man Who Collected Stones (An ) coming soon.