RAIN by MAZI NWONWU

Rain is the 4th planet in the odious circuit; it is one of earth like planets that orbit an adult sun with a 14 planet solar system. Its distance of about five thousand light years from our home planet earth made it unattractive for all but the poorest nations who could not afford to pay the enormous amount for resettlement on choicer planets. The United Nations, in other to lay claim to the odious circuit before the anthropoid Wads had undertaken to cover the cost of transport and supplies for any nation that wanted to send people there, that and other less important reasons was why Rain became the only planet with an entirely African population and that was how Li my great grand father came to Rain, aboard an IMF charity linear.

 

Apart from its distance from the human settler’s inhabitant’s home planet, Rain, as its name indicates, is a planet with a peculiar weather. Due to some yet unknown natural phenomena it rains almost all through the length of its ten month year, with irregular breaks occurring in the second and third months.

 

 

With a wet weather and water logged terrain Rain offered little to the rich nations of earth who have hundreds of more appealing planets to choose from, so they stayed away, and Rain was allowed to grow at her own pace, her human inhabitants only occasionally sending the odd representative to their home continent.

 

It seems I have run a bit away from you, but story telling is not my strong point, though I will try to tell this before we are wiped out, for that is what is intended for the people of Rain. But before I tell you how that came about, I will talk a bit about the native plants and animals indigenous to Rain, which are an important part of this tale.

 

Rain, being a wet planet, was initially solely inhabited by herbivorous amphibians, which unlike those of earth, give birth to live youngs and are truly mammals in the real sense of speaking. Some of them are sentient to the extent of communicating among themselves, but the Manuts are an exception to this rule, they are, to say the least, as sentient as man.

 

These Manuts, as gentle as earths dolphins though much more intelligent, it was that changed the story of Rain and her inhabitants, for worse or better? I think time will tell.

 

Again I rush, but you must understand that I am in a great haste and have only a little time, so bear with me.

 

I was talking about the Manuts and how they changed the history of Rain and the human universe as we know it. Yes; it all began behind my house in the high plains of new Kano. As you would have guessed, much of rain is sea and swampy forests. We live as best as we can, atop the massive conode trees, or in new Benin, where the Conodes are not available, in large stilt houses. Even our great port city of Grania sits atop massive stilt posts of the toughest alloy. And no, it is not a glorified town; I will have you know that Grania is fifty kilometers across its middle and almost ninety kilometers long with buildings as tall as the clouds-Very important if you must escape the humidity, which I assure you is prevalent and is usually checked by a special kind of skin suit made from Tania (a kind on non sentient amphibian) hide which everyone wears here. Now we go back to my house in new Kano.

 

It was the third year after the landing in Rain that my great grandfather discovered the trapped Manut behind his makeshift lodge. It had apparently been trapped there for days and since its vocal cords were too small —as was soon discovered— to make any loud noise, it would have remained there until certain death had he not chanced on it.

 

He promptly cut off the large trunk that was pinning it down and set it free. It lay there for a long while staring at my grandfather with its large solemn eyes before it turned and lumbered off, its three legs pumping smoothly. Soon it was lost behind the curtain of rain drops.

 

My grandfather forgot all about the incidence until two days later when he awoke to a loud racket outside the shelter. Grabbing his ray gun and raincoat; he rushed out -to the distress of his wife.

 

Outside, he was shocked to his marrow by a scene that he retold a million times. All around the house, as far back as the eye could see through pouring rain, Manuts were assembled, males behind large females with imposing mammary glands that hung prominent between their three legged torso. Had he being a less sensitive man, he would have thought that they meant him harm —the biological assessment or not. His panic was checked by the aura of peace around them. As he watched, the lead female nodded her deer like head towards a large heap of fruits and herbs by her side and the males carried them to his side, moving slowly on their three legs. Then they turned and left.

 

The import of that visit did not hit my grandfather until later when he went to report to the authorities. It appeared as though the Manuts had come to thank him for saving one of their own, a collective reasoning the hasty UN research team did not discover in their rushed analysis of Rain. This incident was not the last but the beginning of an enduring relationship between the Manuts and the settlers for they seemed to record a good turn in their biological memory, and paid back same over and over.

 

They soon learnt to speak galactic and some of us learnt to flute simple words of their complex language.

 

All was rosy between Manut and man until last year when an enterprising scientist on earth discovered a cure for H251, a disease that has been running rampage on earth and other planets. A good thing you may say, but to us a bag thing, for it was made from cultured Manut brain.

 

Now the UN is coming to claim their debt from our society. We have been ordered to round up Manuts to be slaughtered for their large brains. Indeed, we told them of the Manuts ability to reason and speak galactic; we even sent them tapes of the handless Manuts at work, play and study, all to no avail. We were dismissed as being sentimental, of trying to save our pets at the detriment of mankind. The council of planets met last week and tomorrow the enforcement fleet from earth will arrive to herd the mild Manuts into slave ships for onward transit to earths’ labs.

 

We too have met, a decision taken, we have communicated our intensions to the docile Manuts who seem to take their fate solemnly since violence is alien to their culture.

 

Anyway, we are going to resist the enforcement, we lack a functional army because we have never had any need for it, but we are far from helpless.

 

I sit in my room, a pair of my Manut friends watching with bemused interest as I sharpen my jungle knife in readiness for the coming battle whose advent bemuses them too. I know death will surely be the result of our folly, but like my grandfather would say ‘he who has been bitten by a snake knows it pain better than he who was told of the pain’.

 

I await death

 

Fred Chiagozie Nwonwu
2003

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