I grew up to be a boy named AAT, who lived in the jungle at the junction of two rivers. My father was a hunter who hunted with the other men for wild beasts (the animals that I used to be). My mother tended the smoky fire, while the other children and I played with sticks, pretending that we, too, were great hunters.
The men taught me how to make real spears. When I grew to full height, I joined the men in the hunt and killed a small antelope on my third attempt. When I returned with it, everyone looked at me differently. The elders stopped treating me like a child. The young women would catch my eye and make excuses to talk. I picked the prettiest of them, and we had a son named BET.
Bet too grew and became a man. He and I would sometimes hunt far away when food was scarce. Bet was just bending over the animal he had speared when suddenly I saw someone else hiding behind a tree. This fellow from another tribe threw a spear that hit my son in the neck. “Bet!” I cried. “No! No!”
The fellow was just about to retrieve his spear when I rushed at him. I was incensed. How dare he kill my son! How dare he try to steal our food!
“GAAT!” I cried, which means “Murderer!” in our language. I hit him before he had a chance to defend himself. I stabbed him over and over, as if doing so would bring my son back, but it did not. Weeping, I carried Bet’s body back for burial near our home.
The loss of Bet affected me deeply. Every time we saw members of that tribe, we chased them off or killed them in revenge. And they killed some of us too.
In my old age, I found myself sitting alone by the fire. A kind woman named DAAL would bring me food because I had no son to hunt for me.
One morning I found myself looking down at my dead body, and my whole life passed before my eyes. I saw all of the good times Bet and I had together, and then I saw myself killing the enemy hunter. I saw how angry I was. I thought killing him would make me feel better, but it only brought me pain...