That’s not what mother called me but she was gone too soon – the wilderness took her while she nursed me in the tall grasses as it was custom. The tall grasses usually served as a safe nursery but that day, as the sun climbed down to sleep, we were found by an unfamiliar predator, a two-legged demon of some kind. He took mother from me.
That day there was a loud noise such like I had never heard before and then mother fell over me. Usually the herd would assemble to fight off hunters of wild kind like us but this load roar was foreign to most. The older ones who recognized it called it the demon’s roar. They knew there was no protection against it so they called for the herd to retreat. I alone stayed with mother but with some of her last strength, she sent me away. I retreated not-so-hurriedly, looking back at mother writhe in pain and then I saw the demon. He was not like anything that dwelled under the savanna sun. He steadily approached mother and roared again. This time her stubborn legs stopped kicking in protest and I learned of the wakeless sleep for the first time. That day, I earned the name Surefoot.
The wilderness took many others after her. I would not call them family for one does not claim ties here in the wild, and although we look out for each other, we do not keep relations. The hierarchy of strength prevails amongst our ranks and one as young as I am does not enjoy the perks of such a large bovine gathering of which I am member. There is however a beneficial order, beneficial to all. The calves are kept in the center of the group, close to their mothers who keep together, probably to gossip about mundane things such as the timing of this season’s rain or the taste of last year’s green. The bulls only share their presence in time of child-making. They are in two competing groups depending on how many rains they have seen, the younger ones who call themselves The Black Death and the older ones, the insufferable elders, The Kings.
After seeing two rains, a bull must leave his mother and join the ranks of the Black Death and find his place there, learn the ways of the wild there for as many as ten rains before he may join the elders. I hope to join the ranks of this rambunctious lot this coming rain and join them in gallivanting the wild for in the company of these mothers, I have no companionship. I look forward to the child-making dance too when the rains come although I know I am not yet of enough strength to guard a cow I choose against other bulls that might want to dance with her. I would not be foolhardy.
The day mother slept, the day I outran many a buffalo from the rear from the fear in my small heart, that day, the mothers found a new nursery and the demon found us again. That season, only the strongest were felled, again and again, and there were no bulls to take up courage for us. Mother had been the strongest so she went first and in an uncanny selection process, many others like mother were taken. The demons seemed to knowingly expose our ranks for as a consequence, the many hunting packs of blood eaters in the wild found it easier to pick off many as young as I in the dead of the night. That season, we suffered a great loss and the mothers took a vote whether to abandon the ritual of nursing and start out in search of the bachelor groups. Wisdom prevailed and the mothers chose to suffer the losses for in the open savannah, outside the protection of the tall grasses, more of us would be lost.
In the early rains, the bulls returned in a fervor rushing blood and heat that needed extinguishing only to find the numbers of their companions decimated. The strongest of them was Widow-Maker. It was said that he only had recently joined The Kings two rains before and he ruled them now. The competitions for partners were fierce and in the sparring many were hurt. Some of the wounded were lost to the wild in the night. It seemed that a depression of some sort had surmounted our kind. I managed somehow to survive, by keeping out of the way but ill-luck did not escape me altogether. I once trespassed in Widow-Maker’s circle and although I made good my escape, he did not forgive me. When the season ended, I and a few other male calves joined the riotous party of The Black Deaths and journeyed to explore the wild, away from gossiping mothers and testy calves.
In the ranks of my new companions, for the first few climbs of sun, the issue of the two-legged demons was discussed and many a bull vowed violence. I regarded them with a curious pity for it seemed that they did not know the way of these demons, how they hunt from distant shadows and roar like the end of the world. My companions thought to spar with these demons and destroy them, head-to-head they would say, bull-to-bull. I would smirk inside.
With the climbing of many suns, they soon forgot about the demons and the usual order of our society began. I quickly found myself at the near bottom of the hierarchy for I did not care much for sparring. The journey was not as excitable as I had hoped; it seemed that I had only traded one irritation for another. In this brotherhood, food was scarce and fights were plentiful, maybe in excess as each bull tried to assert his male dominance. Out here in the wild too, our blood-eating enemies were more numerous and more determined, it seemed that only a few of them had knowledge of the nursery for here we were currently under attack. Our luck however was our nature – we were big beasts of ill repute, ergo, the smaller green eaters suffered more losses than we did. We continued in this manner for the sun season and waited for the rains to come. The rains did not come, at least, not in the time we expected, and none remembered the demons but I and a few other bereaved.
Then the rains came, late, but they did come and my brothers made journey as fast as they could to spar for the companions of willing cows before The Kings arrived to challenge our good fortune. We were only a sun ahead of The Kings and our speed in arriving did not amount to much for it seemed that they had the same thing in mind. I found it curious that there had been no news of the demons and chose to stay wary. No other bull seemed to care. My only other concern was Widow-Maker.
I did not care much for finding a mate so I wandered listlessly through our crowd, avoiding trouble. Need I say that trouble found me? My attraction to her was destruction in itself and I found myself drawn to the folly of guarding her. My bones peeked through my hides as I stood at alert, half-heartedly daring any bull to approach my newfound prize and hoping none would care enough to notice. She was a young cow, like I was and sweet too. I found my blood rushing in disobedience. I hoped to have her to myself.
As the sun climbed down that day, I heard a call to spar. Widow-Maker’s call. I looked back at my prize and determined in my heart that was she worth it. I did not care for any consequences although she called for me to quit this malady and let the bully have her. I declined. My mind was made. I seemed to have forgotten the sheer banality of the brute before me, how he had earned his name many rains ago destroying the demon that had roared at him. The attack had broken off a part of his crown but the attacker had paid dearly for it. I heard that despite repeated roars, this brute had charged into the shadows where the demon hid and sent him high up near the sun.
I lowered my virgin horns to oppose Widow-Maker’s disfigured, hardy crown, a show of naïve, love-struck neophyte versus veteran. We clawed the floor and raised the dust of a thousand stampedes. Well I didn’t, he did. I had never seen him this angry before. He devil charged at me with all the rage of seven sandstorms and set me on my back, several distances, with one blow. He shouted at the skies, “The fuck! Insolent kid!” and reversed to deal me another round. Usually the brute would dig his only horn that wasn’t stumped into his opponent’s hides and tear out his bowels almost immediately but he seemed to want to show me a good time.
I rolled off my side with all dignity gone. I was dizzy but my thoughts were lucid. My illusions of love were fast-fled and I did not once consider the object of my affection anymore, even enough to spare her a glance. I wanted to survive and I knew how to; the knowledge lay in escaping this death match. I returned my own insult at the ugly beast, “Widow-Maker! You mother’s udders taste of zebra milk!” I could not see the fury of my enemy as he made for me with all the force of seven thousand stampedes. Of course, he could not see me too. Did the fool think I would set my horns at him waiting for a spar? I was long gone!
He charged at empty space and then collided with kind air where I was supposed to be. As I fled, I turned back in time to see an angry beast roaring behind me. Of course, Surefoot was my appellation but my enemy deserved an even better sobriquet, for he was fast gaining. All of the herd, I suppose stood at attention now, waiting to see what would become of me. Even those in the process of mating, I suppose, gave their attention. The horde of beasts I had to navigate through slowed me down so I turned onto the open, out of the multitude of my kind and headed for the shadows. I moved as fast as my legs could afford, looking back at intervals to see how soon my doom would happen upon me.
I returned my gaze to my destination and saw another evil sight. Straight ahead in the shadows were two demons. These ones did not seem as composed as the one from our last encounter. The panic on their faces was probably the same fear I suffered from. A crazy charging bull, maybe they thought two. In an instant, they lifted their mouths to roar.
I could not deviate from my path. I charged straight ahead and sent the one directly in my path into the sun. I guessed that the evil behind me was greater than the evil before me. I kept making distance under the trees until I heard the sound of death no more, not that of a crazed beast, not that of the hunting demons.
Under the trees, there was the smell of water. I wandered around and found it; I needed to calm my soul from the urgencies of survival which had only recently overtaken me. As I drank, I was at first terrified that Widow-Maker, the evil beast had found me for a portion of my crown was missing but I then realized that I had become as Widow-Maker himself; the roar of demons had almost killed me but had claimed only a portion of my horn instead.
With trepidation, I found my way back to the plains from whence I had come. The old Widow-Maker had been killed this time, I assume, by second demon who was nowhere to be found.
As I emerged from the trees, the herd regarded me with a peculiarity I could not quite define. I ignored the crowd of gawkers and gaily made my way to the one who had captured my affection and she let me have her.
She called me Widow-Maker.
“Known as one of the “big five”, “Black Death” or “widowmaker” in Africa, the African buffalo is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal, as it gores and kills over 200 people every year. Buffalo are sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal, although the same claim is also made of hippos and crocodiles. Buffalo are notorious among big game hunters as very dangerous animals, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.”
The above quote and other biological patterns that form ideas in this story were solicited from Wikipedia