MidReal Story

Tribal Gambit: A Journey to Redemption

Scenario: Gambling addict in the tribe in Mozambique
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Gambling addict in the tribe in Mozambique
The sun had set, and the sky was a deep purple, the color of the bruise Tendai Moyo would have if he didn’t get out of here soon.
The men around him were growing restless, and he knew that if he didn’t leave soon, they’d take their anger out on him.
He’d lost a lot of their resources in this bet, and they were not happy.
He’d been so sure that his hand was the winning one, but then the other man had laid down his cards, and Tendai’s heart had sunk.
He’d lost everything.
And now he was going to have to face his wife and his tribe with nothing to show for it.
He stood up slowly, trying to keep his movements casual as he made his way to the door.
The other men watched him go, but no one said anything.
They all knew that Tendai was a sore loser, and they didn’t want to provoke him into doing something stupid.
Tendai made it out of the building and into the cool night air without incident.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
But he had a long way to go, and nothing to show for his journey.
He’d lost all of their resources, and then he’d lost his own possessions, and then he’d bet the tribe’s prized bull in the hopes of winning everything back.
But that hadn’t worked out, and now Tendai was left with nothing but a bitter taste in his mouth.
He’d been so sure of himself, so confident that he could win back what he’d lost, but now he knew that he’d made a huge mistake.
He should have stopped when he was ahead, but the thrill of the game had been too much for him to resist.
And now he was going to have to face the consequences of his actions.
Tendai shook his head and started walking.
He’d figure something out.
He always did.
Nala was waiting for him when he got home, worry etched into her slender face.
She was waiting on the front step, her hands on her hips as she watched him approach.
“Where have you been?” she demanded.
Tendai frowned at her.
He hadn’t realized that she’d be waiting for him, but as soon as he saw her, he knew that something was wrong.
She only looked at him like this when she was worried about something.
And if Nala was worried, then he knew that he was in trouble.
“Out,” Tendai said shortly.
He didn’t want to tell her the truth just yet, not until he knew what he was going to do next.
Nala narrowed her eyes at him and stood up straight, crossing her arms over her chest.
“You’ve been gone all day,” she said.
“If you were going to be out so long, the least you could do is let me know where you were.”
Tendai sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
Nala was right, as usual.
He should have told her where he was going, and how long he’d be gone.
But he hadn’t wanted to worry her, or give her any reason not to trust him.
And if he’d known that he would be gone so long, he would have told her something.
But it was too late for that now.
“I’m sorry,” Tendai said.
“I lost track of time.”
Nala looked at him skeptically, but she didn’t say anything else about it.
Instead, she stepped aside to let him enter the house, and followed him inside with a worried frown on her face.
Tendai knew that look very well: it meant that Nala suspected that something was wrong, and that she wasn’t going to let it go until she found out what it was.
But she didn’t say anything just yet, and Tendai was grateful for it.
He needed some time to think about what to tell her before she made him tell the truth.
“So,” Nala said finally after they’d both sat down on the threadbare couch in the living room.
“What happened today?”
There it was.
Tendai hesitated for a moment before answering, trying to come up with a convincing lie to tell his wife.
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Nala raised an eyebrow at him.
“I went hunting,” Tendai said finally.
“I spent the day in the forest, looking for something to bring back to the tribe.”
Nala looked at him skeptically, as if she didn’t believe him.
And why should she?
It wasn’t like he’d ever been hunting before, or shown any interest in it.
And it was much more likely that he would spend the day gambling away all of their resources, instead of trying to get more.
But Nala didn’t say anything about it, so Tendai continued on.
“I didn’t find anything, though,” he said.
“It’s been so dry lately, there’s nothing left to hunt out there.”
Nala nodded, but her eyes were still narrowed as if she thought he might be lying to her.
And Tendai knew that he had to come up with a better excuse.
If Nala thought he was lying to her, then she would never believe anything else he said.
He needed her to trust him, so that when he told her what had really happened, she would believe him.
Tendai cleared his throat and took a deep breath, trying to think of something else to say.
“I’m just so tired,” he said finally.
“It’s been a long day.”
Nala looked at Tendai for a moment longer before letting out a long sigh and standing up from the couch.
“Fine,” she said.
“You look exhausted.”
She stepped around the couch and started to make her way toward the main hut.
“I’ll get your dinner ready.”
Tendai watched her go with a sense of relief.
He’d managed to convince Nala that everything was fine, at least for now.
But he knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep up the lie for much longer.
Nala was too smart, and too perceptive, to believe anything he told her for long.
He needed to come up with a plan fast, before he lost everything.
Nala stirred the pot of stew on the fire as Tendai came into the main hut.
She had just gotten their infant daughter to sleep, and had finally been able to sit down to eat her own dinner when Tendai had come in.
She could tell just by looking at him that he had been up to something.
He was covered in dirt from head to toe, as if he’d been rolling around in the mud all day.
Nala wondered just how much trouble he’d gotten himself into this time, and how much it would cost them to get out of it.
“Your dinner is ready,” Nala said shortly, setting down the spoon she’d been using to stir the pot as Tendai made his way over to the table and sat down across from her.
He looked exhausted, as if he hadn’t slept in days.
But then again, he always looked like that these days.
Ever since he’d started gambling again, it seemed like he was always tired, and never got enough rest.
And it showed in his eyes: they were red-rimmed and bloodshot, with dark bags underneath that made him look much older than he really was.
Tendai smiled at Nala weakly as she set a bowl in front of him filled with stew and a piece of bread on the side.
“Thank you,” he said, picking up his spoon and stirring it around in the bowl before taking a small bite of the stew and chewing it slowly.
“This is really good.”
Nala watched Tendai eat for a few more minutes before finally sitting down across from him with her own bowl of stew and taking a few bites.
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The village was quiet, apart from the usual sounds of the forest at night: the croaking of frogs, the rustling of the leaves in the wind, and the occasional hoot of an owl.
Tendai was still not back yet, and Nala’s fears had only grown worse the longer he was gone.
It was late, well past the time he usually came home, and there was still no sign of him.
Nala had assumed that he would have been back by now, so she’d decided to go to bed even though she was still feeling wide awake.
She’d thought that maybe if she at least lay down for a while she’d be able to get some sleep, but that hadn’t happened either.
Instead, she’d just lain there in the dark, listening to the sounds of the village outside and wondering where Tendai was, and what he was doing.
The silence of the night was beginning to make her uneasy, and she wished that one of the other villagers would make some noise so that she could know that they were still there, and that she wasn’t alone.
But there was nothing: no laughter, no talking, not even the sounds of people moving around.
Nala knew that many of the other villagers had gone to bed already, but she’d hoped that there would still be a few people up who would be able to keep her company.
But it seemed like everyone else had already gone to bed too, leaving her alone in the dark with nothing but her thoughts to keep her company.
She wondered if Tendai had simply lost track of time while he was out doing God knows what.
After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.
He’d been known to do things like that before: go out with his friends in the morning and not come back until well after dark without a word of where he’d been or what he’d been doing.
And Nala knew that he’d been out since early morning today without telling her where he was going or when he’d be back.
She just hadn’t expected him to be gone for this long without checking in with her first.
She just wished he’d hurry up and come back already so she could stop worrying about him and get some sleep.
Nala let out a long sigh.
She was starting to get frustrated now.
When Tendai had come home this afternoon she’d known immediately that something was wrong.
But when she’d asked him about it he’d gotten angry and shut down, refusing to talk to her no matter how hard she pressed him for answers.
He just kept insisting that everything was fine even though she knew better.
And now he was gone again, off God knows where, leaving Nala behind to pick up the pieces.
Nala let out another long sigh as she set down her bowl of stew and got up from the table.
She didn’t feel like eating anymore now that she knew Tendai wasn’t coming home tonight.
Instead, she decided it was time for bed.
Maybe if she went to sleep now she’d be able to get a few hours of rest before morning.
The Headman stood in front of his hut, looking out over the village center as he sipped at a bowl of warm milk and watched his people go about their business.
It was dark outside, and most of the villagers had already gone to bed.
But there were still a few people out and about, moving around here and there as they went about their nightly routines.
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