My stint as Constable in the village of Billemonju isn’t always enjoyable. Citizens are nice enough. Innocently, they try my patience, tremendously, daily. Due mostly to cultural differences. We’re all trying. I think.
Returned from arbitrating ownership of snakes killed scything summer grain, I was sweat-soaked and hungry. Neither a change of clothes nor lunch were to be. Not that day. An excited runner informed me of a tragic event requiring official investigation.
Arbitrating? Yes. Citizens care little to wait for a Magistrate’s hearing. Once the facts are declared both sides of an argument, it is time for a decision. Which, in citizens’ eyes, is my responsibility. Immediately. Over. Done.
Kamil’s body lay at the bottom of the pit at the government subsidized streetworks foundry. To get the facts of the matter, after a brief and uninformative chat with Bansu, foundry manager, I started with Jameel, the heavy crane operator.
“So. You were moving the cauldron back to the furnace?”
“Okay. You were moving the crucible back?”
“Yes. That is my responsibility. Back and forth. With the crane.”
“It was his responsibility to make certain I hit nothing with the crane.”
“He was on the catwalk?”
“Over the pit?”
“Yes. You can see.”
“What caused Kamil to fall from the catwalk?”
“The crane was too close. Kamil did not tell me so. I saw so myself.”
“I yelled for him. Watch out! I said to him. Kamil did not.”
“You continued to move the crane?”
“That is my responsibility.”
“He did not do well with his responsibility.”
Many delicate points require understanding here to fulfill responsibilities of upholding local law. Kamil’s case requires the Magistrate, an elected local. I will arbitrate snake harvest disagreements and market stall disputes. I’m better qualified for those responsibilities.
© SP Wilcenski 2021