BabaBy Baba Galleh Jallow

Hashtag Momla Rekati, Managing Director of Minimal Farms Unlimited was a favorite subject of cartoonists in our little town. Their interest in him was enhanced by the great man himself, who repeatedly proclaimed that he liked caricatures of him because “these nice distortions of my anatomy show who I really am, which is too complex for uninitiated minds to understand or for mere words to express.” Priding himself in being a man of great learning and unrivalled mental and spiritual sophistication, Hashtag Momla Rekati willingly posed for the many cartoonists who flocked to his mansion to draw a picture for our many daily, weekly and weekend tabloids. In no time, our famous Hashtag Momla had become a celebrity of sorts and earned himself the unique title of cartoon character. Of late, people also called him Mr. Pearhead for reasons that we will see later.

Hashtag Momla Rekati appears as a cartoon character in our local newspapers and tabloids in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes he is portrayed as Atemu Jamaati, a huge giant with a tiny pin-point head, dots for eyes, a dark-hole mouth, monster ears, trunk-like arms, a bloated tummy, and broomstick legs. He is invariably shown holding his signature cow tail in one hand and a dry fish in the other.

Hashtag Momla Rekati liked this particular cartoon because, he said, it “shows that I can still have a tiny head and mosquito legs and still maintain my manly strength and stamina. I like that they do not leave my cow tail out because it shows who I really am and why I am such a great man in history.” And when he was particularly excited or happy about his depiction as Atemu Jamaati of dark-hole mouth, Hashtag Momla Rekati would add some really juicy stuff like “some of you think I am an ordinary man; that I was born just like you and that I am not totally different. But let me tell you something. Just look at me in that cartoon and you will know that I am not an ordinary bloke. I actually don’t like the word bloke – because it does not sound like me – but it shows just who I am.”

Hashtag Momla Rekati also appears in our cartoons as Mr. Westluver, a character with a table-top head and flat face whose nose stands out like an inverted V. His mouth is like a large open can lying on its side and his neck is shown as a tree-trunk whose roots are octopus tentacles gripping the seat upon which he sat. As Mr. Westluver, Hashtag Momla looks so strange that people said he really looked like a creature of ancient mythology. Only that in his eyes shone that unmistakable light that could only be found in the eyes of our famous Hashtag Momla Rekati. The semblance was so neatly established that Hashtag Momla was particularly happy with his depiction as Mr. Westluver. He even ordered it to be enlarged and purchased a framed copy to hang on the wall of his spacious private quarters. In each of his renderings as Mr. Westluver, Hashtag Momla is quoted saying something about how he loved the West so much he could not think straight. “The West – aha! That’s where the sun sets,” he is often quoted saying with a huge grin on his open can mouth.

Sometimes, Hashtag Momla Rekati is depicted doing all the things that he absolutely did not like doing, such as breaking the law of the land. As a peace-loving and law-abiding citizen, Hashtag Momla hated the very idea of breaking the law; yet he absolutely loved cartoons that showed him doing just that because he says, “that just shows that in real life, I am the most law-abiding citizen ever!” One of his favorite cartoons depicted him as a clueless buffoon whose foolery literally oozed out from his nose and ears. In that cartoon, he is shown reaching out with a hand that looked like a snake trying to bite an innocent lady standing near him. His face is dark and oily, his teeth are lecherous, and his eyes are two white eggs with tiny black dots glowing with evil. His other hand, also like a snake, is raised as he says “hey, I don’t give a damn about the law. I want what I want and I will take it!! If you don’t like it you can go to hell.” The cartoon was titled “Buki the Law Breaker” and was one of Hashtag Momla’s favorite cartoons because, he said, “why not? If you are this and they say you are that, why do you have to worry about that? I have told you what I am and you still want to say I am something else. Why should I waste my time to even think about it? I do my do you do your do: that is the doestion.” His cronies always uttered loud exclamations of admiration at this piece of clever logic. The word “doestion” sounded so new and clever to Hashtag Momla that he now uttered it at every possible opportunity, to the extent that people clasped their hands to their ears and ran away as soon as he mentioned in within hearing distance.

Then one day Hashtag Momla saw a cartoon he did not like. Titled Mr. Pearhead, this particular cartoon looked too real for comfort. It was almost a perfect portrait of the great man, only that his features, especially his head, his eyes, his nose, his mouth, his cheeks and his ears had something rather unnatural about them. Hashtag Momla’s real life pear-shaped head was more pear-shaped than usual in the cartoon, looking more like a real pear with a very narrow top and a grossly bloated bottom. His eyes looked like tiny dark and deep holes, his mouth had sharp vampire teeth in them, his cheeks looked like tight bags of fat, and his ears resembled large traditional fans used by our common townsfolk in the hot summers. The cartoonist showed Mr. Pearhead perched on a large chair, wearing an ugly grin, and scowling down at a crowd of tiny people who were at once giving him food and begging him for food. For some reason, something about this particular cartoon did not seem funny and told Hashtag Momla that it was really him. It made him very uncomfortable; so much so that he immediately filed suit against the cartoonist and the paper that carried the offending cartoon. His suit was dismissed for lack of merit and the defendants were told they had no case to answer. Hashtag Momla was beyond furious! He just could not believe it!
After Hashtag Momla’s case was dismissed, Mr. Pearhead became the most popular cartoon character in our little town. Sometimes he is shown in an angry mood, beating up his helpless servants with a mighty whip that cut their faces upon contact while he gleefully asked them why. Sometimes he is depicted forcefully shoving handfuls of sand down the throats of people who owed him money or failed to honor a contract. Since he had lost all faith in human rights and the rule of law, Mr. Pearhead was now depicted as a serial lawbreaker who always justified his criminality through the use of self-righteous platitudes about people owing him favors or failing to fulfil signed contracts. He knew that as long as he hid behind these justified reasons, all people could do was rage and fume and call him funny names. And so they did in their cartoons, often calling him such funny names as Pearhead Potato, Pearhead Yappa, Pearhead Yuppy and even Pearhead Nakla! And Hashtag Momla was transformed from a great cartoon lover to a bitter hater of all things cartoon. He now refused to pose for any so-called pictures or have his cartoons hung on the trees of our little town. His cartoon-phobia grew so bad that one day when he saw an image of Mr. Pearhead as Pearhead Nakbi in the papers, he screamed so loud that he swooned and had to be carried off for emergency medical attention. When he recovered from his swoon, he called a press conference and announced that he had forgiven all his enemies. “But those who personalize my character will never be forgiven. They know themselves,” he threatened. “They have to stop calling me Pearhead this and Pearhead that or I will deal with them without mercy!”
The next day, Hashtag Momla appeared in our local newspapers as a new cartoon character called Mr. Anonymous who had no eyes, no nose, no mouth, no face, and no ears on his pear-shaped head.

Ends

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