“Gorilla Guerrilla”, from Chapter 24

The rain tumbles down; it does not relent. The forest is hazy, saturated, obscured by the downpour, and during those brief periods when the rain abates, steam rises from the canopy, the thick dense jungle within giving off a great heat.

We hear an unfamiliar sound and my father rises. He arches his great back, its silver fur catching the light, which almost seems to make it glow brightly like a giant leaf wet with dew at sunrise, then digs his knuckles into the ground, his arms erect, shoulders tense, head held high and alert. I look at his lips, which are compressed, then watch him as he stands up and beats his chest, this great rondo of pok-poks resounding throughout the forest. I hoot and chest-beat also, as do two other young males in the group, but we fail, even collectively, to make an equivalent impression. My mother pulls Lisala close to her chest. My father looks to his left, next his right, then lowers himself onto all fours once more. Other females and children in the group scurry behind him, to where my mother and sister are.

I stand beside my father, a few feet back from him, as does Kibu.

And then there is a sudden explosion of noise, and I see my father rise up again, beat his chest, roar, then charge, his knuckles thumping the ground, bulldozing through foliage, and his screams high-pitched, possessing a deafening intensity, as he opens his mouth wide and bares his enormous canine teeth, the hair on his head crest erect.

The last time I had seen my father so angry, it had terrified me, and I realise, at this moment, that the threat posed to us must be from humans: for it is only them that can make him this angry…

View the book Gorilla Guerrilla

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