Episode One: THE VISIT
Wandering in an abyss
In treasured garments
Whispering from a cloud of agony
From the past, from the future
She stands, she kneels
How dare she stand
The Palace, the Throne
He was there….
The picture of all that was, all that would
The whispering gnawing
Gently on her soul
She was not here
Stripped before Him
She knows He hates it
This time not from them
The Oil trickles
Madiya is before her
The others wait
Gone so much, so soon
MALALA, ONE HOT AFTERNOON
Hands on knee, her head bowed and nodding like a drunken peasant, with the incessant pain in the buttocks she felt from sitting in one position a bit too long. She hated sitting too long but there was just no other option, her feet had been tied again to that ridiculously heavy object the guard fastened her with. She had been stubborn. She had fought hard. She would not let him hold her by the shoulder, squeeze her arms together and turn them in and out continuously until her wrapper fell, feast on her exposed breasts with his oddly shaped eyes and tell her in extremely filthy breath, “Tahila, Oh! Tahila…. I will feast on you raw, I will wait. Do not worry”. She knew that was all he could do for now, she was royalty. It was a taboo that a royal blood be forced to lay with a man who was not her husband. Instant total body paralysis and rot awaited such fellow. That taboo was her only savior from that beast, but it didn’t have the power to save her once the festival of Engene began.
AT THE SETTING OF SUN, FIVE HOURS LATER
Somewhere in the neighboring village of Oliki
Hot pounded yam and ofilu soup with small bowls of fresh palm wine from a foaming large keg was served by the three pretty daughters of Mufa. It was a very important meeting. The head of each clan was in attendance but stomachs had to be filled first for the journey was far. Kola nut had already been broken and the children had been kept busy by Mama Neta’s unending tales. The meal had ended. Mufa cleared his throat, slapped his thigh, stood up and spoke. “Great men of Oliki, I greet you. It is not my pleasure that I have to deprive you of the warmth of your wives and children this cold night, but there is war! We have a mad man as a neighbor. We are sinking deep in our own blood. Oliki has lost young vibrant men, maidens and guts of unborn babies trail our borders.” Heads nodded, some shook theirs, and some simply stared. “Ubunta is a MAD MAN”, Mufa shrieked
“Yes!!” Dima and Tuya replied simultaneously. They were the youngest of the group
“To worsen it, he seized all our cotton, cocoa and palm oil we were taking to the Whiteman…ALL!” The host complained. “I know you are all aware of this, but an efficient solution must be provided immediately”, Then he sat. A belch and a sigh followed, this time form Aguta, the richest farmer of the group. “King Ubunta has more men guarding his palace alone, than we have guarding our entire village, if we intend to defeat him, we must get as much men and armory too”, Aguta declared “Do we go far away to Ozidi village to borrow warriors, and be enslaved to them forever? We are at cross-roads here”.
“Is Tahila still alive?” Diagi, the eldest of the group croaked. He was a man of few words. Many believed he was turning dumb gradually. “Hmm… he must have killed her already, poor girl…terrible tragedy” “What use is she to the situation at hand?” “Let us ensure….” “If she is, She is our only hope”, Diagi interrupted, scrutinizing his cane. “I do not understand you, Diagi, how is a young woman’s existence the solution?” Mufa asked. Diagi kept scrutinizing his cane, rubbing it this time like he wanted to see his reflection.
Everyone waited, for Diagi had seen better years and tremendous sorrows. “I need to retire to bed now, Goodnight my king, goodnight great men”, he got up with much difficulty, coughed violently and picked two kola nuts from the calabash. With his departure, everyone began to argue almost at once, proffer all kinds of unreasonable solutions as though they had earlier on had their mouths stuffed with grass. Mufa was disappointed. This was not what he expected to happen. They were in dire need of solutions not…chaos. Oliki might just be doomed.
At the break of dawn…
Chirp…chirp…chirp…coo…coo…coo. She had a rough night, she couldn’t sleep, her ankle and her shoulders still hurt. The ever-present nightmares and now she had to deal with this noisy bird? She was tired of her life, let the sacrifice begin already. The bird was aesthetically challenged. it was featherless with only a white patch of hair on its head; it sat on the window of her prison staring at her quizzically. She ignored it and limped to the calabash of water the guard kicked into her cell last night. The bird limped too, towards the edge of the window. “Shoo! Shoo! So you make fun of me too”. Tahila couldn’t believe she was talking to a bird. “Can you kindly help me with some food while you are it?” As though it heard, it scurried away. Ah! Peace finally. Madiya had told her of tales of birds that brought people food. She missed her mother so much. Since she ran away during the coup that overthrew her father from the throne and the brutal killing of Tahite, her younger brother, and life ebbed out of her slowly. Her father had run mad and ran off to the woods.
Chirp…chirp…chirp…coo…coo…coo. The bird was back this time with an earthworm in its mouth. She glared in disbelief. “Is that for me?” the bird hopped in response. When she wouldn’t move, it flew in and dropped it, one worm, two worms, three worms…until the corner was full. By dusk, she was fast asleep and the worms, the bird and daylight were no longer in sight.
Next: The Runaway and the beast
The mystery unfolds…