ADA PRIDE OF Alaocha
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March 14, 2019 at 9:40 pm #1297432
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Hmmmm.0March 17, 2019 at 10:02 am #1297874
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A huge touch of yellow fire, as large as five average men placed on top of each other, lay resting now, on the center of the circle, to commemorate the blazing kindness of the gods of the land. The jamboree and songs of the people blast the night with melody. The drums, the Ogene (metal gong), the xylophone and every sweet talking instruments, played so well, that the burning woods joined the harmony as they gave out fairies of floating sparks. The festival had taken another turn as those who were not gyrating, were drinking or making bolus from the pounded yam, and swallowing the round ball, after covering it with the sauce of the egwusi soup. No running children to disturb the dancers, every one of them were busy gulping any edible delicacy they could lay hands on.
Ada was tilting her head over the crowd, trying to find the loose black hair of her friend. There were oceans of black hair here, but she knew how to pick out Chinwe’s, from the crowd anytime. Just find the long black hair, streaking down from the middle with grey.
Ada’s eyes fell upon a stout woman, who was sitting beside one of the naked touch, with body carrying a small untidy head. The three braids standing on the silver hair, was like a yam tendril, knotted above with a red bead, to form a window like structure, like a silt root. The woman had several calabash of food resting on her feet, which she was savoring greedily, not saving her five year old son the agony of salivating.
“What is it?” Ada heard the woman asked her son
“I’m hungry” the boy replied. He was staring at his mother with an absorbing and expectant gaze.
“Don’t worry, you will eat, just exercise a little patient let me finish with this bowel.”
“But that’s the last bowel to be served, you said that for the last two they brought” the boy was sobbing now, almost at the shore of tears.
“Shut your mouth, don’t you know that we adult require much energy. I am your mother, you should be grateful that I am trying to replenish all the energy you s----d from me when I was nursing you”
The woman swallowed the last bolus and picked up the meat. She adjusted her weight comfortably so she could have a full pleasure from eating the mutton, whose oil was streaming from her palms, slowly to her elbow. Her son still held her with that expectant gaze, but the woman flippantly closed her eyes and slowly brought her hand to her mouth. The meat which seemed glued to her hand was still steaming with that aroma, which could cause a hungry stomach roar.
“Get back here you godforsaken boy!” the woman exclaimed and made to pursue her child, but she couldn’t even get up. She only stared with wide mouth at the disappearing features of her son who had snatched the mutton from her and had lost himself to the joyful crowd. She cursed and shouted, but the boy, who couldn’t bear the pain anymore was nowhere in sight.
“Serves you right” Ada said and burst with laughter
“What are you laughing at” The woman asked
“Nothing” Ada murmured, still trying to suppress the laughter. The looks the woman was now shooting her, made her collect herself to the other direction, least the woman unleashes the boiling anger on her.
Ada slit pass the crowd, which seemed to be growing more and more. For a single moment, she found herself wondering why she was there at first.
Yeah. I remember, I came here to look for Chinwe –
“My eyes still can’t help the beauty adoring your skin, and my mind can’t comprehend the humbleness of your soul. Even my spirit is testifying to the world, what a gracious creature you are.”
Not again, Ada mumbled and turned her attention reluctantly, to the familiar voice, which she had been trying all night to avoid. Nothing about it has changed, just the flattery.
“May you live long my prince” Ada curtsied
“I can see that the party has not taken you into its wings yet” the Prince said ignoring the greeting.
“I’m just looking for my friend Chinwe, I don’t feel like partying tonight.”
“Hah, and here I was hoping you would save me a dance, you owe me one you know?”
“Maybe next time my lord” Ada picked a flash back, trying to recall when she ever owned him a dance, she dared not to ask either.
The prince stroked his beard and smiled after sipping from the cow horn he was holding.
“Your penchant for fine wine hasn’t grown cold.” Ada chuckle “Old habit die hard”
“Yeah, I haven’t had a good wine in decades. Those men in Dota are nothing compared with the wine tappers here. Do you know they could miraculously turn a single jar of palm wine into six jars?”
“Don’t be ridiculous; unless they are gifted with the power from above, that act is impossible.” Ada laughed. Their conversation was getting more natural, like those days when they were still kids. The finger which was now crawling on her skin was making her mind think she missed every bit of it. Maybe she did, maybe she still have a room for him somewhere in her love’s hotel, or maybe she is still a fool to read meaning into every tingling act.
“Nah, they are nowhere near the power of the gods. They are just skilled in diluting what suppose to be a single jar into six or seven jars. The funny part in it is that it is sweet, but not as natural as a concentrated one.”
“I can’t even imagine the taste”
“Don’t worry love, just pray to the gods that you don’t marry anyone from Dota”
Ada couldn’t help her thought as they reflexively drifted back to the announcement of the king. She tried to hide her sadness beneath a chuckle but ended up making it obvious.
“Please don’t feel that way, I didn’t mean–
“It’s okay” Ada said softly, hating herself for feeling jealous. She didn’t love him, not in that sense anyway and she saw no reason why she should get angry because he was about to get married. They grew up together in the palace, and he had been like a brother to her, she should be happy for him, not the opposite.
“I really don’t want to marry her” Ada froze, but then lifted her gaze to meet his eyes; she was surprised at the regret she found there.
“It’s not like you have a choice, you are already betroth, there is no backing down now” Ada said
“Yes, I wish it were not so” The prince sipped from his cup again, trying to gulp the anger and regret “What do you say about my proposal, have you given it a thought yet?”
Ada swallowed, that’s the least of my problems now.
“Pardon me my prince.” She said, hoping that he wouldn’t notice the disappointment in her voice again. “You should give me more time to process it.”
“Time-” was all he said before gulping the remaining content of the cup “I can tell you are afraid. You have every reason to. But just know that beyond words and beyond mountains, beyond oceans and rivers, my heart will always beat an extra pulse you. I await your reply, please give it to me soon, time is but a fleeting guest, I don’t have him as a friend” The prince turned and walked away, engulfed by the crowd almost immediately.
Ada felt her heart lifting by his words. Was he serious, or is this just another love trick? He said he doesn’t want to marry Olamma, a high born lady, whose father is famous for his numerous yam barn and livestock too many to count. But he is betrothed to her and only the gods can put asunder to their union. Besides, I don’t like him, I don’t love him the way I love Ikedi.
Ada found herself fiddling with the oscillating hair just under her ear. The king had set her lose from the turban of men; she was not ready to tangle herself with it again. Not now, not ever –
“His sounds so poetic you know?”
Ada shivered and turned to the voice, whose tone she can place a face on, anywhere, anytime.
“How long have you been standing there?” Ada asked and sauntered towards her friend who was all smile.
“Long enough to hear the desires in his royal voice.” What were the two of you discussing?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I tell you” Ada sighed and took her friends hand, leading her away from the crowd of people.
“Oh, try me”
“He asked…he is asking me to be his mistress” Ada said
“Alaocha ehh!!!” Chinwe exclaimed, but Ada placed her hands on her mouth, trying to shut her up.
“Will you keep it down?”
“So sorry my dear friend” Chinwe apologies not able to hide the excitement in her voice “when are you leaving with him to Dota”
“I didn’t say I accepted his proposal”
“What?” Chinwe paused, seeming not to believe her ears. “Why Ada, why are you letting this once in a life time opportunity slip from your fingers”
Ada rolled her eyes “You want to know why? Well, first I don’t love him; secondly, I can’t be his concubine. My heart beats for another”
“Just hear yourself talk; you are still in love with that godfor…sorry, that Ikedi who abandoned you?” Chinwe bit her fingers worriedly “Do you know how many girls wish to have a moment with a high born? Do you know how many will fight to touch a noble? And do you know how many will kill to be the mistress of the prince? You are casting gold as dung, why my friend?”
“I don’t know” Ada said trying not to remain calm “But I do know one thing. I am not like other girls” they walked on into the night, the drum and the music getting fainter.
“But at least let him -”
“Please can we discuss this later?” Came Ada’s plea.
“If you say so” Chinwe replied obviously not happy that Ada wasn’t sticking to her advice.
The cricket’s still played that melody with the night, making their own music as if they too were in worship to the light of the moon. The sandy road, which appeared pale from the full moon, snaked away and lost itself somewhere where the eyes’ accommodation is limited. The air was getting more frosty, but the dryness, better than the day’s.
“Where are we heading to?” Chinwe asked
“To the King’s sacred chambers” Ada replied
“What? Wait, no way.” Chinwe stopped dead in her track. She was looking at Ada with wide eyes, making sure her friend still had one head “You know I am not like you the favorite servant, the guard’s guarding the entrance will hang my head on a spike when they see me”
“Who said you are going in with me? I just want you to accompany me, you will not denial me the pleasure of you company will you?”
“No I won’t. But if I may ask, what are you going there to do actually”
“I am going to find out the truth” Ada replied softly as they continued on
“The truth, what truth are you talking about?”
“Don’t worry my dear, we will find out soon”3+March 17, 2019 at 1:55 pm #1297895
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so all this while u were ignorant of the fact that the Ofor is missing?0March 17, 2019 at 9:23 pm #1297992
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okay0March 18, 2019 at 12:47 am #1298026
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Ada,u ve really got to be careful oo!!!0March 18, 2019 at 7:46 pm #1298181
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Ada you are taking risk ooh0March 20, 2019 at 2:58 pm #1298543
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“Who walk in the comfort of the night? Show yourself or I will strike you with my spare, the gods stake me if I miss the first blow” The hardened voice of one of the night’s guard bellowed. There were five of them visible by the gloomy yellow touches, which lined the two hands of the narrow road, driving the shadows behind the palm trees which also stood as pavement. One would be a fool to think that the five guards were all there is. No one knows actually, but stories have it that the night’s guard are hundreds, most of whom were hiding in stations where the eyes cannot see. Other stories have it that some of the night guards are spirit born, who do not take titles or household names. That they are simply born out of the mercies of the night, to protect the Ofor, which was and still is the mantle of leadership in the kingdom. All these stories, told to children, most of them told by parent or village raconteur, who probably have never seen a night guard all their lives.
“The cave of bones” Chinwe exclaimed as fear wrestle her and won “We shouldn’t be here, we should held back to the village at once”
“That’s too late now, the night’s guards have spotted us, doing back could get us killed” Ada walked towards the guards, pulling her reluctant friend whose clapping teeth and body seemed to have rooted her feet to the sandy earth. It was like dragging a child to be scourge. She was afraid too, but her fears were elevated beyond the night guard’s rumpled face, she had seen them well enough to cower at first glance. Dreadlock with color riots of black, brown, a fading yellow and some red, bearing cowries too numerous to count. The unshaved pointed beards too, contrasted the dread with its white color. Even the tattoos, drawn like a skull, to mask their faces, were all too familiar now. The only thing that Ada never seemed to be acquainted with was their soulless gaze, which were always staring ahead, as though the night and day were identical twins whose disparity never really exists. It was difficult to think how one could stare like that for a long time without blessing the eye balls with a blink. Maybe they really are spirit born.
“May your mighty spare, save its energy for the foe of the kingdom.” Ada said politely as they walked closer, trying to stay within the hands of the light. Two paces before the center touch, she and her shaking friend held their root from the warning glare. The cricket’s crisps were announcing how the night had matured into adulthood. For what happened to be the thousandth time, Ada heard her friend whispering that they should held back to the village. Maybe her friend was right, maybe this was all a mistake, she shouldn’t have come, these men won’t let her in, and familiarity this time seemed to have exceeded its limit. The night guards kept staring ahead, unaffected by their presence; their cold glare was the only messenger of their unspoken words.
Picking up the center touch from the stand, which stood in the middle of the road, Ada gulped uneasily. Thus far and no further it seemed, but she was not backing down, not without trying. That finger which had been crawling on her skin had somehow gained access to her stomach. This was the most critical part of coming here. All she had to do was to rise up the touch and wave. Once, for one who miss their way, twice for a friend, thrice for the king. Anything apart from these three was clearly interpreted as a threat and making fuss with these soulless men was the last thing she would ever do.
Ada cleared her mind, trying with a great effort not to remember what stories were told about those who unintentionally exceeded the wave. Even the king himself will lose his head at these times, that’s why he always comes with his trusted adviser. Ada waved the touch twice over her head and set it back on its stand. She walked back to her friend and they both waited. Faith or fate, it was hard to tell what kept them standing.
“Friend of the king” One the night’s guard said but his lips was not moving. His voice was like a wave, deep in his throat and soul piercing. She could see the touch on the center of the road dancing in his eyes, but what she could feel was the tears of sweat beading her brow despite the cold.
“Daughter of the wind” The other guard said. His words too seemed to vibrate the place despite his unmoving lips.
“Purest of the noble
Bringer of dawn
Fear not” The five guards all chorus in unison.
Ada shivered at their words. They clearly voiced her fears back to her. Telling her not to be afraid was like poking a child and telling him not to cry. Bringer of dawn and purest of the noble, this was new, their usual line had changed. Before now they would let her pass after the fire wave without any words, but those times she was not as fearful as today. Why the riddles today? Ada gulped what saliva was left in her mouth.
“What you seek lies in wait in the shell of life; the door is ever open for you and for you alone.” Ada heard one of the guards say.
“I will… I will wait for you here” Came Chinwe’s plea when Ada tried to pull her along. Ada thought she was sweating, but looking at her friend, she just realized that the sweat on her body was an exaggeration in comparison with her friend’s. Her face was a mess; she looked haggard, like several moons of intense weather beating.
Ada nodded in agreement and let her hands go. She didn’t blame the girl; the same fear had robbed her bravery the first day the king had brought her here. It was on an Eke market day, on the eve of a new yam festival.
“I will be back soon” Ada said, hoping those words would comfort her too. She walked nervously towards the night’s guards, keeping her gaze from those soulless eyes. Even the gaiety prominent on it could not be mistaken in the slightest form as cheerfulness. Nothing in the whole of Alaocha could ever compare these eyes; it was like staring into darkness with no hope of seeing light again.
One of the soulless gaze guards handed her a touch–made from a palm tree part–and gesture her towards the entrance. His composure was calm, with no formality and no friendliness either, familiarity was farfetched. Ada thought they had come to be acquainted over the past moons, but standing here now, she was not sure. The fact was that she wasn’t sure of anything again. Biting her under lips and trying with great effort to keep her hands from pulling that hair beneath her ear, she walked through the bamboo thatch door.
The place was dark as always but for the touch in her hand, it could have been near dark as the eyes of those men in the entrance. One could get lost in this cave if one was not careful. Stories about lost souls have been told in the village about people who ventured in but never saw the blink of daylight again. But not her, the comfort of the familiar route came to her at ease. She could go through this place even without the touch to candle her way.
Ada continues through the sandy path, glad to return to her calm self, away from those guards, whatever they were, be it human or spirit. She had never known fear as this. It was quite obvious that those who said gaze could not kill have never tried that of the night guards. She often come to this cave with the king, other times she came alone, always wanting to behold the beauty of the Ofor, the mantle of leadership, the scepter of the four kingdoms of Alaocha and, the staff that sealed the covenant between god and man. The eyes could never be satisfied. It was said that the gold used to craft the Ofor had been sent by the gods themselves, from Mbauwa, far away in the mountains that touch the cloud.
The absence of adrenaline was a testimony of her wounded emotion. The reason she calm here almost flooded her mind back to that night when her lover Ikedi, had begged her to disclose the location of the Ofor. He couldn’t have touched the Ofor. Ada said and hurried her feet, adrenaline was not driving her this time, it was fear of the unknown.
The darkness in the bone cave gave way to glittering carvings which brightened the place with white light, and dulling the touch Ada was holding. The color of the sand, almost like a salt, spread through the room into the bone walls. The air was warm, but the peace could force goose bump. Bone statues of past kings, hung and circled the place, and beneath each bone was an epitaph, written in an ancient tongue. Ada knew all seventeen kings from stories; she had their names and could recite the words engraved on their tomb stones by heart.
At the center of the hanging circular bone, was a mighty stone, cut to chest length, like the stem of a huge tree trunk. Sitting at the center of the stone was the shell of life–a huge calabash broken at one end. Ada held her breath as she walked closer, with eyes longing to see the most beautiful object in Alaocha. The adrenaline she thought she had lost were coursing through her now, her whole being ached to have one more glimpse at the mantle of leadership, the sealer of covenant.
It was a matter of passing moment, but it felt like ages to Ada, as she circled the shell of life with her gaze, trying to behold that broken end which held the beauty of the Ofor. Finally she saw it, the broken edge, crafted carefully to expose what content the shell of life held.
Slowly she felt her being returning, all her broken emotions coming back in place. But that was before her eyes saw what sat on the shell of life.
It was gone
The Ofor was gone
Ada screamed, but could not hear her voice. She tried to look properly at the shell, but could no longer see from the wall of tears blurring her vision.
So this is it? So this is how Ikedi, a man I loved with all my heart tricked me into death. What kind of life is this, what shall I do, whose comfort shall bring solace to this shattered soul of mine. I hate love, I hate love, I hate everything about men.
Ada couldn’t feel her legs again; she only felt the white sand on her cheeks, as she wept with so much broken heart. She knew what this entails, nobody would believe her tale. Death was the only one who would.1+March 21, 2019 at 4:28 pm #1298772
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Stupid seriously stupid0