The flower happened to be yellow. Strands of dry, thin and light rubrus stems sagged below the tired leaves. It was the first thing Amuka saw immediately he flung the door open. It was on her head, tied with a thread. Her people knew her as Akwaji. She was wearing makeup on her black face and a perfect grimace for keenness. Her skin looked like coal from the Enugu mines. It resembled darkness which lurked directly inside of her. But you can never deny the Fact that her teeth did glitter around her dark face. His stare moved to her gorgeous face, he saw her face was not the same today. In fact, he would have sworn she was possessed but it keeps her at ease, a tingle sparks inside his head. He kept close – their proximity was an inch or two under the glows from the kerosene lantern’s globe. It must have been washed, because this night, it suddenly sparkled.
The room clouded quietness and sudden bizarreness. It was an epitome of uncertainty that had engulfed it’s walls; from top to below, from the calabash carrying kunu down to the jostled utensils on the mud floor. Akwaji sat on it, even without a bother on her face. Her lips were terrifying. On her face was white chalk. It traced down towards her naked chest where dots of round pigments slipped down her teat. They drooped below her chest exposing the tip. All through her body coloured white except for her eye sockets, her wrists and her neck. These were what he saw as he stood some meters near to her.
“What are you doing, Akwa? ” he cares to ask.
“It’s time,” she whispers,” it’s time to navigate time, Amuka Please come by my side and join me, biko, I need you with me”.
He hesitated and his eyes noticed the brown calabash clasping the mud floor. Nzu filled it to the brim, wet and muddy but still with sweet savour. His nostrils caught it midair then it led him to her side, to her naked body masked by Nzu. It shinned white all over her. He grumbly walked close to her and started stripping his clothes off but his underwear so remained on so that his penis hid inside.
“Won’t you completely show nature? ” she reminded him. He stared at her hard and slipped it down his waist exposing his masculinity. Then her work began
Incense began to cloud. Silence whispered to their ears and their bodies were trembling under what was called traditions, even though she just painted ahead. Rich clouds of smoke poured out from the earth pot on the floor. It was positioned in the middle.
She scooped the first handful and poured it on Amuka’s shoulder, another scoop followed and it slept on his shoulder but on the bare second. Her long and soft palms rubbed them down gently above his flat chest and then spread them away. He sat there but like a mountain. He shook earlier but that was just nostalgia. Now, he was still as a broken clock. The one on top the wall announced another hour. Everything was seen still unless for Akwaji’s kinetic hands. She painted, even down to his toes. As it was seen, it did not pass to the floor underneath his leg. She stood up and exhausted then resumed on body. This time, her fingers spread in threes and they began at the head, drawing a triplet of somewhat fetish lines all the way, stopping at his feet.
“Is it finished?” he demanded as he sat fast facing hers which also had the exact lines as his own.
“Phew,” she spat, ” I have finished it at last.”
He began at her once again. Then the words came out his mouth. “Why do you want this?”
“Yes! Please tell me why.”
“Are you blind? Time is running away from me and all you do is ask me why I desire this?” She tried crying but tears refused to flow. A fidget, a gnash, a gaggle, a fist of palms flaunting in the air but words never came. A confusion of actions surfaced. Teeth and lips met, jinxed up by the tongue and then it came out as spit, pressured out through her black pouted lips. Amuka squeezed his face like paper, a cracking of his fat nose and his cheeks formed a benevolent grin. I feared for what was to happen then it came out slowly, a faint glow of affection.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I very much sympathize. I never knew what got me off. If you want us to do this, what choice do I have? Always and forever you will be my love.”
A beaming smile plastered her face and she rushed his body so that her nipples touched his chests causing a bleeding of trickling sweat. . Then a feeling of arousememt visited the two. I closed my eyes at them fuck on the walls. Decorations scrambled from their places and dashed for the grounds. Properties were disarrayed through their intense lovemaking. Then a release and hurried breaths followed.
Afterwards, she hurried to her seat and hauled it over, facing Amuka’s still eyes. He too had grabbed his chair. She wedged her body by placing her elbow on her laps, her face grinning. Amuka chuckled, but once then a sudden stillness crooked up. Their eyes locked in eternity. They were very very motionless like dry concrete on recent walls. Then it happened too quick for drooling eyes to grasp. But then I saw it. I hid inside the mirror on the red walls and I saw it transfer from this body to the other, just quick glances which would have clearly been flashes. But I knew what my eyes saw. I remember it pertaining a very synchronized look of frailness and loneliness. It rose from her body and disappeared once it perched on Amuka’s forehead and I jumped at the feel of bewilderment. The reflection on my screen brushed my lashes like dusts being scrapped away by rags made of filths. I hung there and watched the transference occur, flawless and precise as a thread fitting through the eye of a needle. The little room glowed through it and the blue light punched my face and it died afterwards, leaving Akwaji rigid as a wall and Amuka shivering away trickles of sweat. It came to me like pains, accumulated pain as it was all I knew, all I felt and the only things that I usually saw in this little room.
Something was wrong. But what was it? Why was her body frozen? Why didn’t Amuka’s spirit interchange hers? The cycle was incomplete, and so on the questions pile. Cries grew rapidly; an intense and hysterical one that tore my ears apart and shook me away. The dreadfulness of this weight put me well against the harsh wall. I closed my arms like I was going to edge it away, a somewhat eager force struck me back to the wall. Clinched and ‘cla cla cla’ the sounds like a click of a gigantic clock, but this time random and zigzagging….
Amuka Ezekwe, last son of chieftain’s prime mantle. Those were during the purge, earlier in time than the. whites. Elders decided fates and gods proceeded condemnation. Of present, he carried his burdens all through him. Amuka gripped his eyes, plunged them into distance from Akwaji then his stare following through; vigorous and in grumble with shakiness. It greeted the iroko door which entranced from the outside to the interior. The short door sprang up in haste at a very quick and dangerous kick that simultaneously caught it with an incensed greet. The iroko had shattered and scattered all around the room.
Sparks of moments left three okonko soldiers trooping in, arms crossed on waists and swaying sides heaving dwindling cutlasses that pointed to the mud – ceremonious and reddish as a plagued grinded pepper. They came and barged his lover up. She had been accommodating the wooden chair. Old, Laden and also trembling beneath her very unsteady weight. She dragged her body up and down as belittlement right on top that same chair. That was just few seconds ago.
One amongst the hostile trio flinched like he suffered from an ant’s sting. He threw his glittering cutlass upon the air and caught it below his fists. Steel twisting and gliding through air was the most beautiful gaze I’d say. It was dark outside. The crickets whistled in the nights, candles stood flaming all around the neighborhood. A weird cultural people I must say.
There were men who indulged in conversing with spirits and women who worshipped gods. Akwaji ugwunna was a child born from those roots. She may seem light and loving but within her senses lurked dangers and orchestrations that would loom any civilization, especially this one in which she inhabited. Loneliness has been her insignia even from inception of adolescence till now when she had to face the men of the okonko cult, these hideous people, these mad and evil people. Her only friend was Amuka Ezekwe. At times, during intense times, she would bask in his company, erupt feelings of love and pride herself ceremoniously under his warmth. The spirits must be stalking her. Only a blind man could argue otherwise. If her thoughts were untrue, then how could the men find her out so quickly. Her open eyes died widely. Her lips were tied by glue but her mind spoke audibly in a perfect way only Amuka listened. Her pride had been shamed by intrusion, out and into a morbid zone she never knew. Heartless and shameless the gods are, she thinks.
Her hands were bound proudly by twine ropes, stretched more to her thin legs. Motions were never preached. Her lover begged for release, not for her fleshy heaven but this time her freedom.
“It’s my fault,” Amuka pleaded, “I planned it and she agreed. Please take me instead”.
No child through Ebozi clan was a stranger to these men. Land disputes always set them in front lines, quarrels brought wines and yam soup to settle them. They carried the knife and yam through their norms and traditional laws. They were the ones that murdered a king, a prince just to taste power. Just to accumulate wealth. During nights, especially in pitch darkness when all lights have been plunged into illusions, they would parade themselves as naked men, defying themselves to the darkness, to the gods. They would eat yam soup and dine with their Chi.
Amuka’s arms were crossed in a warm embrace, astonished at the wildness of these men. A civilization that refuses to indulge in relevant rules would lag behind time. It would infinitely remain stagnant through decades and centuries of unrest. Traditions which are overemphasized could cost the heads of its citizens. Irrelevant excuses, if continued, if showed indulgence could by chance eradicate development of a people. His arms unfolded these thoughts that wrapped up the contours of his mind. Akwaji for all he cared could depart his side, she could run away, or perhaps she could be sold into slavery but at least not death. She couldn’t see these wicked spirits. He had to make sure of that.
There are places where lights surface. There are numerous clans that experience daylight and nightfall. These were the people that encompassed the clan of ebozi. Candles and fireflies were the only things that illuminated their Graves, living, even sick and wretched. Such things as the sun, moon, and stars never came into view, yet lives flourished. They moved faster than normal, speedily like hovering drones and their feet never touched earth. Yes! Just as spirits do. They lived in red huts and I was on all walls, hanging with reflective eyes as nothing could evade my gaze. Their legs seemed shorter than their hands. Their nails didn’t portray the colour of nails, instead, reddish – crimson red they were and expressed with black bodies, dark hair, dark eyeballs, curved by somewhat dilating pupils. A unique people they were. A cradle of darkness, mud rooms stood puzzling on areas. Their roofs made of rafia palm, doors made of iroko and trippy markings painted the walls in white and black uniforms which ceased a cross at their thresholds. All things were illuminated under glowing candles, glowing oil lanterns and harsh laws of mad elders. A glass of broken time, and friable sands scattering through the atmosphere. Such places are where time sticks and time as an adage reflects waits for no mortal man but here in such places as Ebozi, it does- distinctively, it turns in uniqueness, except for the fact that a sun never glowed in the distance.
Amuka rushed onward to settle for his lover, her body still as silence but prior to a meet, a blow caught his jaw bleeding forth red clusters of pain- blood. Then another jammed his fleshy stomach which seemed full. A feeling of nausea pulsated, a stagger alongside an irritating vomit. Blood and saliva gushed forth through his floating tongue accompanied by trailer sized punches which wouldn’t leave his body in no hurry. The wall near me wedged him from a fall. I noticed in his face a disastrous look. The kind a thunder god carries when he misses a sport.
All through my time in this shady and gritty enclosement, I’ve never known such stare, such anger, such pain. The very kind that wants to rip a man off his composure, the very kind that can make a native black man reach through your throat and kill your intestine with a vigorous effort. I noticed it in Amuka and I tried to put him under a warm embrace but a simple mirror I am, a reflection of these beings I see to be. The leader; the one wielding the Okoboro cutlass made for Amuka, gestured to land him the flat side but in the the swift air, his hand boun halfway as Amuka slanted his afro head as though in reverence to his maker. This man with the okoboro was called Ojemba.
“Stay put,” he warned, “I won’t warn again. The next time you try stopping us, I’ll slit your hungry throat and feed it to the ekuke outside you fool.”
“Ojemba what did she do ehe? Please what did we do?” That dimmed look of insanity had died off. Amuka asked a shaky question with a lukewarm tone. She was still in shock, still unconscious while her debate ran in her absence. His broken words were ignored and were set adrift into the hot winds. An intense weakness caught up with his rampaging will. His shuddering shoulder mellowed beneath his head and tears were trying to wick out through his watery eyes. It is only when death beckons on your lover that a man becomes as strong and gallant as seven men- a feeling – very special and incomprehensible sweeps in and challenges his fears. Amuka’s mind rang with thoughts as he watched the bulky sized beasts carry Akwaji through the empty doorway to go see a leader. Then a sight which had never been seen by eyes began alongside the strangest of things. He dashed for a dane gun hidden safely away from prying eyes. He shifted the agbada pot that concealed it and stretched it out. He ran a quick and hurried check on the chamber and noticed a bullet waited for blood inside of it. It was red and blood thirsty from weeks of hunger. A close of the chamber happened within seconds, then he charged after his oppressors – a barrel in one arm and the other carrying his loincloth.
“Ojemba bring her back! I say bring her back or by the gods i will shatter your brains!”
“Are you a mad man?”
“I won’t repeat myself Ojemba ” he barked. A second hand left his crotch and clasped the barrel tightly, thereby giving it the best balance. Although vibrations spread all through his hands and jerked the gun in fear.
A finger on the trigger and a bloodshot eye aim Ojemba. Will cutlass match a gun? Can African voodoo tumble the white man’s witchcraft? It cannot. Only a foolish fly will see a stinking and deserted corpse and follow it underneath earth. In no world can a blade resist the thirst of a bullet. Not even in this great Ebozi; which is mysteriously captivating – can such impossible thing happen.
“You are mad!” Ojemba retorted. He waved his boys to carry on in the open premises which had started gathering awkward faces longing for a sight for storytelling. CHAKA – BOOM! A spray of little metal grits, a scream of regret, a thump of body. Chineke! The other men threw away their cutlasses and hastened away in different directions, dropping Akwaji on the ground. Ojemba’s cutlass dropped from his hands as his neck made blood profusely. Akwaji seemed alive. Amuka dropped the devil in his hands and raced like a bush dog to catch her. She was now awake as though the gun’s hiss had kicked consciousness into her lungs.
“My love,” she called softly,” it- is – time – to- navigate- time.” She paused, a gush of blood spewed. “Amuka – will- you – come – and – join me-, i – need – you – with – me”. The spray of bullet had caught her too. Her chest was wet with blood, mixed chemically with sweat, a dripping had emerged into a ghastly sight. Amuka wept. He wept bitterly. The gods are wicked and heartless and only know to orchestrate evil. A tear dropped from his eyes to the ground, dusts flew away from it. Even the sands wanted no part in this case. Another tear fell then a heavy accumulation of bitterness, regret, selfishness. He was selfish, he thought out loud.
The great Ojemba was empty with words. All his strength and morale had departed him, but his lifeless body remained. Akwaji slipped away slowly, slowly. Her hands locked in her lover’s. Then it came like a sad song to ringing ears, a cry. Why! Why! Why! She’s dead a voice tells him.
When a man wars against gods and forces which seem confusing, a wise decision is to remain calm and watch the spirits give their bill. When he has no gods to serve, he is especially the one to loose. No people can fight against the Supreme, not even any civilization; whether developed or not can’t . A fish that falls in love with a flamingo will never feel warmth, it can never know affection or it can never kiss the lips of its mate. Instead, it will be caught between the pecks of its glaring end above the river; a flamingo. Only the gods can make happen of such. Amuka had detested the Okonko’s summon which had caused him his happiness.
I was still on my lonely wall when he crawled in – heavy as seven kegs of Palm wine. He paced around with his bloodstained hands carrying his swollen brains. He strode to a side and to another then he made a stop at my face to ask me this, “what have you done, why couldn’t you just let her be? You…. He sneezed out catarrh on my face and continued.” Amuka you are a fool. You are the mad man your father feared…… “. I became perplexed, a question which never made up sense in me. I killed no one, I moved no inch. But within my flattering thoughts, a heavy blow caught me half dizzy. He threw a punch in my face, I shattered at the head from it. Bits of my being came crumbling down to the mud floor. His right fist was inked with his blood. It came back again to meet me, but this time, I was just a mirror which in mere and severe moments; which had eyes and reflections of Amuka, Akwaji, this poor room, this Ebozi, and the bitterness in the hearts of men- lost my life to a dispute I seemingly had no part in. I broke into pieces from his pain and fists. Maybe my death may have managed to ease the pain in Amuka’s heart, the pain of losing the only thing he lived for, the pain of his loneliness and rejection, the pain on his swollen fists from bites of my teeth.