THE CHOSEN ONE – a virgin sacrifice. Short story on culture, daydream, vows.
Mama screamed from the back of the house even as I heard the water pot fall to the ground with a dull thud. I could hear my heart beat as loud as the village gong. It vibrated my ossicles.
“Mama! Mama!” I called out in fright as I rushed to the back of the house curiosity getting the best of me.
I saw a shadow cross mama’s face. One I couldn’t decipher. It was like a code and it was so unlike me not to read and understand the message it passed to me.
I had always prided myself in the fact that I knew mama very well and she didn’t need to speak a word. I could read her like a book. From the slow twitching of her left eyelid to the cynical grin on her face. Mama and I shared a bond none of my siblings could boast of.
At this minute, I stood, lost in the middle of our large backyard with tubers of yams sticking out of the barns, pointing in an almost grotesque manner to my impending doom.
I saw the tears fall like objects in free fall. They defied gravity and drop by drop they poured down mama’s face until it became a flowing stream more like river Niger it soon broke its bounds.
Mama wailed and screamed hitting herself on the ground.
Was mama just crying because a common water pot broke? Why was she this hysterical?
I moved closer moving cautiously like a bird in unfamiliar territory.
At first I saw it. Mama shook her head vigorously. I thought I heard her say run but again I thought. I wasn’t sure. Mama pointed with her index finger at something behind me but I still wasn’t sure.
Had someone died? My Papa or any of my siblings? I stepped closer to help mama up then I felt it. It was cold, it smelled like death.
When I heard mama scream for the first time I ran cold but this time I turned to ice. The cold steel was pressed against my temple while I was groped from the back. I didn’t turn for I was too scared to. I felt the cold steel travel down my face to my throat.
Then Mama stood wiping the tears from her face. She called my name and told me I had to go with them. Them? I turned to see bare chested men armed with weapons. They had their faces painted with black. I knew they had come for me.
This was our village rite. My household had been chosen to provide a virgin. Mama didn’t know which of her daughters to choose so, she made a vow that whoever came out at the sound of the broken water pot, that person would be the chosen one. Unfortunately, I was.
Mama wailed and cried. She begged them to take her but these hefty men ignored her while they placed the sack over my head.
My blood had rushed to my ear drums because of a paralyzing fear. I never imagined it would be my turn soon. Few months back it had been my best friend Uwa, now it was my turn.
I couldn’t think straight and as one of them lifted my slim frame unto his shoulders I wondered how the cleansing of the land would be made perfect by the blood of the innocent.
I wished I could wake up and find out that it was all a dream.
Next, my eyes widened with horror as I saw the axe lifted above me…
I jerked up with so much power and sweat draining me as I heard my brother say “She has been dreaming again in this hot weather.” He turned his lips and hissed so long and hard. My brother always blamed my dreams on my wild imagination. He was often disgusted by it.
But, I couldn’t change it. I was Josephine the dreamer.
I looked round to see, not the bare chested heavy men but my mama pounding fufu at the far end of the compound.
“Josephine! Josephine! Lare,” she called in my local dialect. “Come and help me carry this plate of food to your father’s hut.”
I bit my lower lip an action that indicated relief. Phew! So much for a bad dream. It was just a bad dream.
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