A Stranger in the Land Beyond

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Fine Art America

By Yami Bamgboye

The whole village went dead. There were no cooings nor chirpings of birds from trees along the trodden paths. As Iyun walked along, she felt a little uneasy with the basket of yam she was carrying and, the extreme silence at that hour of the morning when maidens were either on their way to or from the stream while songs of yore with beautiful melodies accompanied men in the farms. She wondered, trying to put events together in her head but couldn’t. She sped faster as her legs could take her and unconsciously whispered words she didn’t understand to the wind.

Just when she was few huts away from her father’s, she saw an unusual crowd gathering round about it. Some were in twos or more. ‘Poor girl!’, they echoed. Iyun didn’t want to be told anything. Her heart raced and pounded like it was coming out of her. She violently let go of the basket of yam, running to her father’s courtyard.
‘Yeee, Alabi’, the mother wailed as Iyun bumped in.
‘Moniyun’, she turned to her.
‘Iku ti da wa lo ro o’, she yelled louder, sprawling on the floor. She refused to be touched or consoled by the women around her. She just wanted to grief.
‘Yeeee… Alabi, Alabi ooooo’, she continued before switching into a dirge.
Iku has snatched you from our hands,
snuffing the life out of your blackened lungs.
Several huffs and puffs you took,
making perfect smoke rings
to the loud ovation of the villagers
whose reverend eyes
Sango beheld.
Then Iku came visiting,
refusing to leave without your life as souvenir.
We ran to Osun abiamo orun,
to Ogun our dogs we beheaded,
to Esu odara our grieving hands did not offer adin,
All to placate Iku’s stony heart.
Sango’s promises have failed us,
even Orunmila looked on
while Obatala laid in a drunken stupor
as Iku whisked you away,
darkness his best ally.
Alabi, Alabi, you have gone home,
leaving me your wife and Iyun, your only daughter behind
not even a backward glance as Iku led you away.
Now look down and tell me;
have my prophecies long foretold
not come to pass?’

Iyun lost her voice, her strength. She just sat quietly and whimpered uncontrollably.
*****
Alabi suddenly found himself on a path in a strange land. The only thing he remembered was going to bed after a bottle of rum and two sticks of cigarettes. The last of which he got from a white man in exchange for a large expanse of land. From where he stood, he could hear the wailings–the dirge of his wife, Ajiun but couldn’t see or reach her. Soon, the wailings faded and a creature appeared. Alabi was startled. The creature had no neck. He had a small head with bulging eyes twice the size. His limbs were bendy and he was shorter than a dwarf. Alabi stood still.
‘Alabi ooooh…’, the creature called out as his voice muffled through.
‘Emi ni Kukute tin gbegbo dun yanmuyanmu’.
He jabbered a few more words and an egg with a delicate shell appeared on his stretched left palm.
‘Alabi!’ he yelled again, ‘take this’.
As Alabi stretched his right palm,his whole body quaked and the egg shook violently. Just then, Kukute snapped in anger.
‘To ba fo, aiye e run lo dindin niyen!’
‘While you go along this path’, he continued while Alabi listened with great intent.
‘Make sure you protect it until you get to the crossroads where you would smash it. If you disobey in anyway, your wandering in this land will know no end’.

Alabi sighed deeply, he made a kiddish gesture to ask a question but Kukute was long gone before he realized. He looked ahead and saw nothing except a narrow path along a thick forest. Steadily, he began the journey. There were no sounds,wind or sun, everything was just still. Before he approached the crossroads Kukute told him, he had crossed several hurdles. One of which was the uncanny seduction of Olugbo. Olugbo was one of the lesser demons of the still world and had descended to his side while he rested under a huge tree that had the shape of a pregnant woman–it had been a long walk for Alabi. Her mission was discreet, all she needed was just a stare from him.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz, the sound went. Alabi turned his neck around hurriedly. This time, he was not scared but the bare huge balls that dangled on Olugbo’s chest had his eyes fixated with thoughts running wild in his head. Olugbo was beautiful. Her body features were like humans’. His throat ran dry and he felt a rushing sensation beneath him, his pendulum had received strength. Olugbo moved a little closer and then teleported. First, he looked surprised. Next, he realized his palms had been wide open all the while, and the egg had been smashed!

Now at the crossroads, his mind joggled back and forth: the egg was gone. From where he stood, he saw three creatures. The two on the right and left had three huge heads and four limbs each. Their mouths and ears were sealed with flesh. But the third at the middle looked small. He moved a foot closer and suddenly discovered that Jinodu, his bossom friend was standing between the two demons. He was relieved. At least, he knew someone or thought he did. He ran towards him, grinning. Just then, the demon on the left hit him with the jaw bone of a mortal that had been devoured. Alabi let out a loud cry as choking pangs made him sprawl. He held his head again and surprisingly opened his eyes. He was back to life. Everyone around him shook with amazement for he had been dead for ten hours. Ironically, his head was in the palms of Jinodu who had just finished cleaning him up. It was customary he did before Alabi was buried.

Alabi looked at Jinodu and suddenly became furious. Everyone wondered why but couldn’t tell. He reached for his machete beneath his bamboo bed and ran after him.

Dirge by : Tope Oni

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