LOST - Episode 5

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - out of this evil land, woman, younger, older, river, soap and sand, Minutes later, woman, black seer, boats, colleagues.

Having been warned against wishing for dawn, I was left praying against the very thing which I had hoped would be our salvation. We walked for long, our feet pounding the wet ground. I and Maya cut the look of slaves being matched down to a slave market. While we walked, slowly the first gleam of dawn appeared in the sky. Under a huge tree in the bush, we met the younger woman. She had the bag which contained our clothes and belongings. For reasons I could not explain, I was relieved when we saw her. She spoke fast in her dialect to the older woman. Whatever information she passed to her was not pleasant. That much we could tell from the look of her face. “Let’s be on our way. We must get you two to a place from where you will find your way out of this evil land,” the older woman said. I was excited to hear that. I turned and smiled at Maya. She smiled back, obviously relieved as I was.

The news of our impending escape gave us strength to trudge on. Some twenty minutes later we arrived at a river. “Have your bath. Make sure you wash off the black paint from your bodies. It must not be seen on you,” said the older woman. I and Maya cast off the dirty clothes which we used to cover our nakedness and stepped into the river. The water was awfully cold. We had to bathe ourselves in spite of it. We were happy when the younger woman handed us a tablet of soap. To make sure we had our bath quickly, I broke the soap into two and handed Maya one part. We hurried as much as we could, but it wasn’t easy to wash off the paint on our skin. The older woman was visibly worried because the day was getting brighter. “Please, do not turn my good act into evil. The two of you should not been seen washing off the paint. People will soon be here to bathe. After you were given to me, I was meant to offer you to our shrine as sacrifice. Bathe quickly please!” she said in a hushed voice.

I didn’t know how well I had washed myself. But Maya was doing a poor job of washing off the paint from her skin, without warning, I grabbed her like a child, pushed her down to her knees and began to scrub her body with soap and sand. In a jiffy I was done. I stooped and without saying a word, Maya knew what to do. She scrubbed my back with soap and sand and had me clean in no time. We knew we were clean by how the two women nodded. We stepped out of the river and dressed quickly. Minutes later all four of us were running through a bamboo field. “You will find men who will take you across a river to Gatha. From Gatha, you will find your way to Egberi. Please, you must come back for us. Tell the police about this place. I have been here for more than ten years. I and my husband were traveling when we were attacked and brought to this land. My husband was killed and his organs harvested. They claimed to have seen something in me. I don’t know what it was. However, that was what saved me. I have been serving them and their gods all these years. My colleague here suffered the same fate, her three children were killed and she was miraculously spared. They think of us as servants of their gods,” the older woman said when we had drawn close to a certain river.

I and Maya were in tears when we heard what the two women had been through. “I swear by God, so long as we make it out of this place alive, we will come back with an army to set you two free and to end the evil which goes on in this place,” said Maya amid tears. The younger woman, handed us a bag. When I opened it, I saw canned food and water. She must have taken them from the hut where we changed our wet clothes. “Thank you,” I said even though I wasn’t sure she understood me. “Thank you madam. May God bless you,” Maya said. The younger woman nodded as though she understood Maya. “We have to go now. We must not be seen with you people. When you reach the river, ask after Paloni, tell him the ‘black seer’ sent you to Gatha, and that you must be on your way without delay,” the older woman instructed us. As soon as she was done talking, she and the younger woman bolted off. I took Maya’s hand and we began to run. From behind us, we heard the older woman’s voice, “Do not run! You must look fearless for them to believe you.” We stopped running, but walked as hastily as we could.

At the river we saw many boats, they were all locally made. The young men who manned them were as dangerous looking as those we had encountered since our ordeal began. Their eyes were red shot. There broad chests had the same marks as the ones on the chests of the elders we had seen at the shed. A husky voice barked words at us in their local dialect. We did not understand what it said. Turning with all the courage I could muster, I barked at the voice, “Paloni!” “You are strangers here, are you not?” the voiced asked. From a shack by the river, a man emerged. He towered above Maya and I. “How did you come about that name?” he asked. By now all the men by the river were looking at us. “The black seer has a message for him which must be delivered now!” I thundered. “Huh! black seer. Then you are no ordinary strangers here. What is your business with Paloni?” he asked. “It is none of your business! We want to speak with Paloni now!!” Maya yelled and inched closer to the man. She was shaking terribly. I was surprised to see her put up that front.

“I am Paloni! What is your business here?” another voiced queried. Then he stepped closer. His stature was not as intimidating as the other man. He was almost my might height and size. “The black seer wants you to send us to Gatha. It is very urgent. Her words must reach Gatha before sunrise,” I said, maintaining my bold pretense. At the mention of ‘black seer’, Paloni stepped back and studied us curiously. After a momentary wait he said, “Come with me.” “Ode!!” he shouted. “Make ready your boat, this man and woman must get to Gatha before sunrise,” Paloni said looking at the brightening sky. A young man waved at us. He must be Ode. I made sure, I made no eye contact with Paloni. He studied us so curiously that you could see he did not believe our story. He may have followed the instruction we passed to him because of the power the black seer wielded.

I and Maya ambled down to Ode’s boat. I had a strong urge to look back and when I did, I saw Paloni and the man who confronted us before Paloni appeared, conferring in hushed voices. I wanted to order Ode to start his boat immediately. We did not know what Paloni and the other man were saying. When we stepped into Ode’s boat, two other young men joined us. They said no word and did not so much as greet us. I held Maya firmly and maintained a hard look on my face. Maya kept hissing, giving the impression she was angry and fearless. “Ode, please come!” It was Paloni. Ode stepped out of the boat and ran toward him. Paloni said something to him and pointed at us. Ode ran back to the boat and turned on the outboard engine; it groaned and came alive. Without delay, we set out for Gatha. I had my eyes on the two young men with us. Just before the river bank disappeared behind us in that early morning fading darkness, Ode leaned toward his colleagues and said something to them. We did not understand one word of what he said. I cast a glance at Maya and she nodded. To my surprise, Ode and his colleagues seemed shocked by our action. “Do you understand our tongue sir?” Ode asked. I looked at him as long and hard as I could and asked, “Have you wondered how I came to know the black seer?”

He was shocked to hear the name ‘black seer’ and so were his colleagues. Ode looked at us and said nothing. I was glad I mentioned ‘black seer’. I could tell he was already having a struggle with following whatever instruction Paloni gave him after I mentioned the name. “God please save us,” I prayed in my heart. Maya snuggled up to me and whispered, “I am feeling very cold, can you put your arms around me, please?” Though she had been through much with me, she still looked stunningly beautiful. I was glad to put my arms around her.


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Uzoma Ujor

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: LOST - Episode 5
LOST - Episode 5
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - out of this evil land, woman, younger, older, river, soap and sand, Minutes later, woman, black seer, boats, colleagues.
Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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