LOST - Episode 8

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - mud houses, huts, machetes, blood, river, boats, houses, men, English, village, strangers, across the river, river bank, bush.

Left to me, I would have stood my ground and found out why the man was shouting at us. But when Maya took off, I had to follow her because I could not let her out of my sight. The man could not keep up with us. We ran very fast. At some point the man took another path and vanished behind some of the mud houses which lined up the village. It was strange to me that he did not raise alarm. For that, I was thankful to God. I and Maya had to stop running when we began to draw the attention of the villagers who were just waking up. At first I wasn’t sure I heard right, but I thought I had heard a girl, about ten years, speak English to her brother. I held Maya’s hand and pulled her toward the direction of the girl. “Hello, good morning. I am Mr. Frank and this is my wife. Please how may we find our way from here to Egberi?” The girl looked at us for so long that I thought I did not hear right. Then she looked at her left and right sides; stooped and looked into their hut; taking my hand she pulled me to a corner of their hut and whispered, “They don’t let us talk to strangers. People disappear here very often without a trace. Egberi is a bit far from here, you can’t walk to it on foot.” “We are not planning on walking to Egberi. Is there a motor park around here?” She shook her head and said, “No. You can only get to the park by paying a bike rider to take you there. The motor park is far from here.”

Her eyes were darting about as she spoke. Suddenly she left us and ran into their hut. I and Maya squatted on the ground and scanned around. There was no one around, but we had the feeling that some people were looking at us. “There is a hut painted white ahead of you, go there now and ask after Muso. He is a bike rider, he will take you and your wife to the park,” the girl said from the hut. I stood up and looked ahead. There was truly a white hut some distance away. “Let’s go,” I said to Maya. “Thank you!” Maya said to the girl. “Please don’t mention I spoke with you when you get there,” the girl said from the hut. “We won’t,” I said. Quickly we hurried toward the white hut. “How are we going to ask after muso? Would we ask in English?” Maya asked. “I don’t know. I wish the girl had told us. The blood stain on my clothes is not helping us at all.” “We have to make up a story to explain that,” Maya said, holding unto my hand firmly.

When we reached the white house we were about to move toward its back when the man who had shouted at us jumped out from a nearby hut and grabbed Maya. He moved very fast and dragged her into the hut from whence he jumped out from. I ran into the hut to rescue Maya. “Kneel down!” one of two men holding machetes in the hut shouted at me. I knelt down quickly. I would not want them to hurt Maya. Surprisingly the man holding Maya let go of her. Maya ran to me and grabbed my hand. She was shaking. The man who had grabbed her picked a machete from the floor, pointed it at the white house and asked, “You were going to ask after Muso to take you out of the village, right?” I looked from him to Maya and said nothing. Maya was equally stunned by the man’s words. “We saw you talking to a girl down the road. The girl doesn’t know any better. She is just a girl. Do you know why Muso’s house is the only house painted white around here?” We shook our heads, indicating ‘no’. “Good. Muso will only take anyone from this village out of it. However, if a stranger wanders into this village and asks for him to take him out of it, he takes such a person to where he or she will be killed for money. Muso works for ritual killers. He is no different from those you are running from across the river,” the man said.

Maya and I were overwhelmed. I looked at her and she stared right back at me. “Who are you? Are you some seer or what? Who told you we are coming from across the river?” I asked. “My son saw you arrive Gatha this early morning in a boat. He is a fisherman. He saw everything which happened out there. He had to run home and plead with me to help you people. We have to get you out of this village before word spreads that there are strangers around. Those people, they come from across the river sometimes to kill our people for rituals. We don’t like them. When we find them, we kill them. You came from across the river, our people may not spare you.” “here are your machetes, you should not have dropped them,” one of the men said handing us the machetes we dropped in a bush. They were still stained with blood. “The man we found in the bush, he was a bad man. Thanks for killing him. He was taking you to a seer, right?” the man who gave us back our machetes asked. “Yes, he was,” Maya replied, sounding a bit relieved. “They work together. Sadly, there are people amongst us who are as evil as the people across the river,” let us be on our way.

The man who grabbed Maya, stepped out of the hut through the back door and scanned the vicinity. “Follow me,” he said to Maya, I and the two other two men. We meandered in-between huts scattered across the village in no certain fashion, until we made into back into the bush. “We must move fast,” the man leading us said. “Why don’t we run a bit?” I asked. “You look tired, can you run?” the man asked. “Yes we can,” I replied. “Then let us run,” he said. Still holding unto Maya, we joined the men as they bolted off. They led us to a part of the river which brought us to Gatha. There were boats on the bank of the river. Before we stepped out of the bush unto the river bank, the man leading us asked me to remove my shirt and throw it away. “There is too much blood on it. I don’t want the boys on the river to see that,” he said.  I pulled the shirt off, tore it into bits and cast it away. One of the other two men removed his worn out Adidas t-shirt and gave it to me. “Wear this,” he said. I wore it without question. They looked me over and asked me to remove the pair of trouser I was wearing. I removed it. All I had for cover after that was my boxer shot. While one of the men tore up the trouser I removed, Maya raised her machete and asked the man leading us, “How about this?” she meant the blood on the machete.

“Brush off the blood stains on the ground,” the man said. Before we could do that, his colleagues took our machetes from us and expertly brushed off the blood stains. Calmly we all stepped out of the bush and unto the river bank. Some of the young men working on the river looked our way and those leading us greeted them. They responded and turned back to their work having not seen anything strange about us. They pointed us to a boat and we got in. One of the men started the boat engine, just when we were about to leave, a young man washing his fishing net stood up and shouted, “Imoh! Wait!” He ran toward us. “Are you going to the city?” he asked. “Yes,” replied the man leading us. The young man dug into his his pocket and produced three thousand Naira and a list of things to buy. “Please buy these things for me on your way back. Things are cheaper there,” he said. The younger man looked at Maya and I just once. There was something about him I did not like. “Kasa, you are a bad man. You want me to buy things for you from the city which I am selling in the village here. I will not help you again after today,” Imoh said.

Kasa laughed and replied, “I will start going to the city very often once I repair my boat.” “And I will stop buying fish from you whenever my son does not have finish,” Imoh said. Both men laughed as our boat came alive and we set out to the city. “Why are you helping us?” I asked the men. “How is it most of you can speak English?” Maya asked. “Which of the questions do we answer first?” Imoh asked. “My question,” I replied. “Helping strangers is what we do. We believe our village is backward because of the innocent blood we have shed and the curses people have laid on us. Whenever we help people like you, they pray for us. That is the only reason I and my brothers are the owners of the only three block houses in this village. We worship God, go to church and do not take part in the human sacrifices our people offer to their gods. The blessings people speak over our lives are the reasons we are different.” “So these two are your brothers?” Maya asked. “No, this one is Goro, my brother. And this is my son. This is his boat. His name is James. He is the only man in our village with a Christian name,” Imoh replied.

“We speak English in our village because long ago, the government sent a school principal to us who made sure we sent our pupils to school and that they spoke English, good English. He was so successful at managing the only school we had then and teaching our young ones that parents pleaded with him to start adult English class for all adults in our village. Sadly, years after, he left our village with tears in his eyes and curses in his mouth. His twelve-year-old daughter was used as a sacrifice to appease our gods. Since he left, our village has not seen good. Those across the river have killed us for fun and the government have forgotten us,” Goro said with sadness all over his face.

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Uzoma Ujor

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: LOST - Episode 8
LOST - Episode 8
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - mud houses, huts, machetes, blood, river, boats, houses, men, English, village, strangers, across the river, river bank, bush.
Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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