FIRST LOVE - Episode 4

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Africa, ancestral homeland, grandparents, grandmother, grandfather, maids, stewards, old dry tree, old, tree, homeland, white man, dry, dining table.

“Grandpa and grandma, this is my girlfriend Silvia Obidyke (Obidike). She is a purebred from Africa, our ancestral homeland from whence they took our forebears as slaves to this land,” Ryan said beaming with a smile on his face. His grandparents came alive with glowing smiles on their faces. “A pure bred from Africa, really!” they echoed. “Sit down beloved. Sit. Sit,” Ryan’s grandmother said. One of the maids offered me a seat. Trembling, I sat down, refusing to let go of Ryan’s arm. “Relax Silvia, you are at home. This is home. We are like you, the only difference is that we are descendants of slaves sojourning in a foreign land,” Ryan’s grandfather said. His words and the smile on his face helped me relax a bit. Then those house maids began to circle us, looking at me as if they had not seen a black lady from Africa before.

“Serve our guest something to eat! She comes from our ancestral home, Africa!” the old man, Ryan’s grandfather shouted with strength beyond his age. Suddenly there was music. Good music. It seemed to ring out of the air. The maids and stewards in the house began to move their bodies to it as they milled about doing their chores. Each time I turned to look at the old dry tree, I would feel like it was draining the life out of me. I wouldn’t let Ryan move an inch away from me. “Tell me, how is Africa? How are our warriors? I have heard you are Igbo,” Mr. Tyler, Ryan’s grandfather asked. “There are cities in Africa now. There are no more warriors. They have been replaced by the military and police.” “So we have forgotten the old ways and followed the white man?” I nodded and said, “Yes, I am afraid so. The old ways are largely gone. Only a few people follow the old ways now,” I explained feeling lifted and surreally excited.

“I was hoping that someday, I would go back to our homeland and meet it as we left it. They did not only make us slaves, they raped our land, our homeland,” Mr. Tyler said forlornly. When I looked around me, all the maids and stewards were standing around us listening to my conversation with Ryan’s grandparents. Their faces were filled with sadness and disappointment. A bell rang inside the house and was followed by a bloodcurdling cry for help, “Help!! Aaaah!!!! Help!!! Help!!!” I was jolted by the cry. I sprang to my feet and tried to bolt away, my feet seemed planted to the ground. The voice crying for help from inside the old house was a woman. I was panting terribly and shaking. “Ryan, take me home! I want to go home!” I shouted at Ryan who also looked gloomy about the information I provided about Africa. He stood to his feet and put his right hand around me. “Relax. The voice you heard was nothing. The lady was only crying over the sad news you brought from Africa, our home.”

I felt he was lying but chose not to show it. Their ignorance about Africa was epic. I could not take it. I could not help but think who they really were. Who did not know that Africa has mostly embraced western ways of life. Could it be that these guys do not watch television, read news and surf the internet? Africa had changed hundred years ago. I had to ask them what planet they came from. “Africa changed long ago. How is it that none of you is aware of it? It is on television and on the internet. It can also be heard from radio news. Africa has left the old ways,” I said struggling to breathe well. “We do not believe anything the white man tells us. If you haven’t seen the devil yet, then don’t bother looking for him. The white man is the devil. You have no clue what the white man did to black slaves or the evil he is capable of,” Ryan’s grandmother said dejectedly with tears in her eyes. “We heard it, but thought it was a lie from the devil who parades as the white man. Now that a child from our father’s land has confirmed it, we believe it. Thank you my child for coming to see us,” Ryan’s grandmother concluded.

I saw all of them blink as if they were saying to each other something they did not want me to hear. “The time of the black man has drawn closer. We must do what needs to be done. We must rise from this curse to live our full lives,” Mr. Tyler said. I did not understand him, but those around us seemed like they did. His words left me wondering if he also knew that slavery had been abolished in America and all over the world. I was going to give him the news when the bell chimed again and he ordered, “Let us go in and feast!” Ryan stood up and led me into the old house. Behind me were his parents and all those maids and stewards. Inside the house was a dining table as long as a luxurious bus. On top of it were foods of different types. I had not seen chicken prepared in the manner I saw it on that dining table. There were also roasted pork, fruits, vegetables, rice and soup. There were some delicacies I could not tell what they were. In spite of my fear, I was left salivating.

After they had circled the great dining table, they bowed their heads and mumbled jargons in a language I knew not. Then they sat down to eat. I kept looking at their faces, following what they did. While we all ate, no one said a word. All the faces around the dining table were bowed over their plates. Only the sounds of spoons on plates were heard. I could not believe my eyes when I saw that the dry old tree outside had drawn closer to the entrance door. I was gazing upon it in shock when Ryan asked me, “What are you looking at?” “The tree… The dry tree outside is standing by the door,” I replied. Silence fell over the dining table in respect to what I had said. They all dropped their spoons and looked at me in utter shock. I could not figure out how they were able to hear my words. I spoke to Ryan in a low voice. “Can you see the tree outside?” Ryan’s grandfather asked. “Of course. Am I not meant to see it?” “Not everyone can see the tree. You are the one!” all the people at the table said with one voice. They scared shit out of me.

“What do you mean by I am the one?! Who are you people?! Ryan what is this place?! I want to go home now!!” I yelled. “Stop shouting,” Ryan whispered. I held him firmly. Slowly he led me away from the dining table. On our way toward the door I looked back and saw the man in black hood stooping next to Ryan’s grandfather, Mr. Tyler. My heart froze. Immediately it all began to make sense to me. I was in the midst of occult men and women or possibly in the midst of the dead. By now the tree at the door had moved back to its former place. When I looked back again at the dining, all the people at it were gone. Ryan held my right hand firmly and whispered, “Run. Silvia run.” I raised my legs to run and suddenly we were outside Ryan’s grandparents’ house. We dashed toward Ryan’s car and got in. Ryan started his car and zoomed off. He drove like a mad man until we got back to the city. As he drove he kept repeating certain words. In my mind, I kept seeing the old dry tree. When I squeezed my eyes shut, I would see it inside the car.

By the time I got home, I was already running a high fever. I went straight to the room I shared with my elder sister, lay on the bed and began to pray. In between my prayers, I kept visiting the restroom, hoping to vomit the food I had eaten at Ryan’s grandparents’ house. I knew that the food was evil. It was not of men. It must have come from the land of the dead. I could not vomit a thing. When my sister came back and saw I was not looking fine, she asked to know what was wrong with me. I lied to her that I was fine and was only running a minor fever. She however, suspected that I was lying to her because of the way I was praying. She joined me to pray even though I refused to tell her what had happened. We remained in our room till night time praying together. When my mother came to check on us and found us praying, she was happy. If only she knew she would not see me again until four years later, she would have joined us to pray. Something was wrong with me and I was afraid to tell anyone. The presence of the old dry tree was becoming strong around me. A force was sucking me away into darkness. I felt like my soul was being taken from me.


                                                      CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 3

Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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FIRST LOVE - Episode 4
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Africa, ancestral homeland, grandparents, grandmother, grandfather, maids, stewards, old dry tree, old, tree, homeland, white man, dry, dining table. An African Literary Blog
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