Afrosays to me

…random excerpts from my communions with the AfroMuse

The mystery relic March 9, 2012

Filed under: Scenic,Spooky Fridays — afrosays @ 9:00 am
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If you ever have been thirsty where you cannot drink.
AfroSays, because of you

 

THE MYSTERY RELIC

 

 
 
Baba Shukudi spat out onto the expressway, regretting that he could not leave the car to smooth the blob over with the stubborn rubber sole of one of his dead black shoes, preferably the one that he wore on his right foot. Unfortunately, while the scaly footwear was busy urging the National Museum’s Toyota Hiace bus on to glorious acceleration, the other was tapping the floor of the vehicle in tune with Duncan Mighty’s I Don’t Give A Shot. Baba Shukudi had just purchased the disc but for the past hour and a half, he’d been playing the same song.

 
If your ikebe dey shoot catapult

 
The song amused Baba Shukudi immensely because he happened to like ikebes. Mama Shukudi’s behind was almost as wide as the posterior of the fourteen-seater bus that her husband was currently behind the wheel of. Baba Shukudi deftly maneuvered the vehicle yet again, around another massive hole in the road. He didn’t even need to think about it, not only because he was an exceptionally good driver but also because he had been navigating this route for the past month as the museum in Lagos was looking to add a new artifact to its collection. This wasn’t any national treasure; it was just another unpopular talisman that would adorn the back shelves in the interior where other equally unpopular items were exhibited.

 
Baba Shukudi took one hand off the steering wheel and wiped an erring line of spittle off the left side of his mouth. He hated spitting when he was driving because the ejection never went with the wind in a clean sweep. Some of it – usually a large flat mess – would always cling to his face, holding on for dear life. Sometimes, the ejection would also cling to his side of the vehicle, and he would see the nasty yellow thing screaming for help as it fought against the wind, begging to be let back home where it was warm and safe. Although this vexed Baba Shukudi sorely, it wasn’t the main reason why he hated the sight of thick sputum sailing through the air. Actually, Baba Shukudi was very superstitious and it was popular belief where he came from that one should never spit in public without rubbing the evidence into the mud under one’s feet. It was said that if the bottom of someone else’s feet were to meet an exposed ejection, the owner of the blob would immediately suffer a sore throat. Baba Shukudi, being sure that there were no potholes in the road for the next half kilometer, immediately looked through the side mirror, hoping to find that his ejection was not in the path of any vehicle’s hot tires. The idea of what would happen to his throat should this be the case always terrified him.

 
“Baba Shukudi, face front naa!”

 
The driver said a quick prayer and returned to concentrating on the long, winding road ahead of him. He didn’t want madam replacing him with any of the newer junior drivers because the allowances derivable from taking madam cross-country had kept him drinking a better brand of beer than his friends over the years.

 
Ada Sosan stared at the two and a half lane road along with the driver for a time, hoping to confirm that he’d returned full attention to getting them back to Lagos safely. The digital clock on the dashboard told her that it was only fifteen minutes past two and they might be on the road for approximately another hour. When she saw that Baba Shukudi’s shoulders were once again moving to his funny music, her thoughts wandered back to the talisman they had just retrieved. She would not be happy to tell oga at the office that she’d been unable to get any esoteric information about the large brass cymbal. The new king of Ojojo – who was a young man that had just left the United States to succeed his father in the highly profitable business of doing nothing, really – had had nothing to offer her. The only thing he’d said was that his father’s friend who had passed on years before his father and who also had happened to be the caretaker of the relic, if it was one, had kept the cymbal with his father. His father had told him nothing about it and what he had learnt, he had learnt from the palace hands who were ignorant of the real employ of the relic but had strongly advised their king to dispose of it because its original prefect had been very cunning with the diabolical, and the Harvard graduate, unlike his father had no experience on the subject of local magics.

 
Ada who had a lot experience with indigenous artifacts had seen nothing like this before. It was as large as an old DSTV satellite dish and covered with runes and drawings that she couldn’t decipher. She had consulted with the local witch doctors but they had all turned her away on seeing the cymbal. All, except one who had admitted his ineptitude and confessed also, that none of the others would be able to unravel the mysteries because it was a guarded magical symbolism that had died with its last caretaker. After a month, he had advised her to fling the thing far into the sea in Lagos but of course, Ada would do no such thing. She was only frustrated that she would have to admit to her boss that she’d reached a dead end. Perhaps the most annoying thought was that she knew that her boss was going to send her back here again.

 
The cymbal was dull coloured and beaten like a war shield. Some of the drawings on it were caricatures of men and women and children, demons, sacrifices, dances, fishing and farming. These however were only decorations, her professional experience told her that much. The demons however were not any deities familiar with the location of retrieval and the sacrifices had no significance to the spiritual customs of the place. More importantly, concerning the runes themselves, she had no clue. It had been covered with a black cloth when it had been presented to her but she had forgotten to take the sheath along. Ada sighed. What if the black cloth was significant in some way? She remembered that they wouldn’t let her take the covering off in the palace. She would definitely have to return.

 
While Ada submerged herself into the wanderings of her subconscious, Baba Shukudi’s throat began to itch once again. He let it rip and the thick mass flew out his window and landed on the lane beside him where a smaller car was racing to overtake him. He saw one of the Passat’s tires run over the ejection and he immediately began to despair. As soon as he turned his attention back to the road, he discovered that it was too late to avoid a pothole that was a few meters ahead of him. The wicked jolt brought Ada back from her reverie. The cymbal complained loudly as well and when Ada would try to calm it down, her fingers and the inside of her palm would be severely burned.

 
She would scream and turn to the driver for succor but discover that he has put his two hands in his mouth and he is scratching furiously at the insides of his throat. There would be blood and a thick yellow goo crawling down his hands and spraying the windshield. Through a cleaner part of the glass, Ada would see the bus headed off the road, towards a very steep slide down to a rocky death. She would close her eyes and shut the thought of death out, wishing desperately for a calm blackness, one her subconscious brings to her in remembrance of her days in the comfort and protection of her mother’s womb. The bus would roll down the incline and burst into flames.

 
The Passat that was making to overtake the bus would become a black and yellow Ferrari, the young man driving it would pass out in shock when he realizes that his thoughts at that very moment are brought to life. In his unconscious state, the dead weight of his booted foot would still sleep on the accelerator causing the plain sedan turned sports vehicle to very speedily run under a truck that is crawling ahead. Wiz Khalifa would be put to silence as soon as the collision occurs.

 
Ada would find herself in a calming, black place because her thoughts have prevailed as well. Slowly, her senses would remind her of why the place seems so familiar. She would climb over the body of her husband who is sleeping away the stress of his night shift at the hospital and feel around on the wall for a light switch. The low fluorescence would still shock her eyes but she would be more upset by the burns on her hands. Her wristwatch would tell her seventeen minutes have gone by since it was two o’clock and a peek outside the thick curtains would confirm that it was still day. She would have to believe it because she is dressed for work as well.
 

Although, her mind has a clear recollection of the events of the day, she would be in a logical dilemma about the past two minutes. She would go to bed in tears, terrified, and not at all sleepy. She would close her eyes, hoping to open them soon and find it all a dream.

 

 

 

The legend of Two Strokes August 2, 2010

Filed under: Scenic — afrosays @ 6:43 am
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It’s still a riddle for me, how I’m going to wake up very frequently in the week to beat the gong in obeisance to the dictates of the AfroMuse.

I’ve discharged my duties effectively so far but lately I’ve been hoping to broadcast her messages to a wider audience.

I’d be waiting for that higher calling while put on my garb, clean the weekend dust off my gong and walk into the streets early this morning, waking the neighborhood, just because AfroSays:

THE LEGEND OF TWO STROKES

Our Late Principal

Our Late Principal

It was still my first week at the village school when the kids dubbed me “Two Strokes”. The teachers eventually came to identify me by that name.
Two Strokes, however, did not survive long enough to become a secondary school legend like the Madame Koi Koi types. In fact, his legacy perished with the beginning of the second academic term after the Christmas break. I write about him now, twenty years later, laughing at the memory of it all. Permit me to title my narration, “The fleeting legend of Two Strokes”.
Two Strokes was a celebrity. I was granted immunity from the severe flogging that befell my comrades in crime whenever they were caught. My claim to fame had been incidental to the calamity that had befallen the first person who dared to lay his hands on me. Since then, nobody had been brave enough to test the ‘head’ of two strokes, who knew what misfortune might befall them? My ruthless karma kept them all at bay. This however ended when Madame Rita, our new principal, came along.
“Obinna Ike”, she called out finally, summoning me to the front of the school assembly to receive my share of flogging for resuming school late, all week, as was my tradition. It was general practice at the village school to make an example of students who committed offences that were above classroom jurisdiction on the Friday closing assembly.
I wasn’t surprised that I was last on the list because only the worst offenders were given that honour. My predecessors were in a crumpled heap to the left, broken and subdued, looking like a scene from Hades.
I made my way to the front with confidence, walking with the false limp I had learned from my Lagos-based cousins during the Christmas holiday. The students immediately started cheering me on loudly. “Two Strokes! Two Strokes! Two Strokie Strokie!!!” rang out from the masses of students in united worship of the one who was above them all. I took the glory in stride, waving, shaking hands, blowing kisses and signing autographs. Damn! It felt good to be Two Strokes.
The teachers didn’t bother calming them down, they were concerned for Madame Rita. They all tried to reason with the indignant little lady but she couldn’t understand them; she preached discipline and equity like it was the Holy Gospel. When the five teachers saw that their efforts were in vain, they left it to the Vice Principal to tell to tale of Two Strokes. He did his best to educate the madam with his handicapped employment of the Queens language.
“Two Stroke is not a boy to be flog”, he said, “He kill our last principal”
I remember that day like my mother remembers the day she gave birth to me.
We were having mathematics lessons and I was late that morning. The classroom back door was open and I peeped in to discover that the principal was the one teaching. I was officially chopped and screwed.
His was writing on the blackboard, back turned to the classroom so I quietly slipped into the class and made for my seat at the far right. I was about to take my seat when old man smirked, back still turned, and said aloud, “Two strokes”.
He then turned to the class and continued, “Two strokes for late coming, two strokes for not greeting ya elders”. I looked at him briefly because something on the teacher’s desk caught my eye; that cane looked like it had been optimized for inflicting excruciating pain on its victims. It was long, thin and so flexible that even the sudden stir of wind in the classroom caused it to swing menacingly. It looked like it was practising for me. I desperately that wished I wasn’t the only person who was late that day but it seemed that the other students had learned their lessons early enough. I was on my own.
The old man turned back to the wretched blackboard and finished writing the class work on the board. The fear in me combined with the fact that I was late to class, earned me a zero with mouse ears, and I was to get two strokes for every single question I missed. I had successfully earned fourteen strokes for my scrawny back to endure. The cane on the table was swinging mockingly and my spirit man was in tears.
It was time. The rest of the cane’s victims lined up behind me, each giving praise to God that for the number of victims that preceded him. I could even smell urine somewhere from the line at my back, the terror was paralyzing.
The principal smiled and started again, announcing my offences like a judge before issuing a sentence. “Two strokes, my friend”
“Two strokes for coming late”
“Two strokes for not greeting ya elders”
“Two strokes for missing question one”
“Two strokes …” he went on and on and on and ON and finally beckoned for me. I don’t know how my wobbly legs managed to transport my body to the terrifying presence of that wicked old man.
He lifted my punisher into the air.
Both of them collapsed onto the cement ground. He teachers rushed the grandpa to the school clinic, and eventually to the village dispensary. He died of a stroke.
Madame Rita couldn’t believe her ears. “That’s just a coincidence!”, she exclaimed, in an effort to convince the superstitious lot that I wasn’t an enigma after all.
“Madame Rita, you better not try me!”, I warned her boldly, “Or else!”
The slap was louder than the cheer of my supporters club. “Or else what?” she retorted. I would have responded but I was already dazzled by the glory of the starred universe.
Her cane wasn’t as daunting as that off my former adversary but lord knows that little lady could flog out the colour from a black man. When she was done, I created a special crumbled heap of my own and it admitted only those who Hades had referred to his mentor.
A taboo had been broken. My cry was the only sound that morning; even the noisy birds from the Guava tree were silent, recognizing the anathema.
Madame Rita did not resume work the following Monday morning.
She came in right before closing time to share the news of her newborn grandsons, bringing with her a picture of the cutest little twins you ever saw.
As for me, the teachers did not spare any efforts in making up for lost time. It was the same for seniors, school bullies and any other person whose fury had been held back by the legend of Two Strokes.
Although Madame Rita took me under her wing in the long run, grooming me to be useful enough to become the class captain, and later the head boy, I would forever miss the immunity I enjoyed in the awe-inspiring shoes of Two Strokes.
Thus ends my tale.

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