Abiye by Samuel Oluwatobi Olatunji

Civilization has not killed the gods. You stood there, staring, trying to assimilate all that you had seen. The two agberos that had tried to harass you before the old man came to dissuade them, which made them (the agberos) to bully him too, had become nothing but pieces of bloody brown rag. The old man after receiving three stony slaps from the agberoshad to show them his real colour. He transformed into a metaphysical being with long claws and tore the agberos into fleshy rags before disappearing. These pieces reminded you of the ero igbe that Mama Salewa used to sell, before the Ebola breakout in Nigeria. These agberos had become food to the gods for they did not understand the meaning of ewo. Old age should not be trampled on by young feet. Their disobedience birthed their destruction.

***

Standing there, your identity began to unravel, for you were an unusual child. Abiku had planted their throne on your mother’s bed before you came. Your mother gave birth to six children: Abike, Ayomide, Itunu, Ikukoyi, Yewande, and Ifadele. But none of the six children lived beyond seven years. Then you came, daughter of the gods, the nascent cry from the dome of dusk.

Your mother that had become an old woman took you to the house of Ifaseyi, the voice of the gods. She wanted to know the length of your life. She wanted to be sure that you were not another Abiku that hurts a mother’s heart.

Abiye ni!” Ifaseyi declared, with a smile that added honey to your mother’s troubled heart. You were a child born to live. You had defiled the throne of the Abiku. You, the figment of old age, were the fire of joy that would never become ashes at dawn. The grave could not pluck you unripe.

Your parents celebrated, feeding almost the whole villagers for now their joy had come to stay. Death had finally rejected this child of theirs. The Abiku had retired. The gods had shown mercy. And you were named ‘Abiye’, the one born to live above the fangs of death. At last, your mother had found joy and could sing the song of motherhood.

***

Now, you could see people returning. Two journalists were taking pictures of the battered bodies on the ground. Another journalist ran towards you, wanting to get your opinion as an eyewitness. You turned around, walking away as fast as you could. You did not want to be seen on any newspaper or TV. You felt your time had not come to be known. The approaching journalist then turned towards a pot-bellied man to interview him.

As you walked away, you imagined what the headlines would be like: ‘THE RETURN OF IWIN’ or ‘IWIN IN TOWN’. It might also be ‘AN OLD MAN BECAME AN IWIN’ or ‘TWO AGBEROS AND AN IWIN’. Surely, the journalists would come up with an interesting headline that would catch one’s attention at first glimpse.

You were now about seven streets away, when you noticed another crowd. You wondered what was happening as you moved closer.

Right there in the midst of the crowd were two naked women with bruises all over their bodies like red tattoos. Some people in the crowd were holding the instruments of jungle justice: sticks, stones, cutlass, broken bottles and the likes. You wondered how people with a heart could unite to inflict pain on another person for a sin they privately commit too.

Ata ni won ji. They stole pepper!” A young boy that should be about seven years old informed you as you tried to find out why the women were being beaten. You wondered why he was not in school when his mates should be learning in a classroom at that hour.

Ata? Ordinary pepper!” Anger filled you. These women were being abused because they were accused of stealing just pepper. What a world!

You forced your way into the crowd, pushing people aside, not bothered if anyone you pushed would turn and offer your face a solid slap. As soon as you stepped into the centre of the crowd, you commanded everyone to pause.

“Are you people this heartless? You want to beat these women to death because you claim they steal common pepper. Ata laso! Common pepper! If I were you, I would give them onions, tomatoes, salt, meat, and everything they need to prepare soup. Or can only pepper make a soup? In fact, I would give them ewedu and elubo too…”

Elejo, na you sabi. Who you think sey you be wey you wan come control us anyhow?Tani iwo? Who you be? If you no waka jejeli from here, we go beat you join them!” A macho man with a bushy cheek and black lips, who certainly wasuneducated, threatened you.

“May the gods cease your voice forever!” You declared in anger. And the man went dumb. That was when you realised that the gods had finally allowed you to fulfil your destiny of being the messiah of the messed, the deliverer of the damaged.

Instead of creating fear in the hearts of the crowd, this act of yours provoked some people in the crowd. They rushed towards you, with their veins bulging out like thick electric wires on their necks, foreheads and hands. They were like zombies, rushing towards a living human, who obviously is food to them

E duro be! Stop there!” You screamed, raising your two hands like a traffic officer with vertical palms signalling ‘stop’, and your eyeballs became fire. Seeing this, they turned back and fled, screaming “Iwin! Aje! Egbere!”

You tried to calm yourself before facing the fear-stricken, abused women, who were shivering as if they were feeling cold although the sun was unleashing its superiority proudly on earth.

“The gods forgive you. Go and sin no more!”

Suddenly, they were clothed and their bruises disappeared. They knelt down, thanking you.

“Please, let us come with you.” The younger of the two women pleaded with you, but you refused.

“Go your way, and let me follow my path in peace.” You walked away, knowing that your journey into destiny fulfilment had just begun. Faraway, you could hear the old man that first defended you this morning still singing your Oriki.

 

 

 

 

 

Sam OlatunjiSamuel Oluwatobi Olatunji is a freelance writer and editor. He has been published in a number of journals, magazines, anthologies and blogs such as Black Heart Magazine, Black Communion (Poets of the New African Poets), Rolling Thunder Quarterly,Rivers Poets Journal, Footmarks: Poems on One Hundred Years of Nigeria’s Nationhoodand elsewhere.He is the co-editor of The Rape of Death, an anthology of poems.Currently, he is studying English at University of Lagos, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter: @Mr_Samitude

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