Aikume waited till even the crickets had slept before she crept out of her bed and into the bushes. The moon wasn’t out yet, so she had to trace her fingers on the branches as she made her way down the path. She really didn’t need to, she knew the stream by heart. It was where she was born, it was where she was unveiled as a woman and it was also where she had fought Achiiche for the right to the first dance when the warriors had returned. Familiarity, oozed mud between her toes as she walked into the river bank.Nothing was amiss, nothing seemed different, so she hummed and peeled off her wrapper and tossed it on the shrub nearby.
Aikume, sashayed slowly into the river, squealing at the cool water, as she did; every night.
“Mama, mama, when will I eat, when will I eat?” she began to sing softly as she loosened her thick hair from the single braid that held it bound.
“Mama, when will I eat?’…… She continued softly.
“Adikan, has eaten, Gazobe has eaten, even Ubitu has eaten, oh mama, mama…”
She wasnt the prettiest girl in the village, let alone her family and she knew it. Adikan and Gazobe were far more beautiful that she was. She was plain looking, tall as any other, and shapely as any other. Nothing was particularly exceptional about her. Her skin was fairer than theirs though, which made no sense, both parents were as dark as dye, how she came out with skin the color of new clay, no one knew.
Kankan woke up with a start. His dreams had been invaded by the woman again. Every night for over a month, he dreamed about a woman, naked, rising slowly from a river. Every night, just before he would see her face, he’d wake up.
Kankan moved expertly under the shrubs, rubbing his eyes, lazily. Spying out territories was beginning to get tiring, this night alone had left four scars on his legs.
“Mother, where is our oil, mother where is our pot, oh when will I eat? When will I also eat?”
Kankan, stilled and grabbed his sword. He had not heard her walk up to the stream. He crouched and crawled to get a closer look, accidentally brushing past some thorned vines.
In shocked pain, he let out a curse.
The singing stopped
“Who is there?”
“ Adiiche if that’s you playing a prank, I swear, this time, I will really beat you…”
Kankan cursed again.
He couldn’t make out her face but her voice was tickling him nicely.
“I know someone is here, whoever it is, show yourself!”
Kankan, sighed and stepped out of the bushes, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your bath or your song” He took a step towards her and instinctively, she took one back.
“My name is Kankan, I’m not from this village, I was resting in the shrubs over there, when I heard you sing.”
She cocked her head to one side and even though she was neck deep in water, he knew she folded her arms.
“Kankan” she repeated.
Aikume smiled and slowly rose out of the stream; towards Kankan, wearing nothing but the beads that lined her waist.
“I’ve been waiting for you”
Kankan stood wide eyed, mouth open, unable to move, “the girl in the dream, that’s you…”