I feel the texture of the stone in the ball of my fingers; it’s a reflection of how I feel on the inside – hard and rough. My muscles remain calm as I hold the tensioned rubber-band still. I close my left eye and wait for the white furry creature to come into sight between the Y-sticks of my catapult.
“Don’t! Don’t kill it”, Dayo whispers. “You know they say about killing an Eliili…”
I need him to stop talking, because this is a shot I cannot afford to make twice and I am not expecting him to be the sissy – that is Kunle’s reserved role.
My knees begin to shake as I squat in the lush green vegetation and hear butterflies flutter by my head; these animals are perhaps the only likable thing about Igbo Imogije. The trees rise so tall into the sky that you have to crane your head all the way up to see their top, the ground cover is thick and rife with holes that are capable breaking the leg, and the shrubs have a nasty habit of cutting into the skin as if they were reinforcing the sentiment of the towns people – “Stay Away”.
“Never go into the Imogije” my mother always said, in that beautiful husky voice of hers that sounded like that of the Oderekoko.
“Please don’t do this” Kunle whispers in a voice that tells me he is seconds away from crying.
“Mama told me that anyone who kills an Eliili will lose his mother before the month runs out”
I smile a little; it’s been over a month that my lips parted in a smile
The Eliili comes into view, sashaying slowly and gracefully on the tree branch like it knows no one dares to touch it. It moves into my line of sight and stays there for a moment, taunting me. It raises its tiny head to the sky, brings it down rapidly and repeats the motion twice before moving to the right hand side of my catapult.
I wait for it to proceed on its way out of sight and then… Whoosh! I release the stone and hold my breath as I watch it make contact with the Eliili’s body. It screeches in pain and hits the ground with a low thud.
I can hear my mother’s voice in my head as she taught me how to use the catapult.
“Babatunde, why do you always pull to the right?” Those were good times…
I don’t understand why Kunle and Dayo cannot see this; just recently, I have entered the league of men whom the Eliili cannot harm, I can kill as many as I want to.