The Penalty

Tribe: Efik found in Cross River and Calabar.

You move to the rhythm, back and forth. Hidden securely behind the brown and black calico of the masque, the color of leopards; you feel the thrill. You know the law by heart, Papa always recited it like an anthem;
“Any woman who wears the Ekpe masque, the penalty is death.”
Several times Papa took Asuquo and Edikan on secret trips to the forest, teaching them the Nsibidi signs; you recall tears you shed at being left out because you were a girl and you revel in the knowledge that stealing the masque and posing as the famous Ekpe masquerade will prove to Papa that you’re as good as your brothers.

The music stops. The festival continues.
It’s difficult to breathe or see through the masque, you hurry from the arena to take it off.
“Stop right there.”
You freeze.
“Unmask him. Something’s not right.”
Papa’s voice. Can you still escape? You can’t get caught.
Hands jostle you, stripping you of the masque.
“Barasuene!” a gasp.
You lower your eyes.
“Taboo! A woman fooled us all! She defiled the masque!” One of the men draped in the customary ukara cloth speaks.
Dread twists your heart.
“Barasuene…why?” Papa’s voice quivers.
“I just wanted…”
“The penalty is death, you know it Edidem,” Bassey interjects.
“Don’t kill me!” you protest, awaiting Papa’s rescue.
And suddenly there is a burning vibration in your eyes that forces you to your knees.
“Barasuene?” Papa is beside you.
Your eyes burn.
“What is it, child?”
You open your eyes and…nothing.
“Papa, where are you? ”
“Here. Can’t you see?”
You blink. The darkness remains, thick as a fog. You begin to sob as realization dawns on you. A prank gone wrong.You have bitten off more than you could chew.



16 thoughts on “The Penalty” by Mimiadebayo (@Mimiadebayo)

  1. This is deep. I love how it builds up and climaxed. You senior writers should stop agbayaing us NA. Delete your entry Make we chop some minority money na.

    1. Hehehehe @H-RATED your comment cracked me up sire. No one is agbaying anyone na. May the best man win. Thank you for your kind comment.

  2. I like this too.
    2nd person POV always gets me when well written.
    This one took me along from the first line.
    Good work Mimi.

    1. Jummy you’re pretty darling at 2nd POV yourself. Thank you for your kind comment. I appreciate. Good to see you on here. By the way I’m silently following NHOCS. Great job.

    1. Thank you Kosnie.

  3. Nice one! well written but that penalty tho!

    1. Thank you Daramola

  4. I just love the 2nd person POV. I’m presently working on it myself and you just showed me i still have a long way to go. Great job!

    1. Thank you Sam. We all learn everyday.

  5. i like this one… very well told … @mimiadebayo …intense.

  6. @Mimiadebayo, NS lady of suspense actually are you still that?

  7. @Mimiadebayo, just realised my comment didn’t show up properly.

    The rest said;

    Don’t mind me oo just looking for trouble.

    Great story, well written, I felt like I was there. Well done

  8. Nawa o, d kind literary talents wey i dey see for ds country shaa…una dey fear me…..Lol..mimi, u re gud

  9. Incredible story telling. Loved this and delighted it made the long list. One thing sha. Efiks are found in Cross River and not in Akwa Ibom. Akwa Ibom has Ibibios, Ekets, Anangs and so on. Cheers

  10. I like the telling of the story. ‘You have bitten more than you can chew’ drove the story home. Good work. Kudos.

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