Black Bird – Chapter One(c)

Fainting at awkward moments was quick becoming my reputation in the village. And after three years of living with Iya Elewe, I started considering going back to my father because people would whisper when I pass by. Some think I’m a witch. Others try hard not to offend me, and some called me Omo omi. The last one might not be completely wrong if I would believe the story my grandmother told me.

It was another hot evening spent outside swatting mosquitoes with our wrappers while staring up hopefully at Iya Elewe. She has always been a patient woman and the baales favorite even though she never bore him a child.
My father and his brother were the two children she had with her first husband who died even before my father could crawl.
Her sonorous voice wandered off into the night, and she had barely begun, when little children in the household gathered at her feet beside me. To them, it was merely story time. But I hung on to every word she had to say… Because my life depended on it.

“Many years ago, there were only gods in the world. Gods are different from deities. The gods are the children of the deities.”
She paused to swat a mosquito that landed on her arm. Silly thing disrupting my story. I rose up to fan Iya Elewe with the tattered abebe we all shared. If she’s well fanned, the mosquitoes would go away and the story won’t be interrupted.
“Ose omo mi” she said thank you and then continued.

There was one diety who bore twin sons. Olokun and Oloke. These sons were extremely different and powerful. Oloke was the serious son. He was very disciplined and respectful to their father. Olokun on the other hand was liberal. He loved to have fun and he was very fashionable. He made fun of many principles and did as he pleased. Yet, he was their fathers favourite.
One day, Oloke proposed to have a competition with his brother in order to determine who actually had the right to rule the world. He suggested Olokun choose what competition they would use to decide.

Olokun feeling rather confident decided to have a fashion parade with Oloke, knowing fully well his brother was the worst dresser in the world.
Unfortunately, what Oloke lacked in fashion, he made up for in cunning. On the day of the competition, Oloke connived with his friend the chameleon to imitate every style olokun came up with. The contest went on and on for days.

Eventually, Olokun gave up and conceded the control of the world and left his brother to rule. He retired to the seas ever since and every once in a while, Olokun would take up human flesh and marry a human and raise a family.
One day, Oloke tired and upset by the abomination his brother was committing, he seized his human costume and Olokun was no longer able to visit with mortals anymore.
That didn’t deter him though because even from the underbellies of the seas, olokun blessed his descendants. You could see the waves every time a child is born that belongs to Olokuns children’s children.

He gifts them with different special gifts, beauty and wealth and any child that belongs to Olokun that can realise their talent will be able to overcome the challenges Oloke sets in their path because Oloke was fond of giving every mortal problems in life so that they would remember him and send offerings to the heavens but olokuns children always overcome.

She concluded her story by saying “there are demigods amongst us.”

Wow! It was unbelievable. Was Iya Elewe trying to say that I’m a mamiwater? The little ones had already slept half way through the story and I helped ranti and aunty Bose take them in.

Theres no way I could make peace and sleep that night. I tossed and turned in bed, wondering what was true, if Iya Elewe was just tricking me.

I woke up the next morning. My cover clothe was drenched in my sweat. Evidence of a fitful sleep filled with strange dreams. In one of my dreams, I was having my traditional wedding with Olokuns son… Oloke was angry that we were committing incest so he jailed us.

“Mama mi…” I woke Iya Elewe before setting out to the river.

“Yes? I’m awake. What is wrong?”

“Am I truly the child of olokun?” I asked her fearfully.

“Don’t be afraid. Its not as terrible as you think. You will be fine. ” She assured me. Her voice was hoarse and I realised even though she told me she was awake… I just woke her up.

I caressed my cheeks wondering why she gave me those tribal marks. I could never forgive her for it.

“I thought the spirit wouldn’t recognise you, and leave you alone. Olokuns children are all flawless and beautiful” its like she read my mind. Her explanation sounded apologetic.

I was quiet all the way to the river. We had stopped going to that big river where we nearly died. There’s a smaller river down hill just a little beyond the central mosque. We didn’t mind going there.

All I could think of was Iya Elewe doesn’t know anything. Wait till my father hears this. I am a christian. My father taught us about Jesu Olugbala. Wait till he hears that Iya Elewe wants to turn me into a Mami water.



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