ACHIKE TELLS A STORY
It was nearing dusk and everybody was busy at the farm. They were trying so hard to finish the remaining portions of their daily targets. Achike, one of the inhabitants of the Island was engrossed in ‘oware’ game with his daughter, Agbaza. They had returned from the farm.Agbaza was a young girl, she was very beautiful and she often involved her father in conversations that had something to do with Zidi, her homeland. Her father had promised to tell her a story that evening.
‘Ehee! Dad, whilst I was cooking you promised to tell me a story about some men who settled here two centuries ago, or you wanted me to cook a delicious meal as you have done before?’ Agbaza enquired. That was what Achike did whenever he wanted her to prepare a delicious meal. So Agbaza’s question was right.
‘My daughter, it is not at all times that we the elderly say something that we will not do.’ he replied. ‘We are not politicians. Any time I promise you a story, I tell you a story but not exactly what I promise.’ Agbaza realized that what her father said was true.‘You just turned seventeen and could not have survived if I had told you those stories. They are deadly,’ he added.
‘Okay, dad let’s continue.’
‘My daughter, you look frightened.’
‘No! Dad I am okay.’
‘My daughter you are not. I know you since time immemorial.’ he said. ‘Remember that I am the one who gave birth to you and so when you look worried or frightened I know.’
‘Dad I am not frightened I just want to listen to the story you promised me. I am interested; I think I should know what it is all about.’
‘Now listen to me my daughter.’
‘I am all ears dad.’
‘There once was a time nobody lived on this Island.’ he said. ‘It was one farmer; Zidi who discovered this Island.’ he continued,‘Zidi was not only a farmer but a hunter as well. There were a lot of plant and animal species here where he hunted daily.’ he continued, ‘this Island is twenty-nine kilometers away from Chorko, where he dwelt. It took him eleven months to prepare and finally settle here.’ Agbaza listened with rapt attention.‘After a century, so many people came and joined him.’ he continued, ‘when they came they decided to elevate him in status by making him the King and naming the Island after him.’
‘Dad, but I hear the people of Zidi ever experienced cannibalism.’
‘My daughter it is true.’ he replied.‘There was once a time the gods became angry and destroyed almost all lives and properties on Zidi Island.’ he continued, ‘the earth goddess was angry with Yadu; a herbalist who overthrew Zidi.’ he added, ‘the entire family of Yadu got extinct and other relatives of his were ostracized.’ he continued, ‘that is why we still have that annual calamity, the Yadu calamity. Whenever it is getting to that period, the earth goddess becomes angry and therefore destroys innocent souls.’
‘Dad can’t anything be done about it?’
‘My daughter, the earth goddess is the mother god of the Island.’ he said.‘Unlike other gods they consult, it is the only god nobody has attempted consulting.’ Agbaza looked at him in the eyes. He realized the girl had a question to ask. He continued, ‘your grandfather told me that several of his brothers tried consulting that god and died while in the process. Their dead bodies could not be traced for burial.’ The girl trembled with fear. She realized that she didn’t have that heart to listen to such stories. Achike continued, ‘since then nobody attempted consulting the earth goddess, so she does only what she likes.’
‘Dad, I am afraid of our livelihood.’ she said. Achike realized that fear had gripped his daughter.‘A few days ago while we were in the forest looking for firewood, we heard somebody scream at a far distance.’ she continued, ‘We were in a predicament because we believed we were the only people in the forest at that time.’ she added. Achike could predict what she was goingto say, ‘The voice drew nearer and nearer, so we had to leave the firewood and run home.
I remember I fell asleep the moment I came home.’ Her intonation changed, and Achike realized that fear had gripped the girl.‘I dreamt, and in my dream I saw that cannibalism was still in existence on this Island.’ Achike felt so sorry. Why did his daughter have such a terrible dream? He thought. Agbaza continued, ‘I saw remains of dead bodies around. I moved a little further and saw mum lying among them as if she was also dead.
Mum feigned dead and was among the dead bodies.’ She could no longer hold the tears in her eyes.‘I woke up immediately after the dream, still frightened, I rushed out of the room and I saw that mum had returned from the farm and was busy cooking.’ she continued,‘I told her exactly what I saw and she assured me of its reality.’ she asked, ‘she told me about a divination a year before I was born, is it true?’
‘Yes my daughter, it is true.’
‘Dad, what then has caused your long stay here?’ she enquired.‘We have to leave this Island before that time. It is a necessity dad, look at what King Zuma is doing to the people; marrying all the beautiful women forcefully.’ she added,‘dad if we don’t leave on time, I am sure that by that time I will be a culprit of such a misfortune.’ she continued,‘to my surprise, the friend I was in the forest with had the same dream.
Dad, it is high time we took a decision before we are overwhelmed by situations around us.’ she pleaded. Her father held her tightly to his body and then said, ‘don’t worry; things are going to be better.’ he added, ‘my daughter, take it easy. It shall be well, King Zuma cannot continue to rule this Island if he fails to change his attitude.’ Agbaza asked a question immediately. ‘Dad, what did you just say, how many years has he ruled?’ Achike didn’t utter any word to her. Agbaza continued, ‘he has ruled for more than seventy years, dad. You don’t mean it, we just have to leave.’ Her tears at that time could make a river.
To be continued....................
Source: ABU ABDUL GANIYU