Oro

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It is past midnight and I am reclined on my bamboo bed, but for some reason sleep evades me. This is one of those nights when the Oba has instructed that everyone must be indoors before 12am because the Oro will emerge from the underworld and prowl the streets of our village with its worshippers on its tail.
I have always been curious to know what happens during this nocturnal procession, to know why we the womenfolk are not allowed to participate. They even say where the men may be pardoned, a woman simply won’t, as she’ll be offered up to Sango as sacrifice.
But I am not one to be deterred by such flimsy rumours. This is why tonight, I have turned low the wick of my hurricane lamp so that it spills a dull, flickering orange light and casts small, black shadows against the mud walls and their thousand crevices.
I fiddle with the hems of my wrapper as I await the Oro procession. Thoughts of Akanji begin to seep in. I wonder if he has yet fallen asleep or if he can’t find sleep because he muses about me.
An overfed mouse dashes across the floor and just as I get up to find a stick, I hear the eerie whirring of the Oro masquerade.
I move to stand beside the threadbare wrapper that serves as drape for the one tiny window in my hut. Then I peer – nothing, just the terrifying noises. And then I smell the foul smoke before I see the procession – a group of about twenty men led by a fearsome creature clothed in raffia and a deathly mask. Its exhales are as guttural as the sound of its feet.
They advance and I see that the men are stark naked as they dance. I giggle as I glimpse the things dangling between their legs. I see that the disheartening whirr is, in fact, produced by a thin strip of fashioned bamboo that the Oro intermittently whirls above its head; it is not the voice of a deity after all. Aha! No wonder they keep us women…
Fear slices through my thoughts. They have stopped; they stand, rooted to the spot and glare in my direction. Olorun! I step away from the window. My heart thumps loudly, like the village ilu. I’m uncertain if they saw me. Now, the safety of my bed beckons to me. Sleep becomes a welcome phenomenon. I climb back into it and pull my wrapper over myself.
I become panic-stricken as the horrifying whirr grows louder, nearer. I wish for my ears to become numb but they don’t. Now, the sounds seem so close, as though the many sons of Sango are doing a frightful dance around my hut. Their voices are angry as they chant. Finally, a voice speaks; it is human:
“Daughter of Jezebel, you have defied the gods. Come out at once!”
Fear grips my neck, chokes me until I begin to shiver like a fowl drenched by rain. Disorientation; utter confoundedness engulfs me as I ponder how to get out of this one. Will they show mercy if I plead my cause? If the myths about them are even remotely true, I surely will not live to see another sunrise.
Severe unrest causes me to rise and pace about the dimly lit room. The voice comes again:
“The child that says its mother will not rest will surely have no rest itself. We will make you come out if you will not do so yourself.”
The once discordant voices all chant synchronously now. And then, with a voice so guttural that it makes my skin crawl, they bawl: “Oro!” and the whirring intensifies so that I cover my ears to keep out the sound.
Suddenly, a blinding flash of light illuminates the room and the masquerade appears before me bearing a horsewhip. The apparition leaves me dumbstruck until it lashes out at me. Soon, I am making a getaway  through a window that should barely fit a minor. I end up in the waiting arms of the Oro worshippers, where, with a club, someone takes a swing at my head and I black out.
When I come to, I am lying alone on the coarse ground outside my hut and they are gone. This unforeseen miracle causes my heart to leap for joy and I sing my thanks to the deities. Surely, I will pour libation to my ancestors when the sun emerges from behind its cloudy blanket. I will tell my story; that I saw the Oro and lived to tell the tale.
I know Akanji will chide me. He will remind me that curiosity killed the cat. He will say: “This your amebo will not kill you sha. What if the myths had been true? What if they hadn’t spared you?” There will be many “what ifs” and he will go on and on about it like the length of the Nile. But his loquacity is one of the things that swept me off my feet in the first place – that is, after his broad shoulders, and chest, and the huge snake with which he invariably drives me to the heights of bliss.
I sit up now and dust off the sharp particles of sand from the length of my arms. Something catches my attention, and then I turn to see me sprawled across the foliaged earth, my head a pulverized mass stained with crimson-red blood and creamy white brain fluids.

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4 Comments Add yours

    1. Kadiri Alex says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

      Like

  1. holarwale says:

    Epic !. I read this twice..
    But How does the persons spirit dusts sand from his body.. lol.
    its a nice story though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kadiri Alex says:

      Thanks for the review. In response to your observation, I believe it’s fiction. None of us have actually seen a ghost or know how they react to their physical environment. I’ve seen movies where ghosts are doused with holy water; if this is possible, why shouldn’t it also be possible for sand to stick to their body when they have contact with it?
      But as I said, it’s all fiction. There are no true facts about ghosts – only assumptions.
      Thanks for your discovery. I’ll be more careful next time. 😉

      Like

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