NAME: BELLO, ABDULMAJEED MOHAMMED
ADDRESS: JJ9 IBADAN STREET, KADUNA
BIO: Aspiring poet and writer. Student, Faculty of Agriculture, A.B.U Zaria
RECOLLECTION “Get yourself together
Nothing lasts forever
Soon all this will be over
The storm will pass, it’s just the weather”
These words Father said
“You’ll be a man someday
You’ll understand why things work in a certain way
You will learn everyday
You’ll realise no one was built to stay
As you grow, learn to love and make it stay
Make your mother smile every day
Do you hear the words I say?”
These words Father said
“You mightn’t know your threshold for pain
Until losing a dear one drives you insane
Don’t remember me with teary eyes filled with pain
Smile even if you have to feign
When you see your reflection in the window pane
Remember whose son you are again
And stay strong, for life could hit much harder again”
Father never said
The city of Okene, some inhabitants protest should have been named “City of Rocks.” It is encircled by rocks in such a manner one would be forgiven to think the city was besieged by giants carved out of rocks; they enclosed the city in a way that only when the sun is directly overhead that the entire city at a time receives sunlight. The main entrance to the city was a tunnel whose gates where visible only to the sons and daughters of the city; to the outsider, it was just another rock.
Nene was different. Her appearance isn’t of Okene the elders say. Some say she carries the curse of her great uncle, Goulov- who defeated the seven witches in a battle of wits to liberate Okene from their clutches. They don’t take kindly to losses, they yielded the city to him but not without placing a curse on him. No one knows what the curse is or even if there really is one- others say she is of the spirits of light and will grow to be a guardian of the city. But whatever the speculation, Nene was different, very different.
To stand a chance of defeating the seven witches, Goulov had to seek the help of tribes and empires near and far. The Fulani of the far north, the Kanuri of the eastern empire, the Iyala tribe- curious water worshippers, the sons of the great Bayajida, and everyone whose courage to want to live free trampled their fear of the witches. Most of them settled in Okene after the battles, it became home. Everyone, native or settler, had long, thick, green hair. They say Goulov put some sort of powers in the river that supplied water to the city so when you wash, your hair became that: long, thick, green. It symbolises resilience they say.
But Nene had short, brown hair. Onya named her Ohunene- one that is cool-headed- but Nene’s temperament couldn’t be further from the truth. The Ebira people tend to personify their names; Oyiza always wants to do the right thing, Ome’iza could give out all he possessed, and everyone just loved Enesi. But Nene, she was fire.
Just a little more, Nene told herself, as she struggled to get to the top of Ireta- a rock kilometres away from Okene. Kaah-ka lives in a cave atop of it. She lived in seclusion there, faraway from the people. I do hope I find her, Nene thought, she should know what this means, she has to. She stopped to catch her breath at the entrance of the cave. After a deep, long breath she poked her head inside. Utter darkness. “Hellooo,” she whispered, “Kaa-ka are you in here, anyone?” This has to be the place. She turned to see how high she’d climbed, but just as she turned a light flickered from inside the cave. She ventured inside hurriedly chasing the light. It seemed like a firefly. It stopped abruptly and she stopped too, it felt like a stand-off. But just as she started to speak, the light shone so brightly it blinded her momentarily. When she opened her eyes, there stood Kaa-ka; only she wasn’t really there. Kaa-ka is a hologram, a ghost?
“What brings you here?” Kaa-ka snapped.
“I, I had dream, a most disturbing one,” Nene whispered, “Onya said to find you if I ever had such ”
The sound of “Onya” made her glow a litle brighter. “Come now, ” Kaa-ka said, “there isn’t much time. I have waited three hundred years for this day.” She grabbed her arm and dragged her through a spiral tunnel. They seemed to be riding on the wind literally, spirally downwards. So the legend is true, Kaa-ka is really old, she thought, and how on earth does a ghost have such firm grip?
“Quieten your thoughts! We have no time I said!”
They stopped and a door opened. “Now listen,” Kaa-ka said, “Find those three friends of yours, go to the Avi Forest, Find the tree of Kache, and whatever it takes do not let Eku come out of it. Take these bracelets, you’ll need them, you’ll know what to do, you’re of Goulov’s blood. Now hurry!” Then she pushed Nene out the door, it shut and vanished. Nene realised she was standing at the base of the rock.
Nene was sprinting back to Okene when she collided with something. She picked herself up almost as soon as she fell. She looked around for what she must have collided into and there they were on the ground: Adda, Ali and Kagana. “Nene we were just looking for you ” Adda said as she picked herself up. “We had this weird dream, each of us, and something just pulled us towards Ireta.”
“Yeah me too,” Nene replied, “we need to go to Avi right away, Kaa-ka said we need to stop Eku before…”
“Sorry What?!” Kagana interjected, “kin haukacé fa, you’re bonkers I swear.”
“Just listen to me, what did you see in your dream?”
A ghost came up to us, told us to get our guardian totems and find you. That you would know what to do.” Ali said.
“Good. Now if we do not stop Eku, by tomorrow we will all…”
“Wallahi eh,” Kagana uttered, “the three of us are just hallucinating, do ghosts even talk? What if…”
“Shut up!” The three of them screamed at him.
Almost immediately, there was a deep roar from the direction of the Avi, and the ground trembled. The four of them whistled at the same time, summoning their guardian totems. The trees swooshed and the wind whistled as their totems took form from thin air and appeared by their sides. They all were seven-foot animals. Kagana’s was a black panther he named Chizo; Adda’s was a white stallion she called Fara; Ali’s was a grizzly bear he named Duka, and Nene’s guardian was a white leopard she named Snow.
As they mounted their totems, Nene realised why she was named so; she wasn’t meant to be cool-headed after all, but to cool off the flames of destruction threatening to annihilate everything she ever loved.
“Are you ready baby girl?” She asked.