PROMPT: Write about dancing.
I watched her hips move freely, seemingly unhinged from her waist. The amber glow of the fire licked her ebony skin as her bead-shackled ankles danced excitedly around it in swift, fluid movements. The rattling of her waist beads mixed with the pounding of the skin drums and sailed up to the starlit skies as one melodious sound.
The excited murmurs and chants from the other onlookers just faded along with the music as my mind gave in to the enchantment before me. Her slender frame twisted and shook in time with the beat freely, without any care or restriction – never mind that she was clad in nothing but beads that dangled loosely over her perky breasts and privates. The fire seemed to enhance her already prominent facial features and her beauty radiated. Her eyes were closed, and she looked peaceful – happy even – loosing herself entirely in the dance ritual, unhindered by the burning coal beneath her feet.
Every year, I would come out with everyone else to watch the Ogamma dancer of the year, and wish and wonder and shudder at the beautiful intensity of it all. I imagined what it would be like to be the one chosen to dance for the village. An incredible honor it would be, but would I have the courage to pull it off? How would I even get my body to move like that? The ritual was very precise – every twist, every turn had to be properly timed and prosecuted, every hand movement signified something. The slightest mistake could render the whole night void. Would I be able to handle such a responsibility?
The beating of the drums intensified and my focus returned to the dancer before me. This was the part of the dance where everyone’s heart got caught in their throat. We all watched as her pace picked up and the coal beneath her feet burned a brighter red. Eyes still closed, she hopped and twisted and turned around the fire, never missing a beat or showing any signs of pain. One turn, two turns, and then her eyes sprung open on the third. She was gone now; her sunken eyes signified that Ogamma herself had taken over.
A gentle calm washed over the square as we watched the priestess dance to a gentle hum that she herself radiated. She seemed to just float above the coals, her feet never quite making contact with the surface as she moved systematically around the crackling flames. The humming stopped as she went full circle and there was a collective gasp as we watched her throw herself into the fire. We struggled to stay calm as the drumming picked up slowly, although I’m not sure if the drumming was from the skin drums or just our collective hearts beating simultaneously against our chests.
And then she rose from the flames, to a slow steady applause from her appreciative audience, an acceptable offering to Ogamma. Now forever marked and protected, dedicated to serving as the village priestess for the next year.
So, I wrote this cuz I wasn’t sure I could still write. I don’t even have a title 😦 Suggestions are welcome though 🙂 Enjoy
The fluorescent light in the rundown kitchen flickered on and off repeatedly, leaving five-and two-second intervals between each shift in lighting change.
Lara stood motionless, staring at the food placed at the center of the serving tray, the cutlery laid delicately next to it. Steam rose gently out of the bowl containing the fish pepper soup he’d demanded her to make when he had gotten back from work. I wonder what he’ll find wrong with it tonight. At the thought, contempt clouded her mind and, for some odd reason, all she could taste was steel.
Several attempts at lifting the tray had failed pitifully. Lara placed her hands on the counter, the cold causing her to shiver involuntarily. Her bones felt weak and hurt. The skin above the bones hurt even more and was covered in bruises. Slowly, she lifted her hand to her face and touched her left cheek with her fingertips. Swollen. Liquid, warm and sticky, greeted the probes and she flinched. For someone who hated the sight of blood, she’d seen an awful lot of it over the past years. This has to stop.
She was at war with her conscience. You see, this wasn’t the first time Lara had entertained this idea, but she’d always ended up backing out. Why? She wasn’t quite sure. Fear, maybe. Or most likely the barely recognisable fragments of the intense love they’d shared at a time that seemed too far back in history for Lara to remember. Whatever it was, it had kept Lanre alive this long. No more.
She whispered those two words over and again in the empty kitchen and felt her resolve strengthen. She knew this time was different. Lanre need to pay. For everything. She simply couldn’t afford to allow him another opportunity to lay a hand on her again. All the promises he’d made about things getting better had finally come to mean nothing more than empty words. Lanre’s constant cries and pleas whenever she was packed and ready to walk out, crooning in her ear how she was his entire world, how much he needed her, and how she was the most important thing in the world to him, meant nothing more to Lara now, than promises of another incident.
A low laugh escaped Lara’s lips as she remembered how often he’d cried and told her how much he hated himself for hitting her. How ashamed it made him. Funny how all that shame went out the window whenever he perceived another slight on her part. The fists would fly again, and no one could do anything to stop Lanre whenever his eyes and mind where blinded with rage. The neighbours had even stopped trying to come to her aid when Lanre had thrown a brick at a man who had pulled him off Lara’s tiny, cowering frame on the concrete floor of the compound courtyard. It’s either I kill him or he kills me. And me, I’m not ready to die.
A glance down at the bowl in front of her informed Lara she’d have to reheat the peppersoup. God forbid she presented her beloved husband with a lukewarm meal. As she shut the oven door and set the timer, the fluorescent tube flickered back on and she caught her reflection in the oven door. The woman before her was barely recognisable. She saw a woman who had been brutally beaten down by life, not the soft, happy features she once boasted. Gone was the youthful fire in her eyes that Lanre claimed had attracted him to her in the first place. Now, hey eyes were just cold…and dead. At that moment, Lara realised more than ever how desperately she needed that light back. And just what she was willing to do to get it back.
Retribution. She could almost taste it. She knew she was ready.
“OMOLARA!!!” Lanre’s voice startled her, but only briefly. She stopped the microwave and pulled out the food as he shouted again from the living room. “Ahnahn! How long does it take to make peppersoup?! Are you cooking for an army?!”
Lara composed herself and headed towards the living room with the bowl of peppersoup, stopping by the door to take the pestle in her other hand. She took a deep breath as she stepped into the living room. This is it. She walked up to where Lanre was seated in front of the TV and stood behind him, hoping her resolve didn’t fail her now. Lanre stretched out his hand without even bothering to turn his attention from the flickering images before him. Finally she opened her mouth, her voice a low whisper. “The food is here, Lanre.”
“Put it in my hand now! Are you stupid?!”
Lanre finally turned around, and the look in his eyes was unmistakeable. Hatred. Pure. Undiluted hatred.
Before Lanre could speak or react, Lara threw the bowl at his face. As expected, Lanre screamed and covered his face giving her enough time to steady herself and hold the pestle firmly in both hands. He managed to open his eyes just as she raised the pestle above her head, and Lara recognised another emotion register on her soon-to-be ex-husband’s face as the realisation of what she had planned dawned on him. His mouth opened, and his free hand went up in a petty attempt to defend himself, but she was having none of it. With every ounce of force she could muster, Lara brought the pestle down on Lanre’s head.
There was a loud pop and then a crack as she penetrated the skull, followed by a wet squelching sound. Her anger boiled over and she kept hitting his head with the pestle, her screaming serving as another outlet for her anger and frustration.
Anger subsided, Lara stood panting in the living room, the people in the television still carrying on with their business, and surrounded by a mess of blood and brain matter. And then she realised the full implications of what she had done. “Oh, darling. I’m so sorry. She whispered to no one. “You can’t imagine how much I hate myself for this. You’re my world. I’m nothing without you, and I promise this won’t happen again.” And then she laughed. It was loud and carefree, filled with purity and joy and the execution of darkness. Her first real laughter in years.
The sight of Lanre’s chair soaked in the remnants of what used to be his head filled Lara with unimaginable joy and a sense of fulfilment. She went upstairs, packed up most of her belongings and took her time getting cleaned up. As she headed out the door of their apartment, she glanced back at the mess in the sitting room and thought about what Lanre would say if he could still speak. “Ode! Useless fool. I’m going out. This place should be spotless by the time I get back.”
Rays of sunlight streamed into the room through holes in the worn out curtain. I focused my attention on the little spots that fell on odd places around the room, letting my imagination play. Any distraction was welcome lately. I tried to get into a more comfortable position, but my body hurt too much so I just stayed there. I knew I’d have to get up eventually, but he’d be out for at least three more hours. Why rush?
I hated this bed more than I hated mine. So much more. Lying on it, even being in the same room with it, was a violation of my soul, my mind, my whole being. But, unlike with my bed, I couldn’t refuse to lie on it. Why? Because I was usually thrown or pushed on it. I sighed as I watched dust particles dance in the sun rays. He grunted beside me.. Tears welled up in my eyes as another attempt to get off that dreadful bed and leave proved even more painful than the last.
The rain continued to fall outside, thundering and beating the dirt off the windows of the house, as I washed the day’s dishes by the dim glow of the only candle we had left at home. I took my time with each plate, slowly and deliberately getting every inch of the ceramic clean. Honestly, the plate wasn’t really dirty. I had to focus on it, or I’d start crying all over again.
I can’t say there was anything unusual about the morning she’d left. It was every other day. As always, she and papa had argued loudly the night before, throwing and breaking more items from around the house. They were arguing fighting about me again, but this time I couldn’t help but feel it was my fault. For some time, I’d been hammering on mama to allow me start school, and she’d finally agreed to talk to papa that evening. As the fight escalated outside my door, i’d stayed in my room, cowering under my duvet, unable to sleep, until the house fell quiet a little past midnight. The following morning, my mum had assigned me my chores for the day, picked up her bag, and left without another word. Fear and, dare I say, wisdom prevented me from inquiring about my request. She never came back.
Day after day, I’d sat outside, scanning the street from my perch on the stairs, as I wasn’t allowed to leave the compound without papa’s permission, looking out for any sign of her. Two weeks had passed, and I’d given up on sitting on the stairs in front of the house awaiting mama’s return, and enduring taunts from papa regarding the issue. The dishes were a good distraction from the hurt and abandonment I felt. I couldn’t think of a logical reason why she would leave without so much as a “goodbye”, or why she would leave me with this horrid man. I finished the last of the dishes, adjusted my wrapper, and picked up the candle.
As I made my way through the sitting room, I heard a grunt from the couch. Papa had dozed off on the chair, it seemed.
I continued towards my room, and had just reached the door when he called to me “Ememgini.”
I paused “Yes, papa.”
“Come and help your father inside.”
I reluctantly walked back towards him, and bent so he could put an arm round my shoulder in order to stand up. he reeked of alcohol and cigarettes, and I couldn’t wait to be away from him. I led him to his room, helped him lie down, and was about making a hasty retreat when I felt him grab me. “Is there anything else papa?” I asked.
His speech was slurry “Are you happy now? You’ve chased my wife away.”
“Papa.” I tried to pull away, but his grip was firm.
“Who will keep me company now in this house? Ehn? Onye?”
“Papa, I want to go and sleep.”
“Sleep?” His laugh was the sound of evil, and sent a shiver down my spine. “What sleep? Is this not what you wanted?”
“Papa, biko…” Before I could complete my sentence, he had pulled me down on to the bed.
I started to scream, but was quickly silenced with a blow. “Shattap!” He tore frantically at my wrapper until it came loose, exposing my bare chest and legs. “See? Prostitute! This is what you want, ehn?”
He was kneeling between my legs, unfastening his pants. The realization of what was about to happen fully hit me, and I began to beg again, only to be rewarded with another blow to the face.
I don’t think I cried because of the pain I felt when he ripped me as entered forcefully. It was the feeling of my soul being wrenched from my body, as he hammered mercilessly into my pre-pubescent body, raining insults on me. Any form of protest or struggle was met with a blow, until eventually I just lay there and took it, silent tears rolling down into my ears. I felt like a used piece of rag, as he collapsed on me, snoring. I was too scared to try to move. At intervals through out the night, he would wake up and pound into me for a bit before drifting back to sleep. He never got off.
I’ve never felt shame like when he finally woke that morning. I was grateful when his weight was finally off me. He stood, by the bed, looking at me with disgust, and hissed “Get this place cleaned up. Look at you. Prostitute. Like your mother. Ekwensu.” I’d cried that morning as I washed the congealed blood between my legs in the bathroom. The assaults had continued steadily after that day.
I was jolted from my memory as a sharp pain forced me to tumble off the bed and unto the floor. He’d kicked me “What are you still doing here? Ekwensu! Zuzu puta n’ebe a!”
I got off the floor and briskly left the room.
Cold air rushed into the darkened room through the window, causing me to shiver as I lay on mat. The breeze was soothing to my aching body. It teased and tempted me, pleading with me to let it lull me, carry me, to the land of dreams. I knew I couldn’t sleep yet. Not while he was still out. I had to wait for his return, or else…. The thought alone made me shudder.
I stared at my bed, reflecting on how comfortable it used to be. Hazy memories of lazy afternoons spent lying on it, reading, coloring, writing, and sleeping, danced around in my head. it was my private retreat. This whole room was. Now, all I saw when I looked around was the four walls of a prison. A torture chamber. The bed gave me no comfort. I couldn’t even sit on it anymore without breaking into tears. I’d relocated to the floor, choosing to sleep on one of my mother’s old rafia mats.. it wasn’t exactly comfortable, but at least I could sleep. Given a choice, I wouldn’t even be in the room.
I heard the compound gate open noisily. He was back. I listened to him struggle with the gate for about two minutes. He was drunk again. Of course. The sound of his feet crunching gravel and callously kicking stones and pebbles carried up to my room as he stumbled through the compound, making his way to the house. I could hear him struggling to unlock the door, even though I’d left it open, and shook my head.
After what seemed like ages, he could be heard shuffling his feet in the living room. Please, just go straight to your room. I prayed silently. That was when I heard it. A loud thud. I knew instantly that he had fallen. I knew before my name echoed through the house. “EMEMGINI!!!!!” I lay still, hoping beyond hope that he would just lay on the floor, content with screaming my name, and not come looking for me. I was not so favored.
The door to my room swung open. “Ememgini!!”. I stayed quiet. He called again, as he shuffled round my room, bumping into objects. I’d made a habit out of changing my sleeping position every night., in an effort to frustrate him into going away. He started ranting as he approached the last location of my mat. “You think you will kill me in this house? Asi!!” Soon, he hit the wall and realized I wasn’t there. “Where are you, ekwensu?!” I kept quiet. “Okay. I see your plan.” He began to shuffle back towards me, pushing and kicking everything in his path. I closed my eyes and prayed he would leave. There was silence, and I thought he had left. Until I felt a kick to my ribs. “So, this is you?!” He shouted as I cried out in pain. “Ekwensu! So, you left water in front of my door for me to fall and break my back and die, Jhn?!” More kicks to my abdomen.
“Papa, there was no wa-”
“Sharp!!” Another kick cut me off. “Devil child! Like your mother!” I lay on the floor wheezing. “Ka m gwagi ihe!! You will not get me!! Your mother failed, and you will fail too!!” With one final kick, he hissed “Anuohia.” And then left the room.
I lay on the floor, whimpering and gasping for air. Tears slowly running down my cheek. I couldn’t afford to make any sound for, or he might return to inflict more damage. The cool breeze seemed to sense my need. It returned, resuming it’s lulling and caressing. At least now, I could give in.
So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t have much to say. I’m extremely tired, and need to rest. Hope you liked it.
Please take a minute to look at the beauriful images I took the pains to put up. God bless.
Hi everyone. So, I haven’t really been writing, I know. I was searching for a muse, and I found one :D. So, the drought is over.
This is the intro to a new story I’ve been playing around with. Thought now was as good a time as any to start sharing. Please read and leave some feedback. I hope you like it.
I cowered as the porcelain vase I’d spent a fortune on hit the wall, missing me by a few inches, and shattered. The pieces dropped to the floor near me. I thought it was amazing how they still looked like a glorious work of art even when reduced to mere shards and pieces. I could probably make some sort of mosaic out of them. Like the one in that magazine. My mind began to wander, as I played absently with the pieces of what had once been my most valuable treasure. His angry rants and curses became nothing more than distant echoes at the back of my mind.
Over the years, I’d learnt to shut this part out. Focus on something else so I didn’t have to hear the demeaning words and cruel insults he had grown accustomed to flinging at me. Sometimes, it worked. He’d get bored with my lack of response and leave me alone. Other days, he’d get more aggravated. Today, it was the latter.
I didn’t hear him walk over to me, and, before I had time to escape, he had me up against the wall in a choke hold. “Look at me when I’m talking to you, you ungrateful idiot!!!” He screamed, shaking me.
I stared at him, speechless. His eyes were bloodshot and bulging, and I could see the veins in his neck throbbing furiously. I searched his face, looking desperately for someone I wasn’t even sure ever existed. I knew what was coming next. “Papa, please.” I whispered.
That’s it then. The first part will be up next week (hopefully). Please remember to leavee some feedback in the comments section.
Also, since I’m in such a good mood, I’ll share some more with you guys. If you don’t aalready know, an article of mine went up on 234next. *cue confetti* :D. Yeah, it’s not SPECTACULAR. But I’m pretty darn happy about it. So, you can check it out here.
Also, there’s something else in the works. It’s hush hush now, but ‘m having some of my fave female bloggers come in on it. So, yeah. That’s it.
Until next time, peace, love, and happiness.