bare feet on the hot african sand
everyone's been waiting for this day, its been on everyone's lips for the past four market weeks. Highly anticipated, & the fanfare that antecedes the occasion is tangible in the crowd that gathered, as the various recherché masquerades & local dancers gyrate rhythmically, cocooning the village square with the dust raised. The drum beats harder, the ojadike (local flutist) plays on, shaking his head from left to right with a smile on, as he acknowledges the cheers of the clearly appreciative crowd.
Hours pass on, and the various dance groups gradually end their performances. The sun is fully out, and as the dust settles, she appears. Though the foggy atmosphere, her silhouette is seen. Curvy & slim, she sashays slowly forward. The crowd is silent as the drummer starts to beat to the slow tune of the ojadike. She makes her way through the haze & she is fully visible in all her splendor. She is the beautiful Isioma, last daughter of the widower, ichie Emembolu. Barely 15, her full womanly features contrast her tender age. Its her ravishing beauty that caught the eye of the ageing king Igwe Ochiagha, who sits on the throne, in front of the gathering. He smiles pollyannaishly, because afterall, its his wedding introduction ceremony to the beautiful Isioma that is being celebrated today. At the end of today, she'll be his 5th wife, & his most beautiful so far.........so he smiles, he smiles gleefully.
............she cries, she cries regrettably. She cries when she remembers her heartrob, Obiekene. The young hunter, whom she first loved. Remembering all the times he came around to her family house, bearing gifts of antelopes & wild goats, as well as helping out with setting up her father's barn. He was a brave young man, who was dear to her family, as her father & elder sisters were very fond of him. It was his bravery that proved to be his final undoing. His bravery saw him stand up to refuse the king's request to marry his beautiful Isioma. Igwe Ochiagha is ruthless, even as a septuagenarian, his mercilessness hasn't waned. He saw Obiekene's refusal as an affront, & as he usually dealt with obstinate oppositions, he had obiekene ambushed during one of his hunting trips, & he was bludgeoned by 3 of his giant palace guards......Isioma might be young, but she wasnt blind. she knew the Igwe was behind Obiekene's death, & she knew he would stop at nothing to get her. The death threats to her family members, the times at the village river when she looked over her shoulder to find some palace guards hiddens in bushes (stalking her). She knew her life & those of her family members were at stake, so she had to take this bitter pill & marry a man, even older than her father, whom she loved NOT.
As the beats got louder, the dust settled down, & a cloud moved slowly across the sun, she started her traditional marriage dance, & no sooner had she started, that the clouds (as if in sympathy with her) burst into tears, as a slight drizzle of rain came down on this warm african afternoon. The beats were more intense, her dance steps more rigorous, as the king nodded appreciatively. She danced & she cried, as the rain camouflaged her tears. The longer she danced, the more vivid the memories, the harder she cried.........
if only she knew that the gods were watching & sympathetic to her plight. If only she knew that the bloodstained hands of ochiagha would never touch her virgin body, because Ochiagha was to die that very night.