Rain drops through my thatched roof into the plastic bowl where I gathered water to prevent a flood in my room made a melody that rhymed with the rain drops outside my window. It was a zinc with wood at the edges, the wood expanded this year and will not fit in well, so rain splashed into my room.
I shifted my lantern and mat, laid down this cold rainy evening covered in a wrapper. I sang a song to the beatings of nature as the thunder exploded and lightening scattered in the sky. The heavens poured down, the breeze blew, and my mind traveled, like it's done so many times today. Tomorrow is Ashi festival, I turned eighteen last month, am due for what father calls initiation to manhood.
I tossed and turned, dozed off and on, prayed and sighed.
Mr Peterside said God will intervene, he showed me a passage in the Bible he gave me, of where God brought down fire, and consumed the worshipers of Baal, he said he is praying along with me.
My lantern ran out of oil, my Bible dropped off my hand. I tossed and turned.
A loud voice pierced through my sleep and broke my peace, it was a man calling out in a language I could never decipher, enchantments of all sorts, this as different from Mukunga's initiation, Mukunga turned eighteen two years ago, the first son of my father.
On the day of his initiation, at 1:00am in the morning, there was a loud voice, a man saying today “Boys will become Men”, My brother had mixed feelings, Joy and fear, he will become an Adult, treated with respect, and he can talk to the girls he wishes to. He feared the beatings, lashes with stems from a tree called Karara, the issue is not the pain, but the fluid from the stem, it'll itch for days, and the blend of pain and itching is better not described.
The boys will dance around the fire, it must be full moon, the Men welcoming them will have a great drink of the local liquor burkutu, and every father hand over a calabash to his son. The boys turning into Men will dance till sunrise with the wounds, the itching, the drunkenness, and the pride of manhood.
I remember the look in Mukunga's eyes the morning he returned, Mr Peterside said the process is more of spiritual than physical. I remember the transformation in his life there after. Now more than ever before am frightened, I clutched my Bible, my hands shivering, tears dropped like the rain of yesterday, the mans voice grew louder, people rushing out, I dreaded every minute, the air grew eerie, more tension welled up.
“God” I cried out, “my God” I screamed. “Please, I need a miracle” I whispered.
Father should knock on my door any moment, “I'm ready, ready either ways, for a miracle and ...” I wiped my last drop of tears, “ready for Manhood.”
I pushed my window outward, cleared my eyes to understand the sight, people were running, every one, boys and Men, girls and woman, every one. This couldn't be Ashi festival.
I ran out! Headed towards the crowd, Abana was running in front of me, it was needless calling him, so I ran faster to meet him, “whats the issue?” I inquired, “the king” he said and ran faster, “the Akumaku has gone to be with our fathers”
I ran along, my mind running even faster, “the king, dead?” I wondered. “Could this be a miracle?”
There will be no festivals or celebration in the whole of Kumta for six months, the King will be mourned.
“kabana Passed his exams and got scholarship to the University” Mr peterside told my Dad as they sat on the stone under the Mango tree ravishing it's fruit.”
The university is in Lagos, I will make decisions, be independent, and free, freedom to do what I know is right to do, to me, thats Manhood, Adulthood.
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