Iku re

Lonesome owls join hungry hyenas and pay homage to the moon. Silent dew kisses tired leaves, some of which his brisk steps crush rapidly, gently yet solidly. Each footfall is absorbed by the cajoling warmth of the lush forest leaves, and remains dead to all but the great mother.

All that lights his path are small rays, cast by stars through branches that reach to the heavens as if in adoration. A baby baboon’s gentle cries can be heard, cooing like a man-child, seeking attentive sounds. He walks on, ignored by the forest continuing her nocturnal fest.

Home ward bound laden with venison and grass-cutter meat, “eran-igbe”, delicacies to devour with iyan and egusi. Ambivalent to all except his own instincts, he can smell the town, a few more miles a few more footfalls, no rest till the familiarity of home embraces him, again.

An insomniac rabbit pursued by a wild puppy crosses his path. He lets them pass. The forest absorbs first the prey, then the predator. A mushroom is trod underfoot its umbrella breaks leaving the decapitated stem to salute the skies.

In response to the death call of a rodent, Sango bellows, the sparks from his eyes tantalize the heavens, making them weep. The torture continues and the skies moan, pouring torrents on the lone traveler. Buba soaked, sticks to the slender, yet firm body. Cowries accompany jubilant trees singing as each droplet beats on their leafy appendages. Some of the forest scampers for shade, while the rest continue to snore.

His pace quickens, in vain attempting to dodge some rain. The load bleeds, its weight increases, yet he persists. Sango’s bellows continue, mocking his struggle. The moist eyelashes lift to show the tired eyes a rooftop in the horizon, homeward bound.

Small torrents, no, ripples, at most, caress his feet beckoning them. Urged by the proximity of the town the tired pace quickens. The load refuses to lighten despite his best intentions. He side steps, but mother earth does not heave her breast to assist and he slides.

The water filled moat grasps its prey, refusing to let go. The tired arms swing, struggling against the waves and the tears. In vain! Desperately, aimlessly clutching his load with one hand, there are no props. There are no footholds. There is nothing to see except the vision of home ahead. There is nothing to hear except Sango’s laughter. He releases the hunt and struggles but the waters massage his body lulling his muscles to sleep. He cannot resist. Exhausted, he lets iku embrace his worn spirit.


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