37th Installment of Obeah

                                CHAPTER 16

After her encounter with Marrinette-Bwa-Check, Akosua was more focused on going to Jumbie Island and rescuing her people. She spent a lot of time in the area set up for the warriors to practice their fighting skills. Henry heard her scream, as she threw her spear, or swung her machete, and the sound of the trunk as the weapons hit them. The Ligaroos had not attacked in days, but after the death Adwoa, the village was not the same. Despite the sunny days, the blue skies and the colourful butterflies, the village was a dreary place to be. Kwao had stopped harassing Henry; even he seemed to walk around in a daze. Henry’s hair had gotten long, and one of the girls had twisted it into dreadlocks. It did not look exactly like the other villagers, but he liked it, it made him feel less of an outsider. The villagers were hard at work constructing new huts for when the Bokors arrived. That kept them form thinking about the death of Adwoa. Sometimes the drummers played. It was a slow sad melody, but it seemed to help them grieve.

It was two weeks after Adwoa’s death when the Bokors arrived. They had packed up all they owned, and made the long journey. There were farm animals and pots, and pans, and chairs that mules carried. Akosua greeted Donkor,

“It will be great when we get all the families back together,” he said, Akosua smiled reached up and touched Donkor on the shoulder.

“And we will soon.” She said. Adofo walked up,

“Hi Donkor.” He said, Donkor looked down at him as if he recognized him.

“Noo, you are not little Adofo, you were just a toddler when we left. Look at you, a boy no more. All that muscle, and is that a beard I see spouting there?” Donkor said, touching Adofo’s chin. Adofo looked to the ground a little embarrassed. Akosua laughed.

“Your people will stay with some of us while more huts are completed.” She said.

“Thank you,” Donkor said

“Adofo will take you to your huts.” Akosoa said

Adofo took one of the sacks from Donkor.

“Follow me,” he said. Donkor motioned for his people to follow Adofo through the village, showing them where they would be living. Henry helped several of the Bokors. Some of the villagers came up and helped also. Two of the Bokors moved into his hut. Henry tried to talk to them; they looked at him suspiciously, but said nothing.

The next few days were busy ones. The whole village helped in the preparation for the journey to Nkyene Mountain. They all worked with a sense of purpose, the children and the Bokors together. On several occasions, Henry saw Akosua as she stood outside her hut and watched them work, a big smile on her face.

The sun was rising over the ocean when Akosua announced that there will be a service to evoke the good spirits for protection on their journey. In the late afternoon, when the sun had subsided, and dogs lay lazily under the mango trees, the villagers prepared for the service. He spent a lot of time standing or sitting there since the two Bokors moved in. At night they mumbled in the dark as they talked to each other. Sometimes he heard the word Kindoki, then laughter. He lay there and thought about the journey he was about to embark on. His heart raced up as he thought about what the Loas had in store for them? He thought about his life before he came to the island. He had his trials and tribulations, even for his age, but nothing like the villagers had to endure. But he never thought he would be here, on this island, with former slaves, about to go on a journey to free their people and his sister.

He sat down in the chair, and took a deep breath and looked around the village. The villagers moved around like a restless ocean of white. He saw Ampah; the young warrior carried a drum to the middle of the village where Donkor was helping put wood on a pile. Kwao carried calabash bowls to a table just to the right of the woodpile. Adofo dragged chairs, and placed them at tables. Adofo and Kwao came parallel to one another, each glared. Henry sat there until the darkness of night slowly took over the tropical blue sky. Fireflies hovered over the bushes just inside the jungle, leaving shadows of the bushes on the ground. A wild cat roared, sending birds retreating into the dark. The bonfire was lit, and children ran around it, their faces alight with excitement. Henry got up and went into the hut. The two Bokors sat in chairs on the other side of the room. Henry smiled at them and to his surprise, the young man smiled back at him. Henry sat down on the end of the bed; the Bokor looked at him,

The Villagers formed a circle, they moved, some going clockwise, while other went anti clockwise, but they somehow did not bump into each other. Akosua danced into the circle. She wore a white flowing dress and had a turban wrapped around her head. She had a rattle in her hand that Henry saw in her hut some time back. She called it Aron; it was what Mambos used for healing. She danced to the middle of the circle, and held up two white chickens. She swung them around, feathers floated into the air and slowly fell to the ground. She handed the chickens to Adofo and continued dancing. She hissed like a snake, and the villagers echoed the sound. Akosua’s dancing became more erratic, her arms flailed, her body twisted.. Then she bent over at the waist and jerked as if she was going to throw up. Then she stood up straight, her eyes rolled back in her head, her whole body shook, at first it was barely visible, but soon she shook violently. The villagers danced, their movement became wilder, and their bare feet hit the ground, sending dust clouds into the air. Henry moved closer. Suddenly Akosua stood motionless looking up into the sky. There were no stars, just endless black.

“Obatala give us wisdom and knowledge so we can bring common understanding with our friends the Bokors. Please accept them back as who they are Hougans.” She said her voice raspy, and she jerked when she spoke. Suddenly she began to spin around, her arm stretched out at her side. The drummers played faster, the villagers chanted, their voices drowning the noise of the jungle. Akosua stopped spinning and spoke. This time her voice was baritone almost like a man.

“Treasures await those who live the righteous life. Understanding is the key to peaceful existence.” She hissed as she spoke making it hard to understand her.

“What is happening to her?” Henry asked a woman next to him,

“Obatala is speaking through her,” the young woman responded,

“Go on your journey be patient and you will be granted freedom.” Akosua said, and then she danced, twisting her body, her eyes rolled around in her head. Some of the dancers fell to the ground, twisting and rolling, their white clothes turned dark from the dirt. Akosua stopped dancing, and her jerks and twists turned into a graceful glide, as she moved around the circle. She stopped and spoke, but this time it was the voice of a woman.

“I grant you health and good will on your journey. Have faith and your enemies will not destroy you. Go with love and we will always be with you.”

“Its Yemaya,” the woman said before Henry could ask. Akosua danced around the circle. She looked like she floated above the ground as she moved with the grace of a ballerina. Suddenly she stopped, opened her mouth, a bellow of mist came out that turned into a thick fog. Yemaya danced around her for what felt like a long time then the Loa turned and floated towards the jungle crying. Suddenly the skies lit up with stars, fireflies hovered over the trees, and the jungle came alive with glittering light. Akosua moved to the slow rhythm of the drums. Some of the dancers touched her as they danced, then they fell to the ground twitching. The drummers played faster, the villagers danced and chanted. For the first time, Henry felt the drumbeat. His body twitched, and his hands jerked. Akosua danced over to Henry and took his hands a rush of heat went through his body as she spun him around. The dancers around became a blue and Henry did not feel like himself.

As the night wore on, some of the villagers lay on the ground, some were motionless, while others twitched. Akosua walked around, her magic rattle held over her head as if blessing the villagers. The service went late into the night, long after the younger children were put to bed, and the dogs were too tired to bark. Henry lay on the ground, the dark sky hung over him, the drums a mere murmur. He thought about the time his mother had taken him to church. The robes, the old priest that stood motionless as he spoke, the mumbled response of the parishioners. He hated standing in the quiet lines for communion, the stoic congregation who sat in the pews, as if afraid to move or god would strike them down. The church was lit with candles, and he remembered the shadows of the priests and the acolytes’, sent fear through him as they sang in that strange language. His family was not very religious, and he thought the whole thing was useless anyway. He walked around trying to make sense of all that he had seen. Kwao sat in a daze next to the drummers. Donkor was still dancing, his eyes rolled back in his head. Adofo seemed like the only one not affected by the service. He stood next to Donkor, as if standing guard over the villagers.

From The Light Side Out

I am sitting in a rowboat on the ocean, so far our all that can be seen is rolling waves. Storm clouds covered the blue,except for one spot, directly above where I sit. The sun shines down on me and me only and I can see the world from orange to gray then black. Birds mere shadows in gold. rain like torrential firedrops. I find myself looking in from the light.

36th Installment of Obeah

He was asleep just a short time when he was woken up by Ampah. He got up and followed the boy outside. Several of the villagers carried torches and were screaming a name. Henry walked over to Ampah. He stood next to some of the boys giving them instructions.

“Whats going on?” Henry asked and Ampah turned to him.

“Adwoa is missing,” Ampah said.

“Grab a touch, we are going to look for her,” Ampah said. Henry walked over to one of the huts and got one of the torches that sat in front of it. He walked back to Ampah and lit it with the one that Ampah held.

“Adwao!” they shouted. The jungle was dark except for the torches that seemed to float through the air between the bushes. Rodents rustled in the underbrush, owls hooted in the trees, bats screeched and flew off into the night. They searched for hours, combing the underbrush until someone shouted,

“Over here!” footsteps sped up as they rushed to the voice. Henry got to where the voice came from and looked down into a grove of small trees. The little girl lay under a hibiscus tree motionless. Akosua was on her knees next to her.

“She is gone,” she said as she caressed the child’s face. The jungle was silent except for the cracking of the fire from the torches. They stood, their faces illuminated by with shadows. Akosua picked up the girls lifeless body and carried her back to one of the huts next to her own.

The Villagers stood, some cried, while the older ones tried to console them. Henry and Ampah stood there for a while then walked back to Henry’s hut.

“She looked like all the blood was drawn from her body,” Ampah said, his face a mere shadow in the pale yellow light.

“I did not hear the Ligaroos attack,” Henry said.

“There must be one among us,” Ampah said and they sat in the chairs outside Henry’s hut for a second listening to the jungle.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a Ligaroo,” Henry said. Ampah was silent for a moment looking into the dark jungle.

“So do I, I will spill blood for every person who died at their hands,” he said. The sound of frogs croaking filled the silence, crying could be heard in the hut next door.

“I knew something was up, the other night, while I slept, I felt someone next to me, their breath was awful, but when I woke up, there was no one there,” Ampah said.

“The same thing happened to me,” Henry said. Ampah looked over at him and said nonchalantly.

“You should sleep with one eye open, and your machete near my friend,” and got up and walked away. Henry got up and walked into his hut. He stopped at the doorway and held the torch out in front of him. When he was satisfied that no one else was in there he walked in. He took the unlit torch from its holder and placed the lit one in it. He walked over to the chair where the machete lay, picked it up and went to his bed. A dog howled and he lifted his head and looked around. Whenever the wind blew shadows rushed at him, then retreated when the wind dissipated He rested his head back down and closed his eye. The image of the Adwao imprinted in his mind. He felt himself falling asleep and jerked awake, then felt around in the bed next to him for the machete. He hugged the weapon and soon fell asleep.

Adwoa was buried next to the pond the following day. The drummers played, a slow deliberate beat, as they carried her body from the centre of the village to where she was buried. The village was Salome for a couple of days. Some of the villagers looked at each other suspiciously. No one accused anyone, but it was obvious what they were thinking. Henry had not seen Akosua; she had walked into the jungle after the child was buried.

Akosua sat on a bamboo chair looking out at the pond. There was an empty chair next to her with a calabash bowl of food on it. The scent of the roasted chicken filled the air attracting bugs. They settled on the rice in clusters, buzzing as they fed, Akosua had not touched the food. Frogs jumped in and out of the murky pond, ducks and swans glided across the surface. Akosua was in deep thought when a thick fog appeared over the pond. At first, she ignored the change, but then a figure walked towards her. She sat up and looked. It was a woman. She was light skinned and beautiful, and she glided across the pond like a princess gliding down the aisle on her wedding day. The woman stepped onto the ground. The fog dissipated, and Akosua saw the face of Yemaya. The girl smiled as the Loa walked up the bank of the pond and stopped in front of her.

“Hello my child,” Yemaya said. Akosua reached out her hand and Yemaya took it. Akosua thought the palm of her hand was unusually coarse, after all, Yemaya was a gentile. Akosua picked up the calabash bowl of food and Yemaya sat down next to her. Her white dress brushed the top of the blades of grass as she sat gracefully. She looked at Akosua.

“I see that you have had a hard time lately. How have you been doing?” she asked Akosua fought back tears.

“Its o k dear go ahead and let it out,” Yemaya said. Akosua rested her head on Yemaya’s head and sobbed.

“This is hard, I don’t know if I am the one to do this.” Akosua said between tears. Yemaya ran her fingers through Akosua’s hair.

“Maybe you are not my dear,” she said. Akosua lifted her head and looked at the Loa. Yemaya looked into her eyes,

“Maybe you are not the chosen one,” she insisted. Akosua wiped the tears.

“But you said….,” Akosua began to say.

“Never mind what I said child, even us Loas can be wrong.” Yemaya said, Akosua stood up and looked down at the woman.

“I am sorry, but maybe you are too weak to lead your village into a battle with the Ligaroo King.” Akosua walked to the edge of the pond, the fog partially engulfed her. Akosua looked back at Yemaya, she sat stoic, no expression on her face. Maybe she was right; maybe she was not strong enough to take on the responsibility of leading her people to freedom. Out of the fog, a swan floated towards her on the water. Akosua turned to Yemaya.

“If not me then who?” She asked, The Loa smiled at her.

“Don’t worry us good spirits will find someone else. We have the power to choose,” Yemaya said. Akosua looked down at the woman; the Loa was looking at the ground. Akosua looked at the Loas fingers, the three wedding bands that she usually wore were missing. Akosua sat down.

“It is good to have you help me work through these hard times.” She said. Yemaya smiled. Akosua looked around, and then looked down at the calabash of food she had laid down on the grass. She reached down and picked it up.

“You look hungry here have a bite to eat.” She said. Yemaya looked at the food and seemed like she was going to throw up. She took the calabash bowl and set it on her lap, picked up a piece of chicken, and raised it to her mouth. She looked at the food like it was laced with poison, then looked up at Akosua without moving her head, the blacks of her eyes pointed straight up. Suddenly she growled and grinded her teeth. She looked up to the sky and screamed.

“You know I can’t eat food that the cooks have touched.” She screamed and threw the calabash bowl to the ground. Slowly her physical features changed as she screamed and growled. The frogs jumped into the pond, the ducks and swans flapped their wings, as they retreated into the fog that suddenly thickened. The woman looked up at Akosua. Half of her body was Marinette-Bwa-Check, the other half Yemaya. Her eyes were ablaze with anger, her face twisted with contempt and hate. She got up and rushed at Akosua, the girl backed up until she stood at the edge of the pond, her heels touching the water.

“You little witch, I will cut you up and cook you into a stew and have you for dinner.” She screamed. Saliva shot out of her mouth and landed in the pond. The water bubbled, and steam rose with every drop of saliva. Dead frogs floated to the surface. Akosua stepped to her and reached her hand out. The Loa had completely transformed into Marrinette-Bwa-Check, she jerked away from Akosua, as if afraid to be touched.

“Fire go burn you,” she screamed, Akosua tried to touch her again,

“You don’t have to be evil. You can be the way you used to be in our homeland.” Akosua said. Marrinette-Bwa-Check threw her head back and screamed a loud scream that turned into a laugh, a laugh that turned into a growl. The Loa disappeared across the pond. Birds flew out of the trees and retreated into the jungle. Akosua stood; her hand was still outstretched, her eyes closed.

“You, a mere girl you think you can change me. I have ripped men’s hearts out and fed them to the animals. What do you think I will do to you child?” she screamed. Akosua opened her eyes and looked at the Evil Loa. Marrinette_Bwa_Check trembled then backed away from Akosua.

“You will be destroyed, you will be destroyed!” she screamed, as she ran to the pond and disappeared into the fog leaving ripples on the water. The jungle was silent, as if every animal was hiding from the wrath of the evil Loa. Slowly, the fog went away. The dragon flies came back and buzzed around the pond, frogs croaked and hopped from Lilly to Lilly. The bodies of the dead frogs had disappeared with the evil Loa, and the pond was back to its serene peace. Akosua turned away from the pond and slowly walked back to the village.

35th Installment of Obeah

The sun was going down in the west when they finally sat down to eat. Henry snacked on tropical fruit all afternoon, he could not help himself he was hungry. Akosua sat at the head of the middle table. Her smile radiated across the table, as she laughed and talked with everyone. Henry surveyed the spread. Maroon coloured sweet potatoes, earth tone grey yams, boiled green bananas, vegetables of all kinds sat on the table in calabash bowls. Yellow mangoes, bananas and sour soups, yellow and green paw paws, golden apples, red plumbs and yellow passion fruit spotted green in places. There was chicken, roasted pig, and a roasted goat sat in the middle of the table. Calabash bowls sat in front of every villager. Coconut shell cups with lime juice. Homemade vases lined the middle of each table with bright tropical coloured flowers. This was the most food he had seen in one sitting. It was even larger than the feasts the plantation owner had when he had guests from the Old Country. Akosua stood up,

“Our journey was successful; we have convinced the Bokors to join us in the fight against the Ligaroo King and his followers. We have overcome many obstacles, but this is only the beginning of our fight. The Bokors will come to our village and from here we will leave to retrieve the Spear of Salt. We will build more huts to accommodate our guests. With the grace of Yemaya and Obatala, we will be victorious. But today we will rejoice, eat, drink and be merry.” She said and lifted her coconut shell cup.

“To our health, our success, and for the safe return of our people!” She said and the villagers cheered, some pounded their fists on the tables.

After they had eaten, they sat around the village too stuffed to move. Ampah was on a hammock tied between two mango trees, Adofo and Akosua lay on banana leaves next to Lassette who sat on a tree stump, Kwao and some of the boys were wrestling, their dreadlocks covered with sand. Henry sat in a tree branch looking down on the lazy group. Small children played with dogs and monkeys on the boundary where the village stopped and the jungle began. Lassette sat up,

“Why don’t the Ligaroo King come here himself and destroy the village?” She asked. Kwao and the boys stopped wrestling and looked over. Akosua spoke without sitting up,

“He has no reason to come here. He can send his Ligaroos warriors and Jumbies to kidnap anyone he wants. Plus he knows that we have to come to his island to free our parents, all he has to do is wait to get our strongest all in one place, then it will be easy for him to destroy us.” She said lazily. Lassette mumbled and leaned back looking up at the blue sky. She waited for a second then spoke again,

“How come the Gods and evil spirits don’t attack us themselves?” she asked. This time Akosua sat up.

“They have to possess someone to do their evil deeds. That is why the Arawak’s came, and the beast that Adofo and the boys killed turned into one of us. The evil Loas possessed them and when they are released from that possession they never remember what they did. It’s like the beliefs from your own homeland. Your devil can possess people and cause them to do evil deeds. Your god lives in you, but some of you are possessed by evil.” She said.” Lassette seemed satisfied with Akosua’s answer and settled down. Akosua lay back down, the ocean washed ashore on the beach in the distance; bees buzzed by and went into the jungle. The splash of the dolphins is heard as the wind swept in from the ocean. Henry closed his eyes as the coolness brushed his face. He needed this peaceful time because soon it would be time to go off to battle again.

Night descended on the island and the drummers began to play. The villagersdanced around the bonfire. Henry joined them and danced until his legs began to ache. The fire popped and cracked, and some of the children chased the sparks that floated into the air. Their voices echoed into the jungle, dogs howled and barked, some chasing the children that ran around the fire. Akosua and Adofo had disappeared to their special place on the small beach. Kwao was missing too. Henry knew that he was somewhere spying on the two lovers. It was late when he went back to his hut and flopped down on his bed. The events of the day played out in his head like a living dream. This was the most fun he had had since his mother died. He thought of his sister and said out loud,

“I am coming to rescue you,” his voice interrupting the crickets outside the hut. He fell asleep to images of him and his sister playing in the field behind their home in the Old Country.

Obeah this Sunday

Tune in this Sunday for an installment of Obeah. Ahhhh yes, the Jumbies are waiting for you. See what the Akans are up to now. Have they gotten the Spear of Salt? Are they still fighting off the evil spirits of the Ligaroo King. Pa Pa Jumbie knows, but he will not reveal anything. I guess you will have to tune in on Sunday to find out. In the mean time, Pa Pa Jumbie say, sweet dreams.