“We have been fighting with the Bokors a long time, they would raid our food, steal our animals, but that was not the worst of it, some of the kids were taken and we were never able to get them back. We don’t know who took them but some of the others believe that the Bokors sacrificed them. It was not always like this. Back in our homeland we all called on the same spirits. We lived together in peace, all the Obeah priests, Mambos and Hougans healed people, interceded with the Loas for the people. But being forced here to this New World, a proud people enslaved, our dignity taken, we became angry and vengeful people. Some turned to the evil spirits, casting spells and seeking vengeance as a way to gain their freedom” Akosua was silent again; the front of her white dress was misty against the light from the moon, but glowing orange from the light of the torch.
“After the Borkors left, the captain became even more brutal. There were public whippings and some of our people were put to death. But the captain underestimated the Ligaroos. They grew restless and soon attacked him. I saw him lying in the middle of the village. He was pale, all the blood drained from him, but he was not dead. He and what was left of his crew retreated into the jungle. Finally the slaves felt truly free and for a while we lived without the tyranny of the captain and his crew. But soon that peace ended because he became the most powerful Ligaroo of them all. He and his men, who were now Ligaroos, attacked the village nightly until the Loas came to our aid. He fled to Jumbie Island where he formed a colony of Ligaroos, they needed slaves,” she stopped talking and shook a little but continued,
“One night small rowboats came ashore, dark figures crept into the village, and their red eyes the only thing visible in the night. Some of them jumped into the air transforming into balls of fire, hovering over the village, people were running everywhere as the invaders attacked. Our parents hid us in the jungle, we lay there listening to the screams of our parents as they were dragged away, loaded onto the boats, and disappear into the horizon. That was the last day we saw our parents,” she said, Henry waited thinking of his own family. He remembered his sister pouting right before the storm, his father the strong silent type that would take control of any situation. He had to be strong to overseer plantations of rebellious slaves. Akosua leaned out the window. An owl floated down and came to rest on her arm. She cooed at the bird as if it was a baby. She raised her arms and the bird flapped its wings and disappeared into the night. She walked back to the chair and sat down,
“It was a year after our parents were kidnapped that I began to have the dreams, well they were more like visions. At first I was scared; these dreams did not make any sense. But being the daughter of an Obeah woman I knew they meant something. The woman in my dreams revealed to me that she was Yemaya. It was then I knew what my destiny was. She was beautiful, long hair, wore a red and blue dress and was adorned with the most fabulous jewelry I had ever seen. She sat on a mountain in the jungles of our homeland. She told me I was born with far more powers than my mother. I did not believe her at first but strange things started happening. In my dreams I always had communication with the animals and the fish. Then it started to happen every day even when I was not asleep. My powers grew stronger and stronger until one night I was sitting on the bench at the end of the village when Yemaya walked out of the jungle and sat next to me. She said I would need my powers to rescue our people from the Ligaroos.” Henry moved in his chair, he had heard stories about witchcraft from the slaves on the plantation. At night he would lie in bed as the old female slave told him stories about witch doctors and battles between creatures and humans. He always thought they were stories she made up to scare her bosses children, now he was not sure what to believe, he stuttered, unsure that he wanted an answer,
“Are there Ligaroos here with us?” he asked and waited, Akosua looked at him, he saw the whites of her eyes shifting in the dark. Henry suddenly became cold, tears rolled down his face. This happened whenever he was scared,
“There may be, but if there is they are not attacking anyone in the village,” she said,
“How can you kill them?” he asked Akosua hesitated for a moment,
“Legend has it that you have to find where they store their skin while they are hunting and pour salt in it.”
“Then why don’t you attack them and force them to take a swim in the ocean?” he asked, Akosua smiled,
“I wish it was so simple. We have to go to Jumbie Island. The Ligaroo King has many Jumbies guarding the island. As for the Ligaroo King, legend has it that the only thing that can kill him is a spear made with salt from my homeland,” she said, Henry leaned forward,
“Why didn’t your mother use the spear to kill the Ligaroo King?” Henry asked,
“Because it is told that only the chosen one can use the spear,” Akosua said,
“Are you the chosen one?” he asked,
“Yemaya says I am, but I am having a hard time believing it,” she said and hung her head as if ashamed that she doubted the Loa.
“Where is this spear and why don’t you go get it?” he asked,
“My mother with the help of some of the other slaves had smuggled it onto the ship. When we wrecked on the island, they took it to the mountain on the other side of the island and hid it there. The captain sent out a search party captured them and flogged them in front of the whole village, but luckily he never knew of the spear,”
“Then why don’t you go get it?” He repeated,
“Yemaya told me that I had to have unwavering faith before I can use the power of the spear. Without faith, I will never defeat the Ligaroo King,” She spoke as if she was afraid that Yemaya would walk into the room and admonish her for not being strong. Henry thought of his mother, she would sometimes sit in an old rocking chair next to the window at night and tell stories about her childhood. He wished she was still alive and here with him to see the strange things that he had encountered on this island, he knew she would be intrigued by Akosua. She was against the slave trade, she always thought that humans should be treated like humans, and not the way the colonists treated the slaves. That is why Henry was puzzled when his father took the jobs he did, knowing that if alive, his wife would disapprove of him working for the plantation owners. Akosua was talking again,
“I must wait until the time is right, and I do not doubt who I am and what my destiny is,” she said,
“How will you know?” he asked, Akosua looked towards the window,
“I just will,” she said, a faraway look in her eyes, then there were voices and the sound of a bonfire crackling, Akosua got up and walked to the window,
“You should go now,” she said and walked into the other room. Henry was left with the dolls and the shadows. He walked out of the hut and into the cool tropical air. A bonfire was in the middle of the village. Sparks floated into the air, popped, and then disappeared. Children ran around the orange blaze while the older ones sat and watched them. Kwao saw Henry walking towards them, he pointed, said something, and the boys that sat around him laughed. Henry walked to the opposite side of the bonfire. He did not want to deal with Kwao at that moment. He stood in front of the fire, the heat causing sweat to roll down his chest. He looked up at the full moon; it was blood red, making the sky around it a dark pink, small dark clouds floated by, sometimes covering portions of it. The stars twinkled, and the dark shadow of an owl floated by the moon, its wings seemed like it was a mile long. Henry sat down and watched the children play, he wondered if he would ever get off this island, or would he spend the rest of his life here, where it seemed he would never fit in. He lay down on the sand; it was cool against his hot skin. Some day he will get off this island, and he would see his sister and his father, he would have to go along with the villagers until he saw an opening.