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.

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