The Genesis – Elewe’s Rebirth
An diviner-in-training must impress his inspector from the spirit world and pass the ultimate test while in danger of insanity or even death.
I instinctively clutched my satchel tighter as a shadow began to form out of the darkness before me. This night, it was my turn to dance. My soul-inspector would be watching.
I swallowed hard and waited for the shadow to take shape out of the dark cloud that overwhelmed everything else behind it. I could not see the tall raffia fence that ran round the town square or the mango trees that shadowed it. Such was the manifestation of an important supernatural, requiring enormous amounts of energy from the stage of its announcement.
The chief diviner had explained while preparing us, that the soul was the sacrifice and the dance was the invitation. A perfect sacrifice would result in a merger between the one who offers himself and the spirit who comes, granting him mystic abilities beyond his human capacity. Anything less than perfect usually resulted in a curse, depending on the visiting spirit. Insanity and death were not strangers to this domain.
I bowed low, head touching feet, welcoming the sleuth. I straightened sharply like a whip in recoil, launching myself several feet into the air and landing in another bow, arms spread eagle. I shifted on my bare feet as the shadow spread out into the air like a mist of water from a boiling lake. The formations had begun.
I had watched every three of my colleagues dance this dance, this examination from the spirit world, only nights ago. I had watched them employ their impressive talents in welcoming the spirit sleuths.
Areke, a wet fox had taken Ibi, it was the signature sleuth of her bloodline. She had always been the most spectacular of us all. Her talents had transformed her dance into the most wonderfully impressive vision; she had painted the stage by juxtaposing elements of weather and greenery in a beautiful chaotic fashion. Her sacrifice was perfect and so was her merger.
Watching Iranse, the shapeshifter had put me in a further state of defeat. He had performed a very poignant, violent dance, summoning ancestral heroes and reliving epic battles. Naturally, Aramada, the chameleon accepted his offering. So did Jegi, the termite, accept Apa, the fire-breather’s less-than-poetic but yet overwhelming sacrifice.
The flashback brought my inadequacies to surface once again. I had no talents. I had made it so far under the Chief diviner’s tutelage only because of my sharp intellect and my skill with herbs, but here, real magic was required and I fell short.
I was still in my bow when I heard a bang. My end was before me. Only a sleuth of liege status would be introduced by a thunder drum beat from the other world.
I prayed in my heart that this spirit would be merciful. Everyone else in the village square was bowed prostrate as I raised my head to meet my examiner. Such was the honour due a soul inspector of liege rank, no mortal could look at the spirit except the chosen. I was introduced to Amoye, the keen; a female white feathered owl.
She lifted her wings and they revealed the deepest black interior. I understood the paradox immediately, righteous wisdom must not be without dark cunning. She was perfect.
She turned towards me. “Alagbara ma mero”, she randomly quoted. I knew what that meant. She was hinting at the superiority of cleverness over strength. I answered her rhetoric to myself, “baba ole”. She turned to face the moon, her back to me.
I knew that I was surely to perish but the prospect didn’t seem a garish thought anymore. I would die happily under the curse of a liege sleuth. I was about to start my futile dance when she talked once more.
“Sit. Elewe, a king sits down to conquer”
“You already know there is nothing you can do to impress me.”
I acknowledged the truth.
“There is one thing though, one thing you can do to save yourself.”
The new information did ignite the faintest spark of hope in me for I knew that there really wasn’t any salvation outside this opportunity. I closed my eyes and recited a few words of incantation to focus my mind and numb out my senses. I would impress Amoye, but from within my soul.
“I once asked a man to give himself to me, he failed, how so?”
I pondered the riddle for a moment and thought it easy to evade. The chief diviner had told us of such a man, he had been the cause of many debates. No one could really fathom the wrong doing in his obedience to the sleuth that examined him. Was it she who had plagued him with insanity? I replied.
“He refused you, enlightened one”
She replied in negation, “That would be right under certain circumstances, but he didn’t”
I was in trouble but I refused to give up. How does one obey a liege sleuth and still offend? I tried another evasion.
“It wasn’t under the circumstances of a soul inspection”. According to the story, it was, but I couldn’t find any logical reason why a merger would go wrong after the sleuth had decided to go on with it. I however remembered that a merger done under the wrong circumstances could be problematic if the diviner wasn’t one with immense talents, talents impressive enough to summon a sleuth without appointment and still be forgiven. No diviner in over two hundred years had been able to succeed at such a daunting feat. It was an inadequate answer nonetheless.
She wasn’t impressed. “This is your last chance, I shall not be kind this time”
“Elewe, give yourself to me.”
Now, I saw what my real test was. I was to be the man in the riddle. I was being commanded to accept a merger that would be the end of me. Something was wrong and I hoped that I had figured it out.
“Wise one, my courage might be the end of me, yet, I shall speak”
“Speak Elewe, and speak well, lest it be your last”
I took a deep breath and I started.
“Amoye, I shall not give myself to you because you have not given yourself to me as required by the customs of merger. A merger should be a union, not a dictation. In inspection, you are my superior, but if you accept my sacrifice, we shall be one. If you will have me come to you, I humbly ask that you give yourself to me as well, but if not, devour me as you will.”
“I refuse you, Amoye, more so, I shall rather die than lose my wits”
I opened my eyes ready for what may come, standing face to face with the mighty owl, my hair blowing in the wind as she spread her great wings.
“You do not plead for your life?”
“I do not plead”
“I give myself to you for I cannot give myself to a coward. Will you give yourself to me?”
“I give myself to you”
Nothing else mattered as the most beautiful magic happened. Our essences merged in a myriad of mystic lights and unnamed colours. The wisdom of a thousand ages, the strategy of kings and the superior cunning of those who defeat them, the brilliance of youthful intellect, the discernment of the grey-haired, the sovereign, circumspect judgement of the spirit world all became mine as a dark ring formed round my left eye and my hair withered to a soft grey.
The merger was complete.
Claim: Originally written by Nigerian Fiction Member 215 - AfroSays ( Bankole Oluwole )
Nigerian Fiction Title 101