By the time I returned home, everyone was asleep except for Mama who was saying her prayers and didn’t notice when I sneaked in. No one seemed to notice that I was gone else a search party would have been organized. I looked forward to the rest of this adventure like Onwa said.
I slept peacefully and I didn’t know when I did because I slept of thinking of the night before. I wanted to call everyone and ask them questions or share my last night’s experience, my first adventure. But I remembered the stern yet calm warning of Onwa. I wonder why she didn’t want me to share this with anyone.
I heard my mom call me. She repeated the call again. So I quickly answered saying I would be out quickly.
“Mama” I said as I approached her.
Uche, how are you? She asked me with so much concern it scared and worried me at the same time. Mama only does this if she thinks you are sick and I’m not sick.
“I’m fine Ma”, I replied with a tone and stare that spoke questions. She noticed it and chuckled a bit. This is one of the many reasons I loved Mama, she was very observant and had a keen eye.
Can’t a mother check on her son anymore? She asked as she held my hand.
“Anyway, you slept so early yesterday. You didn’t even stay for Nene’s stories. I was checking to see if you are okay since I decided not to disturb you last night”, she added.
Oh! I exclaimed. I remembered last night’s adventure. The universe had preserved a backup story for me. “Mama, I was only tired, I said. But I’m okay, thank you.”
Is that so? She asked me. I see, you have been stressed the entire holiday. You should rest, Mama said. I thought about Onwa and how she had a similar disposition as Mama. It made me smile.
Rest? I asked. I’m okay Ma. I can rest in the evening, I said. I couldn’t rest now, I thought to myself, else I would have no excuse to hide my sneaking out. And I couldn’t miss meeting with Onwa and the other creatures.
If you say so, you may run along, Mama concluded as she made her way towards the back yard.
At this point, I prayed in my heart that nightfall would come quickly. I couldn’t wait for all the excitement the evening will provide.
This day was busy, I didn’t know what made it so. Whether it was the anxiety in my heart as each hour passed or the fact that I thought the minutes and seconds trickled to make things unnecessarily slow and long. Eventually, it was dinner time. I ate my dinner at such a pace that a cheetah would struggle to reach. And hurriedly said goodnight to everyone claiming I had a headache that only sleep could cure.
When I was certain I wasn’t in anyone’s checklist, I sneaked out of the house to the woods. Onwa didn’t give me any time. Well, since it was a moon, it was safe to say it knew what time was the right time. Hence my second surreal adventure began.
As I approached the tree, I heard lots of voices. I couldn’t tell where it came from since I saw very little. And I didn’t recognize any familiar voice. And that did something to my curiosity as I felt my feet move faster. I noticed Okúfó first. You couldn’t miss the huge firefly in all her majesty.
She let out a scream as she marched out heavily towards me. It scared and excited me at the same time. So I stood still and moved no further. I noticed the others had been made aware of my presence because they all turned to look at me. While waiting for Okúfó, I scanned my eyes in search of Onwa. The night was moonless, I hope she was okay.
Your majesty! Okúfó bowed as she heaved heavily. Her march was not in vain, it had taken some energy from her. “Okúfó”, I said very calmly wondering what next to say or how to act in regards to her bow.
“This way, Your Majesty”, she took my hand as she led me to the waiting crowd. Then I saw her or it. I liked to think Onwa was a female being. Her feminine qualities were unmistakable. “Onwa”, I called her.
Your Majesty, Onwa said with a smile as she touched me lightly with her petite fingers. We are ready for you, she continued.
Clearly! I said beneath my breath as I looked to see creatures never seen before and those I could never attribute as living beings. I was in awe. Who would have thought they existed?
Osisi nodded his greetings to me and I responded with a nod. I looked for my arch enemy, Osa and I couldn’t see him. I quickly turned to Okúfó who had made herself a fine bodyguard.
Okúfó, I called.
Yes, Your Majesty.
What of Osa? I can’t see him here.
Oh! He had a little accident. But he will join us quickly. Such a poor thing, he fell inside a hunter’s trap. Luckily he escaped before the hunter could return. But the leg bears all the pain, she said sighing deeply.
Even if I didn’t like Osa too well, I pitied him. I knew how he must have felt. Such a shame! Thankfully, he is not resting inside a well-prepared soup, I thought gladly.
Your Majesty! I heard a loud voice. I turned to see who it was. It was a giant rat. Almost as big as Osa. I wanted to scream because I hated rats. But I didn’t. I held my breath as he approached me.
How old are you? I asked curiously.
Ho Ho! The rat laughed. Your Majesty, I’m a hundred and ten years, eleven years in a few days time.
You even know your birthday? I asked in amazement. I thought he wouldn’t answer that then I wondered why I asked if I didn’t think he would know the answer. I shrugged immediately.
Yes, Your Majesty, the rat said. There are many more things I know that my age. Meanwhile, I am named Oké, he said taking my hand for a handshake. I shook his firm hands. I thought they were too firm for a rat, but this was no ordinary rat. Who would have thought I would ever shake a rat?
Make way, make way, I heard as I saw a two-headed snake with feet running towards me. Before I had time to think and recall that I was in a totally different world I found myself on top of Osisi panting like one chased by a gorilla.
Then I heard them laugh. I heard loud discussions too. I had made a comedy of myself, blame it on the adrenaline. Arrgh! I sighed embarrassingly.
The Prince is afraid! The prince was given quite a scare! The prince this, the prince that. Too many descriptions of what everyone thought of the moment. Taking my thoughts on what they all said, I suddenly realised that I had truly climbed a tree.
What? I have never climbed a tree, I didn’t even think I could. That excited me so much that I completely forgot how embarrassed I was a few minutes ago and screamed. I climbed a tree!
It startled everyone. When they understood what had happened, they hailed back in excitement. I heard the cheers and the chants” All hail the Prince”
After much jubilation, I climbed down and suddenly they all bowed including Onwa. Her bow was very amusing, you can imagine a moon bow, that was like tumbling. I was amused.
I looked at these creatures I have never imagined but here I was living it and it wasn’t a dream. It was truly an adventure of a lifetime.
I’m sorry I scared you, Your Majesty. I heard a soft voice say behind me interrupting my thoughts. I knew it was the snake or snakes but I needed every composure to face them.
“We, not you” I heard another argue.
Oh! Please, one scoffed. You live in my body, it said.
Yes, can’t you see? The position of my head has more touch with this body than yours.
Haha, that’s always your line. Didn’t you hear what grandma said about our birth?
That’s an old woman’s tale.
I heard them argue back and forth and it created the opportunity I needed to turn back and take their image in. I looked at the snake. The scales were shiny like polished gems and it sparkled too. Their head was another beauty, I couldn’t describe it but I thought they looked like cute toy snakes with the pretty bluish hue. They weren’t so scary after all, except they were snakes. Then I wondered why I ran.
Okay! Stop. I exclaimed ending the argument that had continued for at least two minutes.
Your Majesty, we are sorry, they said in unison.
I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have run as I did, I said apologetically. I mean, you are such beauties, I continued. Then I heard them chuckle and saw them rub their heads together.
Such a sight, I sighed.
“Meanwhile, you shouldn’t fight over who owns whose body, I said breaking up the mushiness. You both own this body. And you share such unique traits that you must preserve jealously”.
“Thank you for your such kind words, Your Majesty. Your Majesty is wise”, they said taking a bow.
I smiled and turned to face everyone. I had to address them. So I spoke with a tone I didn’t think I possessed. If Papa was here, he would say I had become a man.
I may not shake every hand today. But I desire to know each person, I said. For a moment, I thought I sounded like Martin Luther King. I want to know why I’m here, why you exist and how I can help keep this community alive. Tonight alone may not present the opportunity. But questions must be answered isn’t that so?
Aye! Aye! Your majesty! They cheered.
Having said that, I ask that this meeting must continue tomorrow. Onwa, can that be achieved? I asked Onwa
Yes, your majesty. It’s midnight already and you must return.
But your majesty! I heard someone call from the crowd. But I didn’t see who spoke.
Here, Your Majesty! On the tree! He exclaimed.
I turned to see Osa. I wondered if he wouldn’t come at all. Did he just address me as Your Majesty? I thought to myself.
He smiled. I thought the accident triggered a nice side of Osa, maybe he could keep getting trapped. I smiled at that silly thought.
Osa, I’m glad you are here. How is the foot?
Good, good. They say chicken soups are the best. My neighbour Okúkó the greatest Hen prepared a rare one for me.
Oh! I see. She must be rewarded then.
Surely, Your Majesty, surely.
So you wanted to ask something Osa, I said.
Your Majesty, we must meet earlier tomorrow. The kingdom is in trouble, Osa said.
Is that so? I asked surprisingly. No one mentioned anything of that such since I came here. I turned to ask Onwa. Before I asked her, she confirmed Osa’s words.
Yes, Your Majesty, she said. We wanted to tell you much later. But seeing we have no choice, we thought it wise to inform you now”. Then I heard the rest of the crowd mutter in agreement.
Hmm. How can I help? I asked.
A note will be ready for you, Your Majesty at 12 pm human time. The note will be dropped at the feet of Osisi. All you need to know will be written on it, Osa said.
You must return, Osisi spoke. Tomorrow is a long day.
I must then.
All hail the prince! All hail the prince! They chanted.
Good night everyone. Tomorrow we see.
I made a turn for my house as I waved goodbye to them. My questions were yet unanswered. But this supposed trouble posed more dangers than answers I sought. If I helped them, then they could provide me the needed answers, I thought.
Your Majesty? I heard someone speak. I turned to see the snake.
You didn’t ask for our names, they said.
Pardon me, I said scratching my head. What are your names? I asked kindly.
Agwo-abúo. They said excitedly. I saw that it meant to them that they should be identified by name.
I won’t forget, I said to them. I must go, Goodnight then.
Good night, Your Majesty, they said as the hopped away excitedly. Something struck me. These creatures were still jolly even if they knew that harm may befall them. Humans would wear a long face until a solution is proffered but not these ones. What gave them confidence, I wondered.
Nevertheless, my adventure continues. And tomorrow will surely come. For now, I must sleep.