We Were Not Born Story Tellers: by corneliusItepu

They did not born us as people that use to tell story very well, but they born us inside plenty of story. Some of our story is good, some of them is not good. But we supposed to be telling all of our story because is good for telling.

As am sitting down in the questioning room, am just looking at officer. In my mind, am thinking which story I will tell her. She too is looking me, like I am the one that hold her life in my hand. She is looking me like there is something that she begging me for since long time ago and I am refuse to give it to her. As am looking her, my mind fly to Karina. Officer eyes is bright like Karina’s own. Is like there is small sun inside that is making it to be shining all the time. Then story come into my mind, is story of Karina brother Nengimote.

Nengi is Sekiapu drummer boy. He start drumming when he is the age of Tari. Tari is my small brother, my mother’s last child before she stop borning. When Nengi start to drum, nobody in their house is liking the idea that his drumming. Maybe is because that time his not have real drum to be playing, so his using one old stove. Nengi big brother, Kalaingo, cut two long stick for him and tie black rubber on the head like real drumming stick; the type that they used to use in church. One day, Nengi’s mother vex for Nengi so she carry the stove and the sticks and throw them away. When Nengi cry to Kalaingo, he is buy him real local drum. This time, the sound is not so bad like that. Also, Nengi have now learn how to drum well, so everybody enjoys listening to him when he is playing. Sometimes in the night, everybody in their house will gather to be singing traditional songs as he is playing the drum. That is how small small he become popular in the community and when he is now in Js3 he join Sekiapu.

Sekiapu is the masquerade group in the community. But is not every time that they use to wear masquerade, is only when a big person in the community die, or during festival time. One time ago when the Regent die, the whole community is celebrating his burial. In the evening, all of us in the community are at the town hall. Sekiapu is there, and Nengi is playing drum for the dancers. That night, they bring the masquerade out. That night Nengi play the drum like is what they born him to be doing. The coffin of the Regent is in one side, and everybody in the town hall is dancing, even the old people too. If you are a stranger in that place, you will think one spirit is controlling Nengi, because of the way his drumming and sweating but his not tired. The sweat full his head and making his head to be shining as the light from the bulb is standing on it. Then the sweat is rolling down from his head and landing on the drum. As the sweat is landing on the drum, it is bouncing in different direction because of the power he using to hit the animal skin. It resemble when rain is falling on the ground and breaking.

That’s how all of us are dancing and shouting when something happen. One woman walk to the centre of the gathering and she start dancing very strange. Is true that the way all of us are dancing and shouting is strange, but there is something that different about this woman dance. Me am calling her woman because that is what I thought. But I was not sure. Nobody was sure. The reason is because she cover her whole body with cloth from her head to the ground. All of us that are dancing stop dancing one by one and start watching her dancing. Is like the only person that did not know what is happening is Nengi, because he is still drumming with all his strength. Just like that, one strong breeze now blow across the place. As it is passing, it raise the cloth that the woman use to cover herself, so that her leg now show small. As the people that is in the front see her leg, they jump back from where they are standing.

Nengi is still drumming. And the woman is still dancing.

Now, everybody is whispering. The people that are in the front before say that the woman is wearing white socks. “and so, what happen if she is wearing white socks?” one man is ask in our language. Nobody answer him. Is like he is drunk. How can he not know that whitesocks is what they usually wear for dead people when they want to bury them.

Nengi is still drumming. The woman is still dancing.

Then Nengi just stop drumming. Just like that. But the woman is still dancing. In fact, the woman is dancing with more power than when Nengi was still playing drum. Then as if something just enter him, Nengi start drumming, again. The second time, another strong breeze blow pass that area. This time, the breeze is very strong that it blow away the cloth that the woman use to cover herself. That is the time we see her whole body. Her white socks, her wrapper, her black Don, and her hat. Also, we see her face. Maybe not all of us, but the people that is in front.

Nengi is still drumming. But the woman is no more dancing.

The speed that we use to leave the town hall, you will think that the army people are shooting at us. Everybody run to their house and lock their door. The person that reach his house when they have already lock the door join the next house where the door is still open. As all of us are running, some people are falling. I hear one person shout in my front, another person in my back. I don’t know what later happen to them. I don’t think anybody know. But we all run with our life. We run for our life.

All the time we are running, Nengi is still drumming. But the woman, I don’t think she is dancing anymore.

When I finish my story, Officer is just looking at me. She did not laugh; her face is just like that. I just get up and leave. Maybe she is not understand the story.


corneliusItepu (@corneliusItepu ) writes Prose, Poetry, and a weekly blog at drawnbythefather.blogspot.ng. His works are reflections of his thoughts, and perspectives to life, and are a wide window into his subconscious. He believes in the power or literature to transforms minds, and hopes to achieve such through writing.

Related country: Nigeria

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