“ The darkness carries the dance of the malevolent spirits, they are centaurs, who having been found not worthy to be ancestral spirits, hover in the silent night, chasing the echo of the world they knew before” Uli’s father and mentor, the priest narrates to him
“ Men like us, face the couriers of nights, we are chosen vessels, the spirits grants us sight to things that seem bleak, but in the foreboding of the things we see, lies all uncertain truth” the old man continues, his weary posture admonishing his labored breath. He was looking to a different world now.
“My son, our worlds are but different tales, different dimensions of the same war; I am but a worn soldier at the dawn of his war, you are fresh from the fire’s rage” he says looking blindly towards his son, the light of the setting sun cresting his eyes in golden sparkle. The young Uli seemed awed by his father’s words as they ignited a funny feeling in him. He looked at the old man who had paused to regain his breath, what he saw then was a loving father, finding the end closer than most, tying to accelerate the training of his young son.
“Some secrets buried deep, have no intercourse with light, the night is always black, for it hides the secrets of the worlds, some secrets are too big, the darkness beneath them captures all it can to hide, and they must be buried.” Uli’s father sternly says looking intently at his son.
“I tell you these words, not to frighten you but to prepare you for a journey long made before you; I can tell you it would be a just cause, filled with the necessities of the rightful heart, but it would be a ruse. No course we set is truly just, we only carry the best recourse, each blood and sacrifice is a payment, to the evil that stifles our growth. You know the spirits, but you don’t know men. It is that evil that I need you to be ready for.” The old man says, his tone turning more strict than ever, Uli listened, perfectly still absorbing his father’s words.
“Our lives are but circles in the infinite myth, of being, becoming and unbecoming, the spirits, the unborn and the living, three curious phases in the circle of life, and though there is evil in every space, the world that we live in is deeply scarred. Not by the constant struggle between the benevolent and malevolent forces that shape our world, but by the desire deep in man. This town of Maijo is filled with many secrets, the times will reveal.” The old man said. The space goes quiet as the last of the sun’s rays goes away. Uli sits staring at the creeping darkness. The old man has not moved for a while.
The evening the old man died, the spirits in the woods around the shrine seemed troubled, the wind kept howling with their unease, the craving of violence registered in the sturdy winds sound foretold a burden that they feared. Deep into the woods, in the forest deepest core, the malevolent spirits knew their time had come. The village in Maijo was quiet, it’s soul was gone.
In the fallow years before the young Uli could be allowed to succeed his father’s duties, the town of Maijo grew reckless under the guidance of Maje, the new temporary priest. Maje, unlike Uli’s father believed in the liberal reality of life. The conflict however, is that the ideals of the African moral standard objected an over expression of liberal minds. And because the priest overlooked some faults, the men of Maijo grew more at ease with their perversity. Women once held in high regard were subdued to a cliché, and were faced with unimaginable physical abuse. The night was black for rape, and women hated it. The young girls flowering were met with the gravest ill, raped at the cusp of their own womanhood.
The six years before Uli became the chosen priest is best remembered for the night that was black. People still whisper in silent whispers, the way of that night. Seni, a maiden, not known to the world’s travails, beautiful, well mannered and orderly, grew restless as the light faded and her mother was not yet home. She held her ears to the streets that were becoming empty but her mother was nowhere in sight. When the sun had set enough that no light could pierce the sky except for the moon’s ray, Seni decided she could be bold to search for her mother, and being of no living father or sibling, she closed the door to their hut and went searching, calling out to her in hope to her mother. At the time of the end of the first quarter of the night, a faint noise drew Seni’s attention, in fear; she froze, growing pale in the intermittent darkness of the night. When the faint noise kept creeping, she summoned courage to confront its whereabouts, as she weaved her way into the trees from where the noise came; a hand tugged her left leg from the sides. Her heart almost jumped out with fear, cold and distraught, she paused and closed her eyes, petrified.
“Run” the voice said weakly
Seni paused for a moment as she tried to make sense of the words that the hand was trying to say.
“Run, Run” the voice echoed more clearly in an anguished scream.
Seni ran as the hand let her leg free, fleet, and straight as her legs could carry but as soon as she began to run, the sounds of rushing feet in a seeming stampede seemed to chase her every leap, she ran all the breath of her pulsating lungs, but soon she felt her body on the cold dry earth.
As soon as her body hit the floor, the hands pinned her still, slowly, they lifted the coverings on her body and ravaged the sight underneath. She felt each devilish grin, and each painful thrust that they took under the sweat filled ecstasy of filth drowned her into a sudden despair, the weight of their bodies, the stench of their filth and the ferociousness of their thrust made her body and mind numb. They each took turns, repeating the process, she was conscious enough to know that they may have been six, but she passed out before she could be sure.
The night enveloped her frail body as she staggered back to the voice that urged her to run, her eyes now accustomed to the dark saw the figure of another woman lying, covered in blood and maimed flesh, she falls close and the light shines just enough to reveal the corpse of her own mother.
Seni , with not a tear drop shed, dragged her mother’s corpse into the woods, vain anger fueled all her strength as she dragged that maimed body into the deep end of the woods where the malevolent lived. No one knows for sure what happened but the stories fetched their price. Some say she gave her mother’s body to the spirits who needed a vacuum; others say she granted her soul to the spirits to avenge the dreadful event.
The blood of vengeance was nigh on the streets, one after the other, the men fell, each in ways more disturbing than the next, till only the son of priest Maje was left. His death was the cruelest of them all. He was found maimed on the path that led into the woods with dogs licking from his wounds.
Maje, not being able to stand the trauma went against his better judgement to pass on the mantle of priesthood to the then seventeen year old Uli
The malevolent and Seni, on Uli’s ascension to the priestly room, receded into the deep woods, but Seni longed for the day when her conditions will be filled. For the spirits there had agreed that she be set free if she could find a cosmic being to sway into love. Her body thus will never age from the maiden that she was.
Years ran by and Uli grew old too, and Seni’s call for redemption came when two young twins Semo and her twin came jostling into the deep woods to play. She watched the boy closely for twins were revered in Maijo. She watched as they played. When the twins separated, she trapped the boy with her, the village searched, even Uli came far into the deep woods where the spirits were, but could not find the boy. The spirits raised the special boy, away from the prying eyes of the real world, he came to know their passages, their ways, and when she was ready, Seni came to him. Slowly but surely their bond grew.
The events of the ceremonial virgin come to the woods, and the boy hears of his sister’s plight. That night they rode with the spirits, resting vengeance on the men who had gone to the dark again. The women in Maijo each knew the corpses they would see, for they too had been raped.
Seni, now free and in love with the young boy, stays with the spirits for a course, they both age slowly, so much that when his sister dies of old age, the man who shows up with a snail shell on her grave is not the same age, he was rather still too young. His story remains different, one day soon, it may be told. But even when we close our eyes to sleep, we should remember, The night is always black
By Elijah Abuni Peter