The Land of Eradiawa

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

i love writing fiction.

 

In those days, an ominous dark cloud hovered around the once sunny skies of the ancient village of Eradiawa. It was in the early farming season when Uhu arrived the village, uninvited. He carried with him, a black shroud and a long scroll. With him also were Ecoro and Ameroh. Ohoghei, the hunchback claimed, the trio had told him they were in the village for a deathly assignment.

Those three strutted around as if they owned the place. And each stead they touched, they left an invisible marker of death. People were told to stay indoors to evade Uhu, in particular. The stonehearted one was prowling on the streets. The town crier too could not go out to remind the residents that Uhu had come with a long list of names. Somehow, the news went round anyway. It was Uhu that was being talked about here.

In the old days, before Ohoghei spilled the beans about Uhu, things were normal. There was very little cause for worrying. A new Oba had just taken the throne after the departure of the former and things were moving smoothly. Only for Ohoghei to come claiming, he had seen Uhu sitting on a huge okuta with Ecoro one evening, unfolding a long scroll. In it, he claimed to have seen the names of the Oba and his residents written in red ink. The people did not know what to make of this report. Ohoghei, that mischievous one? His truths were hard to believe. He was a bundle of unverifiable half-truth. Despite the source, the fear was palpable. Residents were afraid to go anywhere lest they meet Uhu lurking in a corner.

As the days went by, the crops in the farms suffered. The market was full of spirits but bereft of traders. The hunters too stayed back, afraid they would return home with Uhu in their pouch. The animals strode around the village with reckless abandon. There was a fat hunger in the land of Eradiawa.

These happenings did not go down well with the Oba. Early one morning, the brave Oba decided he was going out to confront Uhu. His wives and children pleaded with him not to go. The home Leopard stood no chance against Uhu– the malevolent. No one did. Uhu was unquestionable in his exercise of power. Osalobua made him so.

Oba Etin went anyway to find Uhu. He looked everywhere for the rascal but Uhu was nowhere to be found. On the third day, he headed to the Palace ready to debunk the rumour peddled by Ohoghei. Little did the Oba know, that like a thief, Uhu had stealthily followed behind. Uhu was a trickster, no doubt. As the Oba made to enter the palace, Uhu sneaked in uninvited by hiding in the shadows of the Oba. The news went round however: Oba Etin has defied the dreaded Uhu. People were quick to point out that Ohoghei was a big liar after all.

From then on, the residents of Eradiawa went about their businesses with great zest. The market was full of people again. The whole village was a beehive of activities.

No sooner had the dust settled than something happened. One fateful day, the Oba woke up with a slight cough and before the day’s end; he was shivering all over, talking like one who had seen an Oro. Ohoghei went round the village again determined to prove a point. “The Oba has taken ill and was dying,” he said in whispers to anyone who cared to listen.

All the Obos in the land led by the Ohen-Obo made their way to the Oba’s palace. They served him with all the herbs within their knowledge yet the Oba’s illness worsened. The Oba rolled on the bed like one who was being scourged by Ecoro – the forerunner of Uhu. It seemed the wicked one had placed a huge okuta on the chest of the King.

As days went by, the King’s throat became pinkish and blood oozed out each time he coughed. He could not hold down anything in his stomach. A few days later, the Oloi, who stayed back to attend to him also went down with illness. No one could really tell what was wrong. The breath of life seeped out of the custodian of the people gradually.

 The Obos were at their wits end. The Ohen-Obo threw his cowries and dry bones on the red earth in search of answers. The ancestors told them it was the Oba who brought Uhu into the palace. “Awa!” the Ohen-Obo screamed. What was the sacrifice of appeasement, asked the Ohen. The ancestors answered, there was none. Uhu was on a mission and until he was satisfied, he would not stop.

The next day, Uhu struck a deathblow. He snuffed out the lives of the Oba and his senior Oloi like palm oil lanterns in the heart of a storm. On and on he went on rampage until the palace was half-empty. By the time the news did the rounds that people should keep off the streets of Eradiawa, it was little too late. Uhu had left the palace and had taken a firm root in nearly every home. Fathers and mothers were dying in their droves. How long this list was, the people could not tell.

No matter what, people were warned not to venture out to avoid meeting Uhu on the streets. It was a lame logic, the residents complained. Had Uhu not already claimed every homestead as his?

Residents grimly dug graves within the family compound and buried their dead. Weeks went by and Uhu was not slowing down. The Obos who were at the palace had all died. With no help forthcoming, the stranded residents waited by the fireplace for Uhu to come take their lives. However, just when all hopes were lost, something happened…

 

The spirit world was in shock when the Oba strode in with a charcoal laden body. Mind you, the Oba only departs the throne when he was ready. The Oba does not die!

Where were the slaves? The dog and the horse that were supposed to accompany the Oba on his way? Why was his funeral without pomp and pageantry? The spirits demanded to know. The Oba told them everything that had happened and how he was dumped on the earth in a hurry like one who had committed an abomination. The Spirits were sorely angry. Uhu had gone too far this time, they said, and something had to be done. In the coming market days, more earthlings were to journey through the Spirit land with one startling tale or the other to tell about Uhu. They concluded that if something was not done, soon there would be no more residents to offer Izobo to them. The head spirit quickly dispatched an emissary to Eradiawa to meet and convey their position to Uhu – stop the killings or...

Who else was proper to carry the message to Uhu but his estranged wife, Ikhun, the one who carried the secrets of Uhu like an elephant trunk? When Ikhun arrived the village, the village smelled of rotten flesh. Ameroh was sprinkling water everywhere to douse the foul smell.

Uhu and Ecoro played ayo under the shade of the baobab tree, unfazed by the devastation around them. Ikhun approached tactfully like one poised to kill a fly perched on a scrotum.

Fond of boastings as Uhu was, he was taken aback when he saw Ikhun, his wife, making her way towards him.

“This woman again,” whispered he to Ecoro.

“What has she come to do in Eradiawa?” Asked Ecoro scornfully. “Perhaps she had come again to disclose my secrets,” Uhu said with a little tremble in his voice.

Ikhun began by singing the praise of Uhu with the idea of soothing him:

Uhu the undefeated, I salute you

You take whoever it is you want

And none dares to question you

A man locks up his home from you

Yet you stretch your cold left hand

And pull out his soul from his body

 

Uhu the one who swells the spirit world

With spirits both big and small, poor and rich

I sing that you may grant me access

Not only to heal but also to commune with you

And thus touch the frozen heart of yours.

 

 

 With such words of praise, she entreated him like an old friend would.

“Please stop the killing,” she pleaded but Uhu would not listen. One could see he was having the time of his life. Realizing that all her entreaties had fallen on deaf ears, Ikhun decided it was high time she did something more.

Now the crown prince was in the graveyard of the kings where he had gone to hide from Uhu after the death of his parents. Ikhun met him hiding behind the tomb of his father, trembling like a puppy. Ikhun called out the young lad who was overwhelmed with fear at the sight of a spirit. Ikhun calmed his young troubled heart and reassured him of her good intentions.

“We will defeat this scourge together if you follow my instructions carefully,” the old-bride of Uhu said to the prince.

“What must I do?” asked the young prince.

Now the chalks of Olokun were known for their heavy spiritual powers. Ikhun therefore instructed the prince to apply on his face some of the chalks from the riverbed behind the graveyard. She thereafter told him the secret of Ecoro’s deadly sneeze in her accustomed guttural voice.

“Each time Uhu approached his victims, he would call on Ecoro to sneeze right into their faces,” said she to him and continued.

“When these victims smelt in the droplets from his sneeze, they would fall sick.”

“So Ecoro is the real killer after all?” the prince asked.

“Although it may seem, yet the one who really squeezes breath out of them is Uhu. He alone has the power to kill a sick man,” she said.

“What must we do to stop them then?” he asked. “I heard he would not stop until he wipes out the entire village.”

Uhu does not stop until he is satisfied but we will beat him at his own game this time,” said Ikhun

Ikhun thereafter instructed the prince and his people to make a face mask of Uhu and wear it at all times.

“Since Uhu was fond of splitting into many same version of himself, you must wear the mask at all times,” she said to the prince. “That is, after you have applied Olokun’s chalk on your face,” she added. She also told them to wash their hands at the end and beginning of each day.

“What purpose would that serve,” the prince asked impatiently.

Ikhun looked at the young prince, smiled and said to him, “Patience is one virtue good kings are made of. Imbibe it and you will be better than your father before you.”

The prince, a little shamefaced, nodded his assent.

Sure, that her advice had sunk in, she went on, “We will use the face mask to deceive him and Ecoro. They would not be able to see any of you. Even if they do, they will still not be able to tell anyone apart. ” then she added, “when he can no longer tell anyone apart, there will be no more Ecoro’s infection and no more death. Eventually, they will be forced to leave Eradiawa out of frustration,” she concluded.

The young prince was satisfied with the plan but Ikhun could still see that the lad had some doubts. She therefore ordered him to speak up. He demanded to know what would happen to those who by accident had their Uhu masks removed. Ikhun warned that on no occasion should anyone go out without his or her facemasks. However, she gave the young prince a list of herbs to boil to save such a person from death.

“That one will cover himself in the steam of the boiling herbs to ward off the presence of Uhu and drink some of it to wash off any droplets from Ecoro’s breath,” she instructed.

Ikhun carved out the mask of Uhu and handed it over to the young prince. The youth did as he was told. He rose up after and departed to the square to test the new remedy. To his surprise, Uhu could not see him. “It worked. I can see them but they cannot see me,” he whispered and went on to inform the entire village.

A few people brave enough to follow the young prince out to the open, did so after they had made their own Uhu masks. And to their utter astonishment Uhu and his evil companions did not notice them. Soon the residents realized that the mask was the entire miracle they needed to evade Uhu’s cold grip of death. The village gathered to mock the wicked spirits who had wreaked so much havoc on their lives. But all the while, Uhu and his companions did not know they had lost their invisibility.

Just as every other day, Uhu and Ecoro went out for their daily targets. Alas, all the houses were empty when they came this time. The streets too seemed all devoid of persons. Where had all the people gone, they wondered. As the days went by, without their regular sport, this trio grew frustrated. A quarrel soon broke out among them, each blaming the other. The residents began to find great amusement at watching Uhu lash out at his companions. When the trio could no more stand each other’s company each made for a different route. Suddenly, the evil alliance had been defeated. Ecoro disappeared completely with his evil dry cough with which he tormented his victims. Ameroh followed the cloud heading off to the East while Uhu followed the sunset at dusk, perhaps to another world, to continue his evil misdeeds.

The people celebrated their freedom from the mysterious trio with a huge feast. They kept on with their masks though, still wary of the departed evil trio.

The young brave prince would thereafter take his place as the new Oba. In his coronation speech, he would urge the people to keep their Uhu masks on for a while until they were sure the trio was gone for good. He would then go on to remind the people that this victory was for the moment. In the final scheme of things, Uhu would still have the final say. Osalobua made it so.

 


Submitted: August 11, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Luke Odia. All rights reserved.

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