Your Brief Bio:
Writer. Thinker. Poet. A lover of life
Tweet-Style Story Summary:
The world is changed. Africa has found herself.
BREATHS OF THE FATHERS
We are the breaths of the ancestors
Father Kemet ,
2070 Old Time
It is five hours by sun-time. The night is almost gone, leaving shadows and the morning is the blue-black colour of an old bruise . I wake. The flickers of the eco- lights are shining weakly and there are silver reflections of the fading moon.
There is no sound. Not a rustle, not a leaf, not a movement in the shadows, only silence. Mama should be pounding grain, her antique mortar breaking the early morning stillness. I should be hearing the mechanical whirring of a house bot.
There is no sound, no sound but the drums.
I hear it now. Dum-dum- dum the drums go, dum-dum- dum like an ancient war call. Faint at first, the drums gets closer and closer till the sound is in my head as it is in the wind, weaving memories and past lessons. I can almost hear Baba's voice.
"The sound of a drum is the sound of Kemet. It is the sound of the forest and the streams, the voice of the tribe, blending in a unity known since Old Time".
I smile briefly. Baba should be here. Baba with his face like weathered parchment, all spots and old age. Baba with his trembling voice, all rumble, like the waters of the village stream, speaking deep things of Kemet and The Way.
But Baba is not here. He is far away in the village, at least in my mind. For the first time in my life, I am truly alone.
Don't be foolish. You are never alone.
It is Baba's voice, and it is ringing in my head. It is always Baba's voice ringing in my head.
" A child of Kemet is never alone. He has the tribe to guide him. He has the Breaths. I am because you are. Do you understand?"
I do not pretend to understand but I say yes anyway. Baba is always saying strange things.
I am because you are, I say in my mind.
Outside, it is cold. The morning chill is not yet gone. There are children too, still and waiting, dressed in white like me. They are chanting something with the drums but I do not understand. I can only hear, faintly.
We are the breaths of the fathers.
It is barely a whisper but it carries, a heavy thing, with mystery and meaning. It is slow and lulling and makes me think of Baba and his deep things. There is a strange feel in my blood now , and the forests are moving somewhere, away from me. There are other voices but they are faint and I can no longer hear them. I inhale deeply, and my nose is filled with a million scents. There is no Time.
I am a little rock in a stream, and there is no ripple. I am a tree in the forest, and there is no wind. Time is a slow thing, and in a little while, I am many things- growing, knowing, dying, in a single fraction of a moment.
I feel everything. Everything pulses with its own life. There is the flutter of a butterfly's wing somewhere. There is a dying bull ram in pain. There is no need to see the children, I feel them now, and there is a lightness in my step, like air . I laugh. Is this how The Fathers saw the world?
There is a voice in my head now, ringing. Baba is talking again.
"The Ashé is The Great Force. Man's first gift from Olorun. It runs in our veins, from the little ant to the spot lion. It connects us, you and I. I am because you are"
I know this. I have always known this. My nerves are on fire, every inch, drinking in the minutae. Baba doesn't sound so strange now. I have seen it, felt it. I have drunk The Force! I laugh again, and the forest groans. The forest seems to laugh with me.
I do not know when we reach The Cave, or how. Maybe high noon- the sun is in the sky. It is an old thing, this cave. A relic of Old Time when our Fathers hid here in the days of the raids. In those days, we did not know The Way.
The Cave speaks of its age like a living, breathing thing. It is in the greenish drape of moss, all over the wall and the poor light from the struggling rays of sun-there were no eco-lights then. It's in the slow moving sky water from ancient rains and the touch of rot, like old spice. But there is something else here, strong, a presence. It washes over me in gentle waves.
The Fathers were here, but they never left. They left the breaths in our time to see. Time after time they called to us, as their Fathers called to them, going back since Old Time. They were our history and our guards, our guides till we forgot, and we wandered the world in darkness, blind and without name. My people Kemet, Africa in Old Time.
The Cave says these things, the breaths, in stories and in dreams. Sometimes they are shadows, flickers on the wall and other times, they are whispers in my mind, like my own thoughts. I do not fear them, these breaths . One does not fear a reflection in the water. I look in their eyes and I can see myself- in the wisps of smoke, dancing in the shadows.
How long I stay, I cannot say but when I leave, there is another moon in the sky. There is a crowd too, watching from the outside. Baba is among them.
At first they do nothing, just look at us. A blade could cut through that silence. Then they are moving and there are hands, and they are touching us. One hand, two , and then they are many hands, and they are holding us. I am not afraid. This is home, these hands. I know them all as I know my own. I look at Baba. He's touching me too. I am because you are.
Life is never the same after the Cave. Yes, the sun still sets in the same spot in the hills and my room still fills with silver light from the moon when night falls. Still, an old thing seen in new light is never quite the same . Nothing changes, but I see my world with new eyes. Colours, tastes, people, all seem to blend and shift, morph, turning ordinary things into somegging special.
Like Baba. He is drawn to the land, every mound of earth, every trampled grass. The land is a code only he can crack. He is always doing this, unravelling its mysteries- taking long walks and gathering herbs that Mama never finds use for. Night would fall and find him in his antique cane chair, a relic of Old Time, taking in the many sights of the night, a faraway look in his eyes. Mama would laugh then, teasing him that perhaps he should have married the land.
It is always like this between Mama and Baba- Mama always teasing and Baba trying not to laugh. Most times, he would lose and his laughter would ring out loud and for a moment I would forget Baba is an old man.
Outside home, there is Camara. Camara, Camara, Camara- his name is like music. We have known each other since we first learnt to walk, some say before, for we were born on the same day. I think about him a lot these days . I think about his dark face and his hair, I want to run my hair through them. I think about his stories, how mad they are, but then I'm really thinking about his voice and my heart can't stop beating at the sound. It must be my moon's blood.
"Of course it must be. Or you must be in love"
I spin around and I see no one. For a moment, I'm afraid. The breaths speak to us yes, piercing through the thin veil of our memories. But it was never this loudly, never so loudly that it beat like a drum inside my bones.
"I am not a breath, girl. I am Olorun"
For a moment there is silence- and a leaf, rustling in the distance. Do not be deceived. I am not calm.
It is not to Baba I run, one bare foot racing the other. Baba is closer, he's in his hut even, but somehow my legs find their way to Camara. He's outside his hut, his hands busy in the delicate repair of an old wind gen. His hands are strained, and there is a fixed look in his eye.
He looks up a moment in my direction. He sees me and I imagine he is smiling. He is not surprised. A visit from me is no strange thing.
I was running fast so I am out of breath when I tell my story. He does not cut in, just stares in the same fixed way he was staring at the wind gen. Then I am done and he is laughing.
"So you're a spirit woman!" he says in between bursts.
"Of course not!" is my fierce reply.
Everybody knows that there has been no spirit person since Old Time, not since the founding of The Way. He does not believe me.
"There are breaths, Camara. But Olorun has not spoken to man since the founding of The Way. It is known"
It is true, but I am angry all the same. I have always believed his stories. I turn to leave and he does not stop me. I grudge him that too.
There is laughter behind me but it is not Camara. This laugh is deep and low, a rumble. It is the familiar sound of the forest laughing. I look around and I see no one. Olorun is laughing at me.
I do not tell anyone about Olorun, not even Baba. I am still angry with Camara and I do not talk to him many days. Perhaps that is why.
It is a strange thing, befriending the First Father. He says stranger things than even Baba. He was there at the birthing at the world, he says . Our ancestral home is Ife. He is always talking- me, the forest, people, so the days pass and I no longer fear his voice. I talk to him too.
I know other things now, things I am not meant to know. Baba Shola is going blind. Kehinde will buy another house bot. The birds have songs and the flowers have voices, Olorun tells me I can talk to them. The forest is my new home.
Baba looks at me strange these days. I think he knows. He does not ask, but he tells me stories about spirit people now. Mama just smiles.
The villagers know too. I see it in their eyes, in the way they nod their heads and call me little mother. Sometimes, they bring gifts when I'm away- coconut and cashew, a little meat now and then.
"Give this to little mother", they always say
I am aware now of the currents of life that bind us, the Ashé. I am drawn to the tribe in a way I've never been. Olorun tells me we are brethren, all mankind, and that the greatest crime against the universe is to sin against a soul. The Fathers knew this, he says, before the founding of The Way. Nyerere. Mandela. I am because you are.
I am aware of other things as well. I must leave home to seek my own in the wild. The forest calls, the forest is always calling and it is my kind that must answer. Sad- I must leave the tribe but there is excitement too, a nameless joy.
I am a spirit woman now, and the forest is my home.