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Bode Osanaiye

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Member Since: Jan, 2011

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A Dream at Night
By Bode Osanaiye
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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Recent stories by Bode Osanaiye
· In the Silent Hours of Night
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Bila, a 15 year old girl, organizes a rebellion against British entry in revenge of the assassination of her father by the brute warrior King Oloyi, who is , ironically, bent on marrying Bila after failing to woo Bila's mother successfully


 

 

THE BREEZE SOBBED into the trees.

The cold was biting, needle-sharp, and Bila would savour no mood of overelaboration with her mother. Bila, who, on that day, had thrown up her razor-sharp sword and caught it in mid-air with her bare teeth, shocking the present King of Anka, King Oloyi, in the full, fixated glare of the whole of Anka – right at the village square. But before then, everything that happened in Anka happened on the anvil of the Iron Age. The Iron Age of blood, of toil, of sweat, of tears, and inevitably, of death. It was like a medieval siege.
“Sandi, what do you know about Anawa’s death?”
Those were the terse words which drooped rudely out of her mouth that cold, stormy morning, as though she had some incontrovertible evidence of Sandi’s involvement in the assassination of Anawa, Bila’s gentle father, a man whose noble qualities were well-known amongst his enemies. Following leads of years past, Bila believed she still had reason to question Anawa’s death. So like a wounded leopard, Bila had trotted briskly to her mother’s hut very early in the morning, filled with anger. Gobi, her boyfriend, had earlier disappeared into thin air, breaking Bila’s heart in two, as was his custom. A thing she would never trivialise, times during which, failing to recapture his throne, Alkhan, Gobi’s father – the deposed king of Anka, of a certain Ekpe Province in Nigeria – had begun to relapse into his former, insignificant state. Eighty-two and yet he did not feel like one who had enjoyed the honour of a full life. Having been forgiven of being forbidden only to set foot on Ankan soil, Alkhan, who had been forced into silence after his subterranean descent during the The Conquest epoch in Nigeria, often fell off his wooden stool, sleeping. For his age, a premolar had started to rot and he had been refusing to chew meat in the right corner of his mouth where the tooth was posited. For his frail constitution, he had failed in matters of state and would also wane to be so saddled with the task of protecting his extant people from the ravages of war. But for a timely violent seizure led by King Oloyi – the renowned warrior who came from nowhere, reigned as de jure ruler today, and wasted a whole lifetime on sought glory – the village of Anka would have been consumed like an arid land in a wild inferno, although this violent seizure only served to simply postpone Anka’s destruction. One day would come, Bila thought, on account of this violent seizure, when, at sundown, Ankans would, once again, count their losses and sow unto the earth with their dead. And at another man’s hands, things like the night snapping up a man’s soul in its primeness of life would be a good thing for Anka.
Now, coupled with a rising temper, Bila’s head began to throb, as she was coming with the idea in her mind that the Ankan dream, which her father had lengthily talked about before his death, would never come to those who fell asleep. She had seen her mother’s hut, an idyllic, rivetingly captivating sight the previous night, still dimly lit, with a thick mist tending to submerge some of her roof rafters. Sandi must be up early: Of that Bila was very sure. Towards Bila at the time, if you rattled like a snake, you should expect some poison-spitting. She would give you measure for measure. In the accustomed way of Anka, however, children called their parents by name, unlike the practice in some other parts of the Province where they had to say, “Papa,” or “Mama.” It was not a sign of disrespect though, neither was it the culture; but it hovered between the two. Something Anka had not yet developed strength to cope with, understand or even demystify, especially in a society like this where life was closely knitted.
Sandi, Bila’s mother, on her own part, had risen up early enough, setting forth at dawn – as she did – drawing patterns on half calabash bowls. Time was when she had been happier. She had heard Bila’s firm, unmistakable footsteps on the doorstep. Suddenly, Sandi stood up from her stool, furiously approaching her door and for a moment thinking it was a missionary who rapped at it. The mere sight of Bila’s face saddened her: Like Anawa was wont to say, “There’s no how a guinea fowl is slaughtered in the presence of a chicken that the chicken would not be pricked”. Sandi had caught wind of this and, afore now, had been having a foreboding of danger, a sense of some un-rightness, of an impending mishap. She knew that something must have been bugging her daughter, clogging her mind. Didn’t Anawa say a dog does not bark unless it had seen something? That one was a cast iron guarantee, wherefore, Bila, whom in her wildest of dreams had not thought of a step father yet, had earlier prepared a bunch of flowers, a wreath: with the colours of red, yellow, purple, white – signs of love, colours of friendship on fire; and had laid the wreath on Anawa’s tomb, with floods of tears coursing down her face, while she asked why mother earth ate the children of men. Her tears were tears of deep regrets, regrets that she could not do all she should have done for Anawa. She could not protect Anawa enough as he scythed his way through life. She thought about the things she could have or could not have done for him in his lifetime, as she kept seeing Anawa in her sleep. Thoughts of Anawa alone often brought tears to her eyes. Now and again, Bila’s hot tears fell freely upon Anawa’s grave on a daily basis. She had moved into gentle Anawa’s personal hut the night after the day he was murdered. She believed his spirit was more alive there. That way, she could be closely in touch with him, even in death. For this, her reward had been constant appearances, relayed in the form of dreams and nightmares, which continued to haunt her, both at nighttime and in the noonday, nightmares that sometimes tended to confirm the fact that Anka had just entered those Stoker days of debauchery, when vampires in muffled voices bathed and baptized humanity in stale blood. She was sure that Anka had just entered those phases of man’s existence when the ghost of a corpse was grimacing into the indifferent faces of dreamers, frightening them out of their wits; and afterwards in the night roaming the kitchens and storerooms, misarranging cooking utensils. Anawa once told her that he had seen a frightened ghost before. He said ghosts were all out to infect, affect or frighten people, but that he had once seen a frightened ghost. He said his father was the one who first saw the ghost as it appeared from inside a tree during one of their midnight hunting in the forest. Forest ghosts, says Anawa, did not like their animals being hunted down, so they scared people away from them. His father, says Anawa, aimed a gun at this instant ghost, and the ghost disappeared, screaming at the top of its voice.
When Bila began to mumble things about dreams and nightmares, Sandi had wanted to know whether Bila’s had either been subliminal, utopian or frightening like her own. Sometimes those things which Bila saw in her nightmares did concretize themselves on the cosmos, and at times it was otherwise. Like, for instance, when Bila saw Gentle Anawa in a nightmare, his head that of a man from the neck up, and from the shoulder down, a snake. In an earlier true life encounter in the woods, a snake the size of a man had actually slept by Bila’s side, blinking a yellow eye at her and leading her into the forest, farther away from danger. These things had infused in Bila’s consciousness, the fact that her father, though dead, was still very much around, watching Bila – the reason why she had not allowed Gobi or any other boy in town to touch her, making bold to show always that she would not, for the present, entertain any romantic gesture from any boy ever. She could remember Sandi telling her that Anawa could be watching her and might judge her if she allowed any boy to mess with her body. She must remain chaste, Sandi says, until she found a suitable boy, a boy she believed Anawa would approve of had he to be alive. Sandi had been stern concerning this point. No boy is allowed to touch a girl’s body until he is ready to take you for a wife after the rites have been made conclusive.

 

 

{This is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the novel, A Dream at Night (600 pages). If you are a publisher or an agent and you are interested in the book, you can contact Bode Osanaiye, the author of the book at

hsebode.yahoo.com}

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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