TITLE: Two Lovely Fellows.
CATEGORY: A Short Story.
“Go tie your wrapper well, can’t you see, you have started growing breasts?”, Said ubunkhei, my 14-year old male best-friend. Mami and Papi always told me to tie my wrappers well too, especially when going to the stream because “evil spirits were always looking for people as wives and husbands” I never took any of them serious, I always felt safe in my village. I lived in an averagely massed village, the village of Wi, meaning ‘peace and comfort of the gods’, I had no reason to feel threatened, but every year, everyone around me reminded me I was maturing and I hated it cause I detested tying my wrappers tight. Most times, I tied it so loose that even if it falls, it would attract no attention but not anymore, I had two fruits growing in me now, “two small fruits” , ubunkhei would tell me, “I’m only as 14 as you are, only that you don’t have breasts”, I would always reply. Ubunkhei was my best friend, I always did things he told me to, he was the brother I never had. I always wanted a brother but Mami said she couldn’t get another child because the gods had closed her doors, I never understood what that meant but I wasn’t so bothered because I had ubunkhei.
Ubunkhei lived in the hut close to mine. His father was dead. There were rumors that evil spirits took him as a lover to appeal to their sexual desires and sometimes, ubunkhei would fear being taken too and I would always tell him “nothing would happen, I will always live next to you”. Everyone in the community knew about the strong bond between Ubunkhei and I. Some say, we were siblings and in my head, we actually were. We were born the same day and in the same place, Ubunkhei had always lived next to me. One time, my aunt planned on taking me away to learn a trade, I rejected the offer and cried till my ribs could be seen “Tarierie, what’s your problem? come with me and learn taffeta. You can earn some Miko(money) for yourself and family”, said my Aunt kanoro, ” Auntie, no! Auntie no!, Ubunkhei must go with me or I’ll drink the local pub and… “, There went a slap to my delicate face.
Auntie kanoro dragged my hand as she made way out of the house. I couldn’t let her take away, so I bit her. Immediately, she lost hold of me and I tried running but mami caught me. It was a vain effort because at the end, Auntie kanoro took me to her hut. The second day of being away from home. I decided to feign an illness. I heated the remaining red oil in the pot and rubbed little all over my body with utuntuleaf( a medicinal leaf in my village which is known to cause itching)The mixture left my body hot and as if I had high temperature, also causing rashes on my skin. I did this when my auntie was away and when she was back, she saw me on the floorlooking weak. She fell for it and ran to get me some cure. Immediately, she was out, I looked left, right and prayed to the gods of Wi that I have a safe run in such a quiet night. I ran to Ubunkhei’s hut but before I fully got in, I sighted someone outside my own hut. It was Ubunkhei and he was waiting for me to return. It was mid-night and he was asleep on our old bench, I didn’t want to wake him up, so I slept right beside him. When the sun came shining, Mami, papi and auntie kanoro stared at us as we were still fast asleep. At that point, my family knew, the bond between Ubunkhei and I was paranormal. So, they never tried separating us again. We shared our food and every of our thoughts to each other. There was a time, Ubunkhei was heavily sick, everyone thought he was going to die and I was sad and scared. Mami told me to go and say my last words to him. I cried deeply, seeing him on the floor and everyone around him, l layed beside him and cried till I fell asleep. The next day, he was fine and Mami told me he was sleep-talking, “Mami, what was he saying in his sleep?”, I asked “Tarierie must always live next to me”, she replied. Apparently, he fought for his life, he fought the fight no one could see.
It was two years again, and it had happened, my most frightening nightmare had dawned on me. Ubunkhei’s mother was crying loudly, outside her hut and the elders of Wi were with her with their arms folded and their faces looking mournful. She shouted ” My pride, my pride, all I had, my Ubunkhei, my Ubunkhei has been taken by evil spirits. My Ubunkhei has been sacrificed as the new husband, isn’t he too little? why me, elders of Wi, why me?”, She shouted, while tears dropped all over and her waist wrapper almost falling. I didn’t know what to believe because I hadn’t seen Ubunkhei since that morning and my Ubunkhei would never leave me. I never accepted it, till I saw the hand beads which we both had on the floor next to his favorite wrapper, Ubunkhei was truly gone. It was said, that when someone had been taken as a lover to the spirits, his body would not be seen. So, it was all true. I was unable to think a thought. I ran to the stream, where Mami and everyone told me not to go ” don’t ever go to the filo stream, it is for the spirits”, I ran down to the stream of filo and cried to the spirits to bring back my brother and best friend, I shouted, unafriad but no one responded. So, slowly I loosened my wrappers and threw it far away, I took of everything Mami gave me as covering. I Stood, looking at my reflection in the waters, gazing at the two young breasts and delicate buttocks,everyone told me to cover. I called out for the spirits in a young voice. I walked slowly into the stream, while getting my hands on parts of my body, I’ve never shown anyone. Isang beautifully, hoping the spirits would take me away too. Soon enough, the wind whirled stronger and I felt the cold penetrating into my 14-year old skin. The trees suddenly grew fruits and the waters suddenly became deep as I surrendered. Slowly, slowly, every strand of hair on my head withered away and my eyes could see no more, the wind spinned me and I lost consciousness. Somehow, I was gone and never to return. I had left for my new home cause my Ubunkhei must always live next to me.
Cheers to our Amazing Tribesman, Chidinma. We are proud of You!