LOOOOOL!!! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!! Enjoy it and have a lot of fun….
LOOOOOL!!! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!! Enjoy it and have a lot of fun….
Last year, I told you a story about a little sheep on a teacup. This year I am going to share a story from my past.
Now, as you know, I am Nigerian and Igbo. You also know that Nigeria has a major problem with electricity and so, when we were younger and there was no light, my mother will take my sister, brother and I to the balcony and she was tell us tales by moonlight. The story I am going to share is one that still scares me. The story is called Ahamaledo.
Once upon a time, in a village in the Eastern part of Nigeria, there lived a very beautiful girl called Amara. She was so pretty that princes from kingdoms very far away used to travel to her village just to ask for her hand in marriage. But each time she was asked, she refused and always cited one reason or the other for her refusal. They were either too fat or too thin, too ugly or too tall, too short or had bowlegs, wore glasses or wore the wrong color of shirts. There was always something. Her parents were tired of her fickleness but they did not know how to change her behavior. Also, she had no problems being disobedient.
It was time for the New Yam festival in her village. The new yam festival, is a period of time that farmers, villagers and friends come together to celebrate the successes of their harvest. This period involves a lot of dancing,singing and most importantly eating. During the New Yam festival, different groups will come out to the market square to introduce the community to new dance steps, new music and just new ways of doing things. Also, with these festivities, we also have the coming out of masquerades. In Igbo land, there are different kinds of masquerades, there are those that come out to dance and play with everyone and then there are the scary ones that should not be seen by the elderly or any females. These ones have special powers. These ones generally come out in the early morning hours or very late at night.
Unfortunately that year, Amara’s parents could not make it to the new yam festival because they had to go to a different state to discuss some new land acquisitions. Before Amara’s mother left for the farm, she told her daughter, ” Amara, I know that you love eating snails but make sure you roast the yam before the snails”. Amara laughed and said, ‘yes mother, I know. I am not stupid”. Her mother looked at her and continued getting ready for her trip to her different state. Soon they were ready to go. As they got to the gate, her mother looked at her again and repeated, “Amara, make sure you roast the yam before the snail, also remember that the masquerades (called mmawu in my language) will be out and about, make sure you do not leave this compound”. She said sternly. Amara rolled her eyes and said, ” yes mother, you know I am a big girl and I can take care of myself, go! go!”.
Her mother left. Amara played all day, danced in the house as she listened to the sounds of jubilation from the village square. She was having so much fun that she forgot to eat. As it got towards evening time, she suddenly remembered that she had not eaten. She looked at the raw yam (we call that ji in my place) and looked at the luscious looking snails. She thought to herself, ‘yam takes so long to roast but snails roast so much faster, and so I can snack on the snail while waiting for my 🙂 to roast”. She took out her one match stick and struck it to get her fire going and then she prepared her snails for roasting. As she placed the snails on the open fire to roast, the snails sizzled, and the slimy, wet part came out of the snail and then turned off the fire. There she was , hungry and starving with uncooked snails, uncooked yams and no way to start a fire. She knew that she could not sleep without eating. Her stomach was grumbling and dancing the “alanta” dance steps.
She got herself ready and stepped out of her compound. It was quiet and dark. Everyone had retired for the night. As she walked some distance, she suddenly heard some footsteps behind her. She continued walking calmly. Suddenly she heard a gruff voice,
“Woman, don’t you know that you shouldn’t be out at this time of the night? Why are you out at this time of the night?”
She hissed and continued walking.
She suddenly heard the sound of a whirlwind and then something stood in front of her path. She looked up and it was a huge masquerade. It was seven feets tall, it smelt and had a horrible face.
“Woman, why are you out at this time of the night. This is the time when we come out. Why are you out at this time of the night? Run! run! run away before I strike” the masquerade warned angrily in a voice that thundered.
Amara stood her ground. ” Look, Mr. Masquerade, you really shouldn’t be shouting at me. Don’t you know that I am the prettiest girl in this state. You should feel honored to be in my presence. Go away. I have places and things to do tonight. Take that smell along with you”. She said insolently.
The masquerade was angrier than it had ever been. It whirled and shook the leaves on the tree, it bent some branches, she heard thunder and lightning flashed across the sky.
“Amara! Amara! Amara! You’ve forgotten that before your king was born, I was here. I am the wind, the stars and the seas. I am your ancestor and the spirit of all there is resides within me. Amara, run! or you will live to regret this” The masquerade thundered.
“Puo!!! (go away), you dirty and smelly thing” she said as she made to pass by the masquerade.
The masquerade got dangerously silent and then bent down from its great height and then looked into Amara’s eyes. ” Jagajaga! Jagajaga” and then he started reciting some incantations. Then he stopped and looked at Amara and said,” as you have called me, so shall you be. Your words will become a mirror and become your reality. Your beauty shall be stripped and you shall be a thorn and a horror to your community. All who see you shall run away from you. You shall be the horror story for future generations” and then it stopped. Laughed, long and hard and turned around and then disappeared into the air.
Amara hissed and kept on walking. She passed several streams to get to her friend’s house – Nkechi.
She knocked on the door. Nkechi ran to the door
“onye no ebea” (who is there?) Nkechi asked
“omu Amara” (it is me) Amara responded but her voice was different, it was gruff and it sounded like the masquerade.
“You don’t sound like Amara, no I am not opening the door” Nkechi said.
“oh come on, it is me, I need to get some matches so I can make some food” Amara said.
Nkechi walked to the door and opened it a little and then she saw a horrible thing standing by her door in Amara’s wrapper and she screamed and shut the door.
“No, you aren’t Amara. Go away spirit of the night. I have not offended anyone. Go away”.
Amara stayed at the door, knocking and pleading for Nkechi to open the door but Nkechi refused to open the door.
Amara decided to go to her other ‘friends’ home but each time they opened the door, they expressed the same reaction that Nkechi did.
Eventually, Amara had to go back home. She went home and waited for her parents to get back.
When her parents got back, they were surprised to see a monster waiting for them at the door.
As they turned to run away, Amara started singing,
“my sweet mother it is Amara, your beautiful daughter, my sweet mother, it is Amara your beautiful daughter. I know you told me not to roast the snail before the yam but I did. My fire went off and I went out to look for fire and on my way, I met a masquerade and I was not very nice to it and it put a curse on me – mother help me”.
Her mother screamed once she realised that this creature was her once beautiful daughter. She didn’t know what to do. She took her daughter to the native doctor (dibia) and the dibia looked at her daughter and said, I am sorry but your daughter will remain like that forever. She has been cursed. Now, she will have to attract a person with the beauty of her heart and her speech. I am sorry.
When you are young life leaves you no choice
Do this. Do that.
No room for a little voice
When all you want to do is play and just have fun
Ride your bike. roller-skate, and be free to run.
With no concerns for the who’s, what’s, when’s and why’s
Then you go from a boy to a man before your own eyes.
Life gives you lessons to learn as you grow
Room for mistakes and time to show what you know
Just be patient because things will soon go your way
enjoy the young times and have a happy birthday!