I was asked to get ehuru from the kitchen yesterday night. I held a torchlight with me till I opened the door and got the things I needed. I saw a movement behind the big blue drum. Naturally, I immediately flashed the light there and saw the tail of a big lizard (it felt like that).
My heart skipped and started to pound furiously.
But no, it couldn’t be a lizard. I knew what it was but I didn’t want to imagine it to be true.
I shifted from my position to get a clearer view of the reptile. I looked closely. The body was evidently a python’s -eke ịkpụtụ.
I gasped, my heart stopped. It stuck its head deeper into the other side of the kitchen avoiding me. I remembered Kaduza.
Can this python talk? Kaduza talked to me, did this one have speech ability?
“Onyigirl! Where are you with the ehuru nah? The meat is already on the fire,” my mom called out.
I tiptoed out of the kitchen praying that it wouldn’t figure out that I was gone. I ran as soon as I left the kitchen, gave the ehuru . “I’m coming,” I said and returned quietly to the kitchen.
I flashed the light beside the drum and it was still there.
I heaved. “Thank God.”
It lay still like a dead thing. I have seen many creatures do this besides humans. Once seen or touched or attacked, they stayed still and pretended to be dead. Of course we’re smarter than that but it doesn’t matter.
Do I poke it with something? I have heard it doesn’t bite but maybe I’d make a wrong impression? If I talked directly to it, would it understand that I was addressing it? Would it reply or would it be forced to attack me? What would I do if it attacked me? Maybe it’s an ordinary reptile? What would I say to it?
“Err…,” I stuttered. “Can you hear me? I can see you except your head. My name is Kachi.” I waved the light so that it catches the disturbance. It did not move.
“What the fuck am I doing? I should call my dad. This is an ordinary reptile.” My heart began to dance again.
“I have talked to a snake before. Her name’s Kaduza. Can you talk?”
No response. I felt numb. What was I doing? I moved back towards the door. “Can you hear me? I’m Kachi.”
No response. I backed further away. Seconds later, it made absolutely no movement. I presumed it really wanted to convince me it was dead.
What a dumbass, you weren’t here in the afternoon.
I moved closer to the door. I was going to tell my dad so they can gently carry it out from the kitchen tomorrow morning.
Yes! We don’t kill pythons in my village. We respect them as much as they respect us. When we see one, we carefully get a stick and return it into the forest to rejoin its family or return to its hole or go someplace else. We simply do not kill.
There was movement, I hurried to the door. My legs felt weak. I held the light to the python’s body and watched it slitter out from its hiding spot.
Then the head materialized.
“I’m Beya, Kachi.”
“You can talk.”
“Yes I can. All creatures talk.”
“How do you talk to me and hear me?”
“I just do.”
“You’re not scared?”
“I am a bit.”
It slithered closer to me, I moved back.
“Why are you scared? You called out to me. Where did you come from? I’ve never talked with a human in my life.”
“I have a friend, a snake, her name is Kaduza.”
“A friend?” It hissed.
“Yes. Are you male or female?”
“Kaduza is female.”
“How are you able to understand me, Kachi?”
“I don’t know.”
It slithered closer, round my legs and rubbed her head against my calf. Her scale felt cold and slick. I shivered. I didn’t feel Kaduza.
“I know I should not be here but I chased a rat in.”
“Did you see the rat, then?”
I looked at Beya’s body. I didn’t see the bulge they have after they swallow. She read my mind. “Oh, the rat is small. I’ll lie here till morning.”
“My mom would panic if she sees you.”
She raised her head up. “She won’t kill you though,” I quickly added.
“I know. Will you come open the door for me to leave tomorrow morning? Please?”
“Yes, Beya, I will. I’ll come early.”
“Thank you, Kachi.”
A scream came. “Onyigirl, where are you? What are you doing there?”
“M na-abịa,” I shouted back.
I squatted. “Beya, how would I see you again?”
“Come into the bush, past that Ukwa tree, where the bamboo is and you’ll see me.”
“I’m leaving the village soon, Beya. I’ll come see you tomorrow.”
“Remember to come in the morning.”
I reached out my hand fearfully. I didn’t want her to feel offended.
“Go ahead,” she said.
I smiled and rubbed her head down to her body.
“See you tomorrow, Beya.”
“See you, Kachi.”
I walked carefully out the door and locked the door. Beya.
I have a new friend – Beya.