I returned to see Beya. I’d be leaving the village tomorrow. I waited till evening when most people had left the compound for the football tournament going on in the field.
I envisioned myself in the forest and jittered. The forest wasn’t a funny place to be in. This particular forest had grown thicker following years of dispute by my family with another family.
I threaded carefully once I passed the cultivated part of the farm. I could see the bamboo sticks at the deeper part of the forest where Beya said she would be.
Nothing will happen , I assured myself.
Dried poo littered the ground: some in tissue paper torn from the weight with which it was thrown, some in black nylons tied loosely.
I was approaching the bamboo. The trees’ cluster shielded the fading sunlight and gave a darker atmosphere. I turned on my torchlight.
I was standing by the bamboo trees. It gave me an eerie, scary feeling. I imagined a nest of snakes living inside the dark interior of the bamboo shelter.
“Beya?” I called.
What the fuck am I doing coming to meet a snake.
“Beya? I’m here to see you.”
I checked the time, it was almost 6pm.
There was a hiss behind me, I turned sharply and saw a thin python slowly approaching.
I yelped and shrieked back. “Jesus!”
The snake stopped, it monitored me. My head began to work fast.
If Beya stayed here, maybe this one could talk? I waited for a slight movement from it, I was prepared to run as far as my legs could carry me.
There was another hiss. A python slowly slithered out from the shelter.
Was this Beya? They probably all look alike like Chinese people do. I can’t be too sure.
“I…,” the snake said.
I shrieked again, my heart pounding, my legs weak. The snake was talking.
“…know what you thinking, Kachi. It’s me Beya.”
I heaved and muttered, “thank God.”
She crawled closer.
“I just wanted to tell you that I will be leaving tomorrow.”
She hissed. “Tomorrow?”
“Yes,” I replied.
Another snake was making its way out from the shelter.
What if it struck me? What will I do? Can Beya defend me?
“When will I see you again, Kachi?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe this year, maybe some other year.”
“I’ve never been so happy to know a human. Can I get a hug?”
“Errr, I’m not sure. You won’t squeeze me to death?”
She made a funny sound, I supposed she was laughing.
“I will not squeeze you, you’re my daughter. We don’t harm you and you don’t harm us.”
“Okay then. I guess it’d be nice.”
She crawled up to me. I shivered, fighting an impulse to throw her off my legs and run. She crawled all the way down to my neck, turned her head down and curled, her mouth in my ear. I endured the cold, slimy body.
“I hope to see you again, Kachi.”
“I hope to see you again, Beya.”
“Let me stay with you till you get home.”
I looked around. I had a snake on my neck, I was in the midst of quiet snakes.
I allowed Beya to remain on my neck till we got to the backyard door.