In The Dark

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In this brilliant fiction, Iruoma discovers the inevitability of embracing her divine responsibility.

The tree stands tall, taller than the other trees and the lone pine in the field. It is a dead whistling pine, but one that has refused to dry up or fall. It has only four sickly, twisted branches bereft of any pine.

It is evening and the birds are settling in their nests before the darkness would meet them, to be home to meet the young they left behind and to cover them for the night. A bird flies straight and perches on the tree. There is an ominous silence this evening. The people have left the field, and the night creatures have come to life. But it is only this bird that settles on this tree. body of the tree looks like a cloth being wrung to take out water before it is spread to dry.

There is a heap of dead pines around it. It is the students during the day that packed together the pines that had stubbornly refused to stay on the tree, so they keep the pines around it, as if also determining that the tree must answer to something.

***
Earlier in the evening, the field was lit with the sounds of children and adults divided in groups and scattered around the field and in the school premises playing football, another group sitting down with small speakers entertaining themselves as they watched the charade going on. By the side, sitting by a window sill are girls all dressed as if at an occasion, waiting and hoping for admirers to talk to them, and have someone feel their skin later at night. At another side of this field are two corps members, with long faces; lovers in an unresolved dispute, hoping that one or the other will open up. It was sand flies time, but sadness and happiness alike made everyone oblivious of it. No one cared. They were enjoying the peace and comfort of this field while the aged tree looked on, observing everything, observing something.

***

A careful observation places this pine tree in the position of a king surrounded by the clan of worshippers. Around the field are different species of plants. A line of palm trees are further left; the other different leafy trees by the far side, a distance away from the football arena all the way down to the place where the people do not go to; thriving bamboos are close to the classrooms at the other side, together with different short shrubs with different flowers. As if making sure he had worshippers on all angles, there is a small flower shrub with red petals by the right side.


It is night time, and the humans have entered their homes to relax after the day’s activities; to cook, eat, to make love and close their eyes to sleep. It is then time to discuss the powerful presence they had felt during the day. A presence like non-other was in their midst earlier in the evening and the trees and everything nature in the surrounding had felt it like something they hadn’t felt for a long time. They had all paid attention to everything and every human that inauspicious day.

The king tree looks around, monitors his members all around the field stretching to the far end where the human eyes could not see. He orders them all to attention. The trees and all other living thing in the environment go deathly still. They stop blowing, whistling, bending. Even the birds in their sleep know that it was time and all is paying attention to the king.

“Greetings to you all mighty trees of the forest, and of the earth. Greetings to all the creatures awake and present in this meeting. I salute your daily collective effort in your duties to revitalise the earth. You all must have realised that there is a presence here. An untapped energy and power. I will not waste time so that we can all reach a decision on the matter, and go back to our duties before the dawn, and also to avoid stirring the water so we would not bring any interference from the water spirits.”

The king tree stops for effect. The silence is defeaning, and so, pleased, he continues.

“I do not think that the powerful entity is aware of the ancient mark of life that she bears, so we need to bring her to lord us here on ground before the water gets to her first. I am old and I have seen many years and many trees blossom and fall. We have been dormant for a very long time and humans have gradually lost faith and hope in our potency. In history, humans have written and still write about the potency of the water queendom, and so they receive respect as the element that manifest and answer to humans’ prayers more. If we get her on our side, the honest and pure petitions brought to us by the humans will be granted immediately. Do you know what will happen if a pregnant woman brings us a plea and it is granted? Or that maltreated man decides to come to us to cry rather than beseech the water, and we do something about it? This day, the universe gave us a presence to imbibe within us, to manifest through us. With her powers, we would be more effective, and humans would come to us and write about us like they do the water. Before we continue, who else saw the spirit here today?”

It is the shrub with red petals that answers first. “I saw her today, king.” All eyes turn to look at the speaking shrub. “She sat close to us, by the pavement with another human. She radiated so much energy that I stopped to look.”

A palm tree is next. “Yes, king. I and my kin felt her presence. We noticed that she was at the far end of the field. We did not see the being clearly, but we talked about her within us. My brothers and sisters here can speak for themselves. I agree…”

There is a rustling from afar. It comes from the direction at the end of the field where the human eyes cannot see standing. The plants could only suspect what or who is coming. They all keep quiet waiting for it to show up.

To be continued…

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