New Internationalist Books/ Short Story Day Africa 2017
Penned July 2016
"It was as I approached the fortress that I heard it. A song chorded in minor that summoned me by name.
“Ayanti, Ayanti,” it sang, “eyen Ikwo, will you remember me?”
The voice grew into a faint chorus of an unseen choir. Voices at once solitary and that of a multitude.
“As the dusk turns my footprints to shadows,
And the gulls lament the passing of my name,
Will you recognise my laughter in the morning?
Forget the sparkle of my eyes; to numb your pain?
Ayanti, Ayanti, eyen Ikwo, will you remember me?”
I wondered who it was that called my name and strung out its meaning, as the question will you remember me draped about my neck. Wondered who it was that called out the name of my mother. Wondered where the bodies, from whence came the sound.
A movement drew my gaze. It was a creature with a human skull for a head and long black feathers at its nape. Ekpo Nyoho, rising from the darkness, part-vulture, part-giant, part-deceased human. The creature stood before me, chief deity of Vulcan City itself, no mere figment of my imagination, but a real city in the realm of the unfortunate dead. The home of those who had died, not as aged, illustrious personages; but of a bad death. Those who, like the bluish-green bloated sailor, had been tossed into the bad part of the bush.
The creature towered above me but I looked it in the eye and remained in my place, taking a small step to the side to allow it to pass. I still consider it to be a thing of wonder that no harm befell me, but Mma would later inform me that women should have no fear of the wandering spirit; that because I spilled no water from my gourd, I could now call the spirit to my aid."
New Internationalist Books/ Short Story Day Africa 2016
Penned July 2015
Inyang - River (Ibibio/Efik)
Abasi Inyang Ibom - Atlantic Ocean (Ibibio/Efik)
"As the blue moon emerged from a thunderous cloud he seemed to intuit me, glancing in my direction and meeting my eye. Lightning struck our tree. My father’s face turned aghast as I shrieked and fell. Horror was stamped upon his expression. My father’s grief-stricken face was the last thing I saw before hitting the raging waters.
Our lifeblood had become my doom. I was swiftly pulled to the mouth of the estuary. Locked in a powerful current from which there was no escape. I struggled, choking, drowning, my life force ebbing, against the ferocious tide, as I was churned in the rough swell of the seas. I resisted until I could resist no more, and I surrendered, but not before thanking the lady of the waters. In my surrender to Abasi Inyang Ibom, I discovered I could breathe.
I became the ocean. I became the watcher of the water. I became the mother of the wellspring of life, she whose waters house constellations and multiverses yet unknown to humankind. I became the keeper and releaser of souls, she who has swallowed civilisations unnumbered, whose ruins populate her depths which spring from the core of the earth. And I saw figures in the waters. Figures rising from the bottom of the deep. They called for vengeance for the desecration of their bonds of blood and they implored the Lady of the Waters. As they cried, sending up a shout to the heavens, they began to ascend. I became them, tortured souls, a million strong, even as the ocean was turned to blood, victims enmeshed in the great web of Abasi Urua, whose wheels would keep spinning no matter the ultimate cost. But the God of Trade is the offspring of the Lady of Waters, and her mother’s flesh cries out with the blood of the children of Abasi Isong.
You must return and stem the tide. The voices repeated their instruction even as I was spewed out of the ocean and onto dry land.
“I dreamed I was a drop of dew that raised the floor of the ocean.” I said to to the strange boy with wet flames for hair.
“You caused me an awful fright,” he said. “You should be dead.”
I sputtered, vision still awash with the imprint of enormous stone effigies, temples of gems and precious metals, wrought, perished and swallowed by the waves, the last vestiges of civilisations long forgotten.
I became aware of a commotion approaching. It was my father and brothers. “I never told you my name.” I whispered.
“Well? What is it?”
“The name is befitting of you.”
“God is in the waters,” I said, as he brushed the weeds from my face."
"The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died that was in the sea. The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of water, and they became blood."