Giving your heart to a woman sometimes is like giving your heart to the devil, the worst part, I gave mine to Morenike on a silver tray on bended knees. She didn’t even look at it, she destroyed me. I have faced all sorts of rejections in my life but when it comes from the one you’ve invested so much in, the strongest ale cant burry your sorrow. I never forgave her just like I never forgave my people, they were doomed to the same faith.
Morning came unannounced, the cocks crowed, and the devils that trod the earth were chased away by the golden rays of the sun, finding abode in the shadows and the hearts of men. I got up, blamed the gods for keeping me alive for another day and found my way into daylight were I would toil till night came to diminish my strength and force me home guided by the lanterns in the sky.
All my life I have lived a lie that promised to lead me to the truth. Maa’mi started it, she said I was special but the entire village knew better, I was an abomination. Mother fueled me with lies of why I had a near white skin and golden hair and why the sun never liked me much. When I was no taller than her hips, she told me I was an emissary of the gods, but when I began my adolescent years and my decline in faith, she changed her tale to suit my mindset. Next I was a warrior in my previous life that died saving my village from a disastrous fire which burnt my skin. That didn’t hold for long, I got beat up by Morenike’s lover in the market square, if I was once a warrior, I should know how to fight.
As difficult as it was, I was forced to reject my mother’s explanation and embrace the unkind postulation that was attributed to my birth, at least they had justification for their theory. The people of my village were strong arrogant men who achieved everything because of their physical prowess, a man’s wealth was dictated by what he could achieve with his might, this quality stood us apart from all other surrounding villages. In war and economy we nested at the peak, in beauty and in character we shine like a light. Hence it was an unwritten law for any man or woman to marry from outside our clan, we had to keep the purity of our being. Mother let love soften her into inviting a stranger under her wrapper, and she bore the clans first weakling, me.
I didn’t fit into anything, I wasn’t wanted and the people never failed to hide their disdain for me, the abomination child. In some quarters, it was suggested that I shouldn’t be allowed to watch the dance of the maidens that was to hold after the coming of the new yam. Disallowing me the privilege to marry from my village meant I was silently banished. I had spent all of my young life trying to be accepted and yet they blame me for a sin I had no hand in. I wasn’t going to leave without payback, in fact I wasn’t the only one that was going to leave.
One day, curious me had sought to find out where the sun lived so I followed it. I walked with zeal to discover something no one in my village had ever discovered, maybe I would finally get accepted upon finding my discovery. It took countless blisters on my foot, hunger and a painful thirst. I didn’t find the residence from which the sun set forth, but I found the village where my mother met the transgressor that crippled my existence. Some had golden hair like me, some had brown hair and others had black but they looked almost like me, similar skin color and they had an aversion to the African sun and mosquitoes. I spent a few moons with them and for the first time in my short life I felt accepted, I felt loved and most of all I felt a sense of belonging. Suddenly, I was whole.
Jack was my master, my devil, the first man to welcome me with a smile, his teeth were brown with the tobacco that made him cough a lot, his ugly smile managed to force the hair at the back of my neck up in joy. One day he told me a lie, but I chose to believe, he knew I wanted a home badly, he knew it was my ultimate weakness, yet he used it. The only thing worse than a man who cripples another man with the thing they hold dear is the fool that creates the opening for such a devil to walk in.
Jack called me one cold night to share a false secret, he sat me down and told me of his past and how he fell in love with an African woman, but the duties of the king of England and the fear of getting reprimanded by the throne made him run away. He made his story coincide with the time in which I was born insinuating that I may be his son, all this because he wanted a favor from me.
I walked into my village wearing uncustomary clothing, gone were my traditional Yoruba attire, my cream shirt and brown knickers were hugging my skin tight, I hadn’t earned the right to wear a shoe yet but I looked just like them. Mother wept from afar as I announced to the village what I had seen over the hills. Naturally fear placed a knife to their throat and forced them to buy my plan. The fact that they listened to me for the first time made me feel very powerful.
We marched at night to the direction that was supposed to be away from the slave merchants and their hoodlums. After we passed the point where a brave hunter had once sacrificed his life, we were greeted by Jack and his army of thugs with sophisticated weapons. Two dead men was all it took to warn the other men not to fight for freedom, my people were no weaklings, but this time they surrendered and a heavenly glow left their faces. I had conveniently led my people into the hands of the slave traders and my price was love, the same love that led my mother to bear me. Should I be happy?
As a freeman I strolled around the cages were they kept my mother, relatives and friends. My first tour made me grin as I watched them cry in sorrow, some cursed me while others begged me. Power sure felt good. The second time I approached the animals in the cage, I noticed my mother wasn’t crying, she told me a tale that threatened to stop my heart.
A young hunter from my village had lured a village belle into journeying with him to find the abode of the sun, he also wanted to show the sun a woman whom shown brighter than it when she smiled. While on the journey, they both played like young lovers would, it was inevitable, she feared the gods would be angry if she got pregnant outside wedlock but he feared nothing, she greatly admired this quality in him. They hadn’t gotten too far when they got to a village were the people were rounded up to be thrown into the harsh embrace of slavery. They ran back in fear to warn their people. To safe guard his people, the courageous man made a deal with the gods to make secret the location of his village, he sent his pregnant lover back home in tears and a strict caution never to tell anyone about his deal as it would break his spell. The gods took his life in exchange for protection.
Mother hadn’t told me about my father for the safety of my life and that of the people of my village. I had been a weakling all my life not because I had a different skin color but because I had not sought to do better than what I thought I was and my people had judged me as different only because I acted as a weakling unlike the typical man whom showed courage. I limited the possibility of what I could achieve and the entire village only accepted me for whom I presented myself to be.
‘but I am the son of an oyinbo man now maa’mi’ I asked my mother.
‘no idiot, you are just like every other yoruba man except your skin colour, and that’s because you are an albino’ she replied in the most unkind manner her soft and gentle voice could communicate.
As I watch the slave ship sail away, my heart is engulfed in deep grief, my soul is haunted by regret and my existence is cursed to live a long life swallowed in depression and shame for my stupidity and inhumanity. In the end, we are a product of how wise or foolish we choose to be.
To the ones that left and never came back.
Thanks for reading. See y’all next week Friday.
God over everything.