TWO WORLDS (1)
Hello readers, I want you to know that this is a fantasy/paranormal/romance African story. I decided to involve the supernatural in this story just like I did in “The King’s Vow.” I’m going to be alternating between two tribes and two races. The tribes are going to be two of the major tribes- Yoruba and Igbo before finally mix them up to become one, while the races might he American and Nigerian, so please bear with me and try to understand why this prologue is so important. I’ll also want you to read this story with an open mind because it involves the feud of two worlds and the ills of man.
Hopefully, this story might get to thirty chapters, that’s if my inspiration flows well without any blocks. But first, I’ve these questions for you, do you believe in the supernatural? Most of you believe ghosts, demons and other mythical creatures, so if you do, you could as well believe that mermaids actually exist. I actually believe in them because my mother who was very light in complexion used to perform ritual baths for women in the river in order to cleanse them of their sins, and she mentioned that she had seen mermaids on three occasions apart from the stories she had also heard. She was a good storyteller, and now that I think of it, I think that I inherited that gift from her, although, I was gifted with education and I can also put my storytelling into written or typed words. God bless her soul.
My zodiac sign is Pisces and fish is the symbol, or perhaps a mermaid. Every tribe has its gods and goddesses that they once believed or still believe in before the advent of Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to promote idols at all or the serving of other gods which is totally wrong before God, but even the igbos still say they believe in their “chi”. Just like the Yorubas had immortals like Osun, Sango, Obatala, Yemoja, Ogun etc. The Greeks also had Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Hermes, Calypso, Hades, Artemis and the likes, so please just regard this story as a fictional storytelling and you’ll adapt quickly and probably enjoy it as you ought to.
Please not that the fee to subscribe to this story is 1k, and on some days, I might post two chapters, while on others, just one. Happy reading!
More than two centuries ago…
Adigun, a man in his late thirties whose profession was fishing, got into his boat after pushing it into the river from the bank. The sky was almost pitch black but he had a lamp with him to help see the way. He had cast his net several days ago and was now paddling out to the open river to see if his net had had any lucky catch. He had told his wife not to wait up for him because he wouldn’t be able to tell exactly when he would be back, so she had locked the door of the house.
As he paddled out, he soon drew closer to his net and from afar he could tell that there was something struggling within the net and splashing around in the water. His heart swelled with excitement as he anticipated a big catch from the sound of the splashing water. He was almost positive that whatever was making that splashing sound was definitely a big fish and catching a big fish was almost rare.
Adigun knew that the river tend to have large catfish visiting at night to feed once the humans had left the river for their homes. He began to calculate just how much cowries he would get if he was to sell such a big catfish to the Kabiyesi which was a rare catch. As he paddled his canoe closer, whatever was caught in the net seemed to notice his presence and began to frantically thrash in the water, desperately trying to break free from the net that had trapped it. It splashed so much water that almost drenched Adigun and almost completely put off his lamp. Swallowing hard and wondering why he had not brought company along to pull out such a fish from the river onto his boat, Adigun braced himself for what he was about to do.
Placing the paddle inside the canoe, he sunk his hands into the water and untied the end of the fishing net from the local floats then he started to pull the net but it hardly budge for whatever was caught within it was really heavy and began to thrash more crazily as if its strength has been renewed. Adigun tried again but he could only pull it an inch before what was trapped suddenly jerked the net back, making his canoe move too from the sudden action. After several futile attempts, Adigun grew weary and thought of smacking the fish several times on the head with his paddle, at least, if he could knock the fish unconscious or beat it to a near-death state, it wouldn’t struggle too much and he might be able to easily get it into the canoe.
Taking his paddle and lifting it high above his head, Adigun paused as he tried to figure out which end was the fish’s head. When he saw a big fin jutting out of the surface of the water, he adjusted his aim to the left where he presumed that the head of the fish should be then he brought the paddle down with all his might. The paddle crashed through the water and struck something that was not too hard and was not too soft, probably the head and Adigun flinched when a loud angry shriek suddenly erupted from within the net.
Shocked, his eyes widened and he wondered how it was possible for a fish to make such a sound of pain. Soon, a small pool of blood floated to the surface but Adigun was determined to take home his lucky catch, so he brought down the paddle again on the same spot, hoping to daze the fish this time, but before the wider end of the paddle could strike the surface of the water again, a scaly hand with webbed fingers suddenly shot out of the water and firmly held the neck of the paddle, suspending it in the air and preventing it from making contact with its head.
Adigun was so startled and petrified that he flinched in alarm and fell backwards. The canoe shifted a bit, sinking that part down a bit due to his weight and this made Adigun topple into the water from the unsteady canoe. Adigun sunk into the murky water but soon resurfaced, breathing noisily as he vomited the water he had accidentally swallowed and quickly replaced it with enough oxygen which instantly filled his lungs. Adigun held on to the edge of his canoe to easily stay afloat. He didn’t know what was trapped in his net but whatever that was, was definitely not a fish and also not a human.
Trembling in the cold water, he looked over his shoulder when he saw his paddle slowly floating towards him. There was a stain of shiny red blood on the spot where the hand had held it and he was certain that he had injured whatever was trapped on the net. Although, he was really terrified, he tentatively looked over his canoe when he heard the creature still thrashing around in the river and making such big splashes.
Not really knowing what to do, Adigun quietly swam around his canoe towards the net, took the ends and tied it to his canoe. Fetching his paddle which was almost floating away from him, he heaved his drenched self back into the canoe and began to paddle slowly back to the bank of the river since whatever was in the net was quite heavy and getting it into his canoe had proved difficult. His catch gave a few splashes on their way to the bank of the river but didn’t really put up much of a fight like before.
It was as if the creature had gotten weak from its vain struggling and dire quest for freedom. When Adigun finally reached the river bank, he jumped out of his canoe into the water, waded through it to the bank then dragged half of the canoe onto the sand so it wouldn’t float away, though, the net was still submerged in the shallow water close to the bank. Wielding his paddle as a weapon in one hand after placing the lamp on the bank from the reach of the water, Adigun tentatively approached his net, ready to strike in case he was attacked.
When he drew closer to the net, he lowered the end of the paddle and gently nudged the creature and it kind of scurried away from him. He neared it and nudged with the paddle a second time, trying to figure out what it was, but the creature splashed and angrily thrashed in the water in irritation, and this time, much to Adigun’s amazement, a great tail rose out of the water and smacked the surface before submerging into the water again. Adigun could only gape in awe.
What was this? Hands and tail were equal to what? Or was this just a bad dream? Was this a nightmare? He asked himself but couldn’t really figure out answers to his question. Pulling out a knife which he used in cutting fishes open, Adigun decided that whatever was in the net was definitely a taboo and killing it was the best option! During his era, superstitions were strongly believed, and he believed that whatever he had brought to the bank could make the gods angry and cause them to inflict a plague upon the village if he let it live.
As he carefully drew closer to the floating creature again, he sunk on a knee, bracing himself to stab it when he heard gentle sobs which was muffled a bit by the water as if the creature knew what he was about to do. Confused, Adigun tilted his head to the side as if he had not heard right, but when he heard the soft whimpering and sobs again, he was almost certain that whatever was within his net was a woman. He bent down a bit and squinted at the net, trying to see if he would see a face and that was when the creature sharply turned its head to look at him and he gasped when he saw an amber-coloured eye staring at him with so much fear in it. He couldn’t see the other eye because a black mass of hair was covering it.
“Who are you?” Adigun asked in Yoruba language but the creature only stared at him but said nothing. Deciding to set her free, Adigun carefully but apprehensively began to cut the net with the knife. When he had cut the net enough, he braved up, reached into the net and held her shoulders. Her skin was a bit scaly and almost slippery like a fish’s, but he was able to get a firm grip and he pulled her out of the net towards the bank.
The lower part of her body was still tangled in the net, so he left her in the water, moved towards her tail, cut up the net from it and completely freed her then he saw her roll in the shallow water as if having a mud bath like a pig. Immediately, she was certain that she was free, she immediately lifted her upper body into the hair with her arms plastered to her sides, then dove into the water, quickly swimming away much to the dismay of Adigun who was hoping to get an explanation from her and probably figure out what she was.
Crestfallen, he stared down at his floating ruined net, which he had cut up himself just to rescue a creature he didn’t even know. The very few fishes that had been captured alongside with the mermaid had also swam away for freedom immediately he had cut up the net. Adigun was poor and knew that he would not be able to buy a new net, especially since he had no fish to sell and get some cowries to purchase a new net. He then decided that he wouldn’t tell a soul about what had happened in the river; nobody would believe him anyway. They would think he was only hallucinating or he was having mad. As he gathered his net and dumped it into his canoe, he turned to leave and dejectedly head back home when something wet suddenly smacked him on his upper back and dropped immediately to the Sandy bank. Spinning around with his hand flying to the spot on his back, Adigun looked down and was surprised to see a very big Titus fish writhing on the bank. He was still wondering how the fish had gotten out of the water when another fish as big as the first leapt out of the water and landed inside his canoe. Before he could blink, several fish began to leap like gymnasts, depositing themselves into his canoe until his canoe was almost filled to the brim with a mass of silver underbellies .
Terrified and confused about what witchery was going on and how come so many fish which certainly were hard to find were leaping into his boat just like that? He knew that mackerel was difficult to find in this river but how come they were so abundant? Adigun quickly wiped his hands over his eyes to be sure that he wasn’t dreaming. When he looked into the canoe again, the fish were still writhing inside his canoe with most of them gaping for air with open mouths. Just then, Adigun heard a small splash in the water, thinking that it was another fish, he was surprised to see a dark preparing for a leap, he held his breath when he saw a head slowly rising out of the water till it revealed a feminine face and slender shoulders and he instantly knew that it was the creature which he had set free a moment ago. But why did she still linger around? He had thought that she was gone.
“You came back.” He said in Yoruba again.
“Are you satisfied with the fish or do you want more?” She asked in Yoruba and Adigun was dumbstruck. She speaks! By the gods, she could speak and she also spoke in the same dialect of Yoruba!
“Did you do this?” He asked.
She gave a subtle nod. He could only see her head and shoulders, the rest of her body was hidden in the murky water.
“Who are you?” He asked in curiosity. “And why were you in the river at this time of the night?”
“My name is Enitan and the river is my home… I only got trapped in your net because I was too curious for my own good.”
Adigun scoffed and stared out at the river. “The river is your home? That’s impossible. No one lives in the river.” He skeptically said.
“Orisha Osun is my mother and I’m her heiress whenever she retires or joins olodumare.” She said.
Adigun knew who Osun was quite alright. She was the river goddess whom the village also served along with other deities; in fact individual families had the deities they served and had created a place for them in their homes. Osun was considered to be the goddess of beauty, sensuality and fertility. Once a year, a festival was thrown on her behalf while a virgin whom was given the honour presented the sacrifice of goodies to her, and in return, the villagers believed that Osun blessed the village with abundance rain which helped their farm crops boom and made them the envy of other villages. Even though a few people had claimed to see someone swimming far away in the river and disappearing under it, Adigun had never really believed the myth until now. He grew excited now and stated, “This is good! You should present yourself before the Kabiyesi! You’ll be treated with reverence, that I assure you, daughter of a goddess!”
“No!” Enitan refuted, there was fear in her voice. “I cannot be seen my mortals! I’m not even supposed to come to the surface, my mother forbids it! We are to remain unseen to save our kind from greedy and malicious humans.”
Adigun sighed softly now. He greatly understood. He had once heard of how the whites had attempted to capture Osun herself during her annual festival and they were going to take her to their country where she would be displayed elites all over the world in a large aquarium in order to prove the existence of mermaids, after which she would be auctioned to the highest bidder, but Osun had gotten wind of their evil plot and had refused to surface anymore during the festival for her own safety. Adigun didn’t know how true this myth was but he had to believe it somehow especially when there was a live half-human and half-fish conversing with him. “Why did you come back?” He asked now out of curiosity.
She swam closer into the shallow part, and this time, he could clearly see her body. Her human body was joined at the waist to her fish half and the end of her tail was broad. Her black hair was so full and long that it created a black floating mass around her body. “You saved me…but I’m hurt…you struck me with your paddle…” She said and Adigun instantly felt guilty. He could see blood slowly seeping out of a cut in her temple and was being repeatedly washed away by the river.
“What can I do?” He asked.
“I can’t return to my mother this way. She has a certain notion about humans. She believes you lot are cruel, greedy and ungrateful. If I return this way, she would be so enraged that she’ll flood the village instantly.”
“Tell me what to do please…” Adigun pleaded. “The village cannot be made to suffer for my own folly.”
“I’ll tell you the herbs to use, but first, you have to take me to your hut.”
“My hut? I can’t, I’ve a wife! If she sees you, she’ll raise an alarm.”
“What do you do when you are not fishing?” Enitan asked.
“I hunt… I mostly set traps though and I have a small farm that barely yields anything useful because it’s a swamp.” He complained.
“Do you have a small resting hut in your farm?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Take me there…once you treat me with the herbs, I’ll be fine in four hours.”
Adigun considered her request for a while, then staring down at her body again, he asked, “How do I carry you all the way to my farm? I mean, I could barely pull you with the boat, you are quite heavy.”
“Do you have a clay pot nearby?” She asked and when he quickly ran off to fetch one that had been left on the bank by a fellow fisherman, he returned and showed it to her. “Fill it with water.” She instructed and he obeyed. When he was done, he was surprised to see her shrink down to the size of a small fish. Knowing what to do, he dipped his hand into the water, scooped her up and put her into the clay pot of water.
“What do I do concerning my fish?” He asked in concern as he stared at his canoe. He couldn’t leave such a bountiful catch unprotected.
“I’ll transport them to your house before the first cock crows.” She answered in a tiny voice.
Believing her, he took the lamp, held the small clay pot to his side and started the long walk to his farm. When he reached the small hut, he overturned the content of the clay pot inside it and Enitan slid on the floor, wriggled her body and flapped her tail. In a blink of an eye, she grew back to her normal size and heaved herself upon the traditional bed on the floor. After instructing him on what herbs to fetch, he went out into the cold night search of them.
To be continued…
© Angela Okoduwa