OLA written by Crown Nwachukwu

crown chukwu

I’ve taken on nightmares to mean the break of dawn.

It was not so when I was a child. The darkness feared me, the miniscule chip of the crickets from the bush, the creepy silence when an image dashes past and I ask “who’s that?” but no one answers. Now, I’ve become those things, everything I was afraid of.

Last night, Enyinnaya wobbled towards me in measured steps.
“Enyim” I leaped towards him, exotic with joy.
He did not answer. He held an earthen calabash, his face so forceful and sour like one who carried an irredeemable burden.
“Olam”, he said in a teary voice,
“Run.” His eyes were poked with plea.
“Run Olam. They are…”
He tripped over something invisible like though someone pushed him. I rushed in to catch him from falling and woke up to a bang. I had fallen off the bed.

Just then, mama bent into my hut, balancing an earthen gourd with both palms.
“Where’s uri and tangele kwanu? Won’t you decorate me?”I said, sitting up.
Mama’s face was grim.
“Olam” she began.
Mama once called me ‘Olam’, the night she broke the news of father’s death.
Prickly hives crawled over my skin.
“Drink.” She stretched the calabash to my lips.
“What is this?”, I searched Mama’s face for any clue but the grimness feared me more. I took the gourd from her and drank the liquid. She muttered things like ‘sea’, ‘moon’, and others I couldn’t hear. Her eyes convulsed with each word.

“Your night has come forth in the day.”
” What are you even saying mama? Enyinnaya and his people will soon be here for the wine carrying.”
“You are the daughter of ‘Uhammiri’, the lake goddess of Oguta. No mortal can marry you.”

A solemn tear dropped from the corner of my eye and I covered my face with both palm, determined to hide it.
“Oh God!” My day is ruined. First, a horrible nightmare, now this weirdness.

“I made a pact with the preistess of Uhammiri many years ago when I had no, child, that after I conceived you and your brothers, you will return.”

“What exactly do you mean by return?” I yelled. The sound of my wail tore through the hut.
“Your real name is Olanmiri, the …”
“Stop it already! You are scaring me” I grabbed Mama by the shoulder and shook her violently in a torrent of grief.
“Stop this joke!”
“The gods do not joke my child.”

A sharp pain tightened my intestines. I gripped my stomach, bending forward. It seized my entire body in a numbness.

“What have you given me?”

I tried to stretch out my hand and hold her, but it was limp. My throat found no voice. I felt the sensation of clouds gathering over my head. Silence.

Mama’s voice loomed in my wake but it wasn’t the world I used to know. Things floated around me. My body was sparkly and colourful, my hair, long and blonde. Ah! The woman in my dreams. I had become her. Mama called me ‘Olanmiri’. Mama was wrong.

“I am ‘Uhammiri’, the lake goddess of fertlity and I shall return.”