Atakpamé

Submitted by Temilade Adetona to Contest #7 in response to: Write a story about a person longing for family.... view prompt

Raged. The ofttimes silent sea threw its many berserk waves against the mammoth timbered ship, roaring as though an untuned choir. Moon was silenced, clouds staged a coup. The enslaved multitude swayed side to side bellowing chants of appeasement to Yemoja - goddess of the many seas. "Yemoja ooo, Alagbara... " they yelled. Sea fell quiet, Yemoja seemed pleased. The bestormed seas rose many heights hoisting the troubled ship soon smashed against a souless, arched islet. Land was mashy moist. Half buried by the umber sand, Ola, a child captive, rose from earth, one of the few unscathed, slaver or slave. He arose blinded by sunlight to a field of moaning bodies in the warm, temperate air. Sunlight was hazed, sky hued as sea. He immersed his feet, absurdly, one before the other, in a single file, in the vast sand over which many bodies lay, some dying, some dead. Shore plastered with wood, bodies with wounds. He rooted his menacing gaze in the blood darkened eye of a fading slaver. Through his eyes ran, at the instant, feelings of aloneness, pain, anger, sorrow, anger, aloneness, anger. 

Ola scuttled gleefully along the sandy shores of Lagos in a game of 'catcher' with siblings. Wind mild warm, blue sea ruffled. "Ki lo shele?" he inquired as he met with a horde of fleeing people. "Awon oyinbooooo" the many voices drowned out as they screamed in response. Frozen. Ola, as though a lily rooted in soil stood, motionless, his three siblings calling out to him from distance. After a few seconds of glaring at the horizon, he took off abruptly, as if jolted. Too late. Sun now in hiding, bloodless clouds surge. 

 The shadows of night rose slowly with Ola watching as one of the last slavers died. A piece of metal was through his abdominal region to his mid back, his left eye wholly mashed. A cruel death. Moon was blue, stars, full. "Ise owo Yemoja re, omi lo fi yo wa ninu ide, ise owo Oya re, ise owo Sango re. Awon osa ti gbimopo lati yo wa ninu ide. Nisin, oti di owo wa, awon osa wa pelu wa!" Ola bellowed in a loud affirming voice thrust with authority as the mostly unscathed negro horde hearkened as he went on, speaking of wanting to be with family, wanting to be home. It was evening, then a sharp night, Sun eclipsed. The former captives of yoruba descent gathered, worshipping the many gods under the shade of the mating lights.

 The death toll was a dozen souls, eleven slavers, one slave. A young sailor, Eilam by name was the last surviving of the slavers, he had, lodged by his femur, a strong, hard to reach shrapnel, his wounds tendered to by a few women held captive on the Voyager III. A strong wave of sea, on the eleventh day post shipwreck, washed ashore, an intact cuboid box, which once ajar was seen loaded with plenty white gunpowder which by Eilam was the weapon stock of the Voyager. Day after day, Eilam would teach the hopeful negroes the manners of the gun, since six rifles had been found ashore. A people hopeful of one day reuniting with family, peers, of again basking in the red sun of home. 

"Ayyyyy!" the mildly distant screams of sailors brought to reality, Ola, who laid in the cold sand thinking of Bisi's 'window teeth', Bayo's silly jokes, Bola's unusually bass voice, of baba and mama, of his beloved Lagos. It was time again for plan 'Ogun'. In the three months they had spent on the isle, Ola, Eilam and a few others had come up with a plan to acquire a passing ship since the high sea was a popular route. This was their third attempt. "Oti ya!" Eilam yelled as the swimmers jumped into the blue of ocean. The five man crew formed a single file by base of ship. A six man band laid hidden in a pool of sand, with the rest of the former slaves-to-be shielded from sight in the cover of the thick green bushes of the isle. In haphazard fashion, the men rose from beneath the silent sea, throwing against the ship heavy masses, feigning a siege of sorts. The sailor of the beseiged Big Betty, as desired by the acquirers chose to dock on the islet. The ship's slaving crew came down to see from a distance what they thought was a fish attack. The obscure shooters, in fury, aimed at and killed half of the twelve man crew, eventually taking control of Big Betty and liberating its small shipment of a hundred and twenty negro captives, leaving behind on the western isle the surviving six slavers of the big betty. Destination : Lagos. 

The Big Betty set sail for The gun. The engineering beauty survived many storms before reaching the part of the Atlantic about west africa, its sail now worn. In the foretelling whispers of wind and beats of sea, the sailor Eilam fell to the wooden floors in a loud thud. "His wounds have been severely infected, surely, he would soon die" declared the traditional midwife in her local dialect. The multitude of the free negroes gathered about the beloved Eilam in sad faces. Some raised cries of mourning as his face turned death white, others raised wails of sorrows, beating against their naked bodies as they beheld their chances of getting home fade. If sorrow had a smell, it was in the air. A last gasp in smile, Eilam's eye laid forever closed. He was dead. Then came a storm, raging as though Eilam's death was a signal for its welcome. The fiery storm fought and fought, the thunders in rage tore through the worn sails, the sea in dander swirled the ship, up, down, left, right, till the sailorless vessel hit shore, some shore. The multitude of home again negroes waited in the Big Betty till the storm wore out and the seas fell. By daylight, the folk poured out in hopes that they were home, moving deeper into what seemed to be a forest. "This surely isn't home," Ola shouted in yoruba, his head buried in his palms. 

The journey to grassy land spanned seven Suns. Alas, they arrived plain grassy land guarded all four points by seven towering hills, "maybe here, we would be safe from the evil of the white man,” the midwife whispered in shrouded joy, "who knows what they have made of home." she continued in her local dialect. Ola, still keen to hear again, Bayo's jokes, Bola's bass voice and to see Bisi's 'window teeth' departed from the horde to make his way to Lagos. The rest of the liberated stayed evermore in the shield of hills, home away from home, atakpamé. 


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