Dial Episode 33 is now rolling…
So there I was, sitting up in bed and screaming my head off.
The woman came awake and swivelled on the bed, her eyes taking in the situation with one look. The black snake’s head was under the bed, and it slithered out with mean eyes and a flat head aimed at me, its forked tongue beating angrily.
I was still sitting and shouting when the woman got off the bed, and I noticed that she was holding a long stout stick with a V-split at its end. With one swift movement she brought the stick down, the ‘V’ coming down hard on the reptile’s neck and trapping it.
The mamba coiled itself angrily around the staff!
The witch reached down and grabbed the snake’s neck, and now it unwound itself from the stick and coiled furiously around her arm.
“Yao, Yao, Yao!” she called to me desperately, and I looked at her with wide eyes.
“What?” I screamed at her.
“Stop the screaming, aaaaaba!” she said calmly. “Are you not a man?”
She dropped the stick and clamped both hands on the snake, and then she took it outside.
I got to my feet and promptly climbed on the bed, sitting and shivering as the fear and panic receded slowly, and my yammering heart slowly returned to normal.
When the squeaked door open again, I nearly jumped off the bed. She came in and shut the door again tightly, and pushed some bunched up clothes at its base. She picked up a towel and stood looking at me with fierce eyes.
“You threw the leaves away!” she said with barely concealed fury. “And yet you didn’t close the door well, leaving it with enough space for the mamba to slither through!”
I looked at her with remorse.
“I am sorry,” I whispered softly, and she shook her head at me.
She picked up a towel and wiped her wet hands.
“One bite, Yao, just one strike from that mamba and you would’ve died a painful, horrible death, and do you know what would have happened to me if that had happened?”
I nodded miserably. She was already considered a witch, and to have a stranger die in her house overnight would have made her already difficult life very horrible indeed.
“I’m sorry, Maame,” I whispered.
“You’re impulsive and you don’t listen to advice, Yao!” she said coldly. “I can’t have you here. You’ll leave my house in the morning!”
She drew a cloth angrily from the bed and then she sat down on the mat, and a moment later she lay down on her side. I kept sitting on the bed and looking at her, and then at the door.
“Please, have you put the leaves back behind the door?” I asked shakily.
She turned on her back, and then she turned her head and looked at me.
“Yes, Yao, I put them back there,” she said, and her voice was a little bit calmer now, with strange lights dancing in them. “I can’t believe you! A man like you, and you’re afraid of a snake? Screaming instead of killing it?”
I looked at her, and sighed deeply because her disgusted voice was filling me with anger.
“And why shouldn’t I be afraid of snakes?” I asked coldly.
“Because you’re a man, Yao!” she shot at me.
“I am a man so I shouldn’t be afraid? What silliness is that? Why, are snakes afraid of a penis? You want me to whip out my penis and use it to kill a snake because I’m a man?”
She began to laugh then, slowly and full of mirth. She laughed until tears came to her eyes, and then she stood up, wiping tears from her eyes.
“Seems I have to protect you, Yao,” she said. “Look, our customs are different here, okay? So when I tell you something, you better adhere to it. Otherwise, I would have no option than to throw you out.”
I looked at her with raised eyebrows.
“So I’m forgiven?” I asked softly. “I stay with you?”
“You stay, Yao,” she said. “Now push over, near the wall. The floor is too hard for me.”
“Oh!” I said with relief, my voice hopeful. “We share a bed?”
“Yes, but don’t touch me, otherwise you’ll regret it!”
“I told you, I don’t do old women,” I said indignantly, and hurriedly moved close to the wall. It seemed like the safest place in the room anyway.
She stretched out beside me.
And, for the very first time in my life, I slept with a woman – albeit an old one – on the same bed till morning without thinking about love-making.
Somehow, I felt proud of that fact.
When I woke up she was not by my side.
I stretched lazily on the hard bed, and wondered what she had in that mattress! However, surprisingly, it was the best sleep I had had since Nana Bosomba hit me with his brand of horrifying vengeance.
I got out of bed and took out my toothbrush and paste from the duffel bag, and my shaving kit too. And then I brought out a small bottle of water and stepped out. I realised, in the light of day, that her house was nestled in thick bush. The yard itself, though weeded, was still not free of shrubbery. No wonder snakes were her bed-mates.
I brushed my teeth and using a small mirror propped up on her veranda, I shaved off my beard and moustache, and as the white hair cascaded down, I smiled dourly.
Yes, the curse was still in effect.
I changed into a pair of jeans, sneakers and a singlet. I picked up a piece of stick and walked around her yard, wondering where she was. Eventually I found myself at the entrance, and noticed that some way off were a group of trees with some strange yellowish appendages on them.
I walked warily toward them, stepping gingerly and beating the stick into the clump of bushes ahead of me to dispel snakes, just like I had seen her doing the previous night.
When I was close enough, I realized that the trees were indeed cocoa trees, and the yellow things I had seen were ripe cocoa pods. Wonderingly, I touched them with fascination. It was the first time I had seen cocoa in my life.
As I walked through the cocoa trees it didn’t occur to me that I was leaving the house behind, until suddenly I found myself on another path and took it. This was the very first time I had been so close to rural life, and the sheer wildness of my surroundings both mystified and amazed me.
From the myriad of bird species, to the giant anthills, from the soldier ants crossing the path to the huge alligator-like reptile I saw on a rock…the wild flowers, the huge trees…wow, this was a world I never knew existed!
Then, before I knew it, I was suddenly on the riverbank!
I was attracted by the gently-flowing river. I noticed that at the far end of the river, the side near the village, many people could be seen, but I did not know precisely what they were doing on the river.
And I could see canoes, though, at vintage points on the river, and further on my side of the bank I could see where Maame Ntiriwaa’s canoe was tied.
There were about four men on my side of the riverbank as I descended. They were fishermen, I saw, preparing their nets and fish traps whilst their canoes lapped gently on the huge river.
Way down to my left I could see that a bigger, classier canoe had rolled to the bank, and I saw some men jumping down and pulling it in. The men were in skirt-like clothing, their chests bare, and they appeared to be holding long clubs.[stextbox id=”download” caption=”WARNING”]Exlusive Content to aaron-ansah-agyeman.com Do not copy or share on any other site. Do not share on any WhatsApp, Facebook or Social Media page. ONLY SHARE THE LINKS TO THE STORY[/stextbox]
I watched, fascinated, as a cloth was spread from the canoe to the bank, and then a bevy of colourfully-clad women came out of the canoe.
A moment later, another woman appeared. They were too far away for me to make out their features, but soon I saw the whole delegation coming toward my direction. The young woman who had stepped out last was flanked on both sides by the bevy of young girls whilst the men – about four of them – walked in a box-like formation. A man each was to the side of the delegation, whilst one walked from behind, and another in front.
I stood watching lazily.
At least the four fishermen didn’t see the approaching delegation because they were busy looking at me and talking excitedly in that language I couldn’t comprehend, and they made gestures at me as they spoke.
I paid no heed to them, and continued looking at the activities on the river and the approaching delegation.
Very soon the fishermen saw the delegation, and then an awful thing happened!
They stopped whatever they were doing threw themselves flat on the ground, pressing their faces down into the folds of their arms.
I looked at them and frowned.
What was the meaning of this?
One of them looked sideways at me, saw that I was still standing, and then he gesticulated violently to me, speaking in very scared tones, indicating to me that I should lie flat on the ground and hide my face too.
I was amused.
For one, the floor of the bank was wet and squishy, and not at all appealing for me to lie down in my fresh clothes and press my face down like that.
Secondly, I was intrigued by the delegation.
I saw that the girl in the middle was very beautiful.
She was dark-skinned, with a broad face, broad nose and generous lips. Her hair fell in waves behind her back, and around her hair and forehead was a white cylindrical hairband with sections coloured green, yellow, blue and red.
She was in a colourful top that looked like a cross between a black brassiere and a dress. Her coloured skirt was held up by a beautiful suspension of red, green, white and blue beads woven intricately around her neck and down her breasts.
Her face bore a haughty and pampered look, but when she saw me standing, a most cold and furious expression entered her eyes, and she looked at me with acid hatred.
I returned her gaze coolly.
The heavyset man in the lead screamed suddenly and raced toward me. He was very big and muscular, chest and torso rippling with muscle, his face painted with white, blue and red paint.
He lifted his heavy club and stood in front of me, speaking wildly and gesturing that I fall down on the dirty ground.
“What the hell!” I said calmly in Twi. “Sorry, mate, I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I’m not lying down on the ground!”
He screamed insanely and raised his club menacingly, and then he switched to Twi too.
“Lie down on the ground in the presence of the Princess!” he screamed wildly. “Now!”
I looked calmly at him.
“Look, I can go back the way I came, okay? But I’m not lying down on the ground and get myself dirty,” I replied. “Forget it.”
I looked at the Princess.
Her cold eyes drilled into me with relentless scorn and fury.
“Put him down, Samba!” she said in a surprisingly melodious voice, but her eyes flashed her pure anger. “Break his legs if he refuses to lie down in front of me!”
And then the guard called Samba raised his heavy club above my head, obviously intending to bring it crashing down on top of my head![insert-comment-form] [stextbox id=”black” caption=”JOIN PREMIUM”]
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