For Folklore Thursday we're featuring a Chapter One excerpt from She Called Him God by Obinna Obioma featured in the ENCHANTED: VOLUME ONE anthology.
CHAPTER ONE (SHE CALLED HIM GOD by Obinna Obioma)
Asari opened his eyes and listened to the blood pulsing in his ears. He gazed at the hanging gourds dangling idly on the blackened rafters, but his ears wandered far into obadama, the large clearing, where everyone must meet to welcome the dry season.
In the distant Tshangu night, the tribe stood in silence, awaiting the dervish to finish his perfunctory recitals, the end of which would declare the Feast of Orsol open.
All held their breaths, watching him commune with the gods in deep guttural orisons. The bonfire crackled and snapped, sending countless sparks of supplications to the starry sky.
The dervish sprinkled a token of ground native chalk into the fire, then a little air blown through his mouth, and then a paucity of water, too little to disturb the raging flames.
“By these elemental spirits, we pray to the gods,” he said.
“Aih! Aih! Aih!” the people chanted in unison, and then a loud horn was heard.
The feast had been declared open.
The people cheered as the sound of music tugged at the quietus which a while ago beset the night. Almost as if by some blaring signal, they enthusiastically dragged many bushels of grains into the fire.
The drummers worked frenziedly. Men, women, and children alike stomped around the fire in traditional Maluku dance. Beads of perspiration trickled down their half-clad skin glazed with decorative white and red chalk, with the fiery reflections casting a lustrous sheen on their sweat-embossed bodies.
The Feast of Orsol was, as always, a time of joyous celebration when the last stocks of old harvests were disposed of in extravagant merriment to usher in fresh stocks of harvest into the barns and silos.
It was also a time of prayers and trusting that the spirits, especially Aih the Earth Goddess, would make good on her promises of bountiful harvests. In fact, this unequivocal trust in the gods was shown by feeding many bushels of grains and livestock to Okunu, the fire spirit, an emissary of the gods …
Asari sighed deeply and rose from the raffia mat. He reached for his bow and quiver and let himself out to the courtyard. The moon was as full as the sound of Orsol tonight, and he was sure both would go on beaming ‘til the wee hours of morning. A light gust of air, heavy with the stupefactive scent of burnt animal hair and roasted cereals, invaded his nostrils.
“Such wastefulness.” He grimaced and looked to the distant mountains which shadowed the forest. They called him to that wild windless place where the repugnant smell of humans’ helplessness and godly greediness would not pervade his spirit.
Snatched of a father's love at such a tender stage in life, Asari feels the betrayal of the gods. He leads a loveless, rigid and faithless life; treading an agnostic path until he unwittingly walks into the Sacred Circle of the same gods he holds in disdain—a felony that incurs the quest that took his father’s life.
Assuming the mortal form, Altheme is on her own path to get the cold heart of this frigid mortal man to love. But the terrestrial realm is riddled with unforeseen challenges. Can love truly conquer all?
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