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Legben and Sundry Issues: A Play Upon Words (A Short story)

My tale begins. The demise of nothing marks its very birth. It dwells on man and his mind; where evil gestates and hatches on the altar of tradition, soothsaying and all uncanny plots. The heroine was Legben; she whose bell tolled at the prime and pinnacle of struggles to leave a mark even when she was bred when the eyes were on the knees, a metaphor for the Dark Age (permit me if I brought my indigenous style to bear in the task), and never the taste of western education licked.

Legben was magnanimous in lack. Even when she never the four walls of neither a school visited nor the path within the enclosure, that lack she didn’t regret. Her seeds would live to supply dearth with abundance and without any let on them as no palm fruit may miss where a single one adorns the fire (another traditional wise saying in the milieu). Her god’s bits of fingers would shine when her muster and courage tend their march and trip to rise (bits of fingers were subtle references to children in the area).

Rare positivism tended her mind. She sighed often when a conscious lack confronted her. Sighs doted her cheeks when her thought of growth did not match a mere tilt indeed or a likely delay faced her seeds till the sighs approached a berth when struggles might be repaid upon the attainment of enviable heights and in western education groomed. No one may match growth with the thought; and that is the reason people pray that a supernatural being might accelerate their quests with speed and lend a lift to their dreams.

Her first seed named Segun made the mark and the towers beckoned on him. He was to sit and chat on philosophy: the very stuff giants were made who over-turned events since time, and over-ruled acts, so despicable. At that very moment was the snag of death unveiled. The eclipse of the persona glittered as the seed’s heartbeat might stop (That is a metaphor for the subtle movement of the heart; the true locomotion that keeps man alive and without which no one would be better than a dead hog left by the roadside).

A grace subsisted though; that unless Legben was resolved to dine untimely with death’s fang on the same dais, nothing might remove the sword that threatened to lacerate her son’s breath. That moment of cold and stillness dawned on her and resolved to renew the son’s romance with life. She devolved uncanny rituals; and unless a palpable disillusionment confronts the pen and its driver, ritual potency may not be denied. That sings the why and reason the driver clings on the sacred wisdom in indigenous creed. It harbours uncanny truth and may be perfect in confronting the devils among us who for sheer envy seek to truncate the breath of another while preserving that of their kids.

The bath came at dawn. For wholesome seven it lasted. It unleashed further insurance, a reference to the allowance to live for many more years. Within that twinkle and sigh, Legben breathed her last. She did not forget that she had a load of death to convey and like a sacrificial lamb, she began the trek on the road to eternity and no hand could bring her back. She was embarking on a path, so glorious, to seek a protection for her Whiteman that she had chosen and that might not be obvious to bystanders.

Filial scheming began on her. Her brothers began to prey on her like a lion in search of a victim. What they could not sew when she was bubbling with life, they untwined with the hope of dragging her linen in the mud and smear her gait for sure. If truth is supreme, this driver may not tell as its visage is peculiar and its dawn quite parochial. Let me about this tale and leave brilliant thinkers to probe the say.

The wise messiah did not give us concrete food that might block our oesophagus. Rather, tender milk he fed humanity that no one might miscarry or be made to cough when no visible sign of water would assuage the thirst. Forgive my allusion. I don’t intend to offend already frayed nerves by strolling about the path of creeds. You never can tell who might take offence and send a bomb after the driver. Let me on with my gist if this could not be called a tale.

Legben shines at last. The kid grew in books; I mean the very one whose investment she so desired that she could go without food; or tell her to keep her breath for hours, she would not retort and would rather find a way around it so long as it would make the bits of fingers sail where captains tend their ships. At such a leap, brothers gaped and marvelled at her apotheosis. They kissed the very land upon which she trod. As Legben renews her league upon the rise of her seeds, justice regains her throne and tears tend their brows.

At forty and yet a fool begins another tale of mine. My mind was fixed for the sky at the beginning. It was not a task impossible if anyone had asked that I sailed the moon with Neil Armstrong as my mind was fixed for the sky. My anxiety to grow was monumental when I was a baby. I am now a pawn of fate; and a clown still I am whose quest for the mountaintop, perhaps a league with angels may soon be buried with him in obvious submission to time. Such trips on uneven paths may the scribbler pursue notwithstanding the struggle to live.

Legben engendered the breath through her scapegoatist quest. Recent ritual devolution too was another when filial wrath decreed same. My clutches to life remain just as their hinges are firmly fixed. Yet, the dusk tickles when the cock of life crows and the butterfly loses all, both fragile wings and all to the cock and tickle of time, as filial foes asked for blood afresh.

The pains aren’t much as the decree is fixed. What else may one write with the savoury of The Preacher? If only the driver read not Solomon’s sigh and grief when upon tasty rocks he climbed; that unparalleled he seemed since the record and the figure: a near-plagiarism might be assumed. I leave all for The Preacher. His honey-coated ink fashioned all and to everyman may this be proved: that earthly struggles end in nought; unequal repose for unlimited toil.

If I were to recommend a dose: a pill that gestates peace of mind, I might humbly recommend ignorance. Intellectual abstinence, I mean, sedates pent-up brains for sure and when the ignoramuses tend farms as they gently grace the land upon the drizzle and a sprout, nature dispenses its bliss and the repose breeds deep slumber; the snores of unperturbed sleep which the man of letters lacks as he fumes and fumbles with life’s biting conflicts as if he may redress.

The bliss of an ignoramus tickles above wine. The repose of a slave tends the heart above that of a free-man. The romance with both confirms, and any day I behold a slave, I wish I were in his shoes.

My tale is done, the dawn is near. My quaint wish is this: knock on the Doctor’s door for test when down by trouble. These quacks in robes whose cassocks sweep the floor reveal peculiar truths for sure. Knock on the doctor’s door. Quaint sermons they deploy: they feed the spirit with milk and the body pines for food; and earthly vicissitudes aren’t done with spiritual ministration alone.

Where a surgery avails, no holy water may assuage. Fix the scale and the balance. Ritual devolution too may avail but fix the balance, this I say. Modern ills may be diagnosed with modern means; not those decrepit tools unknown to leaping time. Fix the balance and put a lid. Science leads in contest with spiritualism.

Unveiled was the truth. At last the fettered race is unchained and Legben leaves for home to the chagrin of her foes and the envy of her folks. The dawn marked her departure and her glaring humanity was unveiled despite concerted persecution. Her restless spirit confounded them as her nagging essence compelled outright confession of her glorification and for once her benevolence reigned and they acclaimed her selflessness. My joy reverberated and another lease was regained.

Joy tended my brow as its damning avalanche shuts the doors against whatever tears might beckon on the eyes to shed. Far from such descent, my tamed-lids were bold; far from such echoes of tearful-emotion that attends the unusual whether in its negative absurdity or in the positive expectation. The mist that beclouds the gate towards a conscious overflow of tears reveals man’s inherent bestiality, especially the apish sentimentality; the tears of water from the body upon the dawn of a difficulty that seemed insoluble at the rational plane, whereas a knot portends a resolution.

Never was a teardrop whereupon the search nor upon her apparent-physical disintegration; never was a teardrop. The sojourner bowed out like those sages of old who for a cause dismissed rational self-preservation and about a suicide mission set their salty- selves aflame.
Legben chose her own part. Her line was fashioned in a collective script endorsed by the maker-unknown about the brow of a chap whose date with fate received a tilt from Legben, as she never his demise could stand nor his flimsy paths endured. Bold was her resolve to convey the calabash designed by fate for him; and thus a life assurance indeed to grease his bones and irrigate his blood. For fresher harvest might tend the seedlings of an evolving stalwart; such tender petals might blossom with time and a bolder-imprint would submit. If hers was in eclipse, his might be rising and her setting sun might engender a further spring, which to time becomes a boon. Such projection upon her submission tended her heart at once. When his demise became a fact, bumper harvest of flesh she released.

This demise of mine maybe might tease her insanity. While upon her scapegoats bid, lying upon her sickly back, her bold quest was renewed and her son she told to rise from his slumber behind her back and would never tolerate him near her bed; for fear that the remission might be marred and death’s fang would fan him. So, deep was her last breath as every detractor accompanied her to her final resting place.

Her coffin was lowered as the train kept gaping and would never return until her redeeming body lowered within the enclosure of a grave. Yet, the course blossomed as her seeds flowered too and flagrant buds bedecked them till all kissed her very feet and wished a similar scene might to them be assigned even when they lacked a vision. Won’t such be mere suicide as their kids are quite unschooled?

Quaint memories might not be, for every man his true plot and no man may the other feign. Several pains beset the driver but the greatest was this: such sudden leave of hers left a dent on my spirit that which matrimony made severe and except for this newly wedded bliss, the stress might be a total blitz. Yet, the hinges with life’s branches remain, till date, unflinching that each clutch is grafted; that each hold remains untainted. Manifold gains attend each course especially the lure of profound sensibility which inactivity may never beget. Thus, deeper rumination attends all which time made natural as potent hallmarks of man whose encounter transcends humanity and strives against gods and spirits. Peculiar lay breeds peculiar say.

The ride on the shore of life conditions uncanny preoccupation as the sail equals the wave. On intimate tales, a seal I put; a lid on grievous plot may for once be corked. Let not such tales flipped up their lids. A permanent seal I sure would put and pursue tales that might make people laugh out their breath as their hearts cry for lease of air from palpable asphyxiation. Gentle anecdote I mean to pursue, especially the jest on life’s trivialities; as quaint heart harbours no grief and all through life’s absurdities, his heart admits all necessities and never regret a dearth, which to him is unqualified boon. And when plenty tends his purse, an evil omen he perceives that his mien is heavy and his heart is frail; lest the plenty engenders creativity from the poor lot about his house whose quest and lack breed pains and without scruple would kill to keep alive.

Not quite removed from mine was a man of means who lived in a mansion so palatial; whose lucre devil’s angels envied. He was the envy of suckling babes and panting hearts too whose salivating eyes invited hellish conflagration and in a jiffy razed literally that edifice and with the rubbles, the rich be levelled among the rank and file. Such tales of grace to grass amused the poor a lot all through time and bespeaks man’s escapable subjugation to the tethers of fatal inhibition; that to rise might be dreadful as those atop are soon besmeared; and to be lowly, among earthly swine, remains natural quintessence; a metaphor for the boat aground, unlike the floating lots, seldom capsizes for sure.

So, the man of affluence, from every angle, they beset them by filial missiles and societal mines from all whose intent points to a general plot tainted by want and indigence. Sometimes, about repose, which cyclic rotation conditions; upon the demise of the sun, and the immanence of the moon that several wanderings condition a rest and upon the bed lies the driver, till a gulf separates the breath.

Within that twinkle, the beats dilate; the feeling of strangeness dawns and the pact with death so sure. Yet, as the light’s beam about to be clipped which consequence is an eternal cold, redemption beckons its oil and the light relays its ray. Seven days and seven nights lasted the journey among the deeps; whose dearth and dirt, notwithstanding, arrogated primal secrets of longevity; another lease to propel the driver’s longevity that the sojourner’s pact with the grave might become truncated at last.

Where fear tends the heart, a renewed boldness assumes further tilt. The cloak of life signals rejuvenation and death’s damning wage devolved and were it not for this unusual compact, the threat of death might dismiss further labour. The hilly visitation bespeaks submission and humility further takes its roots and to every visitor your gift be given: stooping or kneeling all the time as each renders her prayer, begging foes to provide a lease.

You may call it the ritual-seven. It was meant to augment the supplicant’s readiness to host filial foes with annual meat. Obviously in exchange for his breath and release; free from the clutches of detractors who might squeeze a giant to death, except occasional flies be dished. Another uncanny delicacy that satiates or meat without bone and pounded yam devoid of grains be dished to them. This puzzle might be untied when a snail is trapped and decayed melon be pounded. Only then can these foes be damned while the living pursues earthly tasks assigned and unhindered.

Each step I take, each move of mine attracts a cane and at times a lash; not through perceived loquacity but for babblers’ tirade; and maybe the lack of occupation. Yet, the joy remains glaring; as my dirty back they lick and never may I regret that amid gossips I live. For when indolence decrees vacancy, rising stars they hope to demean and in their fall they conclude for sure, that the path of greatness is quite susceptible to tears and lull for sure.

The end I may tag the glimpse of the end. Once upon a breath and a stir, when every labour is assumed performed, this breath of mine, this task at hand; like the runner about a race, will the baton of life release and whoever receives the butt, whether a son or a foe, peculiar squabbles be the root. At first endangered by quaint bonds signed by early progenitors, whose lacklustre race conditioned spiritual subjugation to gods; which subsequent starvation mortgages longevity till date.

I dwell on Oloto: the primal goddess. On every neck an albatross hangs. A meal of snails and yam satiates her probing throats; Oloto the primal goddess, on whose beck the foetus smiles and multiple births litter as she receives the pacifist’s supplication. The quest for rites, notwithstanding, filial fangs of death loom to herald the driver betimes to the threshold of death; not for any fault of neither his nor his scramble for farmsteads, but the levellers’ quest for satisfaction.

Likoyi, great ancestress divine; that great wife of Adesomoju, my paternal ancestor who littered Famoroti as Famoroti littered Joshua (you can see the infiltration of the domain by the imperialists here) brought Orisa Oloto from Ayeka. The very idol that dotted the backyard of her father’s house fashioned a replica and it was subtly kept in earthenware to keep vigil on her seeds lest anyone miscarried. Perhaps anyone might need a child after a prolong search through human device, the goddess might be called upon to intercede and truly, a foetus would smile on the suppliant.

Back to my gist as the digression and need for explicit information took me off my line of argument. Joshua littered my granddad named Omomunmi whose wife hailed from Ilesha and for which singular cause she was nicknamed Mama Oshun. Orisa Oshun too was another idol that served the needs of the folks at Ilesha. She, however, did not bring her household idol. If she did pour libation to the idol when she was alive, no one might doubt. Fear might have conditioned her to do the needful in the course of her existence. Like Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, who reigned supreme after his father left for the Trojan War and did not have the benefit of fatherly care and gentle ministration but still poured meet adoration to household gods, my ancestors did not forget their duties to the gods of their fathers.

Omomunmi, that son of Joshua, gave birth to my father named Omosule who through pranks and curiosity became a Muslim. It was that Muslim folk, first of its kind in the town, that gave birth to me. If his calling was Islam, I am yet to stick to my own choice. I choose humanity above any tribal god. I love all and adore nature. Providence is his name that hangs the earth in the sky that it gyrates at the speed of one thousand kilometres an hour around the sun.

Whatever name you may give to that large hearted spiritual entity, I do not quarrel with your choice. Mine is mine and yours is yours. Omomunmi was a member of the Baptist Church when he was alive. I accompanied him to the church once or twice in my infancy. I doted on him as he did not hide his love for me but not above that of my grandmother named Amuwa who hailed from Ode Omi and was the son of Akinro Uwangwe. The full name is Akinrodemi. Her father or grandfather migrated from Ijebu and did not bother to visit his home before his demise. Permit me if I ruffled the hornets’ nest. I combine history with folklore. They are twin brothers and like Siamese twins, they can’t be detached without some broken ribs.

The traveller has lost his way and must be brought back on course. I am back there now and need to conclude the disputation or lose my way in the wilderness of anecdotes and gentle disputations. The clime is full of tales and the writer must be careful lest his works be disjointed through unwarranted allusions. Or through plain ministrations forget his line. I plead gentle handling of my ill-scripted tale. I am a toddler and I need to wobble and stumble to find my feet. I stumble most times and the readers through emotion clap for what should be consigned to the dustbin.

A last word on humanity and their warped feelings I sure must pen. It is true to all as all can see in the clime. This sore truth be this: when the ranger scrambles for stew upon the baking of his bread is their joy. Yet, may they seek this breath in vain, just as the driver preserves his hold. He, through rites and prayers, the ebb man surely submits not, till the over-bearing fangs of death squeeze and the grapple’s rein receives no boost. Only then will this driver submit this breath, this wealth; not before another tale is done and its fragrance dishes to all.

Feigning friends and loving foes, my tale is done; fair ranting indeed!

Segun Omosule PhD

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