It isn’t a hot day, neither is it a cold day. The sun is shining but its rays aren’t hurting nor burning as much as they are supposed to. Segun and Amaka alight a taxi. They are coming back home from school. It’s supposed to be a long weekend; they don’t have lectures on Thursdays and Fridays, and Saturdays and Sundays are actually the fun days to cool off from the heat of the school stress.
Amaka had agreed on following Segun to his house at Holiness Model City — one of the newly populated sites in Ibadan — where they would spend the weekend together alone.
“I want us to be together this whole weekend,” he had said. “Just me and you for the long weekend. It would be some fun.”
They hadn’t spent the whole weekend together before. Life will always come in their way, but this weekend, is an exception. They are walking by Keto petrol station close to his house. A car is idling in the petrol station, the driver leans on the side of the car watching the fuel pump with keen interest as the metre reads up the litres being pumped into his car. The lady — the petrol attendant, — has her hand deftly clasped on the nozzle of the fuel pump and her eyes fixed on the reading metre. The sun beats down on the windscreen of the car and reflected on it, making Amaka squint and turn to Segun
“But Segun, you really need to get a car o! I can’t continue this trekking down to your house anytime the taxi drops me at the junction. It’s tiring,” she complains, pouting and scowling at him.
“Don’t worry, my love. Money is in the making. We go hammer soon!”
“Let it be now biko!”
“Yes, my—” he hasn’t finished speaking when he hears sounds of beating drums and voices chanting from a close distance. He follows the noise to its direction and sees a small crowd of youths dancing towards them. Then he sees it. The masquerade with a human skull in its hands, dancing and making its way towards them.
The lady in the petrol station stops fuelling the car and runs into the office. Other female pedestrians scuttle out of sight, running away from the crowd.
“Why are the females the ones running?” she asks perplexed.
“Amaka, we have to be out of sight now, please. It’s not safe here!” Segun quivers, fear etched up on his face.
“Come on! I’m not afraid of masquerades. And don’t tell me you are!” she sneers at him.
“No, it’s not what you think, let’s just go!” he sputters, pulling her by the hand towards the petrol station.
“Okay, okay, okay. Fine! But stop pulling me like a baby. I will walk with you to the petrol station,” she says, shrugs and adjusts herself to catch up with his strides.
The masquerade in the company of the youths are closer now, still dancing, chanting and beating their drums. She stares at the sight one more time. The masquerade with the skull is a beauty to behold. She wishes she could take a picture of it. She likes tradition and cultures, she likes to watch and learn about new cultures and traditions. She’s still drawn to the beauty of the masquerade when it gesticulates with the skull and points it towards her before Segun calls at her and she walks briskly to the petrol station, resisting the urge to stare at it again.
Segun squirms on his bed. The room is illuminated by the full moon outside. It seeps in through the half-drawn window. He is pressed and wants to use the bathroom. He flips the light in the bathroom and begins to pee. There’s a mirror on the wall, above the basin sink in the bathroom. He washes his hands in it after peeing and he hears a voice, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
It’s Amaka’s. He stares at her reflection on the mirror. She looks sad and hurt. She has her night gown on. He turns around, stare at her and asks, “Tell you what, my love?”
“Why?” she asks again.
“You’re making me scared, Amaka. Why what?”
“The masquerade. Why?” she asks again mechanically.
“Oh, Olulo,” he sighs and relaxes his tensed self. “Well, we were told that no woman is allowed to see Olulo — that masquerade that you saw. But I never believed it. I just acted on impulse because of the people there. I don’t want them to feel I’m disrespectful.”
She stands there, still staring at him, urging him to continue.
“We were told that any woman that sees it won’t live to talk about it. I can’t actually believe that we lived with that fallacy till date. Some archaic belief,” he yawns and stretches. “but how did you know about it?”
She doesn’t say a word. She turns and goes back to the room. He follows her, then she points at the bed and said, “That’s how I knew.”
He looks at what’s on his bed and his heart thuds. She’s just there — lying supine on the bed, — just the way he had left her and she is also standing beside him and smiling at him, then she says;
“You know I can’t leave you. We are in this together, forever. Death can’t do us part.”
Augustine Malizu studied Linguistics at Usman Danfodio University Sokoto. During his free time, he enjoys penning down stories.
You can reach him on facebook via N’austin Malizu.