Wednesday, 17 August 2016

(Short Story) YORIYORI By Ugwu Lawrence Enenche

They walked slowly and majestically, covering their faces with caps as they entered the compound. Adole’s compound was very spacious with different flowers planted at it edge.

The three aluminium roofed houses in the compound were painted blue. People were sitting down in small groups discussing and laughing. Some were dancing ochanja music while others were watching them. Okpe woke three children who were sleeping on plastic chairs and ordered them to stand up. Okpe and his friend sat down observing the people.

Iga told Ojechema to go and buy ogogoro and cigarettes from a woman who was packing her wares to close for the night. It was a tradition in Echepepe that in any village within the community in which an occasion was being held, traders from neighbouring villages come to sell their wares.

The woman was from Oderigbo, a village before the trio’s village. ‘Ene Ugbaine,’ Ojechema said exchanging greetings with her. He told her he wanted to buy two hundred naira measure of ogogoro. She squatted and measured it
He paid her and walked to his seat. He put it down with a small cup in front of Iga who sat in their middle and handed a cigarette stick each to both of them. He brought out a packet of matches and lit his.

‘Give me the matches let me light mine,’ Okpe said stretching his hand.
‘Before you smoke, take this Sekpeh and water your oesophagus,’ Iga said giving a cup of ogogoro to Okpe.
They smoked and drank, watching those who were dancing. Iga stood up and after exercising his body, went to the disc jockey and told him to play yoriyori music. He passed through the midst of the people dancing, bouncing and attracting attention. He removed his cap and the radiance of the florescent globes brightened his weaved hair.

‘It is time to dance guys,’ he announced.
‘Yes, it is time for Igbiji boys to show their prowess,’ Ojechema said and stood up.
Ojechema started dancing, shaking his legs and bending down in rapid interval. He removed his cap and gave it to Okpe who was sitting down and danced acrobatically.

‘Yoriyori, yoriyori master!’ Iga shouted hailing him.
‘yooooooriyori, the grandmaster of all,’ Okpe praised him.
‘I don’t know that yoriyori is here,’ a girl said from the crowd.

‘yoriyori, we want you here,’ another girl shouted from the midst of the people dancing.
‘Let’s go to the centre where people are dancing,’ Iga suggested.

As they were approaching , the crowd yelled with glee, hungry to watch Ojechema dance. A space was created for him and Iga announced that anybody who wishes to compete with Ojechema should signify by putting up his hand. ‘Yes, we are here to dance for entire Ejaa people and if there is any Ejaa guy who knows how to dance, who trust himself very well should raise up his hand or come forward. And if there is nobody, we urged you to watch and learn,’ he said.

Everybody kept quiet and looked behind to see whether there was someone who raised his hand.
‘This is an insult on Ejaa guys, shame on you all. If it is sagging your trousers, all of you know how to do it very well but none can challenge a dancer from another village,’ a girl said.

‘If it is to come and disgrace us in our own village, I would stab these bagas,’ a boy said giving Ojechema a black look.
There was silence, nobody trusted himself enough to compete with him in yoriyori music dance. ‘I can defeat him in reggae dance, who is he? He is only gifted in yoriyori and makossa,’ another boy said.

Adeche, a hilarious boy came forward and stood beside him.  ‘I’m Adeche the great,’ he said beating his chest.
‘Hmmmmh, Adeche you too much!’ a voice cheered him from the crowd.

Facing the crowd, he said: ‘he learnt his dance from Jiji city and I learned my mine from heaven city. Which one is greater?’
‘Heaven city,’ the crowd chorused.

‘DJ, we are waiting for you,’ he shouted.
The DJ played yoriyori music and Ojechema danced acrobatically, going round and moving his legs and hands at the same time. He stood a moment and watched Adeche. Adeche was dancing at a spot trying all he could not to leave the stage with his head bowed.

‘Adeche you are the winner,’ a boy shouted.
‘A master is always the master. Ride on Ojechema,’ Okpe said.

He employed all his dancing skills to maintain his mastership. As the contest raged on, few Ejaa boys gathered behind and concluded to shout Adeche as the winner immediately the music come to an end. Some of them went round telling other Ejaa boys and girls to declare Adeche the winner. ‘We can’t leave our own to be disgraced by a braggart,’ Patrick told one of the girls.

As the music was coming to an end, two boys ran forward and lifted Adeche up singing his praise.
Majority of the people joined him singing in chorus while some of them were dancing around Ojechema in mockery. Okpe lifted Ojechema up to his shoulder and praised him. He danced violently, pushing and stepping on peoples’ toes. ‘Don’t step on me again Okpe,’ a girl shouted, pointing her finger at him angrily.

‘Let me pass,’ Okpe said, pushing a boy violently.
‘You are very stupid,’ the boy said pushing him.
He hurriedly lifted Ojechema down and fight ensued between him and the boy. Adole and the host of other adults who were sleeping woke up, running out to calm the raging boys. Ojechema was locked in heavy blows between two boys. Iga was moving backward violently removing a ring from his pocket. Other Ejaa boys joined the fight, hitting Okpe and Ojechema from different directions. Iga run forward with the bottle they drank ogogoro from and broke it on the head of one of the boys. The boy fell down with blood gushing out of his head profusely. ‘My head oh! my head oh!’ he moaned. One of the young men who woke up ran and held Iga from behind.

‘You can’t run away, you have killed somebody,’ the man said holding his waist tight.
‘Leave me,’ Iga shouted.
‘You must also be killed,’ the man said.
‘I said leave me,’ Iga said trying to free himself.

Iga drew out dagger from his trouser to stab him and he released him, running backward. ‘This boy is not a human being,’ he said.

Girls and women scampered for safety, running to near-by houses and bush. A boy drew out his dagger to stab Okpe and Okpe immediately drew out his own. The duo stood opposite each other brandishing their daggers.

‘My brothers, let’s settle this matter peacefully,’ Adole attempted to plead with them.
 ‘If you touch me you are dead,’ Okpe shouted at Adole.

‘Let’s make peace, I begged of you,’ Adole said shifting attention to him.
‘No. I want to teach this baga a lesson.’
‘You are the baga,’ the other boy retorted.

Some of the Ejaa boys were looking at them while some were running-round looking for bottles, stones and woods. Some of them whom their houses were closed-by ran home to get their weapons. Suddenly, Iga ran from nowhere and stabbed the boy from behind. ‘Kaa ai!’the boy shouted, staggered for a moment and fell down.

The trio took to their heels, dodging everyone who attempted to block them. ‘Hold them, hold them, don’t let any of them escape,’ Adole said to the boys chasing them.

The trio accelerated speed, jumping like antelopes from farmland to bush and from bush to farmland. Ojechema hit his leg on a stone and fell. His friends raced-on without looking back. ‘Mama meee!’ he cried on the ground. One of the boys who were chasing them intensified his speed, wanting to pin him down with his dagger but stumbled on the same stone and crash-landed on him with his dagger jumped away from his hand. ‘Idoko Oko!’ he exclaimed.

Ojechema stood up, left his cap and ran in a staggered way. He ran for a while and stopped stretching his neck to see whether they were still chasing him. The chasers stopped where one of them stumbled on the stone to attend to him.

Ojechema found his way home with the help of the flashlight of his phone. He opened his door silently so that nobody would notice when he came back and lied down with pains and hunger full of remorse for his adventure. ‘This party is too bad for me. If Adole and those bagas hunt for us tomorrow, which kind of lie would I tell my parents to convince them?’ He said and closed his eyes shaking his head. ‘Nothing dey happen, there must be a way out,’ he assured himself. He rolled from one end of his bed to another and examined his bruised legs. ‘Shhhhhhhh,’ he moaned, trying to remove his abraded skin. He lied down and fell asleep.

  Lawrence Enenche is a prolific writer and reputable researcher on African literature and folklore. He is a celebrated public speaker with a distinguished, ineffable, modest and pro-active personality from Owukpa community in Ogbadibo local government area of Benue State. He has written many published and unpublished articles and essays. His recent novels are Gone With Love, A Talking Dream and Just After

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