Planting Season 1894
As I stepped onto the beach, my heart pounded, my legs froze and my jaws dropped; fear gripped my entire being and I felt cold to the core.
I had heard a lot about the life-taking sea from countless tales told to us by Otiti the Palace Story Teller; but nothing could have prepared me for the sight that lay in front of me right now. Endless miles of ginormous silvery mass spread out in front of me; the roaring crashing sound mixed with the surging splashing foams rendered the whole spectacle quite captivating and crippling at the same time.
This was my first sight of the sea!
This was my first sight of the sea.“Remember to keep away from the water’s edge!” My mother had repeatedly warned before we set off on our journey to the coast; those words now echoed in my ears. Otiti’s countless tales of undersea kingdoms now came flooding back. I tried to place the last one she told us about Momo against this backdrop, the very thought of the events made me shudder with fear as I shook in my boots.
Momo had been an only child, Eyi had borne her in her old age. Eyi had tried for years for children but was reportedly told by the native midwives that she was barren and what delight when pushing on fifty years old, she finally fell pregnant. Much tale abounded about where this beautiful fair skinned child had come from; there was only one explanation, the people of the sea had sent her, for how could a woman so old bear a child. Needless to say, Momo was pampered to a fault by her parents and the whole community, she always got her own way; she was in effect a spoilt brat. She tormented her doting mother so. Eyi, her mum had warned her not to go anywhere near water, river or sea, but one day out of sheer defiance, Momo, left the village and went to the river, stepped in and was instantly swept away never to be seen again. It was told that she had been taken by undersea people from whom she had come.
In otiti’s stories, the undersea people are greenish yellow with fibrous tree roots for hair; their reddish yellowy eyes can pierce right through one’s being causing razor sharp pains to the person. One was likely to be permanently damaged in some way after contact with an undersea person.
Momo’s story tells that she was taken back to the undersea kingdom for perpetual punishment for her insolent behaviour towards her mum and for causing her much heartache. It is said that the roaring sounds at the seaside is a combination of languishing cries from all the children that have been taken to the undersea kingdom; they would never be free to come back home to their parents and friends.
I now remember my mother’s warning to keep away from the water’s edge and oblige immediately, I do not fancy being grabbed by the undersea people; I stay right where I am to look out for other signs of the undersea kingdom. Otiti had told us that some of the undersea palaces are so massive that their turrets rise about the water level and you can see them, I peered very hard for signs of the turrets, but could not see any right now, I think when I am older I will search around for them to quench my curiosity on the matter, I definitely want to see how an undersea castle looks like.
I am here because Chief Irriah and some other Palace Chiefs are on a business matter for His Majesty to The Port. The Port is a town along the coast where a lot of buying and selling amongst people from different parts of the world take place; here some other chiefs work for his Majesty. Uwa and I had been delighted when the Chiefs invited us to come along with them. We did not know or care much about the nature of their business or mission; all we wanted to do was have a chance to look upon the sea with our own eyes and to see the setting for all those tales Otiti and other story tellers had been telling us. We were simply intrigued with the idea of a fascinating undersea kingdom where we would be kept as slaves if we were kidnapped and taken under. We wanted to learn more.
As I contemplated the glittering sight, I could have easily stood for hours there, desperately trying to catch a view of the projecting turrets of the undersea king’s castle as in Otiti’s stories; Edugie, patted me lightly on the shoulder saying it was time to go. In a way, I was relieved that on this occasion, no undersea person had attempted to grab me but was equally disappointed that I had not been able to see one of them or at least the castle turrets. I was so looking forward to going back to the palace with my own tales of my encounter with the undersea people; but alas, this was not to be on this occasion.
What is my view of the sea: turbulent, treacherous, perilous and definitely unsafe to play around. I shall be heeding my mum’s advice and keeping well away from the water’s edge.
Otiti’s and the other story tellers’ tales have certainly had the desired effect!
Keep safe for now.