David watched as his sister huffed and puffed whilst trying to ignite the firewood. That was what she hated to do the most and as one of their punishments, she had been asked to make the fire and her brother was to fetch the wood and split it with an almost blunt axe for the rest of their stay. It took most of his willpower to not whine as his sister did then.
“What are you just sitting there to do?” She rearranged the logs and added kerosene, “Can’t you come here to help?”
Getting amused, he asked as she brought a stick of match and stroke it against the carton, “To do what, biko?” He had helped her for breakfast and so didn’t want it to become a tradition. His muscles still ached from the exertion of his own quota.
If looks could kill, David would have died on the spot but this didn’t happen. Instead, he started to crack up when the flame died out again. As much as she loved to come to the village, the house chores bored her, especially the communal cooking. Firewood was the best fuel with its size. Usually, the twin wasn’t assigned to anything cooking related, just fetching water which was full of mischief that had gone unpunished severally.
“Are you almost through?” Oreva asked impatiently even before reaching where Priscilla was. She was one of their cousins, the one particularly assigned to startup supper after the fire started to burn enough for a thick metallic pot coated with ash and palm oil to be put on it.
Priscilla snapped, “Does it look like I’m through? When last have I done this?” She pointed angrily at the dead woods which lay helplessly, some with stones as support.
“And you call yourself a female,” Oreva sniffed and attempted to walk away.
“Say that again.” David was witnessing the beginning of a fight. At first, the girl in question hesitated, the emotion of fear so fleeting across her features before the Isoko spirit took over and she repeated, with an addendum, “And you call yourself a girl. Real girls can make fire, ehn, who will marry a girl that can’t?”
Derisive laughter fell from Priscilla’s mouth and she said between bouts, “Of course, no village boy will marry a village girl that can’t…” Doubling over with her hands holding her belly tightly, “…that can’t make a fire.” Oreva had never left the village. The twin had only come from the city for Christmas. Straightening, she said without mincing words, “I don’t blame your train of thoughts though, that all you think about is creating your marriage résumé.” Pitifully, she completed, placing a patronizing hand on the girl’s shoulder, “It is as a result of your uneducation and inexperience.”
Before David could fully comprehend the whole situation from where he sat on a bench, he heard Whamm. Someone had slapped someone on the face. For someone claiming to be educated, she did not prove it with the way she wrestled. None was really stronger than the other as they both held on to each’s shoulder, with hunched backs and the heads did most of the fighting. At a point, all they could do was rotate each other. Oreva tried to trip her opponent so as to have the upper hand but she was no player either. David chose not to interfere, only looked on with much animation even as their bunch fell hard, with nothing to break their fall. That position gave them the opportunity to scratch and bite. Much to the onlooker’s surprise, they extricated themselves from each other without an external force sooner than expected. Oreva walked back inside with a slight limp whilst Priscilla successfully made the fire. She acted as though her brother was invisible when she made her departure from the scene.
Had they not been instructed never to leave the house without permission, David would have joined his male cousins on their expedition. He didn’t know the exact thing they were doing that evening but knew it was something interesting. Maybe swimming, or bottle race. Perhaps, mini hunting. When Oreva returned to start her work, David started to feel uncomfortable so, he left the premises to his reading table. As much as he loved to study, he was so much distracted. In fact, there was a distraction in emptiness. The combat replayed in his mind, and he could not help the lift of his lips. Deciding the house was claustrophobic, he left the four walls for the tree he loved to stay in. His perambulation will continue to intrigue me.
Nostalgia filled him as he viewed the dryness of the tree from a considerable distance. It was still very much alive though with strong buttresses. To avoid touching stories, his feet deftly found crevices he used to maneuver his way up, settling on a branch that was not liable to crumble under his weight. It was a vantage point, and he saw people moving, carrying on with their affairs. Nothing really caught his attention, he was just lost into nothingness. David thought he felt like a bird…free, but did bird really feel that way or was it just our human way of attributing things we felt like to things incapable of expression in ways we can understand? An unmistakable red car jolted him to reality from the top, and he could have sworn he felt his heart triple in rate. Ayovie was back and memories so strong and painful he was almost subdued filled him.