Ek’abo Ebi! (Welcome Family!)
“I never thought that you were a coward Folami,” murmured Modupe to himself. Ten days had passed since the return of the sisters and Folami continued to avoid Modupe as if he was a sickness she did not want to catch. He decided that he had had enough. “I will confront her tonight. It is time that I have answers!” he mumbled to himself as he marched into the dark forest.
It was late and the moon was bright. As exhausted as she was, Folami could not sleep. Restlessness had taken hold of her and as a result, she rarely slept through the night. She sat at the edge of the lake hoping that mother Yemoja would lay her healing hands upon her. Stretching out upon the shore, the lulling sounds of the water began to have a mesmerizing effect on her senses. She closed her eyes and continued to listen to nature’s nightly melody. Folami did not hear Modupe when he stepped out of the woods.
Modupe leaned against a tall, wide tree and watched Folami. He wanted to feel sorry for her. The emotions and turmoil within him stirred like the riches of stews simmering in the greatest of pots. His eyes moved back and forth; caressing her features. Dark circles were etched under her lids. They stood out against her beautiful, dark complexion. Even in rest, Folami looked troubled. Even in sleep, she denied the truth. “Well not anymore!” Modupe barked as she stormed towards her resting form. Upon hearing the footsteps, Folami jumped up as if she was ready to do battle. When she saw Modupe she did not relax her stance. This battle, this confrontation would place her at a crossroads. She would no longer run. She would not cower. She would stand her ground and face him no matter the consequence.
“Only cowards run Folami!” Modupe bellowed as he stopped before her. “You dare! You would insult me because I will not give you what you want!” Folami yelled. “What I want is to make you happy. What I want is to give you love. Is that so hard to except?” He questioned. “It is when it is not possible. You know what I am, what I am capable of. You overstep Modupe!” shouted Folami.
“You would have left! You had no intention of returning did you?” he asked. Folami felt guilt and even more, she felt his pain.
“Step aside…” she warned. “I will not!” barked Modupe. “I will not.” He repeated again, with a gentler tone. “I see what you have tried for years to conceal. I know your true heart and on this night, you will finally give it to me.”
Reaching for her arm, he slid his hand down from elbow to wrist. Even with the sleeve of her kaba covering her skin, she could still feel it. A heat she had never known, had invaded her very soul. She did not think it was possible to feel so much and she desperately wanted to feel it again. The heat; the emotion; the sense of completeness. This was the first time that Modupe had ever touched her. And yet Folami still refused to bend.
Walking away from her, Modupe began to approach the still water. His feet led him deeper and deeper into the lake’s depths. The water was pitch black. Yemoja’s rays had retreated for the night and Folami could barely see before her eyes. He did not look back. Soon all she could see was the top of Modupe’s head and then he was gone. Folami started to exhibit another human trait. Fear. “Modupe is a strong swimmer. Why does he not move?” she asked herself nervously. Folami found herself moving towards the edge of the shore. “Why would he do this?” she asked herself. She began to march back and forth. Still there was no sign of movement.
Folami called out. “Modupe! Modupe! Stop this you fool! I will not come after you!” When she could not take it anymore, she went in after him. “Using my power might do him more harm than good.” She thought as she dove into the dark lake. As she descended, her body started to illuminate. Folami had become as bright as a small sun. As she reached the bottom, she saw him. He was spread out upon the sediment as if he was taking a nap. But she knew that he was not breathing.
She grabbed him and swam swiftly to the surface. She dragged him across the water and onto the shore. Her hands and body shook as she searched her mind for the right words. An ancient spell began to form. They tumbled out of her lips and into the air. Only an Orisa, a god, would have understood the words. They took shape and began to circle Modupe’s body. He began to glow. Folami watched with dread and hope as the water within his lungs began to rise up and out of his mouth.
Immediately, Modupe began to cough. He turned on his side and expelled the last of the water from his body. When he caught his breath, he turned to Folami and said, “I knew you would come for me,” and smiled. Folami teetered between, joy, relief and great anger. “You fool! Why would you do such a thing? You could have died!” Tears trickled down her face. It was the only way to free her anger without giving in to the urge to throttle him.
Getting up on his feet, Modupe reached out to Folami. Taking her hands, he said, “You would not have allowed that to happen. You saved me.” “I would have saved anyone who was drowning.” She responded stubbornly. “You saved me because you love me.” He responded laughingly. “You are mistaken.” she answered. He wrapped his arms around her and Folami thought that she too would drown but for a different reason. “Say it.” He whispered. As powerful as Folami was, she had no power here. The words were stronger and demanded a voice.
“I love you too.” Folami whispered back.
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Mari e laipe!
See you soon!