Waters of Shubu
I live here now in the Americas. This was not a place that I wanted to come to. I had never heard of such a place. Where I lived there was freedom and peace, the bush. I was never concerned about what others thought or how was I to find food. I did not have to rely on anyone. There was always Buku (father) and MaMaa. They’d never let any harm come to me. And I never worried about growing up.
One day while seeking the wild boar, I witnessed the shadow of a huge monster in the waters of Shubu. Of course I knew of water movers, but nothing like this. I did not know colors at the time for everything was hectomecata—that is all the same, but different. Not many of the tribe of my father visited the waters as I. It took many days to get to the waters of Shubu, but I was fortunate (at least I believed). I was a girl who was forbidden to leave the region of the huts, but I believed in independence.
I come from a family of royalty. My mother was Princess Uknabu and my father was Prince Dukmatu. They did not know each other before they married. It was the custom. Father (Buku) was from a neighboring shore of Tamakuta and MaMaa was from the Island of Mishatu. They were young when they wed and became lovers and then friends. MaMaa was beautiful (many say I grow as she). She was the choicest of all Mishatu. She lived not as free as the others. She had to learn the ways of the people who one day she was to lead as ‘mother of all’ (so shall I someday). Buku was wise for someone so young. He was aged in knowledge and young in spirit.
Grandfathers’ Bukulati and Anaka made a bargain some years ago. Their children would marry once they were of age. Bukulati’s son reached the age of manhood at the age of seventeen and the girl considered woman at thirteen, this was Mamaa.
Their love was admired by all and from that union I, Budumatu was born. I was a maiden to the district of the land of my huts, of the tribe of my father. I was not to hunt, but I did. I was not to fish, but I did near the jungle and I caught mighty fish when near the waters of Shubu and I killed many wild boars with spear. This is where my story began and my life ended.
Many years later when I was unable to sleep, a delicate whiff of MaMaa’s essence horded my memories of white mink and pink ice fragrance of Protera Susera flowery sweetness. It filled my sensory that I was able to dream dreamless nights. MaMaa came into my bed and wrapped her massive arms and huge breast about my head and whispered sweet soothing words of peace. I held onto those memories all of the life I lived.
A ship of white sails blew in the breeze from the Land of Gibraltar. I had no idea what that meant. It landed on the shores with many men who did not look like Buku or the men of our village—their skin was as the sails and they carried a heavy load upon their backs.
I watched from the bush as they made camp and settled in. The fires blazed and the smell of Wild Boar steamed through the air. My nostrils flamed as my stomach growled. I wanted the taste of this wonderful fragrance that I never experienced before. I edged my way close to the men, they could not see me.
The day had become dark and I blended into the night. The flames rose and hissed as the fat of the Wild Boar dripped its succulent essence onto the coals. I looked into its face and it grinned at me (I had no idea Boars laughed). I crept closer to the aromatic intoxicated Nubian of the flesh as it turned into a crispy brown. I shuddered and picked my way closer. No one saw me. I felt as though I needed to run forward and grab a handful before I was detected. But I was caught.
I yelled and fought with all of my might. But there was no use. I looked at Orion with his three stars of light and I felt the waning of my energy subside. I was as the Boar, no longer wild, never to be as it or I was before. No starry nights. No moon filled sky, only black.
The hands of the men searched my ever space. I never felt such sensation. I was afraid. The pungent aroma from the burnt flesh filled my nares with clogged snot. I could not cry, no tears came, only fear. Nothingness was all that I saw, the blank faces and grasping organs captured the innocence of my womanhood.
The hole was deep and the space was minimal. I could barely breathe. There were others like me, but I did not understand. We wailed and cursed the gods above as we sailed to a new found home, which it would never be.
Puke, urine and bile filled my nostrils unlike the freedom I smelled when the Wild Boar smiled. Boils broke out on the flesh. Women, children as I, men and animals resided here—it was not as Noah’s Ark. This was my new found home. I struggled and twisted, but the chains lay heavy on my flesh. Blood gushed from many and so did death. I was alone. My home no longer existed.
I had no idea of hope, nor did I have an idea of freedom. This was never discussed. Buku and MaMaa never told me of those things. Did they know about these things? I had no idea. I lived here in Americas without a country or a home. I lived here as a slave to the thoughts of my masters. Though I thought this to be fiction as an invention of thought, but it was not, this was my reality.
I no longer possessed a culture. I was not White European. I was not America. I was who they say I was. Many in this place possessed no culture or sense of place either. They were as lost as I, but they did not comprehend. For many were born in Americas of European, American Indian, Spanish and African decent I supposed, but they thought themselves to be better than I.
I was Africa, but no one cared. I was different and I reminded them of the bush. They were better than the bush. I was Africa—a reminder of purity of race. But, now that I no longer can return to the home of my ancestors, I am forced to live as the others and now I hold this dear, for Africa will never accept me again.
Many who lived in this place were now mixed blood so what did that mean? Did it matter? They were as slaved as I. To this day Africa denies me. Americas forced me to see the differences.
I was afraid. Every day I was afraid. I ran all day in fear and at night I didn’t sleep, for if I slept I dreamt. I dreamt of running and crying. I tried to get away, but fear kept me down. I knew no other way to live. My tormentors lived in the same house. I grew up with them, but they saw themselves not as such. MaMaa no longer came to me in my dreams, she no longer held me close. I was forgotten.
The mother of the house where I lived refused to see the torture I endured. She thought I was a complainer and did not want much to do with me. She was like the rest. They all called me Ngolinga and when I heard this word I cried. To be a cry baby was never acceptable in America. One stood tall and held their own, but I was alone. No she never saw, but I was not her blood. I was a girl who hid from the Sun. I never wanted anyone to see me. I was seven.
Her brother, Uncle Nathaniel (by another father) picked on me just as much as the children in the house whenever he visited. “Where’s that cry baby?” he’d shout. Did he not know that this hurt? I supposed he didn’t care like the others.
Jacoby, Caroba, Patrick and Jhona all ran me around the plantation with headless dolls and yelled mean words. At first I did not understand. I ran and ran until I found a hiding place. Of course I was not a fast runner—I was only two years older than the youngest of the brood that she raised.
We all called her Mother. I wasn’t sure if any of the fifteen children belonged to her. I never saw her wipe a tear or hug a child. She was the cook and she took care of the children of the rapacious and libidinous females who worked the land of the plantation. She never liked those females—they never possessed piety nor were they ever as pious as she, even though she never understood. No matter how much she accepted the god of the European, she would never be white enough to be holy and devout.
I Sunni prayed each night on my knees and twice daily, to Allah to be returned to the lands of Buku and MaMaa without avail. I learned of Jesus and His Father would protect me. But they didn’t. I failed them too. I wrote words on paper and tried to understand what I felt, but the words did not come.
I recited, “For God so loved the world,” but there was no peace. That was the way of the Main House and Mother made sure we believed as she was taught to be respectful of the god of the European. But she knew I would never be pure. I sang songs of praise and bowed my heart faced down on the dirt, but others stepped over me. I tried, but nothing worked. The fear was strong and I was alone.
The dreams came fast as I closed my eyes. I fell and cried out, but no one heard. I saw the faces blacked with the smut of hatred and twisted into hellish monsters. They tried to pull me in, but I wouldn’t submit. Mother came in the night. She saw me.
She stood at the foot of the bed with arms extended and waited for me to run into them, but I never did. She glowed with peace while the children slept. I was calm. There was sleep without dreams. I would awake anew and smiled with joy for this was my first of many. Fear no longer loomed from my pores. The tears shed were gone. I saw her and she sees me.
The other night when Mother gathered her children about, we prayed to Jesus and His Father. We prayed the “Lord’s Prayer.” Immediately fear entered my heart once again when we repeated the words, “Witches in heaven. Hallow it be thou name.” I didn’t like witches. I wept. Tears streamed from my eyes. My nose flamed with snot and my hands shook. “Why are their witches in heaven?” I cried with the force of a mighty thunder.
“There’s no witches in heaven,” Mother stated. “What are you talking about fool?”
You said, “Witches in heaven. Hallow it be thou name.”
“You silly fuck, I said, which art in heaven, hollowed be thou named.”
I dried my eyes and blew my nose on my night gown. With bright eyes of anew I looked up into her eyes. “Thank you for coming in our room every night.”
Mother turned from the other children and snarled. She looked shaken, angry and bemused, “I never come unto your room once you kids are in bed!”
“Yes, you do. I see you. You smile at me.”
“I never come into your room,” she scorned.
“Who comes then?” I was not frightened.
“No one you little fool. The house is closed up and the windows are locked.”
“I see you. I see you and you see me every night.”
It’s been years since I saw my Angel. I never knew if it was a man or a lady. I thought it was the one we called mother. But I knew she was not an angel. She was mean. She hated children. I knew she would never come to help me.
My Angel came at night when I was afraid. The Angel looked over me as I slept. The Angel reminded me that Jesus and His Father cared. Jesus and His Father protected me. They are Jehovah Tsidkenu. Jesus and His Father I prayed to. The Father of Jesus who heard my songs. The Father of Jesus who handled my dreams. The Father and Jesus who Is Jehovah Jireh. Shalom. I no longer feared being alone. I found peace in sleep. I no longer ran. I lived with El Shaddai.
MaMaa and Buku still lived within my head. I may never see them again. I am a woman full grown of thirteen and know no more of the world than when I first come to this Americas. I will never be educated in the way of the world. I will never marry legally. But I will have scores and scores of children to teach them about the bush.
As long as I live, I will never return to my homeland, but within my mind I shall always remember. Until I close my eyes to the world, I will dream and see the smiles of MaMaa and Buku as I dress for my siku ya harusi (wedding day). This is the promise I shall always recall and the remembrance of the waters of Shubu.
April 30, 2013