port of harlem magazine
ivan brown realty
Call Me Abou
Aug 11 – Aug 24, 2022
sanusi camara

Synopsis: Abou lost his father before he was born. His mother remarried and his life became bright until his stepfather passed away. Abou’s mother was soon accused of witchcraft and he learned what people are like when they are afraid.

Fortunately, a well-respected old man endowed with philosophical wisdom delivered them through several spiritual confrontations and allegations from the queen mother and the ancestor-worshipper. However, his mother thought it better to move to the city. In Banjul, he met new challenges. Would he be able to have the courage to say ‘no’ and escape the life he chose for himself?
On my way from the school, I was stumbled by a queer eyesight all over the ether. Animals were running away into the bush and a laden smoke was spread all across the sky. Strangely, old zombie-like creatures made a queue on the opposite sides of the route. You could not recognize the face that was known to you before. I stood and looked back (to see) if the situation was still normal where I was coming from.

The overriding sounded wind raised piles of dust and the leaves started to tremble as though a heavy supernatural gizmo was ascending along the visible trail that made a curly structure skyward. Those zombie-likes were groaning in chorus. I was not sure if I was frightened by the sight or not, but once clear and nearly at my grandfather’s house, I felt a pain in my stomach, perhaps out of hysteria, and I emptied the contents onto the ground.

I found it difficult to still mind my business. The outrageous creatures increased their volume. No goat was seen; no donkey or hen was seen either. Their odd cloaks could not stay by their sides under the effect of the mysterious wind.

 “Abou!” I heard a sound behind a thick puffy smoke. A cat was lying at the base of the big baobab tree that is situated at the center of the village. I looked at it but pretended not to be bothered about it.

“Abou, don’t come nearer,” the voice behind the smoke added. “Grandfather!” I called as I thought that the voice was akin to his. “Naaam (Yes, in Mandinka), don’t call again. Use the other route behind you and go home. Sainabou is waiting for you,” the old man said. I could not clearly see him. There was no more time I should waste to figure out what was going on.

I turned to my left but saw sadly looking young girls levitating and who were clothed in plain white clothes. Each of them wrapped her head with a white scarf that did not completely cover their heads. I stopped to figure this out, this time.

“Don’t stop, Abou. They will not harm you. They are good spirits. They are pure maidens. Walk through them!” the old man added again.

“Am I in a dream?” I thought. I then pierced my way through, but in a calmed manner. As I went a little farther, I halted to have one more look on the swooping witches and wizards. But before I did so, I was counting loud 1, 2, 3… and the count was as slow as a flowing swell in a nighttime ocean. The count was meant to gain courage if there was any.

“Waaan…tuuuuu…treeeeee!” I still could not look back. The whaling and screaming became louder and then I heard my grandfather once louder than before. He shouted, “Keep going, do not look back.” Then voices that were not his, screamed, “Hear the words, hear the words.” Those voices were peaceful and pleasant! Who would not heed those voices? Those are divine voices! Was I dreaming? Was this a long terrible dream? I kept on wondering about the sudden mysterious circumstance. I ran as fast and as quickly as I conceivably could.

I was soon away from the village square and running towards my grandfather’s compound. I saw my grandmother turning side to side restlessly, wringing her hands. When she saw me, she ran towards and put her arms around me.

Sanusi Camara is a part-time geography teacher at the Maahad Senior Secondary School in Brikama and at St. Peter’s Secondary school in Lamin. He is also co-founder of The Association of Gambian Geographers. He is native Mandinka speaker; English is his second language.

Call me Abou is available via Amazon.
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