‘The Outcast”

Posted: May 25, 2012 in Novel excerpts

It was a beautiful serene evening in the ancient waterside village of Ode. The sun hung in the sky, a giant red ball against a backdrop of orange and light blue. The reflections created a golden hue that bathed everything in sight as the sun dipped lower in the horizon. The village, surrounded by evergreen forests and tall stately trees, was noted for its beauty and charm but that evening, amidst the quiet calm, a single fierce scream pierced the air.

They travelled slowly down the ancient wide footpath that led to the river. The bald old man led the way. He wore a white linen wrapper round his waist with one edge draped across his chest and down behind his left shoulder. He carried an earthen pot filled with herbs of all kinds and his chalk painted face favored a menacing look. Two others followed also wearing white linen wrappers round their waists. They bore staffs and wore straight faces while keeping a respectable distance behind their leader. Behind them the villagers followed, calm, serious and hopeful. The tranquil atmosphere carried a universal somber spirit that bothered on terror while the stillness of the air and silence was broken only by the shuffling of feet. Every single soul in Ode village was required to be present at the river side offering and almost everyone was.

She struggled, held firmly by two hefty men dressed in all white. The nine year old knew what it was to die, she was going to. Her parents followed behind them grief stricken but bare faced. They could not utter a sound. The oracle had spoken and the oracle had picked their daughter. It was an honor, a thing of pride. The village would forever remember their love sacrifice. Besides, there were three other children, all boys. The mother swallowed and let the tears flow freely. She could not hold back anymore. There was no one to whom she could plead no one to save the life of her only daughter, her first child. The king’s face remained stony. His attendants stood in a file behind him and his four wives and three concubines behind them. His fourteen royal children came next, then the chiefs and elders of the village and then the rest of the villagers.

The screams were louder now as the Chief priest signaled for the sacrifice to be brought nearer. His low rumblings became audible as he sprinkled the herbs towards the river and edged closer to it. The tide came in gently bathing his feet in the warm river water. His attendants followed him, stopping on either side of him as he turned slowly to face the crowd of villagers. “Bring her here!” The command was small and shrill.

Kikelomo struggled and wailed as the two men dragged her towards the swirling river and the stern old man with his two assistants. She screamed, calling on her mother to save her but who would dare answer? It was for the village. Everyone wanted an end to the era of famine that had plagued them for seven months gone and no one could despite their pity for her and for her parents. It was better for one to die rather than for a whole village to be wiped out. She struggled and thrashed about as she was handed over to the attendants who held her stretched out over the surface of the water as they waded deeper into the river till it was waist deep. The old man muttered his incantations and threw more herbs into the river. The drums began to sound from far away; slowly at first, the beat soothing and rhythmic and then faster, along with the pace of the chant. She struggled screamed and wailed as the old man emptied the contents of the pot over her body. He scooped up water with the pot and poured it over her five times, each time mumbling ‘life for life’. It soon became a chant, the attendants first, then the king, then the villagers, everyone clamoring for the exchange of the life of the young girl with that of the village.

“River god!” the old man shouted, as he dropped the pot into the river. “Accept your sacrifice.”

The mother stopped, gasped and almost ran forwards but the villagers pulled her back as her daughter screamed for the last time before she was held under water. All the villagers slowly looked up at the sky hoping their sacrifice would be accepted.

 

(Excerpt from a novel titled The Out cast)

A village is steeped in darkness and human sacrifice until a girl dares to challenge and change the course of their history, helped by a stranger whose presence in the village must remain hidden, she fights for her fellow girls against the monstrous evil that over shadows their village.

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