A Novel By
The Bata Dancer
Copyright © 2019 by Rotimi Ogunjobi
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.
Published by AM Book Publishing Limited www.ambookpublishing.com
This book is dedicated to the memory of my parents:
Samuel Mofolorunso Ogunjobi (July 21, 1919 - August 23, 1963)
Eunice Olufolaju Ogunjobi (April 4, 1929 – January 1, 2014)
The hunter heard an approaching. He needed to get neither spear nor sword ready. The footfalls on the carpet of rotten leaves, was not of a beast - the gait was too resolute. The hunter could not see what was approaching. The thickets, the overhanging tree branches of the dense jungle quite effectively blocked even the faint rays of the sun as dawn approached. The hunter felt the presence even more than he heard it. He also felt fear.
The creature eventually came into view, and by some mystery was before the hunter even before he knew that it was coming near. Whether it was a man or a woman, he could not immediately tell, but for simplicity he would assume that it was a man, even though swathed from head to toe in a dark cloth, his strikingly white eyes peering out of the dark hole which shrouded the face.
Irunmole. The hunter would think that before him was one of those benevolent entities of wisdom and enlightenment. But an alternative thought advised the hunter that he may be in the presence of a mischievous demon pretending to be one of those, of which there were thousands roaming the forest. He felt fear, but he knew in the alternative case, the primary strategy for surviving such a perilous encounter was never to show fear.
The leaves on the ground were wet with dew, and the smell of advanced decay, mixed with the mouldy smell on the stranger’s robe, roughly woven like that of the Ibariba people, further confused his senses. Yet he knew that his heart must not fail; to show fear might be to die.
“What do you want of me?” the hunter asked the creature.
“Is there a place, not too far away from this place where human beings live?” he heard the creature reply, even though he could not see the lips more. The hunter knew that he needed to be careful. You must never tell a demon where you live.
“No, I do not know such a place”, the hunter lied. The creature was for a long moment silent, seeming to search the mind of the hunter, seeming determined to intimidate him with his mysterious presence.
“Where did you come from?” the creature spoke as if into the hunter’s head.
“My village is far away; but nonetheless, I perceive that another must be near, for I saw foot tracks on the banks of a stream not too distant from this place”, the hunter again lied , as he pointed in the direction from which he came.
“May peace be with you”, the creature said. He proceeded away, taking long and purposeful strides, crushing dry twigs and bramble underfoot, yet not a branch or leaf of the trees and bushes along the way was disturbed.
“What is your name?” the hunter inquired after the creature, without any hope of a response. The creature for a fraction of a minute paused in his progress.
“My name is Ayangalu”, he replied. He again hastened forward, his steps more purposeful, more resolute.
The hunter stood watching him walk away, looking neither to the back nor to the side; the sound of his footfalls progressively fading away, until, he could neither see nor hear the creature anymore. All that was left of the encounter were the stamped patches in the carpet of compost, where the creature had placed his feet, in his passage.
If you ever meet a strange being in the forest, it is a sign that you must return home at once, because danger lurks beyond. Of this, the hunter had been warned since he was a child. Obeying his heart therefore, he abandoned his current expedition and began to return home; playfully