Shadows




The smell of death hung thickly in the air. The thick fog that spread over the village like a blanket had refused to dissipate. You could taste the salty, coppery feel of death at the very tip of your tongue. The entire village was on the verge of annihilation.

Ghosts, their peaceful sleep disturbed, roamed freely in the street. Death himself glided seamlessly around the village with his sickle hanging loosely on his drooping shoulders. Night was no different from day in the little village. Thunder and lightning, locked in a tight embrace, engaged in hot romance across the dark skies that refused to welcome brightness.

All around the village, utter silence prevailed as the villagers were gripped in palpable fear. Even the animals were wise enough to keep mute. The newly delivered babies obeyed the divinely scary instructions to keep quiet. They would cry some other day. Parents shielded their children as no one dared step out.

Death laughed like Goliath in their faces, taunting them, daring them to come out. Yet, no one had the guts to step out. Not even Ifagbamila, the Chief Priest, who lived high up in the mountains. The shrivelled old man had relocated to the interior of the village. He was as scared as the newest baby in the village.

The gods were mad, the ghosts were angry, death himself was miffed. The villagers were angry too but fear sat comfortably on their rage. Their village was suffering. Anytime sacrifices were made, something, someone mysteriously took them. But that was not the real cause of their anguish.

Shadows had ceased to follow their owners. Yes, the shadows had departed and the village suffered it. No matter how bright or dark it was, not one single shadow was visible. Not even death or the gods were spared. They were all left without shadows.

The shadows had escaped but no one knew why. The villagers found themselves helpless in this predicament. But why did the shadows leave? Where did they go? Will they ever come back? No one knew the answers to these questions except one man. That man is me.

This story I'm about to tell you happened a very long time ago. Yes, it is true what you heard. The shadows did leave their owners. But there is a reason. Things don't just happen, you know. That brings me to my story. Whoever you are, whatever you know, drop everything and focus. You just might lose yourself. And you have to open your mind.

You see, long long ago, in the land of Ifatedo, strange things happened. Don't get me wrong. These things were strangely fascinating and magnificent. The little village was the true picture of beauty and color. But that is not the crux of our story. We must learn why the shadows left.

Back then, shadows were living beings. They had emotions, they could feel, they could talk and yes, they lived with humans. Now let me put it this way; in those days, your shadow was like your twin. You could talk with your shadow the same way you would your next door neighbour.

As such, it was not uncommon to see shadows run errands for their owners. Light, wispy and almost insubstantial, shadows could lift weights far larger than them. By now, I suppose you have a picture in mind. Shadows were companions to humans. If you asked your shadow what time it was, you were sure to get an accurate answer. And because they were impervious, shadows acted as shields to their owners.

Ifatedo was a very happy place where shadows related freely with humans. They even had their own association. Unbelievable, you say? You had better turn a believer and keep your mind open.

Now, you cannot have everything rosy at all times. Things began to go wrong in Ifatedo. Humans began to maltreat their shadows. It became normal for shadows to be insulted and trod upon.

The shadows became uncomfortable with the treatment. They were no longer taken to meetings, crumbs began their lot and they were no longer privy to human secrets. This prompted the shadows to demand a meeting with the king and elders of the land.

On the day of the meeting, the king and elders arrived first. They waited an hour before the shadows eventually arrived. Surprisingly, the shadows of Sango, Ifa, Oya and the rest were around. Technically, you may think gods don't have shadows. But this is my story, so I get to tell you that back then, gods had shadows.

Anyway, back to my story. After the exchange of pleasantries, both parties settled down to business. Ojijinla, the leader of the shadows stood up and addressed everyone.

“Your highness, and elders of the land, thank you for granting us audience. However, we will not apologize for coming late. We have suffered similar fate at your hands. We have observed the recent change in your attitude towards us. Even you, Kabiesi, you are guilty of this. But that is not why we are here. We have our demands.”

He paused and looked around. His fellow shadows were nodding in agreement.

“Kabiesi,” he continued, “we demand to have equal rights with humans. We want a place in the kingdom. Make us chiefs, make us kingmakers. We want to be a part of every decision you make. We are done playing second fiddle. We have other demands but you must meet these ones first.”

What happened next surprised the shadows.

The king stood up and bellowed, “Over my dead body will such demands be met. You and your fellows will go back and remain what you have always been: mere shadows!''

With that, the king and elders walked out of the hall.

The leader of the shadows turned to the rest and told them to follow the king's instructions with caution. The seed of discord had been planted and the shadows now despised humans too. Sooner or later, trouble was bound to come. Well, things went on fine for some time. There was harmony, or so we thought.

That was until Faponle, the village town crier killed his shadow after a disagreement.

But that, my friends, is a story for another day.







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