MMUOMMIRI – ARINOLA OSOSANYA

“Uncle! Uncle Osinachi! Come and buy red pepper from me, na. The freshest wans avelebuh. You can’t find this type anywhere o” Daluchi, my wife’s fellow market-seller shouted. She said this to grab my attention and greet me as she often does when I come to the market to visit my beloved, Adaku.

I waved at Daluchi and walked on, smiling as my petite, beautiful wife came into view, sitting on a stool with her chickens clucking around her in the crowded Kiri Kiri market

Today, the market was exceptionally busy. It was as though the entire village decided to come and gossip about the recent on-goings.

Walking past Daluchi, I looked around and saw the usual hairdressers- gossip queens, who sat on plastic chairs in the shade of their brownish-yellow, worn-out umbrellas made from straw.

Of course, the familiar smell of a mixture of sweat, pepper, and body-odour danced into my nose, and took its place there, refusing to leave.

I smiled, as I subconsciously swatted a mosquito away from my face whilst approaching my wife.

“Di m mara mma, Kedụ? (My lovely husband, how are you?)” she smiled at me, standing up to give me a kiss. I noticed how her yellow face shimmered under the sunlight, beads of sweat endowing her forehead and hairline, like brave soldiers on a battlefront.

“ọ dị m n’obi, you look so tired. Sit down, ehn? Biko.(My darling, you look so tired. Please, sit down.)

“Osi, come.” She gestured for me to sit on the vacant stool next to her as she sat “Did you hear about the coup?”

My heart raced. I suddenly recalled hearing the news from my worn-out radio in the kitchen, this morning as I was drinking pap, getting ready to head to work.

“I did o. It’s terrible. Our people- we- are in danger.”

“It hasn’t even been up to seven years of our independence, and look at how we are destroying ourselves.” Adaku said, agony relishing in her voice.

“I know oo Ada, I know .” I said, rubbing her tense back “It’s terrible. I don’t even know what to say. What can we say or do? We can only carry on with our lives vigilantly because who knows? Our own blood might be shed next. Tufiakwa!”(God-forbid it) Ada, exclaimed !

After a moment of both of us getting lost in our thoughts, Adaku broke the silence

Osinachi, it’s getting late. We should start going home. Thank you for coming to see me as always, even though I don’t know why you can’t just wait until me I get home.” Adaku said playfully

She always teased me about how deeply lovestruck I was by her, I couldn’t last a whole twenty-four hours without seeing her…and it was true.

Although Ada and I had been married for almost three years now, it still feels like a new adventure, waking up with a queen next to me every day.

The crowd in the market began to dwindle. Marketers and their customers who could bargain for their lives, trickling out with Ada and I.

“Sorry.” A soft voice said, as I looked up into a strange sea of blue. I had bumped into a woman with a scarf wrapped around her head and beauty spots scarcely spread around her attractive face.

A Hausa woman.

Hausa woman? There were barely any Hausa people around this area.

“Sorry.” She said again, her voice melting in my ears as though she were stirring a pot ofofe nasala soup, preparing to dish it out on a plate, just for me

But it didn’t stop there, she began singing a song in Hausa under her breadth, loud enough for just me to hear it.

“Nwoke nke nējeghari nime miri gāhu uzọ-ya” (The man who walks in the waters will find his way to her)

My head clouded in that brief moment, and she got to me.

“Osinachi?”

“Osinachi?” Ada began to shake me

“Is everything okay?” She asked, obviously worried and puzzled.

“Ehn?” I asked, dazzled by the encounter

“Yes…Yes…” I said, turning to face her poor, confused face.

I turned around to apologise to the woman for bumping into her, but she was nowhere to be found.

**********************

I heard the door knocking. My usual visitor had arrived.

Oh, I sensed his eagerness all the way from here, in my bedroom.

“Coming!”

I opened the door, which revealed his handsome face, yellow like my finest jewels that adorn my Home.

His handsome face, which I met circa* a month ago as he was leaving Kiri Kiri market with his flimsy wife.

Once he looked into my eyes, I saw all his potential- what he could be, such a faithful servant- and I knew he was The One.

Immediately he saw me, he kissed me passionately and I knew that tonight was the night he needed to know. He deserved it. He had worked for it, visiting me every night since the marketplace after my charm literally soaked through his soul.

All that was left is for him to follow me so that I could feast.

“The usual place?” He asked, his deep voice resonating in my bare, empty, comfortable home.

I nodded, and we went hand-in-hand.

My house was by the glistening sea, not unintentionally, of course.

“Mmmmm” I inhaled, the ocean air entering my nostrils in the dark night. Everywhere was pitch black and deserted.

I chose to live in this area because nobody wants someone like me around. Nobody wants us around.

Smiling, I felt the power coursing through my veins. Just being by the ocean made me feel like I am on top of the world.

The mere sensation of the sand grains between my toes, and the rush of the tide as it dies on the shore, filled me with a familiar power.

“Come here.” I said, my voice taking on its irresistible tone, which Osinachi, like a dog, must obey.

He came and began to do the usual, laying me down on the bare sand, and unbuckling his trousers.

I felt the power coursing through me, but this was different.

This time the strength within me was unimaginable, and I began.

I began to transform into my true self, aglow.

It was painless, but powerful.

First, my chest began to bare itself of unworthy earthly clothing, and my kinky, dark hair, which was tied in knots, set itself free.

My brown, bare chest was aglow, and my legs- well…

My legs were no longer those earthly excuses for legs. They were an elegant, dignified, purposeful tail aligned with my scales which even the finest tilapia fish cannot contest against.

My chest and arms were embroidered slightly with dark, ocean-blue scales, but my tail was overflowing with my green and blue scales, glistening in the moonlight.

My persona, the snake bestowed to me by the gods themselves, broke out of a part of my tail, and elegantly, lovingly wrapped itself around me, with an intimacy I had missed.

The purpose for my stay here on earth had been fulfilled.

Finally!

I have found a potential feast- or partner- depending on how he chooses to corporate.

Oh yes, I forgot about him.

Finally, out of my trance, which resulted from my transformation, I looked up at Osi, gauging his reaction.

“M-m-mami wata*…. Mmuommiri*…” he whispered, shocked.

He was paralysed. My eyes had paralysed him so he has no choice but to stay.

But although he must stay, his face expressed a blend of intrigue, intoxication and of course, fear.

The snake tightened itself around me.

It wanted to go home. So did I.

I began to sing, my voice supernaturally echoing throughout the beach as I got into his head.

“Mutumin da yake tafiya cikin ruwa zai sami hanyarsa”

(The man who walks in the waters will find his way to her)

“Kuma kamar yadda yake tafiya sai ya fāɗi daga ƙasa”

(And as he walks, he will fall away from earth)

“Amma dole ne ya zabi idan ya mutu ko yayi aiki”

(But he must choose whether to die or to serve)

“Ko ta yaya, zan sami abin da na cancanci”

(Either way, I will get what I deserve)

Slowly, he got up from the sand, his trousers still half buckled, disheveled excuse for a husband, and took my outstretched hand lined with scales, as I led him Home.

Singing, I led him into the waters:

“Mutumin da yake tafiya cikin ruwa zai sami hanyarsa”

(The man who walks in the waters will find his way to her)

“Kuma kamar yadda yake tafiya sai ya fāɗi daga ƙasa”

(And as he walks, he will fall away from earth)

“Amma dole ne ya zabi idan ya mutu ko yayi aiki”

(But he must choose whether to die or to serve)

“Ko ta yaya, zan sami abin da na cancanci”

(Either way, I will get what I deserve)

As we slowly tread the endless chasm of deep blue, the waters swaying between our feet, until our feet are no longer visible.

Then our waists.

Then our heads.

Then we were so far gone, that one would never know that Osi had gone off with I, Fa’izah, THE mmuommiri.

 

 

*Fa’izah is a Hausa name which means victorious

*Mmuommiri is the Igbo word for mermaid

*Mami-wata is the pidgin word for mermaid

*circa means about or approximately

 

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