The Bracelet


1.0 — The speech

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Omalicha.

Come look.

I want to sell you the most extraordinary bracelet you’ve ever seen.

Actually I’ll offer you two bracelets, two for the price of one.

Have you ever been to Ogbunike? It is said that in the heart of that great forest lies the pillars that support the roof of the world. Man-eating gorillas stomp the earth and roam its caves and even leopards concede dominion of the forest.

The world’s biggest Iroko trees grow in those thick jungles and this bracelet is made from the heart of a giant. A real monster, selected from a verdant maze of beasts and monsters.

Look at the way it catches the light. Have you ever seen wood outshine metal and put gemstones to shame this way?

It is not ordinary, this lustre you see. Watch it gleam and transform from the mysterious grey of a guinea fowl’s breast to the shiny black of the chief priest’s goatskin.

You see, this impeccable wood was polished by the royal craftsmen of Awka.

They are metalworkers, tirelessly bent over sludge, transforming it into the King’s swords and accoutrements. They are the reason great Awka has never lost a war and this bracelet that will soon become yours bears their enchantment.

My sister has a bracelet just like this one. She has had it for decades. A wealthy man married her and you can be sure it adorned her wrist resplendent on the day he met her.

No gift from her husband has yet matched her favourite bracelet and the good man has tired from trying even though he’s a famous warrior.

Look closely at the object, do you see the grain? Do you see how its path is unpredictable instead of running in common straight lines?

Do you see?

Your present adornments don’t do justice to the true extent of your beauty, nwanyi oma.

There will never be another ornament quite like this one, let Ani bear me witness. This particular great tree was the last of its generation, leaving behind mere weaklings.

How I came to have this one is a tale for another day. Perhaps if you offered a good price, I might be tempted to share it.


2.0 — The woman

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[The woman was enthralled]


3.0 — The market

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The periodic market was a peddler’s dream, full of sun and vibrance. On this day, money would assuredly materialise from the riddles in the marketwoman’s wrapper.

A short while later, a beguiling little man would again halt with practised confidence at a different stall dealing in palm wine.

Okorobia mara nma. I want to sell to you the most extraordinary flute you’ve come across in your life….