THE DAY WIZARDS MET — SHOPADE. (Written for Art Republic.)

When the men from the heavens hover above grass, the city is in flames. The stench of decay reaches the towns square. There is faint wailing from a distance. Ready graves for small sized bodies dug at convenient depth. The sons of this city have surrendered their lives to the one who wishes to defile holy pedestals where priests stood and burnt goats. The inheritors have raced to that place where no pain can reach them. The leader had lay with his wife — there is a swell in her belly, she is gracious as ever. This one must live, he must resume the lineage.

A woman is in labour, the rain is coming in sheets and cleaning the trees, she conceives, there is applause, there is immediate caution. He is massaged with bile, there is a priest to conduct it. He is swaddled in palm leaves and is moved to a clandestine location beneath sea. Later, when the heavens had calmed and the skies heaved, wizards assembled and conversed in a language that no one had ever heard, so that the enemy trembled. They will keep the child alive they say. They will place him in a basket of raffia, conceal him with magic, sail him across the river to a distant shore where he will alight the carriage, wash himself in the stream and demand to speak to the leader of the closest village. The wizards disperse.

The next day when the village is still veiled by a thick blanket of mist, palely lighted and radiating nothing, the conjurers place him in a basket and sail him across the stream, the basket floats as if controlled by another force — his parents watch as the basket camouflages into the haze, catching the last full glimpse of their son.

And when colours of the sky have closed in, and good news reaches the village, there is merriment, dancing in the streets, they feast on the flesh of unclean animals and drink wine. Their son has gone and conquered lands, married beautiful wives. Their proud identity persists. Engraved on the flesh of his arm arm — the name: Shopade — its meaning carved into the wood of Sango’s bust, reminiscent of the day wizards assembled to ferry the boy across the belly of the deep.

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