Adu woke up screaming after having one of his scary dreams. Cramped in the family hut were his father, mother and two younger sisters. His mother, Chidinma quickly rushed to get a bowl of cold water and a small towel to cool his temperature and clean the sweat off his body. She placed the cool towel on his forehead even as Adu continued to shake all over.
Chidinma's face was filled with concern as she conveyed her thoughts to Adu's father. "Kalu, I am worried. Is this how it was for you?"
"No, definitely not. Adu's recurring nightmares are not part of the spiritual rite to adulthood. At least we still have a week before Adu and his peers go through the change in the forbidden forest."
With tears in her eyes and Adu burning up with fever beside her, Chidinma besought her husband to allow Adu skip the rites. "Never! It has never been heard that the son of the Lion skipped the rites. Never, not in my lineage and it would not start with me. Woman, have you forgotten that I am one of the respected chiefs in this village? You want to bring eternal shame on my bloodline? We are a respected warrior tribe in this village. We don't back down from a challenge!" Kalu's deep voice boomed in the family hut.
Chidinma gazed at her son, "I am sorry, Husband. It was not my intention to anger you nor do I want to bring shame on our family but Adu can always join his peers next year."
"My answer is still No, Chidinma. First thing in the morning I will go to Eze, our spiritual head. I believe he will have a solution to this. It's 2am. Let's all get some rest before the day breaks. I believe by tomorrow this issue will be a thing of the past."
The cowries fell out of Eze's hands and dropped into the calabash rhythmically. Eze murmured some incantations and peered into the calabash with his watery glassy eyes. "Hmm....hmmm....I see," Eze whispered to himself then glanced at Kalu intensely and continued his incantations.
Suddenly, he stopped, stood up and broke into some sort of dance, twisting and turning. He stopped abruptly and shouted, "Kalu! Do you know what this means?" Kalu looked bewildered.
Eze continued talking, "Your son is not a broken or a disoriented boy as you may think. Do you really know why your lineage is called the Lion tribe?"
Kalu answered sharply with pride in his voice, chest pushed forward, "It is because of the bravery with which my ancestors dispatched our enemies in the Great Battle."
Whack!!! Eze slapped Kalu strongly across the face.
"You fool!!!" Eze frowned at Kalu. "Didn't other warrior tribes join in the Battle? Did they not all show bravery?! Hmmm...it seems the story has been watered down. Don't you know that your lineage was anointed by the gods and chosen to bear the mark of the Lion? The mark bestows the carrier with uncanny abilities of speed, strength, bravery and intelligence but the mark has ceased to occur in about a hundred years because it was corrupted and used for greedy purposes."
Kalu was amazed. "Hmm..I had never really heard about that part. So how does this concern Adu? He doesn't bear the mark and he is ready to undergo the rites of adulthood in the forbidden forest. But all he does is scream late at night and when asked he says he does not recollect his dreams."
Eze laughed,"You are such a novice! The last person that bore the mark had similar issues. It is after they undergo the rites that the mark will appear."
Kalu could not believe his ears. "Are you saying.....?"
"Yes!, Kalu! Adu has been anointed by the gods. All the screaming, burning fever and loss of memory is the beginning of the changes taking place within him and when he completes the rites, the transformation would have been complete. Make sure no one knows about this because the Darkness that quenched the light of the last Lion Warrior is still very much around. Speak of this to no one."
Kalu nodded, filled with pride. He thanked Eze and promised to keep the revelation a secret. Kalu couldn't be prouder of his son, Adu.