Nkem And The Three Spirits

Kat Smith

I was passing by the village square and saw a young woman looking so tattered. Her hair was so rough and had tangles in it that couldn't be removed for days even if you tried. Her skin was dry due to the scorching sun and I was wondering why she was dancing and crying at the same time while surrounding a particular red tent.

I was shocked at how everyone continued with their daily life without wondering why this woman was crying and dancing around the tent. I approached the tent because I couldn't bear her tears and I decided to ask her what was wrong.

"Excuse me ma, I couldn't help but wonder what must have been the reason for your tears. It pains me to see you this way and i was wondering if I could help in anyway to stop you from crying"

The young lady just glanced at me, shook her head, and continued crying while dancing at the same time. It really intrigued me and I decided to find out what was wrong. I went home with the intention of coming back tomorrow to try to talk to her.

On the next day, I saw small children surrounding the woman and singing around her. She cried the most but she never stopped dancing.

"Nkem wanted to dance to the music of the spirits, Nkem has danced with the spirits, Nkem has learnt her lessons, Nkem is in sorrows. Nkem o, the best dancer of our time"

The children sang this particular lyric and danced around her. I soon realized that her name might be Nkem. Indeed I may be right, maybe her story is more than it looked. I chased the children away with the intention of starting a conversation with the lady who I now know as Nkem.

"What is your story?How can I help you and free you from these shackles of sorrow?"

For a minute, I saw hope in her eyes when she glanced at me but when she looked back at the tent, it was as if those hopes were shattered and she immediately continued dancing and ignored me completely.

I did not give up though, the next day, I came again and approached her because I was determined to stop her from crying and talk to me about her problems.

"Can you at least stop crying?That would ease me a little" I tried convincing her.

She looked at me again and I expected her to ignore me as usual and continue with crying and dancing but surprisingly, she spoke. Her voice sounded so crocky and as if she hadn't had anything to drink or eat for days.

"You are very persistent Ijeoma."

I was so shocked and wondered how she knew my name but before I could say those thoughts of mine, she laughed and I was taken aback due to her laughter.

"Tears are so powerful as they send out messages of overwhelming grief. It lets out so many emotions at once and expresses power, stress, pain and agony which one's mouth cannot speak about and even when you try to speak and explain, you find yourself not knowing how to because that grief has eaten into you and you don't know how to express yourself."

I really felt her pain as she spoke and I had to ask her what had happened to her to make her so pained.

She explained to me how she was a normal villager and wanted to pursue her dreams of becoming a dancer. That was all she ever wanted to become and she could go at any length to get it. She learned different types of dance steps and despite discouragements from her parents and relatives, she always turned deaf ears.

Then on a particular day, she learnt a particular type of dance steps. It was so unique that she was joyous. She quickly ran home to show her parents. On getting home, she danced her heart out and put so much efforts in making the dance perfect and when she looked at her parents reaction, it was painted with horror. She wondered why their reaction was such and asked them if they hadn't liked the dance only for her parents to warn her so desperately and they told her that the dance she learnt was the dance of the spirits and she should at all cost avoid it so that she wouldn't have any relationship with the spirits.

She felt her parents were trying to stop her from achieving her dreams and so she continued with the dance until a day where she danced it in the middle of the forest and three sprites appeared before her. She was cursed and she had to dance around the tent all her life worshiping them.

It was so sad hearing her life story and what had happened to her. Her parents were so sad and heartbroken as she was the only child but then again, her stubbornness had caused all these to happen.

Nkem explained all these to me while still dancing around the tent and her tears rolled down even more. I felt pity for her but then again, nothing could be done since her stubbornness had caused it all.

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