“Balinda, I have been waiting for you.”
But how could it be. It, she, she looked just like….
“Yes, Balinda. I, Chechwa, I am you.”
How? I must be hallucinating. This is madness.
“Enough with all the thoughts Belinda. You are here now, and today, in this moment where time has ceased to exist, here you shall make the choice that you have been craving all these years.”
I said nothing. Why waste words on someone who already knows my every thought.
“Many like you have traveled this path and many have lost their hearts. Many have seen the stars and others the heavens on earth but many have fallen to darkness and others to coldness.”
She looked younger than me but still me. Her skin bore no marks and her hair was grey but grey like the strength of God before the rains.
“You seek the path of Ismitta but what if I told you that that path leads to heartlessness. It leads to coldness. It leads to darkness.”
The air around her seemed to shimmer like gold. Chechwa, she was nothing like I thought it would be.
Ahead in the fog to the right, I saw an old woman. Her hair was black as coal and her skin had aged, ripe, like the berries in the julu (aged red wine) at home and her smile reminded me of a time when I was safe in woman’s arms. Her arms smelt like coconut and her smile kissed my palms.
“She hasn’t changed much has she……. Mama.”
Tears trembled on my lids as her smile took me back through the years of birth. Mama, it was her as beautiful as ever.
“…and there, look”
I turned to my left and there stood a tall old man, still full of age. The grey hair that knotted down his back and the beard that lay on his face, ah, papa. What is all this…
“You are confused. This is our life Balinda. We can go back to mama and papa. We can go back to Ayotunde…….”
…….and there in front of me, as clear as day, Ayotunde. The only man I ever loved. The only one who understood my cause. The only one to reach the highest form of spirituality with, Ayotunde…..
“We could go have it all. Live with the community we were born into Balinda, we could be part of all that. Remember the happiest were we when we were part of the group. Don’t you remember?”
I did remember.
In those years I had traveled, I made the decision to settle in a little village and there I met the most loving people ever. There I fell in love, I made friends that I could trust and I was accepted into a community. There I found love and if love was what Ismitta was about wasn’t I already there?
“Remember playing with the children as we sold vegetables from the farm.” She laughed
That was when I realized that at that moment in time, I wasn’t me. I was her. That is why she looked familiar.
At that time, I had lost all hope because I thought I would not be happy unless I took to the ways of this world.
Ayotunde himself said I would be back.
Was I weak?
No one knows what’s on the other side after all….
“Yes Balinda, no one knows what is on the other side. I mean, why would you want to be a part of the unknown? EH, TELL ME?”
The urgency in her voice shook through me and the and at that moment the darkness flashed through my mind. When the push and tag with following my heart and being one of the pack.
“Why would you want to go against the traditions and into a world where people can no longer fit into the fold? Why?”
….and with her final word as the final scene flashed in front of me, as the result in my soul took flight, the wind swept me off my feet and I felt free.
As she watched me get swept away and I watched her shed her face, I realized what the path was after all.