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Showing posts with label The Milky Way. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Milky Way. Show all posts

Monday, September 7, 2015

SHORT STORY: Anansi, the African Spider

Anansi, the African Spider/ based on African mythology
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy

Majestically doming above them, the pitch-black, starry sky looked dignified. The sporadic African trees, though so low for having been stunned by the heat of the days’ blazing sun, looked like ghosts on guard to protect the jungle’s night from the worst animal of all; man, who kills for pleasure. A couple of jackals stood at a distance; their eyes’ shining not eclipsed by the glow of the camp fire. But they soon whinnied and departed. The people around the fire; Kumbo and his British friend were all ears listening to the story being narrated by wise Kawanga, the elder of the bushman tribe.

Thu’banu ─ Narrated wise Kawanga ─ was known among the celestial realm for his strength and wisdom which made God choose him to hold together the two halves of the cosmic calabash and also entrusted him with the key to the Treasury of Divine Wisdom where the Tablets of Destinies were kept. But one day, while muscular Thu’banu’s cylindrical body coiled tightly around the cosmic calabash lest its two halves fall apart and thus converged eternity of earth and heaven would be breached, Thu’banu said to Anansi,  whose legs were bending and unbending causing his furry chest to brush the floor, hence stirring celestial floor dust that floated and glittered in the endless space, “So, Anansi, you want me to reveal to you the secret knowledge of the universe” Anansi begged him, “Yes, Please. I’ll be in your debt for ever”. Thu’banu thought for a while and then said in a very stern voice, “But, I can’t, Anansi”. Anansi asked with a hint of impatience, “Why?”.  Thu’banu said, “Lest you lay it bare to the impure eye of the reckless” Anansi quickly promised, “I won’t divulge the secret to anybody. Trust me!” Thu’banu said, “I can’t risk evoking God’s fury”. Anansi said in a way that mad Thu’banu shouts emphasizing every syllable of his say by moving his tale faster in divine circles, “How would He know?” ─ “What! He is God, the One and the Supreme. Of course He will know. Nothing can be hidden from Him”. Known for his intelligence and trickery and for getting what he wanted, Anansi then said, pretending not to be interested in the subject anymore, “Oh, yes, that is right, sorry!”, and then to distract Thu’banu, he added, “What a beautiful body you have! Just keep it wrapped around the calabash and everything will be fine. Woof, I guess I have to go home to get some sleep”

Thu’banu smiled and Anansi turned around to leave, but hesitated for a while. Thu’banu then asked him what the matter. Anansi turned back to face him and innocently and in a very casual tone of voice asked him, “Oh, haven’t I told you anything about the new girl, Hisser?”.
Thu’banu said, “No. You haven’t. Who is she?”. Anansi quickly said, “She is the new dancer in the celestial tavern. Oh, my friend, what a reptilian she is! Her looks, oh...ah…eh…ooh”, and then after a short period of hesitation, he added, “For Heavens sake, why am I telling you this? I should go”

Having spun the first string of his deceptive web, Anansi then pretended to leave. Thu’banu stopped him, desiring for more information. Anansi casually smiled and said, “Well, what to say but, oh, her eyes are gorgeous; her body is so tight and flawlessly round and her skin, oh, words will fall short of describing a glimpse of it.”. Anansi then had a teasing pause, but Thu’banu, who has already stepped beyond the borders of interest and became anchored in the land of curiosity, flecked his tongue nervously. Anansi knew that soon he would be able to drag Thu’banu into his lair, if he waited for the right moment. So enthusiastically he deceptively continued accentuating his words, “And when she dances, she wiggles and gyrates, twists and curls and undulates, heaves and falls and, oh, her feminine essence hits the clients and seeps through to mix with their drinks; to sweetly caress their taste buds, ah, you should see her when she dancingly intertwines with the clients on the floor, swaying them and letting them enjoy a journey of divine pleasure”

Thu’banu shouted, overcome by a ripple of slight muscular convulsion all over his cylindrical body, “Stop, Stop, Stop, my friend! You’re killing me” Anansi asked, pretending not to understand, “Am I? How?” Thu’banu agonized, “Don’t you know I can’t go to the tavern, I can’t leave my post” Anansi flatly, though pretending to be sorry, said after a short pause, “Ah, the universe, the calabash will collapse if you uncoil your body…but, but, I believe there is a way, after all. It has just hit me”.  Thu’banu, though he failed to conceal his eagerness, commanded, “What? Tell me!”

Stepping a couple of paces back, Anansi said, “No! Things may turn out ugly and I’ll be the one to blame and hang” Thu’banu said; his voice shaking, “I will never blame you, my friend” Anansi then said, “The solution is deceitfully simple. I wonder why you never thought of it” ─ “What is it? Stop torturing me!”, said Thu’banu impatiently hissing loudly, baring his teeth and flecking his tongue. Anansithen said in a calm tone of voice, “Well, I know, you can shed your skin on demand for as many times as you want. Can’t you?” - “Yes I can. So what!” said Thu’banu; his head hanging close to Anansi’s face. “You still can’t see it, can you?” said Anansi; his voice showing sympathy. impatiently Thu’banu said, “See what?”. Anansi solemnly said while scratching his spinnerets, “Ah, I understand why you can’t see it. My friend, your sense of responsibility is so strong and your diligence in carrying those responsibilities out is so unprecedented, thus and therefore your wise mental eyes can not see the solution though it is so obvious”. “I am totally lost. Please, what are you trying to say, Anansi?” said Thu’banu. “What am I trying to say?” Anansi whispered, “What I am trying to say is, if you shed as many as you can of this strong skin of yours and wrap it around the calabash, it will hold it together while you are away enjoying the company of HisserAnanis added. “Oh my God, why didn’t I think of this before?” hissed Thu’banu in astonishment, but Anansi quickly assured him, “My friend, the discharge of our duties can, sometimes, take us away from what we love, especially when such a discharge is so overwhelming”  Thu’banu confirmed, “You are absolutely right, my friend

In the celestial tavern Thu’banu and Anansi were sitting to the table closest to the dance floor. Thu’banu has already had a few glasses of wine, the best nectar around, and his tongue became slightly twisted. Amongst echoing cheers, Hisser, coming to the dance floor, caught sight of Thu’banu whose widely opened eyes were gazing at her. Hisser  took a few short steps towards him and then stopped... smiled and seductively retreated, and then her body started to move gently like plasma waves did in the cosmic ocean. She then rushed towards him and they both went back and forth feverishly on the floor while intertwined and then collapsed and rolled on the floor, then rose up to spin themselves on the tips of their tails. Everybody cheered feverishly, Anansi’s face illuminated with a broad smile expressive of the near fruition of his scheme, and thenwhispered to himself, “Either he tells me the secret knowledge, or I’ll steal the key of the Treasury of Wisdom and read the Tablets of Destiny

Before the celestial rooster cried announcing the advent of the celestial dawn, sleepy Thu’banu, dragging his massive coils on his way back, asked anansi if they could rest for a while on a nearby nebula. Anansi agreed. Thu’banu threw his massive coils all over the constellation unaware that he dropped the divine key of the Treasury of Wisdom. Anansi quickly hid the key under one of his spinnerets and crawled away; his destination the Treasury of Wisdom.

Thumbing through the Tablets of Destiny, Anansi heard a little screeching sound. He wondered what it was. A little while later, he heard the same sound again; weak at the beginning, but then it became louder. Anansi became curious and decided to find out for himself what was happening. So he went to put the tablet back on the shelf and just before he closed the record, his eyes caught sight of a few lines at the bottom of the page, “The tearing of Thu’banu’s shedding sounded like thunder. God and the whole celestial realm awoke and although the universe did not collapse, it was breached”

God was angry and decided to punish Thu’banu and Anansi. He threw Thu’banu along with a few suns and a handful of stars and planets into the gash caused by the breach. Thu’banu’s white fat melted and filled up the wound, hence it glued its two edges together. It took aeons for the wound to heal.

“So what you see right now up there in the sky is Thu’banu’s melted body. Thus, Thu’banu is still holding the universal calabash together, but from his death abode” said Kawanga, pointing to the sky, “As for Anansi, whose size was enormous and voice a thunder, God shrank him and kicked him out of heavens. Though shrunken, Anansi can still talk, but nobody can hear him. He is therefore abashed and hides himself from people and can only be seen in huts’ corners, trees’ branches and deserted places feeding on house flies, mosquitoes and other small insects”

Kawanga concluded his narration by looking at the sky for a while and then left as it was already beyond his sleeping time. The uncountable stars dotting the Milky Way that stretched across the canopy made it look like a healed wound in the fabric of the universe. 

A small smile crept on the lips of Kumbo’s friend and then slowly turned into a big one. Kungo then asked him, ““Why are you smiling? Did you like the myth?” Solemnly, his friend said, pointing to the Milky Way, “I am smiling because it really looks like one of those big scars sustained after a major surgery. Isn’t that right?”. Kumbo laughed and then laughed louder because he saw an Anansi shyly crawling by.

The End