Creek Affairs is the love story of a young Ijaw girl named Tari who fell in love with a man at 6, only to realize years later that the man was not human but a deity, a deity in the water. How will she make it through? Find out.
If you are reading this, I am dead, already. In my next life, I hope to not repeat the mistakes I made in this life. I would still love to be a Proud Ijaw Woman and I would still want my Mother to be my Mother, though.
In my native tongue (Ijaw), Tari means Love. May you find the kind of Love that would not destroy you, especially my kind of creek affairs.
There I was playing Ludo with my friends when I heard Mother call for me. “Tari, Tari!!! Ama, bo, bo, bo! Bodeke!” Mother had this annoying attitude of calling me just when I was at the peak of my game. I was upset because I was just about winning Afagha (pronounced ‘Ah-fah-ha’) when Mother called. I wanted to keep playing but I knew Mother very well; if she came to me, I would end up with a broken arm, so, I quickly rushed off to her.
When I got to her, she sent me off to Aunty Bodisere’s (pronounced Bow-the-say-ray’s) house to deliver her share of the dried Kpanla (River fish) she (Mother) had made earlier on. Mother was a benevolent woman, you see. She had little, yet, she still gave.
On my way to Aunty Bodisere’s house, I saw someone. I saw him from a distance and there was this feeling of familiarity. He looked at me, flashed a smile, turned his back and walked quickly in the opposite direction of Aunty Bodisere’s house. I was torn between going on my errand and seeing for myself who the strange man was.
I stood by the bush path contemplating when I noticed the stranger stopped walking. He was standing. Waiting for me. Six years old, carefree and overly curious, I dashed after him.
I remembered Mother’s warnings of staying away from Strangers, so, I kept my distance. I kept peeking through the bushes while going after him. He eventually turned around when we got to the Riverside and then it dawned on me that I knew him. I ran towards him and gave him a big hug.
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I was six years old when I met Olotu (pronounced Oh-low-two); the man of my dreams. I was surprised to see him standing in front of me. I mean, this is the same man that frequented my dreams. He was always there. He asked me how I was doing and brought out the chocolates he bought for me. The Riverside was filled with a sparse amount of people. He sat me down on his thighs and we got talking. He told me he had been waiting for me for some time.
I asked him how he knew I would be going through that path and he said he was a Magician and could predict the future. I thought for a minute of Peretimi, my classmate, who claimed to know magic, too. We (My Classmates and I) all learned his stupid trick, eventually. I thought Olotu was trying to be smart like Peretimi.
“Show me magic”, I said to him whilst meeting his gaze. Immediately, Olotu waved his hands and sunflowers grew beneath my feet. I was amazed, thrilled, and happy because I had plans of showing my Magician friend off to my other friends. When I asked him how he got into my dreams, he said he used his powers to manipulate things.
I was wowed. I felt lucky having a Magician for a friend. I felt special because he chose me instead of the other children. I needed to learn Magic! I imagined myself doing different tricks in class, with my classmates all around me. With Magic, I need not do Homework anymore. I would have sweets and biscuits in abundance. “Teach me Magic”, I said to Olotu.
Olotu told me stories and lots of funny jokes. We spent much time together and I enjoyed his company so much I lost track of time. I wanted to be with him forever. I wished he could come home with me and be part of my Family.
I was so engrossed in Olotu that by the time I came to, it was too late. I was still holding the dried fishes and the sight of it brought me to the realization that I was dead meat (or dead fish?) Mother was going to kill me.
I burst into tears and Olotu tried to pacify me all to no avail. I knew Mother well and so I knew there was no escaping, there was no mercy, either. When I got home, I sneaked in through the back door. Just when I thought I was safe, I put on my lantern only to see Mother with a cane in hand. She hid properly and blended with the walls I never knew she was there. I believe she was a chameleon in her other life.
Before I could say ‘Mother’, she gave me a ‘tuah’ on my back! After beating me to her satisfaction, she asked me the million-dollar question — Where have you been? I could not tell her I was with the man in my dreams because I had sworn an oath of secrecy to Olotu. I was not to tell anybody about our meeting else he would not count me as his special friend, anymore. I did not want to risk losing the sweets and benefits being special brought along with it.
That night, I cried myself to sleep. In my dream, Olotu came to me and was all smiles. How could he? After all I had gone through? I gave him a dead stare and as expected, He apologized for the pain he caused me. With that, he opened his hands and the sight of edibles brought a grin to my face, instantly. He had a way of making me happy. He understood me. I hugged him excitedly. “I will fix this, Tari. l will fix everything, okay?”, he said. Without thinking, I replied “Okay.” I trusted him blindly.
My dream was cut short by a violent tap on my back; it was Mom. I was sad my wonderful dream was cut short. It was morning already. “Good morning, Mother”, I greeted, but, there was no response. “Why did you beat me?” Mother finally spoke. The question sent an instant shock through me. Looking closely at Mother, I was met with the biggest surprise. There were cane marks on her skin.
On one hand, I was happy I got vengeance and on the other hand, I was confused and scared. Mother called me a Witch and cussed me. She said really hurtful words to me even when I kept telling her I did nothing. I cried. For the first time, I wanted to tell Mother about Olotu, but, I could not. Even though I knew Olotu had something to do with it. I confronted Olotu about it, he did not deny doing it. Mother was all I had, I hated seeing her hurt. Even though I was happy at first, I felt sad to see Mother hurt.
Building a sturdy relationship with Olotu was not difficult. Olotu was truly a Magician. He told me he stayed on the other side of my town’s River. Olotu never seized to surprise me, and I enjoyed every bit. Getting a hold of Olotu was not difficult at all. Despite the fact he showed up in my dreams, I only had to call his name three times before leaving home and he would be waiting for me by the Riverside. Magic!
By the way, it was a twenty-minute walk from my home to the River. Whenever Mother sent me on an errand, it was always meeting time for Olotu and I. Soon, the closeness with other children decreased. All I always had in mind was meeting up with Olotu.
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