Five young men stood in the clearing, each bloodshot eye marked by a white chalk ring, an unending circle of love.

As they swayed to blood rousing beats from a fusion of flute, drum and fiddle, their black loin wrappers shimmered under the blinding sun.

Shaved heads tilted back, chiseled muscles vibrated as their hoarse voices rose in a collective roar.

“Please, have you seen our sister? She’s the first fruit of our mother’s womb. Pray tell, for we must know if you have seen the one whose ringing laughter filled our father’s home.”

Heavy silence from those watching threatened to suck up the air.

“We have not seen her,” they cried. “Not since the day she left our mother’s bosom, waving as she held on to her new husband’s hand for a journey of no return.”

Faces contorted, their twirls and stomps sent up showers of fine red sand. “Who knew giving out a daughter was such a dangerous thing to do?”

Covered with sand grains, the swaying crowd shook heads as tears ran down their faces.

“Did you ever see our sister in that faraway land?” Their roar asked. “Was she happy? Did she talk about us? Despite the time and space, we never forgot about her.”

Stilled by the lone wail of the oja flute, the young men held out upturned palms. “They told us the earth opened and swallowed her. No one said the hands of her husband pushed her into the hole.”

“Our eyes are heavy because we have not seen our sister. And the fresh grave yawning before us says we shall see her no more.”

Yejide Kilanko © 2014

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