PRIESTESS OF KEBRA.
Dembe was talking with Brami by the fountain two days to the main day.
“I need your help, please don’t deny me this great favor”
Dembe said, pleading Brami. The woman had a worried face because she doesn’t know what Dembe was about to ask of her.
“Brami, I’m not allowed to go out of the compound until the sacrifice and my coronation is over. I need a harmless sleeping medicine. I don’t even have an idea where it can be gotten. Please a mild and harmless medicine… can you get it for me before the day runs to an end?
“I can Dembe, is sold in the physician market. But what do you need it for?
“Don’t ask any questions please Brami and don’t let anyone to know about it. I trust you and that was why I came to you. Is between us and you are not getting into any trouble…. I will make sure of that. Let all trouble come to me instead. I will be expecting it before night fall.
Brami nodded. As Dembe turned to leave the woman called him back.
“Dembe, I have not gotten the opportunity to tell you how worried I am concerning you. You are mostly sitting all by yourself by that fountain and sometimes I
Dembe nodded to Brami’s words before walking away.
That same evening Brami got what Dembe requested and showed him how it can be used.
The following day, preparation was ongoing.
That night while Aprin was out worshiping with her mother at the temple.
Dembe was left with the baby who woke up immediately Aprin left.
Dembe carried her in his arms. The baby was shaking as if she knew what was before her.
She cling to Dembe’s cloth.
“Hey… little one. You are so fragile and cold. Don’t be afraid beautiful one. Despite the circvmstances behind your conception you still belong to God. And God loves little children, he alone will protect you because my strength is limited. Whatever his plans is for you it will come to past. Don’t be afraid…
The baby whimpers, she made some strange noise as if she was trying to communicate to Dembe.
Dembe cuddled her up in his arm, the baby held tightly to
After sometime she slept off and he laid her back to the bed.
The day came and Sheila and Bash were the first to gather at the temple. They looked forward to watching Dembe and Aprin present their infant as a sacrifice to the gods.
Aprin appears weak, she has not fully recovered from the birth of her daughter and also loosing her so soon.
Her eagerness was to witness the final day that the gods will accept the great offering.
Before Aprin took the baby that morning, Dembe carried the baby in his arms.
He quickly put two drop of the sleeping medicine into the baby’s mouth when nobody was watching.
The child fell into a deep sleep.
“It will be better for you not to hear or see whatever that will go on today. You won’t feel any pain or see faces of those who want to take your life. I’m sorry I have to do this beautiful one. But is for the best… for me, for you and for the womb that bore you…
Dembe returned her back to the bed as he heard Aprin’s footsteps.
Aprin had changed into her priestess wears.
She went to the bed and carried her daughter, wrapped her up with a shaw.
“You look so cold and quiet. Are you alright?
Dembe asked Aprin.
“Hmmm…I don’t know anymore. I have looked forward to this day, it has felt so good carrying a seed for the gods. I almost gave up the ghost during her birth but whatever you did within those frightening period of my life…it revived me and I was able to bring her fort but right now Dembe, I wish I can keep her. She is too precious and so innocent…take a look at her. She sleeps so peacefully. She was not given a name or enough time to nurse in my arms. Hmmm! May the gods forgive me for my selfish thought. Our little one is the daughter of the gods… she doesn’t belong with us and I have no right to question her fate. Today… you will be given the previledge of sacrificing her. Please be bold and strong in doing that. I know it will be hard but is her destiny and your right as her father to her. The gods will bless us with another child and we won’t worry or remember this one anymore”…
There was a knock on the door.
Phatsy came to inform them that the priestess and every other person was waiting for them to bring the child.
Everything was set and everyone is ready.
Aprin carried her daughter and rose, Dembe matched out beside her.
His heart was calm, he was not troubled. He felt a warm presence enveloping him.
As they arrived, Sheila was seen standing beside her mother in her priestess attire, Bash too was there. They were smiling as they looked from Dembe who was surprisingly calm and do not look worried, to Aprin who wore a straight face.
The drum was beating at one corner, incense was burning and it’s smell filled the hall.
Incantation was very loud, as the priestess kept shouting different strange words with her hands spread wide.
Different sizes of knife can be seen on a table. feathers and local pots which holds blood of some strange animals were close to the shrine.
Different images and sizes of hand made idols was placed on every corner. Different terrifying drawing was seen on the walls of the temple.
The priestess came over to the baby, she waved a strange broom over her head many times while chanting strange song.
She did many other things over the baby who remain still.
While she was doing that, Dembe went into prayer in his mind. This time his mouth did not move and no word was hard but deep within him he kept besieging God to intervene.
“Something strange is happening which I don’t understand. It feels like there is a strange powerful presence in our means. But not withstanding, the sacrifice must go on. Let the father of the child carry the baby to the altar, pick one of those knives lying on the table and struck her twice. I will tell you what next to do after that.
Everywhere fell silent. Aprin turned and looked at Dembe, urging him to take the baby.
All eyes was on Dembe who stood less concerned.
The priestess repeated herself to Dembe’s hearing. Asking him to carry the child from Aprin’s arm and do what he was asked to do.
Dembe cleared his voice and said.
“I’m not the father of the baby. So…let the real father follow up with the instructions.
There was confusion immediately Dembe said that.
Even Sheila and Bash thought he was crazy by rejecting his own child.
They scoffed at him. Mocking him in their hearts.
The priestess asked Dembe to be mindful of what he says because he was in the presence of the gods.
“I don’t mean to be rude or stubborn in carrying out the task but if the gods can see clearly they should be able to know who the biological father of the child is. I tried to tell my wife, and also the priestess about it all but no one wants to listen to me or even believe me. How can the gods even accept a sacrifice of such a child? Bash is the real father and he should go ahead and do as you asked.
There was murmuring everywhere. Sheila opened her eyes in shock and Bash’s legs shakes in fear. He was confused.
Dembe was not done talking. He told everyone of what Sheila and Bash did to Aprin on the wedding night and he never laid with Aprin before the child was conceived.
It was a shocking realization that left many speechless.
Sheila tried to deny but her mother shut her up.
Aprin was shock. She broke down crying and quickly dropped the sleeping child on the ground before running out of the temple.
She didn’t want to have anything to do with the baby. She felt sad and betrayed as she rush out of the temple.
Bash bent his head in shame, Sheila bit her lips repeatedly at how their forgotten secret deed was exposed.
The priestess asked Bash to pick up the child from the ground since he is the father and present her to the gods.
Bash refused, Sheila supported him.
“I’m sorry priestess but I don’t want to have anything to do with that baby. I’m not married to Aprin, Sheila is my wife. We are neither the next priest or priestess of Kebra. I reject having anything to do with such a child. The gods may strike me dead if I dares it.
Sheila nodded in agreement to what Bash said.
As everyone rejected the baby, Dembe bent and carried the child into his arms.
In other to scare them further, he shakes the child gently but repeatedly in their presence but the baby did not move.
“I think the gods has finally stroke the baby dead. The baby is not moving again.
Dembe said with a mocking tone but pretending to be scared.
Fear gripped everyone the moment he said the gods has killed the baby.
Dembe shakes the baby again in their presence to confirm what he was saying and they were all convinced that the baby was dead.
“Take her away from here, go and throw her off into the river by the hill or dig a hole and bury her quickly because she is an abomination to the gods. I don’t care if she is dead or alive… get her far away from here… right now.
The priestess screamed angrily.
Dembe took a step closer to Bash to hand the child to him but he flee from the temple and Sheila followed.
Nobody wanted to get close to the baby again.
Dembe smile within himself.
His plans were working perfectly well.
The priestess shouted at him to go and throw the dead baby away since nobody wants to do it.
He took a shaw and wrapped the baby up.
He ran as his legs could carry him, he dodged passing through the main road where he could easily be identify. Instead he followed the apian way and kept running.
The baby’s temperature was still warm in his arms, he held the innocent child to his body and kept running until he came out to the lone road.
He has a place in mind and was very sure that is the only safe place for the child.
He got the door of the house and knocked.
The woman opened the door and was shocked to see him breathing so hard and carrying a bundle.
Dembe heard a familiar voice reading the book of proverbs out loud.
It was Lydia, he did not expect to see her but felt so relieved hearing her voice again.
Lydia was shock to see him, she couldn’t hide her Joy to know that he was alright.
Dembe handed the child over to the tent makers wife.
“I don’t know where else to take her to. She was meant to be sacrificed to the pagan gods but it turned out that she wasn’t the right sacrifice. Everyone rejected her, I was asked to go and bury her because to them she is an abomination but to God she is a precious seed. She is not dead…only asleep. Deep sleep due to what I gave her. I know she will wake up soon. I Just needed to do whatever I have to do Just to save her Life. Please can you keep her and nurse her like your own. Nobody will come looking for her. give her a name because she has none. Treat her like a child from your womb….please!
The tent maker’s wife had tears running down from her eyes as she held onto the baby. She didn’t want let go of her again.
Emotions welled up at her husband’s heart as he watch his wife looking down on the sleeping baby.
He was speechless and could only asked God’s will to be done in their lives including that of the baby.
As they were together, the baby began to move, she sneezed twice before waking up.
She suckles the shaw that she was wrapped in which shows that she was hungry.
She began to fuss and whimpers.
the tent maker ran off to buy some milk for the child and he returned so fast.
Lydia helped in mixing the milk into a cup with warm water before handing it over to the tent maker’s wife who gently fed the baby.
she couldn’t stop admiring the precious little one as she feeds.
Everyone had tears, looking down on the beautiful baby girl that could have been sacrificed.
Dembe was filled with smile as he stood watching in silent.
He doesn’t care much about whatever comes next after now.
His heart was filled with gratitude to God who uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
As the night approach, Dembe decided to take his leave.
The baby was fed and the tent maker’s wife gave her a warm soft bath.
Dembe knew that she was loved and will be well taken care of.
“I had my worries that you will forget all the teaching and all that you have learnt while you are with us. You were married to the priestess family who gave you freedom, you owe them royalty and submission and the plan of becoming the next priest of Kebra had everyone of us worried but we never stopped praying for you. You just cleared our doubt and fear with this single act of yours. You are a great vessel unto God. God will use you to do wonders. I rejoice with the host of angels over your undeniable faith…
Jon, the tent maker spoke with Dembe as he was about to take his leave.
They all held hands in cycle and prayed together.
They prayed for Dembe. He was right in the middle of war with the priestess household and without God’s intervention he may not make it to the end.
Psalms was read, hymns were sang and faiths was renewed. Their voices went up, chorusing together in unison.
Dembe has miss the fellowship of believers, he was happy to be in their means again.
Jon’s wife was filled with thanks. She couldn’t hide her Joy.
Lydia walked with Dembe as he was leaving.
There was silent at first as they matched down together.
Lydia broke the silent.
“Nothing gives me Joy than to see that you are alright and still holding on to your faith. I know you weren’t given a choice to choose who to marry and many other things but God has plans for our lives. Things may not go as we desires it and expectations maybe cut short but whatever is put in God’s custody remains safe. for his ways are higher than ours so also is his plans. I never stopped praying for you Dembe. I hope your wife, Lady Aprin comes to know the true God of heaven and earth and with hope many will be saved through you…
As they were about to enter different route that will lead them home.
Dembe took Lydia’s hand into his.
He was thankful for the darkness”>darkness that shed them from passeby.
“Thank you Lydia. I deeply appreciate your friendship. We had dreams, wishes… which we looked forward to but life played a different trick on us. I had regrets and I still wish for many things but with no doubts I have become a married man now. lady Aprin and the entire priestess household needs me. I’m glad you understand this but we will always be friends and I will also be praying for you. When you finally have your freedom, I pray that any man you settles with will be pleasing unto God and unto you. Even if we don’t meet again I will be at peace knowing well that you are alright wherever you are. I will have to run ahead now… God will always be with you.
“And also with you Dembe.
Lydia replied, releasing Dembe’s hand.
They both departed.
When Dembe got to the house, he washed off himself in the outside bath.
Everwhere was dark and quiet except for few male servant on guard and the oil lamps stationed in every corner.
He went to the chamber, Aprin was lying quietly on the bed.
Dembe knew that she was not sleeping but decided not to disturb her.
He didn’t even move close to her, he rested on the couch till the day break.
The following morning, even after the morning sun was up Aprin was still in bed.
She began to sob quietly. Dembe stood and went to comfort her.
She angrily got up and slapped him.
“Don’t you dare touch me with those filthy hands of yours. I don’t want to be reminded of such an abominable child. All the while I thought I was carrying a seed for the gods unknown to me that she was a curse. You knew about it…
“My lady, I tried talking to you but you shut me off. You won’t have to see her again because is all settled.
“, You should have tried harder to convince me. Dembe you should have tried until I start seeing the truth in your words. If I knew earlier that she was a spoilt seed I could have aborted her. I would have flush her out of my womb. She wouldn’t have lived to see the sun set. I hate myself and everyone for all this predicament that has befallen me. I’m glad the gods struck her dead and despite she has being buried and will rot away in the cold ground I still can’t forgive myself for bringing fort such a detestable child, a forbidden soul to the gods.
Dembe felt a pang of anger crowding his heart.
How can a mother say such ill things over the child she carried in her womb and bore?
The love of fetishism has blinded them so much. Anything that is not pleasing to their gods becomes an abomination.
All he could say to avoid further hurtful speech from Aprin was
“, I’m sorry my lady… sorry for everything.
Aprin was not done ranting out her anger.
“Sheila came begging but I hate her and I don’t want to set my eyes on her. I can’t believe she will do such to me just because of the hatred she has for you or whatever her reasons may be. Mother asked her and her useless husband to leave. I guess they are both gone. I can’t believe Sheila will do such thing to me. It was unthinkable…oh by the gods. Is unforgivable…
Dembe remained quiet as Aprin kept talking angrily.
She went on with her anger for a week and then follow up by another week.
Her mother tries to comfort her but she wasn’t comforted.
Sheila returned to plead but Aprin refused to see her.
Three months moved past with speed yet Aprin remained bitter and every little thing pissed her off.
The priestess spoke with Dembe one day.
“You are not trying hard enough concerning your wife. Aprin needs your comfort and love. She is still resentful and sad. The gods were angry over the cursed sacrifice that was presented to them. That was why they quickly struck that child dead and they could have destroy more lives if not that I pleaded on my children’s behalf. You are the reason Sheila and Bash did such evil thing. They tried to spite you and end up hurting Aprin and almost invoke the wrath of the gods upon this household. There is no justification for such an evil act…I sent them packing. She remain my daughter but I will never close my eyes to anything that stand on the way of the gods. Your coronation is yet to be done, the real sacrifice is yet to be made. Alot of things are still pending. Is a dangerous delay and we need to do everything we can to appease the gods with the rightful sacrifice. Dembe, you needs to take your role as a priest serious. Don’t joke with the things of the gods… remember you owe Aprin whole lot for choosing you and thereby taking you from slavery to free man. For the rest of your life you are dedicated to this household and to the temple of the gods and goddesses of Kebra. Do you understand…?
Dembe nodded obediently before he was dismissed.
He needed to be shrewd as a serpents and innocent as a dove.
Dembe knew within him that he will never submit his body to be marked with blade for whatever purpose.
He did not stop praying alone at night by the fountain.
It makes him feel at peace and he imagined worshiping with other believers.
He feels God’s presence as he observe his quiet time by the fountain.
One night, Dembe was comforting Aprin, while they cuddled up in each others arms, Aprin poured out her pain, while Dembe listened silently.
Dembe’s feeling for Aprin began to grow.
He later got Aprin in with a child.
Aprin became pregnant for Dembe.
When she announced it to him, his joy was mixed with fear.
Is exactly what the priestess has been waiting for, using another child to remedy the first but to him that will never happen again.
Nobody will use his seed or any infant as a sacrifice. He will rather present himself rather than allow such a barbaric act to take place.
Aprin felt that the gods has comforted them with the rightful seed.
She began to smile again because she knew that it was Dembe’s seed that she carried this time.
Aprin finally forgive Sheila, who stylishly started trying to get close again.
Sheila still resent Dembe and Aprin but she tried not to make it obvious.
She was planning of finding her way back to the house with Bash.
She has not been able to get pregnant for Bash and was very bitter and jealous when Aprin announced that she was carrying another child.
She rejoiced with her but despised her in her heart.
Her Joy again was that the child that Aprin carried will not live. The baby will be used to replaced the evil one that the gods struck dead.
That night while Dembe sat by the fountain to think of the pending danger ahead, he thought of the tent maker and their child who must be fairing so well.
He prayed for God’s divine intervention again that neither him or his child’s blood will be spilled on the altar of the idols.
As he was there, Sheila who had decided to spend the weekend before returning to her husband’s place walked passed him.
She made a long sigh immediately she saw Dembe by the fountain.
Sheila threw spit on the ground, close to where Dembe sat before cat walking away.
Dembe paid no attention to Sheila’s ill attitude.
He got up and went inside to be with his wife.