A Cry of Deviance by Olajuwon Joseph Olumide

A Cry of Deviance by Olajuwon Joseph Olumide


A Cry of Deviance is a story that preoccupies a prophetic revolution that is to finally erode the ancient stronghold, barbaric custom demands of the fiery capricious god of Ilukoyenikan called Ajakaje. This revolution is evoked through the deviant cry unto a strange spiritual force, innocently, but premeditatedly carried out by the protagonist, Margaret, with a native name Segilola. The story climaxes with the relieving but terrific pictures of Ajakaye’s defeat overruling the tyrannous decades of hopelessness and helplessness. How does this happen? The story is laid to bare within pages about to be unfurled.

The language of the story is rich in imagery and poetic dexterity that can help students build their word power and creative ingenuity in expressive communication.



Chapter 1


A few strides stretched to the village square of Kajola stood a mango tree. Under its shade, the growing men, apon, played a game of Ayo. It's a local game they often engaged in for relaxation before dusk finally wore night as skin, after leaving their farm works for the day. From a distance, one could hear the jesting laughter and chattering of the spectators and players waiting for their turn, hailing a winner, ota, and mocking the loser, ope.

“Ope must not utter any word when Ota is dictating.”

The breezes that roamed the seven villages of Ilukoyenikan and beyond seemed to lay it to rest around this sacred mango tree.

Ajadi was rarely seen these days amidst his friends under that tree. The sunshine of his world had been turned into outer darkness. That had been for 2 months now. It was Ayandare, his bosom friend, that had now dragged him to the cheerful venue – perhaps, that could heal him of his trouble. Ajadi knew hiding away from the world with his misery in his cubicle would save him of any further trouble. If not completely true, it would resist him, at least, from setting his eyes on his joy snatched away. He had prior been seeing her but he could not lay claim on his right again. It was beyond him.

After squinting his eyes, turning his neck at regular intervals, as if to see the expected one, the amusement of the Ayo players finally managed to get his hard-won attention. But the sweet relief soon dissolved into taste of sour pap. And finally, there she came – emerging from the innocent path that arrowed to Olugbo forest. It was obvious, she had gone to pluck some herbs which she held in her left hand; while her right hand was supporting the clay pot her goddess-like head conveyed. Setting eyes on her, one could have accosted figure of a goddess. It’s an undisputed fact that her physique corroborated her name, Bewaji. Her coiffure was adorned with cowries; her bottle neck with royal beads; her attire allowing her unclad belly button to enchant masculine eyes; beads accentuating her bulging hips; her straight legs in careful steps of jingling anklets...

The beauty suddenly loomed and instantly thrust dagger of apprehension into Ajadi’s awed heart. He didn’t want to go out in the first place. This was what he had been trying avoid. Mute! Tears welled down his pale face again – gaping! At that moment, the lively world of the Ayo game seemed to hang to a stillness of usurping languidness.

Eyes met eyes. Bewaji, though knew what her appearance had caused Ajadi, she feigned indifferent. This wasn't a new thing. This should be their sixth or seventh times of encounter. She had learned to feign unaffected, though something oft reacted in the abyss of her soul. All present at the scene watched agape, till she went out of their sights.

Chapter 2

The night was frigid, deep, and thick with darkness so that it could not be cut with a knife. He was outside his father's hut. His legs crossed; staring blandly at the explicit moon. He would not have been left in that solitary state at that unguarded hour. But that had been his usual night ritual which none could change since the unfortunate incident befell him.

The nocturnal sounds rising from the still ambience – the night crickets exchanging some elusive pleasantries in endless rambling – set a backdrop for his musing monologue which was gaining high fidelity in the ears of the night:

O king of love has sent my soul on errand, journeying with Bewaji was the task. But the path is this, inundated with flood of barrier.

Ajadi hissed.

Damn the greedy god! The message of this love-king is so keen in my enslaved heart. But this flood of merciless god is ready to drown me. Should I step my legs on this path of taboo with Bewaji?

The god, Ajakaye had spoken. It was final. Bewaji wasn't the first maid to be demanded for a wife. And perhaps, she wouldn't be the last. So Ajadi must man up just like other would-be grooms whose lovers had been confiscated by the fiery god! If Ajadi's juvenile heart had lived not to witness the history of Ilukoyenikan, at least he had grown up to hear the Aroba, which the elders say is the ancestor of all lore.

That is the belligerence nature of the gods of every land. He would have fought any man wanting to steal his woman but he had learned that the gods could not be questioned even when they used mortals’ lives to play kites. He remembered his grandfather recounted the tempest of the impulsive gods visit a land called Beyiose once upon a time. And it was Ajakaye that Ifa had to face the storm. What they did not know was that the gods must not be blamed for demanding a life human when they helped with a fowl to nurture.

That was still fresh in his memory when Pa Ogunjimi, the great raconteur that he was, plunged his mouth into that harrowing experience of those folks. His words wore a dramatically mournful tone while the listeners’ skins were gripped with their clothes. Who would hear of such story and not have goosebumps?

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Chapter 3

Pa Ogunjimi recounts of the tempest:

No seer could envisage its sacred dream to leave us with a warning premonition. Abruptly, the tempest stormed with pervading madness – so that chaos was let loose upon our ancestors’ land. Woe to the plowmen on their farmlands, that horrendous day. The sudden trickles of doleful blood diluting the face of sky, hovering above Beyiose land, was cryptic poetry that couldn’t have been decoded within that flash of time even by our old sages. Such long-awaited, a capricious visitor our hearts had held in oblivion... For we had no other choice, as our weary wills had to cuddle reality of regent drought.

In the villages, awed eyes beheld the ominous sky. The cloud grumbled, for its garment had turned despondent. As when the ignorant stale hearts were apprehended by the sun’s eclipse; discordant hubbub of wails usurped our once tranquil lips:

  – Ah! Hey! But we weren’t forewarned!!!?

Then, a few silvery scars lined up across the obscure sky.

 –Will it ever smile again or could these lightning streaks be fooling us?

Like a monster ready to engulf the bleak mortals, the dreary outer-darkness caged our hearts in the confinement of fear! Howling and dreadful clattering of thunder conjured a stronghold in our tamed minds.

As we witnessed turbulence of nature raging up there, then was the emergence of frigid wind, whirling – spinning round and round. It finally landed on earth, and ripped off our thatched roofs. Our festive attires hung outside were battered like bereaved kites, having taken a deviant soaring sojourn – dancing betwixt the heaven and the terrestrial. For a return, the tempest brought down relics, condemned by the crooked piercing claws of the winds. They are metaphorical to the terrible ravages done by the sudden tempest to our communities.

And while in this procession, after the storm’s dramatic episode, the nagging rains descended like a revival warrior to halt seven years of despotic regency of the drought which had turned our once marshy land to rock. But the torrent was still indeed a destructive blessing!

At this aftermath now – seven days gone – we then gathered at the village square. Bewildered! Unending questions begging for answers were being thrown at ourselves.

 –But we weren’t expecting it that way?

 –Could our incessant rituals halted lately be our misconduct?

 –Ogun lakaye, the god of metallic ore, maestro at war!

 –Olukoso, the god of thunder whose mouth pukes ferocious fire!

 –Obatala, the god of purity and creativity.

 –Esu odaara, ebora latopa, o sly demon that crawls in darkness to bemuse!

A lull of farting sighs took over for a minute...

 –These ancestors of ours cannot yet run the affairs of their scions (that we are), and allow our errant nagging necks to be gnarled.

 –Over to you, Ifa, god of divination, unravel unto us this enigma.

Chapter 4

Ajadi returned from the memory of the awful story he had heard his Grand Pa share on the gods’ hydra-headedness. He knew nothing could be done. He hissed and sighed countless times. His thoughts had become bleak like that every night.
But his thoughts tonight seemed to be transitioning toward a different direction. It was heading for a resolution path. He heaved a deep sigh again and continued with his monologue of thoughts:

But the damsel whom I want to kill myself for – seemed to have gotten over this. Could all those love rituals I made under the rain and the sun for Bewaji be said to have ended just like that? The night serenades I chanted, fueled by the gentle but mad rhythm of gangan throbbed by Ayandare... I mean all of that...? gone?

He concluded:

As my grandma, Mama Abefe, blessed memory, often reiterated it into my errant ears: ''A promising young man who summoned deviant courage to die because of one damsel, thousands of belles would catwalk over his grave.'' Now, I can relate to this. And this marks the end of it. Ajadi,

Speaking to himself

Jawo nbe! I give up on you Bewaji o!

Though for more of the time she spent inside Ajakaye's pantheon had metamorphosed Bewaji into a living goddess – divinity too got fatigued just like humans. She had been languishing in that sacred pantheon. Her beauty had faded into ashes of misery. She would soon die someday like her predecessors did in their so long a solitary state. Seeing her mates play with their hubbies and their children was a slow death. Bewaji would bless them at every festival celebrating god of Iwure. Days mounted on the back of older days and heaven was watching in silence how Bewaji's days too would end in Ajakaye's pantheon. Such a waste of beauty! Kajola was in peace at the expense of those damsels' sacrificed joy, Bewaji's inclusive.



Chapter 5.


A spinster sits in her rented apartment, cooling off after returning from a Sunday service. The room is fairly commodious. The pink window curtains are parted to welcome in fresh breeze since there's power outage. At this side of life, they hardly enjoy electricity. She should have been in the public kitchen – cooking something for herself, but today's service was exhaustive.

I should rest for at least 45 minutes before making for the kitchen. As she muses, the honks of cars of the city life filter in spasmodically. She has plunged into 15 minutes of the light rest when strange knocks begin to rape gently on her door. At first, she's not sure if the sound is actually banging on her very door.

Ko! Ko! Ko! It comes on her again.

But who could that be? She thinks.

Though the building harbors face-me-I-face-you rooms, the neighbors hardly engage Sister Margaret in mundane discussions. The private lifestyle she lives, bemuses most of the idle housewives. They only know little of her. She has just finished her NYSC service in the mega city, posted all the way from Eastern part of the federation. Most of these gossips had wished to ask why they have not seen any man with her. But such is a peaceable lady who only minds her business.

She's now at the door. She did trudge there. She draws aside the door-curtain so that she unlocks the door. She gasps in shock;

“Maami? Baami! Uncle Alani?”

Her family has come unannounced from her hometown, Kajola.

How did they get my city home address? They must have missed me that bad! 10 years is no joke.

But wait, the faces she meets at the door are quite pale. Are they unexcited to see their daughter at least doing good? What could be amiss? Perhaps they are angry with her for such so long an absence. She's lost in her conjectures.

“Segilola (that's Margaret's native name), you won't welcome your family in?”

Quickly jostled off her world of thoughts, she retorts:

“No maami! Please come in, it's your daughter's apartment.”

They are seated on the single 20 inches chair she was resting on before their arrival. She just made it with her last month salary. The chair, though not big, comforts her visitors who are just sitting on something speaking of little luxury for the first time in their lives. It is a big deal to them. But that still wouldn't change the paleness Margaret meets on their faces after getting herself a small wooden stool to sit. Instead of asking her initial intent's questions about Kajola, their moroseness changes her tongue:

---Uncle Alani, kilode? Why are your faces this sad?

---Hmmmm mmmm

---Eledua o!


Those are what they could mouth.

---Maami, talk to me now. You're all here in good health. Nobody has died. Is anything the matter?

After so much lull, it's Boda Alani that manages to summon courage to open up.

---The oral discourse that's supposed to crush crab in one's hand, that's now crushing a fish, there must be a deep reason for that.

Margret still looks bemused. Uncle Alani's words are still in parable.

---Uncle Alani, what's really the matter? Please, come out of it now.
She's getting impatient.

Uncle Alani squints his eyes towards the direction of Margaret's parents---her father being his elder brother---to be sure again if he should hit the nail on the head this time. And it is obvious they have no other choice than to. So, Uncle Alani converges his eyes on Margaret again with garnered determination to unveil the matter. Besides, we only fear who has sent us on an errand, not the person we will deliver the message to.

---Uncle Alani?
----Segilola, why must it be you?
---Me? What?
---Why must it be you? You of all persons! Whom we have convinced a million times when you were just growing into a damsel to stay back in Kajola and choose a man, and live happily there. But you chose strangers' city as your home.
---You've known my lifestyle Uncle Alani for long. So why raising it as an issue this time again?
---Look at this girl. Your infant mind knows not fetish herb, you're calling it vegetables. If it were urging you to come and marry a native of Kajola, would it not have been better?
---heen, Boda Alani, what's now at stake?

She asks as puzzles corrugate her impatient face.

---It's Ajakaye o, Orisa nla that shakes the foundation of Ilukoyenikan.
---Ajakaye? Uncle Alani, what about Ajakaye?
---Look at this girl. Even if you have been away from the village for long, know you not of the history of the seven villages that made up Ilukoyenikan and the fiery avatar's usual demand?

A short lull falls on their dialogue. Baba and Mama cadence the silence with sighs. Speechless. Uncle Alani continues:

---Kaasa! Ajakaye! Okunrin mesan. The fiery lion that storms the village square where the agile suitors are engaged in a tug of war for a belle. And at his appearance, all of them sprint into the bush. Not of effeminate minds, No! The one who has not been squarely faced by spiritual belligerence, calls himself a man.

Uncle Alani looks at Margaret, eyeball to eyeball. He's good at oration when issues like this arise.

---Years have sloughed off rags of decades. And Ajakaye continues to sight any family with a beautiful daughter in Kajola, Tanimola, Akoko, and other neighboring villages of Ilukoyenikan. And when the lion makes his demands, I am yet to see a talisman from the family of the groom that can drag with him. Who's that hunter who dares behold a lion's face with oil lamp in the forest of a thousand demons, in the depth of night?

---Tell me, Segilola, who? At Kajola now, the birds have lost sonorousness of their signature-tune. Even the squeaking of the rats died down their holes. Things are no longer the same. Just because Ajakaye needs a new wife. And Ifa has spoken. Segilola, it's you Ajakaye wants.

A loud wail bursts out from Mama Segilola. And Baba tries to control her.

---Me? Ajakaye. Me?

Uncle Alani nods.

---Look at your mother, except she weeps blood again. We know, you that hardly stay a minute at home, how can you be dedicated to an idol? To spend all your lifetime in Ajakaye's pantheon?

Many beautiful damsels' sepulchres are there at home as witness, Ewatomi's, Awelewa's, Bewaji's... That's why people hardly name their daughters after beauty again. Though Segilola is not named Ewa something, her beauty is still noticed. A child looks beautiful in Ilukoyenikan, it becomes a hydra-headed issue.

Margaret's face is now deep, unpredictable. Her mother weeps loud while her father sobs within. Uncle Alani is indifferent. They know not what will proceed out of their daughter's mouth.

---Mama? Baba? Uncle Alani?

All eyes converge on her. Sweats trickle down their faces. And they stare at one another again, gaze at her again. She has changed her mood now. It is a magic. And Margaret's mouth gives way to words.

---If it's me agreeing to marry Ajakaye, that would save my family from danger. Then, no problem.

They believe not their ears. A good-news?

---Heen? Segilola, that you will follow us back to the village tomorrow morning?

Her father asked in amazement.

---Yes, but is it that quick?
---Beeni o! Yes. That quick. All is not well in Kajola now.

Boda Alani retorts.

---Alright. But I need to seek permission at our office tomorrow for the journey. And tell my pastor too.

They look in the faces of one another – wondering if their daughter really understands the implications of going with them. But does that matter? As far as she would go with them. When she gets there, may be then will she finally grasp that she can't return forever.

---No problem. You can get your city people aware. But we must leave together before dusk tomorrow.
Uncle Alani adds.

Chapter 6

The land is impenetrably dark. The nocturnal cacophony hummed by the crickets; the hovering fireflies playing hide and seek in between the blades of grasses; and the fresh breezes – all attest to the reality that Margaret and her family are now on the shore of Ilukoyenikan, the following night. She has a nauseating smell of home, though she misses her a bit. And though it is very late in the night, the muddy walls of the clusters of huts at Kajola have ears. Tomorrow morning shall corroborate the flying rumours of their arrival.

The cocks crow, the birds chirp, and the diurnal light beams on Uncle Alani as he opens the wooden door to see the visitors now on the threshold. Their late arrival from the city the previous night, makes the family wake up a bit late this morning. The Ifa priest and the Chiefs of Ilukoyenikan are accompanied by the King's scepter.

Uncle Alani prostates to pay homage, seeing the King's scepter.

--- Ha, kabiesi o! Kabiesi o! Kabiesi o!

Margaret's parents too soon emerge from their cubicle, sensing what's going on outside. They also pay homage, as the Ifa priest, whose appearance they dread, turns to speak to them. His voice, partially husky with ominous undertones:

---As you all know, our forebears say when work delays not the doer, the doer also must not delay in doing the work. Ajakaye has told us that his wife is now on the shore of Ilukoyenikan.
He pauses and gives a curt bleating laugh. Stroking his beards, he speaks:

---Oya, bring her out quickly!

Margaret's mother trudges inside, calling unto her daughter:

---Segilola! Segilola!

And her voice faints as she goes in. After ten minutes seeming like forever, that the waiting visitors have nearly lost their patience, Margaret storms out in alluring beauty. The polygamous chiefs covet whom they see, even Iyaloja too wishes that she could woo her for her son. Margaret greets them. And they head for the sacred cave of Ajakaye at the chief priest's beckon.

After a thirty-minute trek into the forest of the gods that hold Ilukoyenikan's seven villages together, the facade of the pantheon, a cave actually, begins to loom. Many petrified scrawls and the horrible face of Ajakaye are inscribed at the door leading down the cave. Strange voices begin to reverberate as they approach. Whenever the Ogberi are dragged there to be judged for vindication of any crime, the horrified voices hack their frail hearts with the dagger of fear! Only the Ifa priest and the chiefs who are used to the voices, remain calm now. Uncle Alani and Margaret's parents are shivering within though they have done no wrong. At first, Margaret too is nearly taken aback by the eerie voices, but something inside her, stabilizes her. Looking at her face, a deep seer ought to have known that an elusive meditation roams within her soul. But this evades even the Ifa priest's discernment.

They have now stepped on the threshold of the fiery god. The Ifa priest musters a short incantation and the door opens.


---Ibi awi lade yi. We have reached our destination.

He says, and walks in as others follow him. Echoes of their steps cadence the wicked laugh of the unseen god hovering through the place. It arrests the new visitors' hearts. They squint their cringing eyes around. Dark birds are flying hither and thither, flapping their wings, emerging from the roof of the cave. Skulls are flung hither and thither. And the chief priest suddenly pauses, others do the same, and he points his finger at a spot --- there lies the altar of Ajakaye where his scary figure scrawled outside, is erected with a wicked laugh stare!

The Ifa priest then turns to Margaret.

---That, is your husband. You have to clean up this place. It has been left unkempt since Ajakaye's last wife died.

Margaret looks shocked. The bemused faces of her family members are bereft of tears. They have been brewing springs of doleful tears since the matter started. Except if blood will trickle down this time. Aside from the curt greeting she made earlier, she has been quiet all through their journey to Ajakaye's pantheon. But she now opens our mouth to speak now:

---Baba, you're sure this is the place sha?

The Ifa priest and others at the scene look at one another, bemused. And the priest replies:

---Beeni, this is the sacred home of Ajakaye, the fiery lion! Your new home forever. Odigba!

As they turn to leave, leaving her behind, she looks straight into the wicked laughing eyes of the idol's statue. She garners unusual strength from within so that a deviant, vibrant cry would be belched by her. The fortissimo soprano yell of her voice rents the root of the cave.


The voice seems to be backed by a divine effect. Instantly, thunder appears as dreadful sound escapes its mouth. It saunters into the cave from nowhere, and converge with force on the sacred skull of Ajakaye, the fiery lion. The skull sustains cracks, breaking off from head to the feet of the statue. It falls flat before her cringing self. The Ifa priest and others who have been made to look back by the deviant cry of a gentle soul that Margaret is, could see all that has happened. It is an incredible view! Within the flash of that moment, when the statue thuds ashore, breaking into shards, they (the Ifa priest, Margaret’s parents, Uncle Alani, the chiefs) all take to their heels. This prompts even Margaret too, to take a sprint after them.

---Wait for me!!!

She calls after them, but they answer not.

By the time they get to the suburb part of Ilukoyenikan, the Ifa priest slows down his running pace. None must see him taking to his heel. He usually asserts his boldness to the villagers, chewing these lines as mantra:

No danger in the forest, but of the scuttering feet of the quails. No fear of mortality swallows a sacred rivulet of the elders.

It's until he stops running that others stop too, gasping for breath.

---I ask you to wait for me now!

Margaret says, breathing hard as well. But people are just watching her agape. And she continues to talk:

---See, the idol, the idol, is dead o! So, you don't need to fear him anymore.

And all of them reply her simultaneously, in unison:

---Fear the idol? We are not even afraid of the fiery lion again. It's you, Segilola, that we're now afraid of! You're strange.

Then they go mute, staring at her with their mouths agape. And she wonders if they know who the God of Elijah is.

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