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Seat of Log

By Uchechukwu Agodom


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Author Notes: I am a Nigerian writer. My poems have
been published in an anthology of the Association of
Nigerian Authors Enugu State Chapter (with the title
The Poet Sinned) and on some websites like, and I have poems,
short stories and other manuscripts for novels, drama
and films yet to be published and produced as the case
may be.

The morning was clapping a long distance, coming,
when, in one of the last sittings of sleep in my eyes,
I heard the charged words:

" The woman does it with her fingers and a stick - a
saam - it is all over"

" Safe?"

" Yes. Yes. But blood will flow. It will flow for some
days. Trickling out sometimes without the owner
knowing it."

" I am not satisfied for I do not want death; death is
too crude to come into this...."

The morning wind came with a burst on my face, my eyes
beheld, beyond the thatchy confines of our house, dewy
falls and claps.

"Nne! Wake up! "

I sprang up and out like a young chick, on the face of
a possible dare of a big predator and surveyed the
morning class: sun rays gasping before the trees that
formed a heavy bow -like heap, around our house; the
flights of tiny butterflies champing; and a kind of
hue that possessed the place.

My father was fiddling with his carpentry tools, and
my mother was breaking palm nuts for the market. There
was a humble and cool atmosphere between them.

But when my big sister came out from the house, and
threw words of good morning to them, they were furious
- there humble and cool atmosphere left them. A bolt
of fury and anger carried my heavy mother out of her
sprawling place on the ground, onto my big sister, and
left my big sister on the ground. My big sister began
to cry, and my father was only watching. That was when
I remembered to greet them: Good morning.

They did not respond to my greeting. My big sister was
crying; tears and wet soil all over her.

"What is it, mother?"

No one gave me an answer. I went to my big sister. And
touched her. I felt tears and wet soil.

"Get out, from....?" My mother shouted, and when I
lingered, with tears forming in my eyes, and when she
strikingly rose, maybe to hammer me, I strikingly

I went to my father and touched him. He was a big
expression-less mask and maintained a figure as if
hewn out of a rock.

"What did she do?"

I began to cry very loud, threw myself on the ground
and rolled on and on. That was when my father
abandoned both his expressionless mask and stone
figure, took his tools and walked out.

Suddenly, I was whisked out of sleep, followed by a
jarring sound:

"Get up? Is the ground your sleeping space? Or are you
bound to sleep again this morning?"

Sleep always followed me whenever I cried and cried,
and my propensity to cry has a certain weight in it
whenever my big sister was beaten; and she was always
in the pace of being beating, and I, always in the
pace of crying.

I joined my mother in the cracking of palm nuts. The
palm nuts yet to be cracked were an expansive horizon
of a large hill.

"This will take years to crack." I said.

My big sister was sitting on a raised mound of earth,
a leftover from the red earth that was used to refresh
our house some weeks ago.

The house has been dragging along with life for many
years. It was there, when my grandfather was my age,
and was the same case when my great great grand father
was living. How great was that father along our
ancestral lineage that built such a house.

My father said some days ago that he would mast the
steps for a house of blocks and zinc roof. An argument
had erected a poll between my parents and my sister on
the fate of the old house, when the new one would have
been built, and my parents saw its demolition as a
veritable act, while my big sister saw its existence
as an artifact as a historical act.

My big sister left the mound of earth and edged close
to my mother.

"Give me a stone." She demanded.

My mother was looking at her. I was looking at her.

" Please."

I was looking at her when I gave her a stone. She sat
down beside me and began to crack the riddle of the
hard nuts. My mother took a portion of the nuts, with
two stones, left the spot to a place near the mound of
red earth, angrily. A puzzle was beginning to threaten

I was looking at my big sister, sternly.

"What did you do?" I asked.

She was not looking at me. She did not answer me, but
kept on answering the call of cracking the riddles of
hard nuts.

Drops of water began to accuse us desperately, and I
moved to fend off their wetness by the use of cocoyam
leaves. I gathered three large cocoyam leaves whose
leaves, as umbrella was enough to bury me under their
cover. The three giant leaves were fresh and sweet to
my eager nose, and I inhaled their freshness and
sweetness for a deep fragment of time, and handed them
out - one for my mother, one for my big sister and one
for me.The drops of water narrowed done to gentle,
clean and tiny darts on my skin. They have a glowing
tinge on me, and I was excited, but I did not know
when I unguardedly and questingly asked my sister in a
loud manner,

"What? I know you did something."

And immediately I clenched my mouth, and looked first
at my big sister, and then at my mother. And the
clenching act, which I performed, tore leaf of shield.
Slowly, I released the leaf.

"What did she do?" My mother echoed scornfully? And
that was when my big sister remembered that she has to
cook, and she stood up, went to the direction of a
sooty cooking pot lying aimless with a horde of giant
roaring flies.

I saw her spat out a giant fly, which must have
stupidly found its way into her mouth, followed by an
uproarious cough.

"you cannot cook for me!" My mother shouted.

My big sister was torn among dropping the pot,
punching the flies and combating the punches from the
coughing expedition.

When she dropped her stone and went into the house to
rest, as she usually do, I went to my big sister, took
her by her right hand and pulled her.

"Please. Come. Please. I don’t want you to say no. You
know I love you. I love you."

She was watching me with a dilated interest, as I
pulled on the enormous weight that she was.

"I love you". She said and followed me.

I was walking very fast, into the forest that was
peopled with a barrage of noise - an amalgamation of
sounds of forest creatures. Every point in the forest
was a disarming stray of loneliness. At a point I
stopped, and before me, with a gargantuan expectation
was the face of my big sister.

"I love you. You know I love you. I love you." I said
to her in a torrent.

"I do. I do. I do love you too. Too. Too-"

"Tell me, my love, what did you do?"

She broke down into a giant sprawling mass of tears.

"I am pregnant." The voice seemed not to have come
from her, so I doubted what I heard.

"For some one I do not know. I...I...I am...sorry."

With that final drop of words as raindrops in a
tussle, she bolted out of the place, and took the
direction of home. I watched her as she pelted into a
thin indistinguishable mass.

I stood where I was like a bold bolt waving away
creeping and creepy waves of fear of the knowns and
unknowns of the forest.

Suddenly, I flexed myself in anger and a drought
chanced me, grazed on me like a cow. I moved deeper
into the forest. I moved deeper in search of a path,
which I once took with my mother to one distant market
of palm kernels. I got to a point where a maze of
twigs with thorns was a battle shout. Some how, I
negotiated my way out of the quagmire. The spirit of
fear was all over the forest, but I did not see it,
and I did not care if I should see it, and if I saw
it, I would stone it. I bursted into a path which was
a huge success in snaky shape, which I followed
faithfully, until I came to a muddy house with an
affair of old and gray thatches sitting on top of it.
I thundered a clap before the door that was a
beautiful paint of red earth.

None of our family members has come to the point of
the door.

The door did not waste time to open, I walked in as
fast as I could after greeting the old man, Ule, who
was cooking.

"Who are you?"

I greeted him again, and began to create an essay with
my mouth before him,

"I came from a far place, somewhere near the fringe of
the forest."

"What is your name?"

"Nne. "

"Who sent you to me?"

"Nobody. I sent myself."

His eyebrows raised in turmoil.

"I want you to help me."

"Do you think I can help people?"

"I want you to help me."

I was lost.

"My family is . . . has a problem."

"Do you think I can help people?"

I was lost again.

"Do you think I can help people?"

The sun was very high in the sky casting sprays of
rays, few of which found its way into his house
through the roof of thatches.

"I once heard my parents say, ‘... the woman does it
with her fingers and a stick - a saam - ' "

His school of interest immediately enlarged.

"I have not seen you, known you before."

"My father is a famous carpenter who is also famous
for giving out his money to widows -"

"Yes. Yes. I know him."

I felt tears in my eyes. I let them water my face, and
somehow, my tongue tasted a fragment, and I spat. A
ball of saliva and mucus fail on his beard. He picked
it with his fingers and moved to throw it away, but it
stuck, stubbornly, on his fingers, then he wiped it on
his dirty cloth that, only, traveled from his waist
where it was tied, securely, to his neck covering his
body from waist to ankle , and part of his chest and

"Please, I am, I am profusely, sorry, sorry, sorry."

He nodded. My head moved outward in furtherance of the
resounding apology.

"I also heard ‘... but blood will not flow ... death
is too crude to come...'" ... I am, I am, very, very,
very, afraid. I am, I am, encased in a barrel of fear

"What are you saying? Where are you going? What are
you saying?"

I toured on,

"And this day, saw me, saw me... my sister told me she
is pregnant ... and before I knew, I heard ‘ ... the
woman does it with a stick - a saam -'"

the old man abandoned himself into a fold of silence.
Time sped, as I kept on sizing the elements outside
and the state of dawn.

I woke him up from silence.

"When I knew about my big sister’s pregancy, when I
heard it from her own very mouth, my mind, my mind -
the images of stick, fingers, blood and my big sister
loomed larger than the forest, and I love my sister. I
love her!"

I began to cry. The old man would have cried from the
way I saw him tilt his hair and stroked his big beard.

"What do you want me to do?"

I was looking at him, studying him as time sped on.
Time who does not look back nor ever care about any
kind of traffic nor watch out for road blocks or

"They want to use sticks and fingers on her. They want
to allow dirty fingers and a dirty stick to roam her
like a wild beast on a ghastly-looking prey. I love
her. I love her!"

I was crying, pumping out mounds of tears, and were
the tears to be assembled into a mound of earth, the
tears` mound of earth would be larger and mightier and
taller than the one which my big sister sat on in the

"You love her." The old man said.

"I love her. She should not die. Death is too crude to
come into this...."

"You love her."

"I once heard that you have no child. No child."


The old man began to cry. His tears were too slow as
they carved tear-paths on his old and wrinkled face.

"You have no child?"


His face began to mount further rungs of tears. Tears
in a contentious mood mapped his whole face, such that
his wrinkles were glowing in an oily and a moonly

"What do you want me to do?"

I sentenced myself to further length of courage, and
said after a deep-rooted breath,

"Please, go to my people, today, today, and stop them
from doing what they want to do to my beloved sister.
I love her. They want a woman, whom I do not know to
use a stick and certain fingers on her. I love her."

He was staring at her like a fine harvest, which the
farmer never expected to come with golden plumes.

" Let them not use fingers and a stick on her."

I was marching to go, examining the colour of the door
of the house. It was a beautiful red earth colour.

But not more beautiful than my beloved sister.

He stood up. He was shocked over what I said. I knew I
said things. I knew I said a lot of things to him. I
knew he listened attentively the way I use to listen
to my mother whenever she told me a story.My father
hardly have time for storytelling.

"Go well."

I shot out like a stone from a catapult going home,
and I was a long way from the old man’s house when I
gained an idea, so I ran back to him, and sweating
outlandishly said,

"I know you will come. And, please, do not tell them I
am the one that told you that. I know you will come. I
know you will come before they do what they want to
do. I love my sister."

I subdued the snaky path, and then crushed the heady
distance of the forest, and got home, when the sun was
waving goodbye to the day, to the earth.

My father was eating a meal of slices of cooked yam
and palm oil, when he saw me tore myself out of a band
of bushes fronting our house.

I knelt down before him on grounds of the commanding
tones of his gorged mouth.

I knelt down. My mother who was still on the cracking
spree hammered abuses on me. My big sister who was
lying on a long wooden seat let out scolding set of
words on me. One by one, my father picked the sliced
yams, dipped them, in turn, into a bowl of very red
palm oil, and then into his mouth, and then let his
big jaws crush and clench up and down, in a serious
mechanical rounds of motion.

I was given a serious twelve strokes of a cane made
from a tree where our chewing stick was made. I
tortured the whole night with cries of pain. I did not
bother to eat.

That night, I saw my father and my big sister prepare
for a journey.

"Quick!" My father shouted.

My sister was dressing for the journey.

"Where are you going to?" I asked her.

She only looked at me. The moon was a shower on her.
She laughed. But I saw in that laughter a star of fear
and uncertainty. I became restless. I went to my

"Where is she going to?"

She offered me a bowl of food in lieu of an answer. I
took the bowl of food and out of a restless mood,
dropped the food without knowing it. The food laid
astray with broken features of the bowl on the ground,
and this, instantly, gained me, a resounding slap,
which sent me on the ground, where I tasted the soil.

I lost a tooth. A stream of blood began, in trickles,
to torment me with pain. I was the sole witness to the
issue of my falling tooth.

My father and my sister were going out for the
uncertain journey when, a granite cough announced the
presence of the night visitor.

He was not clearly distinguishable in the light of the
moon, for on the part where he stood with a long
staff, was the shadow of a giant tree, and my people
strained as they could to decipher the figure but
where not successful, but when the night visitor came
closer to the house with a further announcement of his
presence with a clap, they saw the old man.

They did not recogise him.

"I greet all of you." The old man said, standing.

"Who are you?" My mother asked, standing up from where
she was sitting with fear.

"I am Ule, the old man who lives in the forest, whose
house from here, is around a snaky passage once you
leave the denser portions of the forest".

An owl pierced the night with a long hoot which over
shadowed the other sounds of the forest. My mother
muttered an incomprehensible length of words.

"Sit down." My father said, but there was no seat
before the old man.

I stood up from the soiling profile I was on , fetched
a seat of log and stood it before our visitor, but he
did not care to sit down.

I saw a hostile metaphor build a home on my father.

"What? What? Do you want?"He saked.

"Won`t you offer me kolanut?" The old man asked.

"I cannot. I do not know you. I can not."

"I want you to listen to me. I have something to offer
you. I want you to do something."

"To do something?"My father said with a tough tone.

"Yes, indeed."

My mother was trying to contain a form of passion in
her. My sister sat down on the mound of red earth. I
sat down close to her. The owl hooted again, closer.

"Please,"the old man began, "please, do not kill that
child. Do not. Don’t ever do that."

The atmosphere was shocked. I sensed it. For my father
ground his teeth;my mother moved restlessly and my big
sister was shivering faintly- which I sensed bodily.

My father came closer to the old man.

"Which child?" He asked.

" Which child?"My mother asked.

I was afraid, and all my life, I have never been
afraid like I was that night.I was deeply afraid.

"Which child?" my father asked.

"Which one?" my mother asked.

The atmosphere was too tense for me to stay. I was
deeply afraid. My sister, my beloved sister, was
breathing in deep echoes.

"Don`t risk life." The old man submitted, still
standing, unshaking, unmoved, like the expansive
forest which has been there for many years, ever
regenerating, harbouring countless creatures.

The moon was going away. The darkness was dancing.

"What is this old man talking about?" My father asked
my mother who was deeply afraid, and my father said
further, "what is this old man talking about? What?
What? Does he know?"

The old man was walking close to my father, when my
mother barked out, "What is it! What do you know? Who
are you? Go back! Go! Go! Back to where you came from!
I command you?", and my father was walking back and
was stopped by a tree stump behind him. The old man

"Don’t be afraid." He said calmly.

"Who is afraid?" My mother barked out again.

The moon has completely gone, overthrown by the
clouds, which are speeding through the sky, which, I
tried to count their numbers, but I could not because
of the charged atmosphere.

"You are about taking you child away to take away the
life of a child. Please, do not do it."

My sister started to cry. I started to cry too.

"Stop that nonsense!" My mother shouted, rushed to our
sitting place, and immediately a strong punctuation
settled our crying points.

"My children," the old man said, "please, don`t play
with life and forgive her.Thank you very much."

He walked away into the forest.

My father went and sat on the seat of log which I had
offered to our night visitor.

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