Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Elephants are not the only symbol of Igbo heritage that is history.
In the recent past, green snakes were held in awe by the people of Otampa, my maternal hometown.
The snakes often acted as guardians of the home or as babysitters.
A woman before departing for the market would call out to the snakes inviting them to look after her child whom she would leave behind.
A green snake responds, crawls into the home and coils near the baby.
On her return, prior to entering her home, the woman announces her presence, thanks the snake and asks it to leave.
My mum related that in the presence of my grandfather whose composure lent credibility to the narrative.
Nnanna, I used to hear of mammywater when we used to go to the stream as children. Did you see mammywater?
His response was negative.
He did not witness her, but heard of others who did.
Had Nnanna seen the woman of the seas, that will have been more than sufficient evidence of her existence.
As children nothing alarmed us more than running into mammywater.
The terror was vivid in Umuasua where lurid tales abounded of mammywater ripping apart persons fetching water.
As the iyi for females was secluded and deep into the woods, we were often reluctant to go there alone.
Rarely did we meet an adult there and when we did I subtly stared at her long enough to be certain she was not the dreaded mammywater!!!!!
As the eldest present, I had the job of keeping mammywater not just from me but also away from my siblings!
We always vacated iyi in a haste. Once, we actually fled abandoning our buckets!!!!
Someone had whispered of sighting mammywater and in a lightening speed, everyone fled!!!!
– Children and innocence!
Of course, I had to return accompanied by my brother to retrieve the vessels. He waited along the path until I re-emerged.
Those were days when the sole threat to life and dignity emanated from phantoms.
I have heard that insecurity in Isuikwuato local government has skyrocketed.
Despite fears over the mermaid, we did not miss any opportunity to take pleasure in the stream.
We bathed and sometimes swam in the shallow and clear water of the iyi.
We were careful not to harm the fishes, which were revered.
There was no fishing in the iyi.
Harming the fish was fine; being harmed by the fish was my personal reason for keeping a cautious distance from the fishes.
In addition to snakes and fishes, tigers were once admired.
I learnt tigers prowled the forest of Okenyukwu in Umuasua.