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Dancing in the Moonlight

By Olabimpe Adedamola
The moonlight makes my skin burn. My mother knows this and so does the babalawo scooping blood from a rusty metal bucket and gently pouring it over my head.
The blood sizzles as it hits my skin. It is no match for the fire the moonlight dumps on my skin. I am red. I am burning. Inside. Outside. You do not understand.
The babalawo’s prayers are slow and almost soothing.
“Iwo yoo se aseyori.” You will be successful.
“Iwo yoo ma bi si i.” You will be fruitful.
You say a quiet ami after every quiet prayer because while the prayers are bestowed on me, they are for you. I try not to scream. I am shivering now. Love makes us do strange things. But I am not doing this out of love for you. Or love for my mother. Instead, I was born for this. Born to be sacrificed. Born to be a stepping stone for you. You could have been anybody and I would have still done this. Those of us born quiet, in the dead of night, under a full moon know our place.
The last part of the ritual is here. I am not nervous. Instead, anxiety has etched itself onto my bones, so I shake violently, and my tears leave scorch marks on my cheeks. I had told myself I will be brave and not show fear like my sister did, but I did not expect immolation to bring so much pain. I want the babalawo to stick that stupid shard in my neck and get this over with.
As if he can read my thoughts, he calls you forward and starts drawing runes on your body. I wish I was born with your blood. Royal. Red. Pure. Thick. Unlike the clear fluid in my veins.
The moonlight makes my skin burn. My mother does not cry and the babalawo has done this too many times for a little sympathy to even bubble up inside him. He unceremoniously swipes the shard across my neck, and you lean forward to drink.
You drink my life source. You drink the prayers the babalawo blessed me with. You will be successful. You will be fruitful.
I will rot in a ditch where the rest of my kind are thrown into. Monsters do not deserve burials. The runes on your body start to glow and the moment the clear fluid stops, you burst into flames. I watch you dance and glow as you receive the blessings of Olodumare while my soul crawls back to Apadi where I was formed and pushed into my mother’s womb. Where I will be formed all over again and pushed into another’s womb.
At least for now, it is over. The fire dies, and the air is soiled with the smell of charred flesh as my corpse burns and burns under the moonlight.
Babalawo – Priest
Olodumare – Supreme being
Apadi – Hell
Ase – Amen
* Adedamola is a law student in Lagos, Nigeria.
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