Click here for previous episodes of Decanter of MemoriesI was still wearing the cloth I wore the previous day, I had not brushed or bathed and I felt filthy. I stopped running and it dawned on me that I had lost my way. Anger is such a disease, I turned left and I was confused. To make matters worse it started raining. I was so sad; I started running to the left when I saw a figure approach. I was so terrified “please do not hurt me. I am lost, I need to find my way back to Mena’s house”It was still raining heavily and I began to shiver, he drew me close. “We have to look for shelter else you’ll get sick.”“It is best I die because I have nothing to live for.” I replied.Without saying another word, he carried me and started walking fast. He slowed down when we got to a cottage. I resisted entering the cottage.“You must go in. if you do not value your life, I do.”“Who are you to value my life? I am a bloody stranger to you.”When I got into the cottage, it was warm and I felt better.“It’s warm.” I muttered.“My point exactly.” He replied“Who are you?”“That is unimportant.”“Are you going to kill me?”“Yes I might.”My face revealed how horrified I felt and he laughed till his eyes became misty.“Alright I was joking.” He said.“I want to leave now.”“Be my guest but I must warn you, there are animals out there and they are pretty angry.”I pondered for a while and decided against it. I asked him for his name, “my name is Ari” he said. He told me that my face wasn’t familiar and I told him that I was here for my service year. He looked extremely confused.“I was posted to a grammar school here.”“I can assure you, there is nothing like grammer school here. You are lost.”“Ane Grammar school doesn’t exist?”“Where exactly are you from?”I was tired of questions; I told him that I wanted to rest a little before leaving. He gave me some clothes and showed me to a small room and I was nervous. “You will be safe stranger.” he said, emphasizing the word stranger.There was a small bed and it was not so magnificent but it looked great because all I wanted to do was lie on it. I slept off the moment my body came in contact with the bed. I didn’t know for how long I had slept but I felt a hand on my forehead. I opened my eyes and closed them back.“I feel weak.” I muttered.He told me to get up so I could have my bath.“I feel weak.” I repeated.He didn’t utter another word, he carried me to a room and left me there, there was a wooden bath tub there.“Help yourself.” he said “you know I can’t help you. I will be outside.”I stripped and entered the wooden tub, the soapy water felt so good. I saw another wooden tub with clean water in it so I presumed it was for rinsing. After bathing, I felt refreshed but I was beginning to feel very chilled again so I wore the clothes he lent me. When I came out of the bathroom, he paused and kept staring.“What?” I asked, taking offence.“I…I was just thinking about the clothes you are wearing, you need to take them off.”“Excuse me?” I asked, frowning.“I meant you need a change of clothes. I will be right back.”He came back with a blue silk tunic that was slitted at both sides. The slits were so long and I was uncomfortable, I wanted to ask if he had any other dress or cloth to lend me but I did not want to sound rude. I went to the room I presumed to be the living room to find him. My host was nowhere to be found. I waited for a very long time, he finally showed up. When he showed up, he was carrying a dead animal and I almost puked.“You remind me of someone.” he said.“Thanks for the tunic.”“Tunic?”“Err I meant this.” I replied, pointing at the tunic I was wearing.“No need to thank me.” he replied.He walked away immediately to tend to the carcass. When he finally showed up I demanded to know who he was referring to.“I saw the look on your eyes when you made the statement.” I said.“Is it that obvious?” He asked, smiling painfully.I nodded and smiled sheepishly, he told me that it was a girl he loved. He didn’t say another word about her and I didn’t have the will to pressure him to spill everything out. For someone who lived in a secluded place like Ane, this guy knew a bit of English and I wondered how so I asked him how he learnt English.“Through Omo, the most powerful ruler Ane ever had.”I was tired of hearing the name Omo; I was beginning to get nauseous.“You have not told me your name stranger.”“Forgive my manners, my name is Jessa.”He told me he liked my name and even joked about naming his future daughter Jessa. We had roasted rabbit and roasted yam for breakfast. After breakfast he suggested we took a stroll and told me some things about himself. He even told me about the girl he loved, her name was Keria. He said they could not get married because of her sister.“What did her sister do?”“She was an anje.”“An anje? What’s that?” I asked frowning.“A person that comes and goes as he/she wishes.”I still did not understand what he meant until he took pains to explain.“My father believes Keria and her family are cursed.”“Look Ari, you have got to fight for what you want or else you are going to die a very sad man.”I stood up and walked to the door and I told him I was leaving. He offered to take me back to Mena’s place but on a second thought I told him I wanted to meet Keria.“That is not possible, she told me not to come near her.”“Ok Ari, I guess I’ll just find her myself.”I left the cottage and Ari ran after me and told me he would take me to Keria’s place. We saw a lady coming towards us, she was sad. When she got nearer, she started harrassing Ari.“What is it with the madiens of this Kingdom? Why won’t they leave my dear prince alone?”I looked puzzled, I turned around to see if someone was behind us but I saw nothing. I tapped Ari gently.“You are a prince? Good heavens!”“Umm Umm I thought I told you.” replied Ari.“No you didn’t, why lie?” I asked.“I wanted to be normal for once in my life. I am so sorry. Forgive me.” He replied.The sad lady asked “What are you doing with that stranger Prince Kes?” I was infuriated that he even lied about his name. I kept my cool“This lady is my guest and we were just leaving the cottage, you can make yourself comfy at the cottage.” There was a glint of anger; it was like he loathed the lady.Ari, oops! Prince Kes was looking so exasperated. He took hold of my left hand and led me away from the strange lady. The way she glared at me was so frightening. On the way to Keria’s house, Kes kept apologizing for lying and I wasn’t angry anymore because I understood the reason why he lied.When we got to Keria’s house, she was outside. She was in another realm because she did not seem to notice our presence.“She is so sad because of me Jessa and I can’t do a thing to help her.”“Elope Ari sorry Prince Kes. Love is hard to find, you found it and you are tossing it away.”We were arguing until Keria coughed, she was not happy to see us“Did you come to show me your new maiden? She looks very beautiful Kes. Now leave!”“Hi Keria, I am not his maiden. I am an outsider, I got lost and he helped me. He couldn’t stop talking about you. I came out of curiosity to see the lady that had knocked him down and I must say I am impressed.” I replied, smiling.Keria softened a little bit and she smiled uneasily. It was so evident that she was embarrassed. Keria and I talked for a while and Prince Kes interuppted and told Keria that he had to take me back to Mena’s house“I promise to come back later today or tomorrow.” I said.Prince Kes took me back to Mena’s place and I was a little sad when he was leaving, he promised to come back. That made me a little bit happy. Gran was delighted to see me, so was Mena but she was shocked that Prince Kes and I knew each other. Mena was just interrogating me, she was so sure that I slept with Prince Kes and I tried to assure her that she was wrong but she did not believe.“That’s a beautiful tunic you have on. Where did you get it from?” she asked.“Ari gave it to me”“Ari? Who is Ari?”“Sorry I meant Prince Kes. I met Keria and she is very beautiful. I am going to visit her again today or tomorrow.”Mena had to run some errands for her Gran so I was left alone and I could not stop thinking of my family. I regretted leaving home, I knew my mom would be worried-sick. I could not believe Mason was no more, it made me so sick. I felt as if I was being choked. I asked Gran if I could communicate with my family“It is impossible child. Speak no more of it.”“My family must be going crazy this moment.”“I will see what I can do child. Go have some rest.”Later that day I went to see Keria, Mena accompained me and Mena acted odd, she excused herself. She said that she had to go to the market and I knew she was lying. I was still wearing the blue tunic that Prince Kes gave me.“I rejected that dress, it did not suit me. The dress was made for you.” She said.“Prince Kes loves you, he can’t stop thinking or talking about you. He sees you in everything.”“I don’t want to talk about him.”“If you won’t fight for him I’ll fight for him.”Keria was surprised and I repeated what I said“I will make his world revovle around me. That crazy lady won’t even get near him.”“Her name’s Ruke.” replied Keria and the entire colour drained from her face “my elder sister was an anje; an anje is an evil spirit that makes people die suddenly. Before an anje comes into the world, he/she makes certain promises to his/her in the spirit world. Some decide that they would die on their wedding day so as to bring sorrow unto their loved ones. Some die immediately after giving birth thereby leaving their children motherless.”“So how do you identify one? I am so sure of cases of mistaken identity.”“Some are extremely beautiful or handsome. Some are constantly ill right from the time they arrive this world.”“Hmmm extreme beauty is not enough Keria, if it were based on beauty I’d say that you and Prince Kes would make a world class anje couple.”Keria didn’t get my joke, she stiffened and I apologized immediately and explained what I meant and she smiled.“So did your sister show any sign that she was an anje?”“Yes. She was always sick.”“What if anjes don’t exist? What if these assumptions are false?”“They exist and I hate them for separating me from Prince Kes.”“Leave them alone Keria, stop hating them. Hate yourself for causing the separation.”Keria turned to face me and held my hand, tears dropped from her eyes and they were no joyous tears “Promise me Jessa that you will never be involved with Prince Kes.”“I give you my word Keria. He really loves you, when he mentions your name; he gets really emotional so he won’t look my way.”I got home very late and Oris (Gran) was very worried and angry and she scolded Mena for letting me stay out so late.“Mena is not my mother Gran, I do what I please.”“Where are you two coming from?” She asked.Mena was looking scared “K…Keria’s place.” she managed to blurt out.“Let this be the last time you two go to that place.” replied Gran.“Why?” I asked.“Her family is cursed” replied Gran.I laughed until tears trickled down, I was too surprised to start an argument, and I just walked away. I climbed the wooden stairs Mena was behind me. When we got to her room, I could tell she was upset.“Treat my Gran with respect!” she snapped.“Your Gran discriminates and I can’t stand such people. I already hate it here, you people are so backward.”“Hmmm poor Jessa is trying to cover up the fact that she’s feeling lonely.”Mena stormed out of the room and I wasn’t going to run after her. She just hurt me; her Gran deserved whatever treatment I melted out on her. My thoughts went to my family, Dubem and Mason and I started weeping.Apparently, Mena was eavesdropping the whole time; she came to apologize and told me about the festival of purification.“So what is it all about?” I asked“Some festival, two people will be sacrificed.”“Why? You cannot be serious. The people that end up dead are evil right?”“They are suspected anjes.”I vowed to be absent from the festival and Mena tried to convince me that I would be fun.“Since when did killing people become fun?” I asked.Mena was silent and told me that I just cooperate. Mena also said that Gran would not accept my absence.“She will do everything in her power to make sure you attend.”“We’ll see about that” I replied. 

Written  by Kezi Angela Patrick

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