TATA-MU (Episode 2)
Gentle drum beats hovered around Tata-Mu's mind. It started from a distance, then continued to draw in. Closer and closer, it got. Followed by hushed voices, she transcended to consciousness.
Croocked fingers poked her cheeks to check for any signs of life. Blinking severally, she opened her eyes. A squeal escaped her lips at a finger poised over her face. Retracing his hand, the stranger stepped away from her.
"She's alive", he confirmed. Confusion mused Tata-Mu's brain as strange faces and numerous pairs of eyes stared down at her.
Panic stricken, she jittered to a sitting position; the semi-circle of people standing over her made way for her to freely sit up. Where is she? Who are these people? Last she checked, she was sitting in her couch blogging- wait!!
She threw frantic glances around, as if searching for something. Where is her laptop? Her phone? This must be some kind of a dream! Fret transformed her demeanor as a thousand thoughts crossed her mind.
These people looked like idol worshipers. Perhaps they were going to sacrifice her to their gods.
Noticing the mixed emotion on her face, a man stepped forward. Judging by the ancient crown on his head, she figured him to be their leader. Judging by his looks, she would give him mid or late thirties.
Judging from her five-foot- three, he was of average height in her eyes. He was all bronze and hard.
Despite the hardness of his face, his eyes were black but warm; welcoming even, with a little streak of hope. Heat crept up her face when she couldn't stop her eyes from trailing down his length.
A piece of leather covered his groin (thank God! she thought), and reached down to his thigh. Unlike the men and kids who had on only same piece of clothing, she noticed the women had their breast covered too.
Goodness! Why on earth, would people still dress like this in this century?
As if reading her thoughts, the leader spoke up, "we are of the Ekangetti village". He has a funny accent, Tata-Mu thought. "Do not be afraid. I am Angett, the leader", he continued.
As if she didn't hear the first time she asked again to be sure, "where am I?"
"Like I said earlier, you are in Ekangetti village"
"Where is this place found? Is it even on google map?" Her questions were met with silence
"Can someone help me with a phone? No one?", and she continued to fret.
The Ekangettis stared at her both with doubt and perplexity.
Their comments couldn't go unnoticed, "Is she the one? Are you certain she'll pull through? Could it be the gods made an error this time? She doesn't even know our language? Hm, she's sure going to die on the first round...
" and so on. By now, she had stopped her fidgeting. "What? selected by the gods, what gods? Oh no, I'm going to die...please don't kill me! I-I have m-money, I could pay. I have possessions, I'll give you whatever you want", she ranted on and on.
After observing her a few minutes, an amused unreadable expression crossed Angett's face. Holding a hand up, he shushed everyone. "The gods can never be mistaken; listen, she's reacting to what we were saying. This can only mean one thing-she understands our language".
They turned their attention to a ranting Tata-Mu, "-anything, but please don't sacrifice me to your gods. Please I'm begging you, Angett-"
Everyone gasped at her use of their leader's name so casually; Like a movie, they turned their attention to Angett as he took intimidating steps towards Tata-Mu.
Her face grew pale and she shut her eyes and waited for a hit, when Angett raised his left hand. Breaths held, the Ekangettis anticipated the strike on Tata-Mu.
Instead Angett burst into a throaty laughter, shocking everyone.
"You're not going to die...at least not yet..."
"Welcome to Ekangetti". He extended his hand towards her, "what is your name?"
She hesitated, "T-Tata-Mu",
"T-Tata-Mu"? he prodded to confirm
"Tata-Mu...Tata-Mu", he repeated.
"Beautiful name: "Tata-Mu". This time it sounded husky coming from him. What is wrong with you? Seriously "husky", where's that even coming from? Focus! Tata-Mu, focus!
These people are idle worshipers who will not give a second thought to sacrifice you and appease their so-called "gods". Tata-Mu sobbed internally.
Why had she not made an effort to go to church when her cousin invited her? Perhaps God would've stepped in to save her.
Who knows what her fate held now-
"-does it mean?"Angett asked. Tata-Mu realized she had wandered off with her thoughts
"Your name. What does it mean?"
"It is (clears throat) an endearment to God... S-since God is a father, we call Him "My Father", hence "Tata-Mu". By now the fear she felt before was already oozing out through her responses.
Angett paused to reason it out..."My God"
"It's My Father", this earned an iron stare from Angett, "or My G-God. A-anyone's fine by me", Tata-Mu stammered.
If anything, she was nothing like a saint; talk more of being "God"-Ha! Rather it reminded her of her faithlessness. Why they chose to call her "God" she did not understand.
As if on cue, she made a silent prayer: God, if you get me out of this-this- situation, I promise I will never miss out on any opportunity to project your word. I promise God, just please, get me out of this.
Oblivious to her prayer, Angett continued; "Come, My God"
After a short pause, Angett complied. "Fine, Tata-Mu. Come with me"
"W-where are we going?"
"To the palace, of course"; he looked at her like it was the natural thing for her to know "The palace"
it came out more like a statement
Angett signalled for everyone to return to their various homes for the night; leading Tata-Mu North, he walked off towards the palace with four male guards, two on each side.
"Yes. You see, the gods have sent you to answer our prayers. Our land is dying Tata-mu and we need a foreign eye to help us solve this ill-luck"
Look I'm sorry, but you got the wrong girl"
"Not us, the gods; and they are never wrong...Like it or not, you are one of us now Tata-Mu and it is your duty to your people".
Sooner than she expected, they arrived the room where she would spend the night. Yes, that's what it was-ONE NIGHT, and then she was gone...but she had to rethink-gone where?
She was too mentally exhausted to pay attention to the decorations in the room, besides it was night time. Who in her shoes would notice something like that?
Self-doubt, uncertainty, and fear etched Tata-Mu's face. First of all, taking up this "duty" would mean she will remain here- and she can't. This could not be happening to her.
She needed to rest; hopefully by the time she gets up, it would all be one big dream.
As if reading her thoughts, Angett put her to sleep.
"Sleep now. I know this can be too much to take in...by morning, you will be well rested; then we can go over the details".
Angett's voice suddenly became a soothing lullaby in her ears.
"I pray the gods give you reason to believe"
Too tired to answer Tata-Mu responded with barely a nod. With one thought in her mind that this would all be a dream come morning, she surrendered to the welcoming arms of oblivion.