December 6, 2019

Fear Hill

By Molara Wood

 

 

 

 

 

I thought I saw death stalking down Fear Hill. Father lay sick, and I regretted never asking him about the brooding tangle of trees that rose over to the summit above our hamlet.

When Mother’s mourning period ended, she changed from dark clothes to bright, and said Father lived still. But I had seen him in the rough wooden coffin before they nailed it shut. Mother tried to throw herself into the gaping earth.

‘Son of the baobab, how can you leave me? You who went to Fear Hill and came back whole. Hunter of deer! Tamer of rhino! Who will feed our children?’

Now she sought to deny his death. The midday sun twinkled through our raffia roof as my brother and sister played outside. No more for us the three mile walk to school in the next village; we could not pay the fees.

Molara Wood

‘Your father lives in you.’ Mother smiled. At fourteen, I was her eldest child. ‘You are now the man of this house, and you must go to Fear Hill to earn a hunter’s living. With your help, I could send your brother and sister back to school. It’s not too late for them.’

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Early next morning, hamlet elders chanted in low voices as I prepared to ascend Fear Hill. Mother placed Father’s amulet ceremonially around my neck, muttering prayers. The amulet had been Father’s only protection on Fear Hill. He sold his kills to spirits on the hill, and we lived off the money down here below. My heart thumped against my chest as I trudged through dense forest on the climb later. Watching here and there for danger, I fingered the amulet regularly for strength.

Molara Wood, with Dayo Adegoke, middle and Toyin Akinoho, far left.

It seemed I had been walking for hours when I…….

-Excerpted from iNdigo, a collection of short stories by Molara Wood, published by Parresia Books, Lagos Nigeria. Copyright © 2013 Molara Wood.

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