Breathing River

24 Nov 2022

It started like this, her father appeared to her in the dream and said, “Fear is a thing of the mind, love is a thing of the mind, death is a thing of the mind. Why suicide when life was wrought in meaning?”

Soon the father dissolves into the morning dew. Soon she sprang up from the bed only to realize it was a dream. She wished she’d grabbed him and demanded an answer. What meaning does life wrought when there are many layers to be unravelled? Why not suicide? First. Her fear, would she survive? Survive what? Her few months old marriage. Second. Was it love, a type that requires one to lay down life without greed and hypocrisy? Third. Death, was it truly a transition or the beginning of riddles?

Too many questions, yet no answer. For better, for worse. Many nights she’d struggled with suicidal thoughts and nightmares, like jumping from the cliff to put an absolute end to her marital problem. Her marriage was filled with surprises and unexpected twists. Many nights she would weep and cry why the marriage wasn’t working. She appeared too young to cope, too feeble to bear the burden, and too dull to be experienced.

Very early before the cockcrow, she would sweep the compound, go to the stream for water, fetch some firewood and blow the embers. From morning till night she work tirelessly to make his food good, to make him love her the more. Yet he comes home drunk only to beat her and make all her efforts futile.

She went to an old widow called the Breathing River. A legendary mother to every house wives. She makes love charms and very good at it. Many families are restored as she did it for all the women on the street. And it worked even on the worst husband.

Now imagine she was there. She sat on the mat with her confidant, the Breathing River.

“How was your night?” the widow asked.

“Dream. I dreamt of dad” she replied, and the widow smiled.

“Mother? Am I too young for marriage?” she inquired and paused, “Is that why I can’t cope?” Her voice was shaking, almost in tears.

The widow glanced at her and said, “I will make you a charm. A love charm to mend your erring husband.”

“I am a diligent woman. I have done all I could” the house wife retorted.

“If it is love,” the old widow said, "it catches up with you when you least expect it. As for fear, it knew no bound for it comes even to the mighty. And about death, it has a gift in disguise, there is hope in grief.”

“What gift is there in death?”

“To do good on time, for life is somewhat short.” the widow replied.

“Then why will a good woman like me suffer in the hands of a drinking husband?” the housewife asked.

Breathing River threw some cowries across the divination board, the ritual process began, “A hunter who uses a goat as a bait is not expecting the trap to catch a rat.”

“I do not understand”

“Can you dance naked at the market place by broad day light? Or can you bring three whiskers from the lips of a living lion?”

“O old one! All these I cannot do. I am a dutiful wife and I want to save my marriage. Can’t you make any love charm to mend my erring husband?” the house wife insisted.

“Woman, death is a thing of the mind, fear is a thing of the mind, and love is a thing of the mind. Your case is strong and it is only done with three whiskers from the lips of a living lion”

“This is a companion of death and guardian of fear but I shall bring it, if it will save my marriage.”

She travelled alone for many days and nights searching for the beast. It was an assignment she must do. She searched the forest and the stream. She searched the valleys and also the mountains.

She said to herself, “Anticipation of death is worse than death itself … but I shall bring them”

One afternoon, she was tired but dozing when suddenly she saw the beast from the cave afar. She ran home and cooked some foods. She decided to keep them by the path. And every evening the lion would pass to eat her meal while she watched from afar.

Day turns to weeks, weeks into months; she was persistent in feeding the lion and gradually became the close friend of the beast, so much that she could stroke its mane while the beast eats. Suddenly she plucked the three needed whiskers, and lion would not bite her.

“I am back! I am the one who walk upon the shell of eggs and never crush them. I am back!”

She was excited and happy. Many months had actually gone by so the widow was really aged than when she’d left her.

“Where are they?” the aged widow asked, and she gave her the whiskers.

“You are a brave woman! You passed the test. There is actually no love charm than patience. Can your husband be more wicked than the lion?”

“No” the house wife replied.

“And you have tamed the lion by your patience. Go home and tame your husband with your patience, for patience is the charm.”

Death is a thing of the mind, fear is a thing of the mind, and love is a thing of the mind.

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