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A Story My Grandmother Told Me: Nmiri Oma ( good water)

By Onome Akrah on 22 Apr, 2015

Last year, we published the first series of A Story My Grandmother Told Me; a modern day Isoko myth by  Onome Akrah. This week we are pleased to feature another story from Onome's blog . Do you write? Send your short stories, book reviews, and poems to [email protected] for a chance to be featured on the blog!

“Grand ma tell us one last story before we go back home tomorrow!” I said to my grandma while my siblings nodded in agreement. The Christmas break was almost over; mama had made sure we enjoyed every second spent with her by feeding us with delicious meals and keeping us glued to our seats with her unique stories. “Okay kids, I will tell you one last story before you leave tomorrow but that will be after dinner” that night she prepared a meal of concoction rice and meat. We hurriedly had our dinner, packed our plates to the backyard and ran back to the sitting room “mama we are ready” we said as we took our seat around her. “Okay my darlings. I will tell you an interesting story. One day I went to spend some time with my aunty and her husband in the village where they lived with their two children. The village was smaller than ours and everyone seemed happy. In that village, there was a river called Nmiri oma which means good water, according to what my aunty told me; it was called good water because it had the ability to cure all forms of diseases and it was even rumored that it could make you very rich. People would always go there to bathe anytime they had one illness or the other. Some women who had no children would go there to cry for help. In the mornings, people would go to the river to bath and wash and even fetch some for drinking and cooking, but at night the river would be very quiet. One day I asked my aunty why the river was quiet at night because in my own village people were always excited to go to the river in the night because it was very cold by then. She said spirits go to the river at night and it is not a good thing for spirits to be seen, no one had actually ever seen a spirit there but she told me to only go to the river during the day and to stay clear at night. I laid on the mat that night wondering what spirits were doing in the river besides no one had ever seen them so it might all be a lie. I stood up quietly and went outside, it was very dark and everywhere was quiet. I wanted to see for myself if there where spirits so I went straight to the river. “Ha! Mama” I exclaimed “were you not scared?” “Of course I was but I was also very curious” “What happened next?” my cousin asked “There were tall trees at the bank of the river and the moon was shining really bright, I put my hand in the water and realized it was very warm, which was strange. I took of my clothes and entered into the river. I kept looking around for spirits but there was none. I was in the river for about fifteen minutes or so but no spirit came, so I came out and ran back to the house. I tiptoed back to my mat and laid quietly. A part of me was disappointed but at least I was convinced there were no spirits. I went to the river every night when I realized there were no spirits; the water was always warm and relaxing. On the night before I went back to my village, I decided to go to the river one last time before going back home. I went out quietly as usual and ran to the river; I took off my clothes and went into the warm, soothing water. About ten minutes later, I noticed a very big blue and gold shinning object approaching me. I wanted to run out but the object was very attractive so I waited to see what it was, it came closer and closer and then it disappeared. I looked around but I couldn’t find it, maybe it was just a fish I thought to myself. I continued bathing and then all of a sudden it reappeared but this time it wasn’t just one but four shinning objects. They came close to me and that was when I noticed that the shinning objects were actually fish tails, very big fish tails, they surrounded me and then came out of the water gradually revealing their heads. Right before me where the most beautiful ladies I had ever seen, they had long hair and shiny eyes; and then like a light bulb, it clicked in my head. These were mermaids! Real mermaids! I couldn’t believe my eyes; I stood in the water astonished and scared at the same time. I had heard stories about mermaids but I never knew they were real. One of them came close and touched my hair and then with the tiniest voice I had ever heard she told me not to come to the river at night again because I was disturbing them and then she asked if I needed anything, I shook my head still in shock. She held my hand and led me out of the river, waved goodbye before they all disappeared into the water. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me back to the house, I did not even take my cloths” we all laughed at the thought of my grandma running naked. “I tiptoed to my mat and laid quietly; it was like I was dreaming. I covered myself with my wrapper and tried to sleep, looking forward to my journey home.” “Did you tell your aunty about the mermaid grandma?” I asked “No I did not, I did not want her to be angry at me for going to the river in the night and I thought she wouldn’t believe me” “Mama, does the river still exist?” my brother asked “Yes it does, but I don’t know if anyone ever saw the mermaids or maybe they did but decided not to tell anyone just like I did not tell anyone” We looked at mama’s face, and I for one wondered how she always had such fascinating experiences. “It’s time for bed kids, you have a long journey tomorrow” Our journey back home was filled with arguments about the mermaids; we could not stop talking about it. I could not stop thinking about it; mama’s stories could never be forgotten, I sat quietly looking at the skies as my mum drove home, I couldn’t wait for the next Christmas holiday.

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