I must point out that at the time it happened I had no mirror or a picture of myself with me. Neither was I near anything glassy. I was girdled by village elders who sit on carved stones, drink wine – palm wine, by the way – from cattle horns, and are as addicted to snuff as Bob Marley was to marijuana.
Before they drink their wine, they first break cola nut and thank the gods of the land by tossing a few pieces to the ground and offering the soil some wine – this time, they used the palm wine that cost me an arm and a leg. Ah, goats have eaten palm frond on my head!
For comportment, for the story ideas their acts inspired, I simply downed my spittle and, as I waited, prayed today’s tale from their folklore bore something about which I can blog.
One finally cleared his throat and said, “Have you heard of Eke-ite?”
I perked up, licking my lips. “No.”
“Eke-ites are big snakes like pythons,” he explained. “They snare their prey by vomiting their glittering eyes.”
“Vomiting…their eyes? Is that a fact?”
He nodded. “They do have eyes like other snakes, but those are false eyes. Their true eyes are diamonds,” he said in all seriousness.
My ears frowned. As fascinating as this sounds, and much as it reminds of the first ‘Clash of the Titans’ where three witches shared an eye, it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Well, not the dumbest, but one of the dumber things I’ve ever heard, and it suggests some parts of Africa are still in the Iron Age.
The elder went on to say the snake vomits its diamond eye, retreats to a cover, and wait. Then when a human sees the diamond and, in excitement, attempts to take it, the snake would slither out of its cover and swallow the human.
So to trap the snake, fortune hunters visit forests with mortars – you know, the ones their wives use in their raffia-roofed mud kitchens – and when they see a suspicious diamond, they quickly cover it with the mortar, thus blinding the snake if around. When blinded, the reptile would start flogging the ground with its body, until that kills it, and the hunter is left with meat with which to celebrate his diamond.
Obviously, I love the tale to have blogged about it, but I find the elders insistence on its trueness irritating. They say Eke-ites exist and actually have real diamonds as eyes, and my attempts to subdue that shameful belief of theirs were woefully unavailing.
Imagine your eyes seeing your ears without using a mirror, water, camera, glass, or anything at all. That’s how impossible the bloody snake and the tales about it are.