NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 164

“Stop! Look!” Anyika shouted, holding him at bay with one arm while she pointed to the water. “Be still!” she whispered. “Kwame, look at yourself… look at how beautiful you are.” Kwame gazed at his shock of wooly curls, his long, lean, sun-burnished body, at the soft curves of his face air-brushed with tenderness, at his eyes so gorged with wonder that he appeared to be dreaming wide awake. He threw back his head and laughed as he turned on Anyika. “Come here, woman!” he commanded and the chase resumed. Finally they came to rest underneath a giant baobab tree, the tree of Africa. Anyika teased Kwame’s nostrils with a humongous mango that had fallen nearby, its ripe fruit bursting through the skin. She peeled away a red-gold flap and offered it to him. He grinned and took a bite as the sweet saffroncolored juice trickled down onto his bare thighs. Seizing it with both hands, he stuffed his mouth with golden fruit then gingerly peeled back another flap and held it to her lips. Soon they’d devoured it and Kwame sat sucking on the pit. He leaned back lazily against the tree’s giant trunk and Anyika rested her bronze body against him as she nuzzled her head, still radiant with azure liquid, into the crook of his shoulder. She gazed up at him as she took both his hands in hers. A gentle tingle, like an electric charge, oozed through his palms. 162 “I found a story last night,” she said smiling. “Zamani…long ago,” she began, her voice as seductive as a siren, “on this very lake—and let this old Wise One be my witness”—she said as she caressed the gnarled root of the baobab tree. “There came a season when the Moon Goddess hid herself from her lover, the Sun. The darkness over the lake was so thick that it could be braided like a woman’s hair. And, as was their custom, there were these little fish called dagaa who came out to worship the Moon Goddess and to bask in her light. But for many days they sought her face in vain. In desperation, the bold ones among them began to fling themselves into the pitch black curtain, hoping to scale their way to the other side. But the cloud was so thick until they perished without ever looking upon the face of their beloved goddess. Alas, she was nowhere to be found. By and by, others among the dagaa began to follow in their wake, thinking in their mad lust that perhaps some of their brothers and sisters may have penetrated the black gloom to arrive at the other side of sorrow. So, first by the dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, lusting in vain for the light, the dagaa began to perish. Men, who dwelled in a nearby village, had for some time observed a broad, silvery stream floating on the bosom of darkness (because the dagaa, you see, were made of light) and came with flaming torches to investigate. When they discovered the luminous bodies of the tasty little fish they began to beat their breasts in lamentation. They mourned the loss of a fabled delicacy, one that they had long craved but had never tasted because of the faithfulness of the Moon Goddess. The remaining dagaa, in despair and near death, heard the cries of men and a fateful bargain was struck. Thus, the dagaa vowed that, thereafter, whenever the Moon Goddess hid herself—whether for a minute or for many days—that they would gratefully surrender their bodies as sacrifice in exchange for the light of men.” “Tell me,” he said, his eyelids growing heavy with sleep. BRN-FALL-2013.indb 162 9/13/13 12:48 AM