Saving the village 2
A young African man pays an incredible price in order to save his village from destruction.
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Saving the village 2
A month later, I stood naked before the elders, my arms hanging limply by my sides. It was an honour but I was also nervous. It was night and the large fire was burning brightly casting its orange glow on our skin and faces.
“The Earth is dying,” Nkruma, our shaman said. “We need to show Koma that we are still faithful. We need to seed the Earth again so that it can be reborn.”
I listened quietly, not questioning the wisdom of a man who had guided us for more seasons than my father had been alive.
“The seed needs to come from our most fertile male or Koma will be insulted. That male is you.”
“Me?” I asked, stunned.
I was not the greatest warrior, nor did I have the biggest snake or the heaviest eggs. I had not even been permitted to take a wife yet.
Kwesi, our chief spoke.
“Because everybody knows that you pull it more than any other male in the tribe.”
I started to blush. I had been caught pulling my snake numerous times, but in the hut of the males, where none of us had a wife, we all pulled at night. I didn’t realise that my activities elsewhere had attracted attention or were anything out of the ordinary.
“It is clear,” Kwesi continued, “that you have plentiful seed flowing in your eggs.”
Everybody looked down at my loins. I was proud of my large balls. They were larger than viper eggs and they hung low: a sign that I would make many children one day, when I took a wife. But now I felt odd as everybody looked at them.
I remained silent and the shaman resumed.
“It is a great honour for you. You will reseed the river and the trees and the earth, and you will save the village.”
I had no idea what he was speaking about. There had never been a drought like this in my lifetime. But I felt the weight of the duty I was being given and I glowed with pride that it had fallen to me, of all the males in the village, to save us.
“What must I do Nkruma?”
“You must make a great sacrifice Chinwe. You must save all of your seed for three moons. You must not spill a single drop. Then you will give your seed to Koma.”
My jaw gaped involuntarily at the enormity of what I was being asked to do. Three moons?! I never even went one DAY without spilling my seed three or four times. More sometimes.
“I… I…” my mouth skipped, unable to say what I was feeling.
I didn’t know that I would be able to take on such an enormous challenge. Nkruma smiled warmly.
“We understand Chinwe. You don’t know if you can restrain yourself that long. You pull yourself so often, and now you are being asked to stop for so very long. It is indeed a big sacrifice to make, but only you can make it. We could have asked Dube to make it, but Koma may not be satisfied with our second best.”
Dube was my arch rival. We competed in everything. His snake was bigger than mine and he had bigger muscles and was stronger, but I was faster and a more skilful hunter. Nkruma had used the perfect gambit. The mere mention of Dube’s name made me want to better him; to ensure that the honour did not get handed onto him.
“I’ll do my best Nkruma,” I answered solemnly.
“We know you will, and you’ll succeed, and when three moons has passed, you will give your seed and Koma will see your sacrifice and know that we deserve his protection.”
“When must I start?” I asked.
“Right now,” our shaman replied.
I was disappointed. Shocked. I couldn’t hide it from my face. Kwesi and several of the other elders laughed at what I suppose was a comical expression.
“If it was no sacrifice there would be little point would there Chinwe?” Kwesi said.
“No but I was hoping…”
I trailed off.
“Could I at least have a hundred breaths?” I asked, hoping to go and pull my snake one last time.
The elders laughed raucously. I thought I was being discreet – cunning even, but my intentions were clear as day.
Nkruma smiled kindly.
“No Chinwe, not even ten breaths. Come here.”
I walked up to him, disappointed, but willing to forego 90 days of pleasure for the good of the tribe. He held up an object as I approached. It was a gourd, a little smaller than my fist, with a protruding top. There was a large hole cut in the base and I could see that it was hollowed. There were two smaller holes on either side of the large one. There was also a hole the width of my first finger on the end of the protruding part. I looked at it with curiosity.
Nkruma explained its purpose.
“We know that three moons is a long time for you to last, and we expect that it might be an impossible temptation for you. This is to ensure that you keep your vow.”
I looked at the gourd quizzically.
“Come closer,” our shaman said.
I shuffled right up until I stood before him. The fire was behind me, hot on my buttocks although it was two arms away. Nkruma reached down and grasped my genitals. As he lifted the gourd towards them, I finally comprehended its purpose. It was to stop me touching myself. I was both relieved and concerned. It took away some of the pressure of self discipline that I would be under, but the whole village would see it whenever I walked around.
Nkruma lifted the gourd towards my eggs, with the base uppermost and the protruding part facing downwards. My eggs were slightly larger than the hole in the base, so he gently pushed them into the hole with his finger. I felt a mild ache as he squeezed them through, but bore it without remark, although I think the elders must have noticed me tense my stomach against the discomfort. Once both my eggs were within the gourd, Nkruma gave it a shake so that they would hang low, then he carefully fed my snake through the same hole. My snake was considerably longer than the gourd, and my foreskin was soon poking at the smaller hole. Nkruma jiggled and adjusted the gourd until a little of my foreskin protruded, then he gripped the skin and pulled as much of it through the hole as he could. With the help of Adongo, his young acolyte, he spread my foreskin in a ring around the narrow end of the gourd, like petal opening to reveal the inside of a flower. Then Nkruma spread some paste from a small wood pot all over my skin and the bottom of the gourd. He picked up a small burning branch from the fire, leaned forwards and moved the branch towards the gourd. I flinched away instinctively.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said.
I forced myself to remain still as he moved the flame to the gourd. He moved it over the paste, just long enough to warm it, but not enough to harm me. After a minute or so, he threw the branch past me and back into the fire. To my great surprise, the paste had hardened, keeping my foreskin spread.
Nkruma and Adongo each picked up a length of acacia bark cord. It was the strongest cord we were capable of making. We used it for roping ploughs and restraining our oxen. They each fed the cord through the small holes in the gourd near the base, until each of them held two equally long pieces of cord. Both men fed one end between my legs and the other around my waist. Nkruma handed his pieces to Adongo, and the man moved behind me, shielding me from the heat of the fire with his body. Then Nkruma stuffed the rest of my snake into the gourd. My snake had to twist and turn to fit inside it. I t made me think of the way that an unborn snake curls inside its egg. My stretched foreskin pulled my plum against the smaller opening, with the slit on my plum exposed presumably so that I could still piss.
“Alright Adongo,” Nkruma said.
Adongo pulled the cords tight and it pulled the gourd up against my smooth belly. All of the men in our tribe are smooth shaven with short hair on our heads. It prevents ticks and lice from attaching themselves, and it makes our snakes look better for the females.
I could feel Adongo tying the cords tight behind my back. Not so tight that it was uncomfortable, but tight enough so that the gourd had absolutely no freedom to move. Nkruma handed him the wooden bowl of paste and he generously covered the knots in the cord, holding it away so that it did not stick to my back. Then he took another burning branch and cured the paste with the heat, turning it into a lock, as hard as parched savannah mud. Now I would not be able to even touch my snake until they allowed me to remove the gourd.
Nkruma had one more surprise in store for me. He picked up a small piece of twig, one thumb long. He raised it to his eye and looked inside to ensure that it had been properly hollowed, then he blew into it, as much to reassure me that it was hollow I suspect, as to clear any remaining debris from within. He smeared one end of the twig with sap to make it slippery then he lifted the gourd, and slowly inserted half of the twig into the hole in my plum. Although the twig had been smoothed, I still gasped in shock at the unexpectedly sensitive feeling.
Once it was in place, Nkruma took the paste, and one more time, used it, this time coating the head of the gourd, and surrounding the twig that was lodged inside the slit of my plum. Once he had hardened it, I truly felt as though I had become one with the gourd. No part of my plum was visible, so I would not even be able to tease myself.
“Please piss over there,” Nkruma said, pointing near to the fire.
I walked where I was directed and urinated. I had to squeeze a little to get it out and when it came out of the twig, it dribbled straight down, like a woman pissing. Nkruma nodded.
As fascinated as I was by the ritual, I knew now that I was going to have to see it through to its end in three moons, or be seen as a failure in the eyes of the entire village. In the eyes of Dube. In the eyes of Afia.
I felt certain that if I could save the village, that the elders would surely allow me to take a wife, and hopefully Afia’s father would consent to let us join.
Nkruma said, “Very good Chinwe. It’s done. You can wash or swim with that on. But whatever you do, do not remove it. If you do, you will let down the entire village, and you may even doom us all to die.”
It was a grave warning, and I resolved that NOTHING would compel me to remove the gourd before Nkruma gave me permission, and I’m proud to say, difficult though it was, I did not.
After it was done, I walked away to find my friend Nefari. He was sitting by a fire outside the male’s sleeping hut. I approached casually as though nothing was amiss. Ridiculously, I thought that if I didn’t mention the penis gourd, it might go unnoticed or at least unmentioned, but that illusion burned immediately like a dry leaf on a fire.
Nafari took one glance at me and immediately said, “What’s that thing on your uchango – have you taken to fucking vegetables now?!”
“Nkruma made me wear it. He and the elders said I must save my seed for the Koma.”
“Fuck off you lying ox uchango!” Nefari said, and the other males gathered around the fire laughed, as fascinated as he was.
“No, it’s true. Kwesi summoned me. They said that I must give my seed to the river and trees and earth so that I can save the tribe and end this drought.”
Nefari was studying me now, not sure whether or not to believe me, or if this was just some kind of prank.
“If you have to give your seed, why is your snake caged inside that vegetable?”
His face was painted with scepticism.
“I have to save it for three moons first so that it will be a worthy offering.”
“Three moons? We’re fucked. I’ve never seen you go half a day without pulling yourself three times!”
The men and older boys laughed uproariously at the truth of Nefari’s statement. I looked at the floor, embarrassed.
“I will do it. I HAVE to,” I said quietly.
The next three moons were the most difficult of my life. I quickly got over the embarrassment of wearing the gourd, and even of the whole village knowing that I was chosen because I pulled my snake so often, but the misery of not being able to touch myself for so long was a torment that only grew and grew.
From the very first night, Dube was no help. He delighted in telling me about how much he pulled himself, or telling me stories that he knew would get me hard. And I did get hard, in a manner of speaking. I could feel my uchango straining within the gourd, and the root outside the gourd was bloated and swollen. I couldn’t tell for sure what was happening to the rest of my snake, but I’m pretty certain that it was getting as hard as the confines of the gourd allowed. I could feel it pressing against my eggs so hard that my eggs ached, and for some reason, once I was aroused, I stayed like it for hours, my eggs aching like as if they were being squeezed in someone’s fist.
One time Dube had been tormenting me on and off all day as we were building a new hut for Wailoa, the oldest woman in the tribe, and I was almost going crazed with lust. I had been wearing the gourd for two and a half moons by that point, and even though there was only two weeks left, I was beginning to doubt that I would manage it without losing my mind.
Dube has told yet another dirty story and he was talking casually to the other males about how he was going to pull himself all night whilst he thought of Afia. I was quietly seething at his wilful torment and wondering if I would survive a blood battle with him.
“Wow, you ARE getting excited Chinwe,” he said.
I turned to look at him to see what the fool was talking about, and several of the other men were looking at me. All eyes fell to my groin, and several of them started to laugh. I looked down at myself and sticky water was oozing from the twig. I frowned, then I understood what I was seeing. I plucked the streamer off with my fingers and flicked it to the dust infuriated.
“Will you SHUT UP you dung beetle!” I said rounding on Dube. “Do you know what happens if I fail? The whole village could die. If I cannot do this and Koma is not honoured, the drought could stay and we will all die of thirst or starvation. Is that what you want?!”
Dube looked furious.
He dived at me, clearly intent upon beating me for the insult, but he never reached me. Three pairs of arms grabbed him, quickly joined by two more.
“He’s right,” one of the men said. “He’s doing it for the tribe and you have done nothing but make it harder for him since he started.”
“That’s the truth,” someone else added. “Do you WANT the tribe to die Dube?”
Dube stopped struggling, shamed by their words. He reddened and his head lowered.
I stood in the centre of the village. If it was not so dry, the morning dew would still have been on the plant leaves. But there was neither dew nor leaves. Three moons had passed and Chief Kwesi was making a show of the upcoming ritual. The whole village was there; almost 80 people. He addressed them.
“Beloved brothers and sisters, children, wise elders,” he turned and gave a deferential nod to Waiola who returned it graciously. “Today is a special day. As you know, for the past three moons, Chinwe’s snake has been caged so that he cannot pull it.”
I blushed. Some of the younger teenage boys jumped around and howled like baboons, unable to contain their mirth. The chief continued.
“For those of you who know him, you will know that that alone has been a massive sacrifice. He is a young man who loved to pull himself as often as he could.”
He paused to let the words sink in, and I looked at the ground, even more embarrassed. Kwesi was in the middle of a circle, with Nkruma to his side. I stood just in front of both, facing out towards the crowd.
“Now finally is the day of his release. And today, he will give his seed to the river, the trees and the earth so that Koma can see, and he will bestow his blessings upon us and end this drought.”
The villagers all stamped their feet in appreciation. The men and boys made bass grunting noises like gorillas warning off a rival, and the women made high pitched trilling noises with their tongues to show how much they appreciated what I was doing for the village. I looked up, proud to be the centre of attention for once in my life. It was probably as important as I would ever become in village life unless I distinguished myself as a great warrior.
“Let us remove the cage that has confined Chinwe for the past three moons.”
Kwesi nodded to Nkruma and the old man came forwards. He held a bowl of liquid. I could smell it – it was bitter – cherry orange juice maybe. Nkruma dipped a brush made of ox hair into the bowl, then painted the liquid on the hardened paste that still held my foreskin and plum in place. He took out a curved knife and my eyes momentarily widened in panic.
“For the cords,” he reassured me with a smile.
I gave a sigh of relief and I heard several of the elders chuckling. Nkruma cut the acacia cords that passed between my legs and around my waist. The gourd slipped away from my groin, still supported by my genitals which were inside. Nkruma put the blade away and picked up the brush again, painting more of the acidic smelling juice onto the dried paste. Then he turned the brush upside down and used the short, smooth wooden handle to tap lightly at the hardened paste. To my delight, it immediately started to crumble. He worked as much of it away as he could then painted on more juice. I could feel it cool against the inside of my foreskin and on my plum as it was slowly exposed. The rest of the paste rapidly turned back to the soft pap that Nkruma had originally smeared on me.
The shaman took a small pot of water and rinsed the last of the paste from my foreskin. My skin was much paler than usual down there – sickly looking, and it stayed loose and floppy from three moons of stretching. Nkruma gripped the twig tube then gave it a light tug. It slid from my plum hole easily and there was a feeling of absence, and cool air inside the small gaping eye.
Now Nkruma tugged at the gourd. Unsurprisingly, it would not simply slide off. It had been a careful operation to put my parts within, and it was going to be harder to remove me. He pulled it low, stretching the skin of my bag and my snake. The top of my snake was visible. Nkruma gripped it between the finger and thumb of his right hand and wiggled it, teasing my snake from it sleeping place. My snake slowly slipped free, unfurling as it came out. Nkruma adjusted his grip lower on my snake and repeated until the whole length of my snake was out of the gourd. He gave it one more wiggle to shake life back into it. I looked down at myself. My skin was pale. There had never been a single day when I was not naked and in the sun, but three moons hidden away inside its cage had taken the colour from it. It was usually the darkest part of my body – a dark umber, but now it was much lighter, almost grey. The colour of the parched dust beneath my feet. I didn’t like it. The colour looked unhealthy.
Nkruma tried to pull the gourd off again, but it still wouldn’t come. He’d had to squeeze my eggs in one at a time, so I was curious how he planned to reverse the operation. He reached into the hole at the top with a bony finger and pressed my eggs one after the other.
“Much larger. Koma will be pleased.”
He gripped the gourd firmly in his other fist then used his finger to pull away at the edge of the hole. A piece of the hard vegetable broke away. He repeated the action time and again until the entire top of the gourd was no more, then he pulled it away to reveal my balls. I watched with interest, and the relief I felt when I was finally free was immense. My eggs were huge. Far bigger than they had ever been before. Three moons without tugging had swollen them to twice their normal size. I would have been delighted if not for their pallid colour, but I was sure that their normal darkness would return once they were in the sun a few weeks.
Nkruma cupped my heavy eggs in his palm and hefted them to feel their weight.
“Excellent,” he said addressing me and Kwesi, “they are very full. Koma will be pleased.”