“Just a minute” I muttered while loosening the latch on my bamboo door.
The door flung open and my visitor greeted me with a million hugs of violet-clad skies, pillowed with broad strips of gold and yellow, resting gracefully on a gentle skyline of shadowed low mangroves. A reflexive smile drew on my lips; so special I felt, because such a visit as this a man may never receive even though a hundred years he lives.
I stepped out of my bamboo shack, jute and palm-frond roof, and the white and soft silt sands of Soku met my feet with a charming embrace. As my eyes adjusted to the sweet solar radiance, I began to make out the scene on the street and down to the waterside. It was a sight I did not want to miss. To the locals, it was nothing new, but to an outsider- a city dweller, it is a rare and special treat to a rustic paradise. A bunkering boat had been moored in the narrow creek opposite my street, and it was reposed in a silhouette worn on it by the setting sun. The creek waters glistened with sweet solar fire, exuding an unspeakable aura of beauty and elegance. I had always heard that such sights as these existed here, in these mazy creeks and bullet-ridden islands of our own Niger Delta.
I dashed back into my room, pulled my slippers from under the bed and quickly stepped out to say a better good night to my friend. The street was now a little busier. A group of fishermen had just arrived from the creeks. To their homes they strolled confidently and happily, with big sacs of fish in one hand or shoulder, and a bunch of unripe plantain or a string of stacked crabs in the other. Some small kids ran anxiously to them and tried to pull either the sac or the string of stacked crabs from their hands. So glad they were, to see their fathers return from the waters with bounties of the day’s catch. This sure promised a dinner of favorite delicacies for them. “Make I carry am papa, I fit carry am papa” (let me carry it papa, I can carry it papa) the children shouted ecstatically as they jumped and tugged at the loads. I leaned on my door frame and with these scenes I got enraptured in a binding cloud of wonder and admiration.
My friend, who had already continued on her journey, had gone a long distance and was closer home now. She had even slipped into her night gown of romantic crimson and was saying “good bye” with a smooth descent beneath a now-sleepy skyline. I smiled and sighed deeply, having been bountifully fed from its warm embrace. A gust of chilly wind caressed my skin as it swept by; reminding me it was time for the village’s burn fire night. “An awesome night it is going to be” I thought to myself as I reached for my bed and pulled my Ankara wrapper carefully folded at its edge. I draped it around my body as I set out for the village square.
That night, as the flames of the village burn fire soared into the dark skies and fell upon the gentle creeks and mangrove trees; I sat by the shores, and marveled at its awe, enthralled by its sweet loveliness- all these you cannot but adore. This is Soku, a small Island locked away in the ‘middle of no-where’- one hour from Abonema town and one hour to the Atlantic Ocean, in Rivers State, South-South Nigeria.