Sifa is back with another series – The Bible Stories series. If you loved The Heart Of A King series, you will absolutely enjoy what’s coming to you. Here’s the first story’s episode. Read and Enjoy.
BA’ASMA’S DELIVERANCE #1
Shemsi’s head flipped up as she startled at the sound of the crash coming from the central area of her palatial home. Muffled oaths could be heard echoing off the cool tile walls, and then silence. Then . . . then the eerie singing – Ba’asma’s voice that was not really her voice. Shemsi sighed even as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. It was beginning again. And to make things worse, Ba’asma was singing that song again.
‘The lights grow dim,
The embers die,
Deny I him?
Not I, oh not I…”
She heard hurried footsteps, sandals clacking in the hall, their staccato rhythm resounding in her head. Probably one of the servants coming to inform her of one of Ba’asma’s ‘episodes’ – a euphemism for the unearthly occurrences Ba’asma had become well known for.
Shemsi had heard the whispers, almost felt the fingers being pointed at her back as she passed by in the town square.
“It is she who brought the curse upon the child. She, in her harlotry…”
“Perhaps the child is a product of an ungodly alliance between her and Ba’al himself…”
“Her husband would kill her himself if he had lived to see this. Poor man…”
Poor man? Baarak, her dead husband, had been anything but poor. Neither had he been a hapless victim. Oh, he smiled and preened in public, where the people could see him in all his finery and splendor. But in private? He was as close to a demon as Shemsi knew. She had spent countless days locked in, trying to hide her bruises, fearful for the day when he would go too far in his wrath and deliver the blow that would kill her.
But he had told her several times that her keen business acumen, her eye for fine silks, nose for the most rare of spices and instinct for who was honest in their dealings made her more useful alive to him than dead. He had been well off when her father had given her to him in marriage. Since her arrival, he had tripled his holdings, becoming one of the richest merchants in the area. And he despised the fact that it was whispered that his wife was responsible for the increase in his wealth.
“But one day your usefulness will expire,” he had said the night before he died, his fist grasping her hair and craning her neck to face him as she cringed on the floor after a particularly vicious beating.
Her lip was bleeding and she could feel her left eye start to swell shut. Still she looked him dead on, refusing to flinch.
He continued to talk, the words coming out like the hissing of a snake. “One day I will toss your body out in the alley for the rats to feast on. You and that brat of yours.”
He hated Ba’asma, their daughter, almost as much as he hated her. “I should have offered her to the gods as a burnt sacrifice the moment she was born.”
“But you can’t, eh?” Shemsi said, smiling with blood coated teeth, defiance glinting in her eyes. “For she has more power than you. She has it in her veins. It was foretold. Your own mother cursed you using your daughter as the instrument.”
For a moment Shemsi caught a glimpse of fear in his eyes before he balled his hand into a fist and gave her a blow that knocked her unconscious. The next morning, he was dead.
Shemsi had woken up to the sound of screaming and wailing. Her head hurt and her eye was swollen shut. She ran her tongue over her teeth in a bid to rid her mouth of the metallic taste of blood and tension. One of the maidservants ran into the room, halting when she saw Shemsi huddled on the floor.
“Oh my mistress,” she said, her eyes filled with tears and terror. “The Master is dead! He is in his chamber.”
Shemsi got up slowly and painfully, her body aching with each movement, and walked to her husband’s chamber. The servants stood in a small crowd at the entrance, none daring to go in. Tannel, her husband’s personal slave, stood by the door, wringing his hands with tears coursing down his cheeks.
“I came to the chamber at dawn as I normally do, with his usual platter of fruit. As I walked in, I saw him on the bed…” And his voice trailed off.
Shemsi walked in wordlessly, her battered face registering no emotion.
Baarak lay on his back, with his arms and legs sprawled out. His face was contorted into a grimace of fear, his eyes wide, dilated and unseeing. Shemsi wondered what it was that could have caused such an expression. His lips had the telltale bluish tinge of death and his fingers had set in a claw-like state, as though he had tried to tear someone or something off him.
There was a movement at the door and Shemsi looked up. The crowd parted to reveal a small figure walking calmly in. Ba’asma, her daughter.
She had been six years old then but walked with the bearing of a woman who had seen and experienced much. Her thick black hair, instead of being in the braids customary to children her age, was loose and flowing down her back in waves. Her eyes, usually a mellow green in her more lucid moments, were like shards of ice – narrowed, cold and unfeeling. Her lips that could part into the most beautiful smile were at the moment clamped together in a red slash across her face. Her skin, instead of having the warm olive glow of the people of the Mediterranean, was pale and sickly. One would think the child was in the throes of death from the way she looked. And yet she walked calmly, surveying the room. The only sound in the room was the jangling sound of her gold anklets and bracelets- totally inappropriate for the somber moment. But fear would not allow anyone to point that fact out to the little girl.
She stopped at the bed and stared at her father’s corpse coldly.
“He did not die well,” she said flippantly, and gasps could be heard from the servants at the door. She turned her head in their direction sharply and there was deafening silence as they swallowed their comments. Then slowly, she returned her attention to the lifeless, grimacing body.
“You will want to bury him quickly, mother,” she said, almost nonchalantly. Shemsi didn’t protest, neither did she cry. She had no tears left for Baarak.
“I wonder what killed him,” Shemsi muttered to no one in particular.
Ba’asma turned bright green eyes to her and for an instant Shemsi could have sworn she saw them glow with something unearthly and malevolent.
“He died of fear, mother. Fear. Like a coward,” she said in low tones that only Shemsi could hear. With that Ba’asma turned around and began to walk out slowly, her body swaying slightly as though in a secret dance. Her feet began to stomp lightly in a rhythm as her anklets jangled like tambourines. And she was singing.
“The lights grow dim,
The embers die,
Deny I him?
Not I, oh not I…”
Written by Sifa Asani Gowon