They said when he was born, his cries echoed through the small village of Ideka. It was shrill, piercing. They had never heard anything like it. When the mid-wife cleaned him up, after she took him out of his mother, she held him out, turning her face away like he was an abomination. The mid-wife assistants, clasped their hands to their chests, shifting away from the little wonder. His mother, too weak to open her eyes or speak, laid there, when her mother rushed into the room happy that her first grandchild had been born.
She instantly regretted not been there to witness it, but his birth was a quick one, taking everybody by surprise.
“I will love this child with every muscle in me” she proclaimed, while his mother was pregnant with him. But as she takes the boy from the mid-wife who looked like she was going to drop him, she scowls. “Mid-wife, what is this?” she asked, as though the one who took him out, must have an explanation for why her grandchild had eyes that had never been seen before.
His eyes illuminated the room. Instead of the dark-brown colour of his mother’s or late father’s eyes, his was a strange blue colour. As his mother manages to open her eyes, the new grandmother walks to the bed and drops the baby by his mother’s side. “Look at your child’s eyes!” she says jarringly. She jerks up at the sound of Mama’s voice.
Turning to her side, she sees her little one beside her. “My child” she thinks to herself, smiling. She picks him up still with that smile on her face, not minding the scowling Mama. As she looks closely at the baby, her smile fades.
Why are his eyes that colour?” Mama adds harshly.
Bemused by the colour of her baby’s eyes, she turns to the mid-wife. “ I have never seen eyes this colour. Neither I, his late father, nor anyone from my family, and I believe, my husband’s family has eyes that look like this. Why do you think his is so?”
“Your baby is a strange one” the mid-wife said. “ My grandmother used to tell me stories about baby’s with strange colour of eyes born in the neighbouring villages, the members of the family who couldn’t stand the shame, gathered and reached a consensus to kill the child or dump him somewhere to die, turning a blind eye to their mother’s cries, but never in the history of Ideka have we seen such”
As it was the custom of Ideka, two weeks later, his mother named him. She called him “Edirida” meaning, “The one that brings me joy”. Everyone scoffed and grimaced at his name. How can something so strange be named so beautifully?.
People said he was the god of destruction disguised as human, some said he was the river god, and should have been left in the river when he was born, some said he was simply possessed by a demon while he was in his mother’s womb, and so they kept their young ones away from him. They all avoided his gaze.
Growing up, he lived like a recluse. His mother will lock him inside all day, he was only let to play outside under her watch. She will keep a stool about five feet from where he played, tirelessly giving commands to the whimsical Edirida. “Don’t go there” “That’s too far” “ Please listen to me, Edirida”. It was too risky leaving him out on his own, the ignorance of the people was still so profound. Many thought he should have been killed the moment he was born, like the other children.
One will think being within the walls of the house most of the time, should have made him less of a bubbly child, but he was a wild one when outside, just as he was inside. His mother often looked at him smiling sadly, he looked like he was made for the outdoors.
He was happy, funny, and full of mischief. Always making funny faces to the children who walked by while he played outside. They took to their feet, closing their doors peeping through the window to look at the little blue-eyed god, as they sometimes called him. He will giggle to himself. “Stop that, Edirida” his mother often said to him . Although, she will keep her face down, bridling her own laughter . This child she loved so fiercely, her beautiful boy. The one who danced and played about, making her laugh all day. A true reflection of his name.
It was as though the hatred and disdain he got from people didn’t sear through his skin. His joy was infectious, so much so, his grandmother had grown to love him. It took years, but he eventually grew on her. How he missed his grandfather who was alive the first six years of his life, he loved Edirida from the day he set eyes on him. It was he who nicknamed Edirida “The little blue-eyed god”. Coming from his grandfather, being called a god didn’t sound so vilifying. He never got to see his father, nor his father’s parents, he sometimes wondered whether they would have despised him like everyone else.
As 15, Edirida had grown more itchy to know what the world beyond the walls of his home was like. There wasn’t a time he didn’t cry to his mother to let him go out on his own. “ Just a little far away, Mama”. But she will hold his hand, her dark-brown eyes staring into his blue eyes, and explain the situation to him. This story he had heard a million times. Now, he was weary of it .
He sat her down, now the one holding her hands, staring into her dark-brown eyes. And with the most articulate words, he tells her he was grown, could stand up for himself and needed to step into the world, he just couldn’t live the hermit life any longer.
She looks at him with sad eyes, yet full of pride. Her little baby had grown. How she wishes she could shield him from the wickedness of the world all his life, but at some point, she had to let him step out to the world, find his place, live his life, and learn to stand up for himself.
With tears welled up in their eyes, they stare at each other .
Their foreheads meet, and together, they cry.