Ashake knew it was time to get out of bed when she heard her name being called repeatedly. She yawned loudly as she mentally prepared her self for the chilling bath Maami would put her through in the next few minutes. How was it morning already? It seemed barely minutes ago that Maami had walked into the room, blown out the silver atupa then lighted up the mosquito coil before singing her “Omo mi seun rere ti e adara o”
Ashake opened her eyes, sat on the edge of the bed and c`oughed. The mosquito coil had barely burnt past the first ring; no way it was morning, it would have burnt off completely by now. But what then, did Maami want? And why was her voice softer and sweeter than usual. She picked up the matches settling neatly atop the rough edges of her Book of Magical Stories, then, lit up the atupa before making for the living room.
The more Ashake moved, the louder she could hear her voice, surprisingly melodious, even the breeze billowing from the window seemed to have calmed in it’s wake. Imagine Ashake’s surprise when stepped into the living room and noticed Maami sleeping on the couch, probably waiting for Baa mi to come home. Whatever this voice was, it obviously did not belong to her. Ashake’s curiousity grew even more when she noticed that the moon shone brightly on the right side of the room. Baami must have come back home, staggering, and forgotten to lock the door. Baami always staggers at night. Maami says his leg is paining him. Ashake set down the atupa and tried to shut the door but she was not prepared for the sight her eyes saw outside the front door.
It was dark but she could see clearly, the clay sand outside the house shone like bronze and the agbalumo tree whistled daintily in the wind. On the far end of the house, she could see a velvety gold glittering figure, dancing around the awin tree. She heard the voice again, louder, clearer, even more melodious. Ashake set down the atupa and stepped out, eager to see what the glittering figure was. She had barely taken two steps when she noticed that her feet were as light as air. She looked down and saw that she was floating, not because she could fly but because two things that looked liked butterflies had lifted her. They set her down in front of the awin tree and Ashake was greeted with the most beautiful sight ever. This tiny thing was the carrier of the beautiful voice. She had ebony dreadlocks that fell all the way to her waist, a colorful parrot perched happily on her shoulders. On her head was a crown made of gold and twigs, and on her body was a velvet black dress.
“My name is Awin, queen of the fruit fairies” Ashake pinched herself to douse herself back to reality. Surely this was a dream. Fairies didn’t exist and people didn’t float. Well, they did in her book of magical stories but Maami had particularly said that those were lies from the land across the seas. Awin sensed Ashake’s confusion and perched on her palm. “You’re not dreaming. You see us now because we chose to let you. Come, play with us”
Before Ashake could tell what was happening, she had been surrounded by a bevy of golden wings , all looking like Anwi but with shorter hair. They tugged at her shirt, tickled her till she laughed, spun her around, then, lifted her up in the air, all the time singing merry songs. Ashake laughed, smiled, jumped, not remembering the last time she was this happy. Then suddenly the music stopped, and all the fairies came to a complete halt. She turned around then and saw Maami peering through the door, atupa in hand visibly upset.
“What do you think you are doing outside by this time she asked?” Bubbling with excited Ashake replied “ The fairies, they came, I told you they were real. They woke me up, they sang, look at them, aren’t they pretty” But Maami just stared past her like she had said nothing. “See!” Ashake repeated. Maami’s face softened. “Come inside, its late and you have school tomorrow. When the day comes we’ll go to Baba Rofia’s shop and get you a new book. Ali and Simbi perhaps”.
Ashake shrugged and went into the house, waving goodnight to her fairy friends who still remained in that still position.
She trudged slowly into the room, wondering why Maami had acted so nonchalantly towards this news, towards their presence. As she tucked her in and blew out the atupa , Ashake wondered if this meant an end to her new found happiness. The fairies, would they want to play with her again? Did they hate her for leaving so briefly.
As she closed her eyes to sleep, Ashake noticed a glittery glow in the window, then a voice, slow, soothing. “Awin”! Ashake wanted to jump out of bed in excitement but lay still when she remembered that Maami was barely two feet outside her door. This creaky bed would surely give her away. Awin’s melody got louder, calmer . “You see us now because we chose to let you, because your heart is pure. Every generation, a child, pure of heart, is chosen to be our special friend. This year we’ve chosen you. Sleep well Ashake, we’ll play some more tomorrow.