Tales of the Tribe (Episode 1)

The end often brings us to reflect on the beginning.
The end we dreamed, Fantasized and prayed for from the start.
The end we envisaged to end the struggle
Yet, in the end we wish to start all over again.

It was a well deserved funeral conducted for a very saintly priest. ‘He went to all the forgotten and neglected corners of the world, preaching the gospel of Christ’ Cardinal Michael Wright eulogized as he concluded the funeral prayers for Bishop Edward Franklyn. ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. From dust we were made and to dust shall we all return’ he concluded. The tight pink ropes which held the lizard-egg white casket was gradually released and the ugly casket bearing the remains of the Bishop was lowered into the concrete floored tomb. It will be so described for there’s nothing beautiful to be admired about a casket. Upon the head of the grave was a marble plaque upon which this encryption was boldly written;

‘WHETHER UNDER THE SMILING MORNING SUN OR A TEARFUL EVENING RAIN, THIS MAN WAS A GOOD MAN.’ 

The casket which bore a rail of gold design running lateral along its entire length contains not just the remains of Bishop Franklyn, but the secret Dr. Cyril Shepherd had lived all his life in search of.
Cyril watched agonizingly as the priests in  attendance all made signs of the cross and kissed the crucifix dangling from the rosary they all wore. Some struggled to fight back their tears in submission to the total will of God, while others wept behind their handkerchiefs. The tears couldn’t stop flowing as they mourned. If God could ever reconsider his decision there was no better time to do so. Cyril was the last to leave the church cemetery. He still found it hard to reconcile the fact that the only man he grew up to know as his blood was dead. Even though  the Bishop lived to see his eightieth birthday, men had gotten so used to him that they became oblivious how each passing day brings man closer to the grave. Cyril stooped over the grave and dropped the long stalk of white rose flowers he held in his shaky fingers as he drooped into despair. On the grave was the pure white rose, for a priest with a pure heart.

Cyril dressed in dressed in a made-to-measure black tuxedo made by one of the best Italian designers with a slim black tie nicely hanging from the collars of his slim fit long sleeved, white shirt. Despite his sober look at the funeral, Cyril is a jaunty and humorous young man. He is well built and stands at a towering 6ft, 2inches height with skin as dark as charcoal. His long nosed designers shoe made a koi koi sound on the tarred road as he walked towards the waiting red BMW 5 series.  The patient German speed machine waited under a citrus tree near the cemetery. He stopped occasionally to exchange pleasantries with friends he had known from the district catholic church cathedral and his business associates who came to condolences with him. The news that Cyril is a relative to the late Bishop was cemented by the bishops status as his Godfather the day he was christened. So, the handsome, young entrepreneur received a fair share of the condolences.  Although, that notion would be corrected after the puzzle in the box is unraveled. Notable among the those who came to pay their last respect to the Bishop was Chief Matthew Okafor who Cyril stopped by and greeted. He extended his right hand to have a handshake with Matthew, a disrespectful gesture the he wouldn’t have dared if he was raised in the manner of  Ubulumen. “A child will not first extend his hand to have a handshake with an elder” Matthew corrected, as he withdrew his hand. Thereafter he reached out his hand in a warm handshake with Cyril which culminated in a hug. The older man patted his back and his left hand examining the fabrics of his suite. He finally squeezed his arms again and joked “When will you marry my boy?” Cyril smiled in response. That was a question he had gotten so used to answering in recent times. By the end of the day, Matthew thought to himself, Cyril will have learnt that they are from the same tribe by the end of the day.

He had slipped the keys to the BMW Cyril drove, using his charmed “Akaekpe Ulili” (The sticky left hand of the ground squirrel) which is used by his people to seek out missing items. He walked briskly to the sports car, opened it, dropped the box on the passenger’s seat, and left the drivers’ side door unlocked to make it look like a break in or a mistake by Cyril himself. He knows not the content of the box, but believes the little box contained enough revelation that would help lead him to his lineage.

Before he left, Matthew stopped and bade farewell to Cyril. He consoled him once more. Holding him up, hugging him and most importantly, slipping back the car keys into the waist pocket of his black velvet suit. He had pity on Cyril whose life had been a make believe. The Bishop was never his family. A man’s darkest hours will come before his dawn. It will be a bright new dawn for Mr. Cyril Shepherd after the dark in a few days.

The funeral ceremony attracted a swarm of dignitaries from far and near and from different walks of life. The most colourful groups are the five cardinals from the Vatican city who adorned a purple cassock which stuck like glue to their bodies and befitted their status. Cyril finally got to his car and was shocked to find the drivers’ front door unlocked. “No, not again” he mumbled. He was on pins and needles  that his car had been broken into for the second time in three month. He turned the shiny silver handle and was further frightened to find an attractive 100mm by 100mm dark, snake skin leather box sitting comfortably on the driver’s sit. He was apprehensive as he picked up the weightless box, stepped into the car and slammed the door. He examined the box closely and different thoughts filtered into his mind. Recently, a journalist was killed in Africa by a letter bomb and Cyril saw the news. Once more he scrutinized it as if to make ascertain that the box was not an explosive device. He found underneath it a hollowed aperture in form of a switch and as he pushed it, the box magically swung open and a piece of note flew out like a sunbird and rested upon his thigh.

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