It’s been three days; three days and I have had the same terrifying dream. Each night after the first, the dream starts over but lasts longer, with more details than the previous night’s.
Father says the gods are trying to tell me something. His father, who was high priest before him, saw the gods at my age and he also, had his calling when he was only a boy. It has become my responsibility, then, to stay asleep through the nightmare and yield my soul without fear to the ancestors and gods so they can fully reveal what they have been trying to tell me the past few days. He said he could sense it as high priest that it was urgent, a matter of life and death- that I might just save a life or serve a bigger purpose such as saving the entire village.
Mother says she knew a day like that would come, right after her delivery of me, when Maame Akyaah laid me in her arms and she saw the hump on my back. She knew then that the whole world lay on my back and I would have to bear its weight always and carry it to safety some day.
She says it is the reason why the villagers treat me so specially, the reason why they give me my own space wherever I go so I can enjoy the fresh air and it is the same reason why the market women refuse to sell to me. They believe the shoulders that carry the weight of the world should not be labored with such trivialities as cassava tubers and tomato fruits. Their husbands and children avoid me for fear of the hump on my back but mother says its reverence for my destiny.
Three days ago, Father Moses, the Catholic priest, had seen me loitering around edge of the evil forest where his hut was and had invited me to talk for the first time ever. He treated me in a special way- more pleasant than the villagers ever did. He laughed at my name ‘Paa Baadu’ and said he would call me ‘Abraham’ instead and then he went on to read me the story of Abraham and his descendants from a book he called Bible. When I told Mother of my new friend, she banned me from his company saying he did not revere my destiny, for the Reverend had said it was not the weight of the world I carried; that I was only a hunchback. “His god is also strange; different from the gods to which your father is a high priest”, and she would hear no more of the Reverend.
The weight of the world feels heavier tonight than any other night of my life. Even though father says I must yield to the gods, I am afraid to close my eyes and sleep. I am afraid the dream would return and terrify me. But the night is quiet and the stars mutedly watch on from above. Even the crickets aren’t haggling in their night business and I drift unwillingly to sleep with the breeze of the darkness.
Father Moses is with me again, this time with two other men in white robes. There is chaos in the village. A man has just been killed. He lies motionless in the village center with blood oozing from his nose and eyes. They say he was struck down by the gods. I ran over and realise it was my father. My heart pounds hard against my chest and I ran screaming towards our hut. The shrill of someone’s laughter terrifies me. It is Father Moses, “He was a fool my dear Abraham, all who do not believe in my God are fools and eternal punishment awaits them”.
I wanted to wake up but my consciousness was trapped in my dream. The gods have…no…God has spoken his message but refuses to free my yielded soul. Hands clutch me and shake me violently. “Paa Baadu! … Paa Baadu!”, I wake up to father’s grasp and mother’s ghostly stare. “What did you see?”… “What did you see Paa Baadu?”. “I … I … I saw the weight of the world,” I reply ominously.