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In the beginning, the One True King created the earth and all the beasts thereof. He created them perfectly, giving them everything they needed to thrive in this world for many generations. He gave the buck the doe, the rooster the hen, the lion his lioness, and man the wo'at.
Of the men, were Manolo the Angry, Kayode the Kind, and Adam the Favorite. Of the wo'at were Nosipho of the Mind, Nizhoni of the Heart, and Kanda of Song.
The wo'at were then as they are now: powerful, intelligent, and nearly immortal. They could create life out of their blood and bones and they could heal there wounds. Because of this, the men were subjected to their superior strength, lacking the power that the wo'at had. This is until the One True King elected man to rule the earth. The wo'at resented this decision, but were obedient still.
Eventually, it was time for the men to choose there wives. Adam chose first because he was the favorite of the One True King, and married Kanda, instantly falling in love with her beautiful voice. Manolo, angry that his first choice was taken, did not choose. Instead he walked many miles to the icy mountains, trying to cool his boiling rage. Kayode the Kind picked Nizhoni, being drawn to her passion and zest for life. This left Nosipho of the Mind without a husband, and unable to reproduce.
After several months the wo'at got together to discuss there new lives.
“Kayode is a weak-hearted fool,” said Nizhoni. “Whenever I want to try to do something fun he stops me. If I dance he says,'Think of the ant's beneath your feet.' If I swim he says, 'Think of the fish you're scaring!' I will leave and find a superior man.”
“But there are no men to find, except for Angry Manolo, and he only has eyes for Kanda.” says Nosipho.
“I will find something better than a man,” says Nizhoni.
“Good luck,” say the other two.
Nizhoni leaves them and wonders the earth until she meets a demon called Buburu. She falls in love with his spontaneity and quickly beds the demon. Afterward, Buburu, who had promised to marry Nizhoni, gives her away to his demon brothers and friends. Nizhoni bares all of their children and becomes the mother of all of the peoples of the darkness.
Now Kayode is without a wife and wanting to have children. He asks Nosipho to marry.
She responds, “You drove Nizhoni away with your extreme and unreasonable desire to protect the animals that were born with the tools needed to protect themselves. You used your title to limit her and make her life miserable, which ran her into darkness. Why should you deserve another wife?”
Kayode answers, “Because my intentions were good. I always think of the feelings of others. If I had known how Nizhoni felt I would have treated her differently. If you become my wife, I will treat you differently. I will do all the things that will make you happy. You will not want to run away.”
Nizhoni responded,“I will marry you Kayode, but only if you keep to your word. You must promise with your heart that you will listen to what I say and do all the things that will make me happy.”
He does and Nosipho and Kayode marry. From these two, you and I are born, and all the wo'at and wo'at sons and all of their witi.
This is where our lives are born, but our trouble starts with Adam and Kanda.
Every day Kanda gathers food for their meals while Adam strolls around naming the creatures of the Earth. As she works, she sings with her soul about her loneliness and how dissatisfied she is with her life.
About this time, Korin, the angel of song, comes down to earth to speak with his former partner, Lucifer, the fallen angel of beautiful music, to try to convince him to apologize for his evil. One day, as Korin searches the earth for his old friend, he hears Kanda singing as she worked. He is drawn to her beautiful voice and becomes instantly infatuated.
Korin asks Kanda to marry, and she refuses. Yet, despite of everything they know is right, they bear many children.
Now, the One True King elects to send Michael, the angel of war to destroy Korin for his transgression. When his brother Tumaal, the angelic weapon forger, hears of this, he begs the King for a chance to convince his brother to repent. His wish is granted and he goes to earth to find Korin.
Once Korin hears from his brother that he can return home without punishment, he immediately does so and leaves Kanda with their many kids. She grieves, singing a song so terrible and lovely that it cuts into Tumaal's soul like a knife. Impressed by the power of Kanda's lyrics, Tumaal asks her to marry him. She refuses, but despite of everything they know to be wrong, they have many children.
Kanda becomes the mother of all other day-walking peoples, excluding wo'at and human.
Now, Adam comes home after naming all the birds in the sky, bearing a beautiful hummingbird as gift and sees Kanda alone with her flock of children. Distraught, he leaves her once more and walk to the garden of Eden to speak with The One True King.
He returns with a female of different sort. This female could not create life out of her blood and bones. She could not heal her wounds, and she would not live for hundreds of years after her husband's death. Most importantly, she did not intimidate man but was more closely related to them, being born of a man's rib. Adam named this creature woman, and named his wife Eve. From these are born all the humans of the earth.
“Man foresakes wo'at for woman, creating more humans and causing our people to nearly go into extinction. To this day there are still less than eighty wo'at alive. And this is after the many steps taken to ensure our survival.” Enitan says, concluding her story, or, at least I hope she is.
“After all that, I still don't remember anything,” I confess. And I don't see how this story relates to me specifically.
“Patience, is something you'll need to learn if you want to keep your sanity,” says Enitan, peering at me under raised brows. “There's no reason to rush. You have all the time in the world.”
After many years, Manolo the Angry returns from the icy mountains to be with his people. When he returns, he is shocked by what he finds, and turns to Nosipho of the Mind for an explanation.
“What are these abominations that walk the nights?” he demands.
“These are the children of Nizhoni of the Heart and Buburu and his demon kin.”
“And what are these monsters that cloak themselves in beauty?”
“These are the children of Kanda of Song, and the angels, Korin of Song and Tumaal the Armorer.”
“And who's witi is Adam married to? She doesn't look like any wo'at I've met.”
“Her name is Eve, and she is neither witi nor wo'at. She is a wo-man and is formed from Adam's own rib by The One True King. Their children are yet another people.”
Manolo takes a moment to consider everything he had just heard, then realizes the Nosipho and Kayode's children were the only wo'at people of this new generation “What will become of our people?”
“The wo'at will live indefinitely until they bear sons and lose their immortality. Yet, I fear that there will be no one for future generations to bear sons with. We will live long, torturous lives with no hope of rest, as our men assimilate themselves with the human population, never happy, and never quite fitting in.”
“Why should such horrible things happen to your children? I am here now. I can save your daughters from this fate.”
“And why should I let such a pitiful creature as yourself near any of my daughters? When things don't go your way you run off to the mountain to sulk like a cowardly fool. Why should I believe that you won't desert my daughter like you deserted us? I will never allow any child of mine to marry a childish, selfish, imbecile.”
“It's true that I acted selfishly back then. I apologize. I was younger than my years. I only suggested what I did because I care about our people and I want us to thrive. Please don't refuse.”
Nosipho is moved by his words and says, “You are not the man you were when you left. Manolo the Angry would have been deeply wounded by my insults and lost his temper. He, will never come near any child of mine or, the True King help us all. You, Manolo the Earnest, can meet my children, and if any of them will have you, you can marry. This is only if you prove to Kayode and I that you are harmless and dependable.”
“Kalani, what does it take for a wo'at to die?”
I furrow my brows, not quite understanding why she would be asking me this, when she's the one who knows everything. Still, I give her my best answer.
“Two ways: we lose our ability to heal ourselves quickly after having a male son. When this happens we can die from illness, accident or by being killed. The other way is if our bodies are completely incinerated and our ashes mixed into something else. Like if I was cremated and made into a vase, or if my ashes were poured into the ocean.”
Enitan smiles her slow, creeping grin once more, and I realize that I knew this without ever being told.
Now, Nosipho and Kayode have seven children together, four daughters and three sons.
Of the daughters were Maiara of Wisdom, Yejide of Compassion, Treasa of Strength and Zyanya of the Long Lasting Life, in that order. Of the sons were Shi the Honest, Citlali the Gorgeous, and Sipho the Gentle, in that order.
Nosipho gather her husband and children and presents Manolo the Earnest, so that they can all discuss the future of their people.
“I am repulsed at the thought of wedding a niece,” says Shi, the second born of all the children. “And I don't care how dire the situation is for our people. Why should this generation have to commit abominations because the previous one did?”
“If this is how you feel, then leave. This meeting is not for you.” says Maiara, the eldest.
Yejide of Compassion, the third born, feels sympathy for her eldest brother and questions her sisters words.
“Why should Shi be isolated from his family as we discuss the future of our people?”
“His words are true, but his attitude is sickness. We cannot afford for it to spread to the rest of this family.”
“So you mean to make your siblings ignorant, mindless sheep?” asks Shi, feeling contrary.
Maiara ignores his nasty comment and explains her thoughts in greater detail.
“It is true that our situation was caused by the carelessness of our predecessors and that it is not our job to correct their mistakes. However, it is our duty to learn from their mistakes and become an example for the next generation, whether we be an inspiration, or an example of what not to do. What good are we if we are careless, like the last generation? What can our children learn from their history that we didn't already know? If the actions we are planning are wicked, as I hope they are not, at the very least they are different, so that our offspring will know ahead of time to not do as we did.”
Shi is not impressed by her words, “I will one day be a proud uncle of beautiful wo'at children, but never the father of one if this is what it takes.”
“I respect your decision, now leave. If that is how you truly feel then this is not a meeting for you.”
Shi leaves, marries a human woman and has many children, all daughters.
“This means all of his children had the wo'at 9 chromosome as well as the human X. chromosome, so they still had the possibility of birthing wo'at.” I blurt, interrupting without thinking.
“Yes, and they do, also spreading the 9 chromosome to their children who then also have the possibility to birth wo'at,” says Enitan, seeming to not mind my rudeness. “There are several humans with wo'at genes and several cases of wo'at being born of woman. But there was one problem with that.”
I nod, understanding that the humans who birth these kind of wo'at usually don't know what they are. They often try to kill them, calling them witches or devils. This thought reminds me of something Enitan said in her story: 'We will live long, torturous lives with no hope of rest...' For many the pain starts at birth. I'm not the only one.
“We should take a break and start again in the morning,” says Enitan, sliding under the covers and pulling them over her face. She looks utterly exhausted. It shows all over her slumped body as she lies there like a lifeless heap.
I slide over to give her a little more space and lay there in the lighted room, and wait for morning... and Will's awkward piano-playing.
He says he wants a symbiotic relationship. I can do that. But there's something I need in return