Good week everybody. And so we walked or should I say crept into the grove and took in the dense foliage that surrounded us. It kind of reminded me of the road to my late grandmother’s farm in the village with its sound of dripping leaves, chirping crickets and muddy floors in its dark enclave. We walked round the corner and suddenly came face to face with our prime location, the house.
It far exceeded what we envisioned. It was a lonely, ramshackle, and almost lopsided cemented hut that was truly in the middle of nowhere even though it was still close to the rest of the village. It had two windows and two doors that all hung open giving it a free rather than welcoming look. The tin roof had almost rusted through and scratches from small animals could be heard scurrying across it from where we stood. The hollowness of the sounds they made gave the indication of the absence of any insulating ceiling. It didn’t seem to matter though as the surrounding shrubs and trees ensured a permanent coolness in the area. Its isolation was almost as though its occupiers had been ostracised for some heinous crime they’d committed against their society. Two dwarf cows were tethered to a nearby tree in the bush and were surprisingly lovingly tended to by two veterinary doctors who gave one and then the other injections. A half naked woman stood behind them caressing the bigger cow’s hind quarters concernedly. It was my guess that the cow was female because the woman seemed to stroke it with an empathy only a female can bond with another.
She turned out to be the matron as she welcomed us to her home, asking us what we needed and when she could come back and have her home to herself. Her age was indeterminable because she looked wizened and her face bore the ravages of life’s hard toil. Her ribs showed through her stretched skin and her shrunken breasts showed that she had suckled many - I wondered how many. My mind went to my mum’s seven children feat and whose boobs still looked good even after we, especially the boys, had drunk our fill. Perhaps she’d lost many in infancy. A sixish year old child squatted on a stool on the raised veranda staring at us and I wasn’t sure if it was her son or grandson. I was brought back from my reverie by the costumier who brought my costume – a ‘filthy’ white t-shirt(which effect was achieved with mascara and women’s foundation make up), blue trousers and rubber bathroom slippers. Then the props man handed me the shovels and Sneeze asked me to go and dig my grave.
It had just begun raining and my character was supposed to be in a trance while being compelled to dig a grave in which he’d bury his wife(Chioma) and child by an evil sorceress (Uche). The grave had already been dug halfway leaving me to do the rest so I jumped in, confident the softening rain would make my work much easier – I was much mistaken. My tooth fillings were almost jarred loose from the shock that reverberated through my body. I looked at the spot the shovel struck, uncomfortably near my exposed toes – I shifted them back – hoping to see an exposed root the real diggers had omitted to remove, and saw only red earth. Squinting my eyes, I sneaked a look at the camera hoping it wouldn’t sense my discomfiture and proceeded to cheat by hacking at the much softer sides of the grave. All that mattered, as far as I was concerned, was to seen shovelling red earth from the hole and look authentic on camera. I had to shovel for another ten minutes, carry the corpse of my character’s son lay him in the grave, cut, wait till he climbed out again and, on the roll of the cameras begin shovelling the soil back into the grave to cover it. In revenge, when the director finally shouted “Cut”, I ran over to Sneeze to give him a big hug and it was fun watching him flee for his dear crisp clean clothes!
I still wince with a little when I raise my arms to do little chores but I still smile at the memory of being in that quaint rural village with its simple happy folks, leisurely goats, friendly cast and crew and physical hard work. Till next week then. Have a great week everybody