THE MELON BABY by Tejumola Opeyemi from Eko Junior College Orile Agege.
Long time ago, there lived an old man and his wife. the name of the man was Basur and his wife name was Taiba . they were very poor and they had to work hard to earn their daily living . Mr Basur was a farmer ,he always went out hunting for bushmeat and to sell in the market.
One day , Taiba took some clothes to the river to wash .she took out the clothes one by one out of the bucket and washed them scrubbing them on the stones , as she was busy washing her clothes a big large watermelon came rushing down the stream , she looked up far from where she was working and saw big large watermelon .
She was amazed because in all her life she had never seen such a big watermelon as this . How delicious that watermelon must be she said to herself. I must certainly get it and take it home to my old man. She said, she stretched out her arms to try and get it, but it was far from her reach she looked around for a stick but she couldn’t find one and if she went to look for one she would lose the water melon .
She stops at a moment to think of what she would do, she remembered an old chanting song she began to clap her hands in rhythm to think of the rolling watermelon as it floated down the stream. And while she clapped her hands , she sang the song;
Far away water is bitter
The nearer water is sweet
Pass by the far away water
And come to the sweet water
Strangely, as soon as she began to sing the little song the watermelon came nearer and nearer to the bank of the river where she was standing. At last, it stopped just in front of her so that she was able to take it up in her hands.
Taiba was very happy. She couldnt continue with her washing, she was so happy and excited, she put all the clothes back in her bucket. And with the watermelon in her hand and the bucket on her head she hurried home.
When she got home, her husband was not yet back from the farm. It was at the setting of the sun that he came back with a bundle of grass on his back.
Basur looked very tired, and as soon as Taiba saw him she called out. I have been waiting for you to come home for such a long time today.
What is the matter? Why are you so impatient? asked Basur as he wondered at his wife’s eagerness Has anything happened while I have been away ?. Oh, no! she answered, nothing has happened, I have only found a nice present for you !. That is good, said Basur as he quickly washed his feet and stepped into the house.
Taiba now ran into the little room and brought out the big watermelon. It felt even heavier than before she held it up to him, saying just look at this! Have you ever seen such a large watermelon in all your life?
When he saw the water melon he was really surprised and said : this indeed is the largest watermelon I have ever seen ! Where did you buy it? I did not buy it? She answered, I found it in the river where I was washing and she narrated the whole story to him.
I am very glad that you found it ,let us eat it now I am really hungry :Said Basur he brought out the kitchen knife and placed the watermelon on a board ,he was about to cut it when suddenly , the watermelon split into two by itself and a clear voice said wait for a moment ,old man and out from the water melon stepped a beautiful little child. They were both shocked at what they saw, they both fell to the ground and the child spoke again `dont be afraid, I am not going to harm you. I will tell you my purpose of coming to you today. Heaven has decided to have mercy on you, every day and every night you have lamented that you had no child. Your cry has been heard and I am sent to be your son in your old age !
On hearing this Basur and Taiba became very happy. They had cried night and day for a child of their own even in their lonely age. And now their prayer was answered , they were lost with joy that they did not know what to do with the child. Basur took the child up in his arms ,and then Taiba did the same. They named him Omoagbe, the watermelon baby because he had come out of a watermelon.
The years passed quickly and the child grew. He was taller and far stronger than other boys of his age. He was very handsome, courageous ,and very wise for his age, Basur and his wife’s pleasure were very high anytime they looked at him. He was just what they thought a hero should be like.
One day Omoagbe the melon baby came to his father and gently said father,by divine means we have become father and son. Your goodness to me has been great and deeper than the largest ruler in the world. I do not know how to thank you enough. Why, it is of a father to bring up his son. When you are older it will be your turn to take care of us, so after all there will be no loss. All will be equal. I am surprised at your speech!? Answered Basur looking worried . I hope you will be patient with me. But before I begin to pay back your goodness to me, I have a request to make which I hope you will grant me above everything else said Omoagbe I wish allow you do whatever you wish ,for you are different and special from all other boys.
Then let me go away at once! said Omoagbe what are you saying? Do you want to leave your old father and mother and go away from your home? I will surely come back again if you let me go now where are you going asked? Asked Basur his father . You must be thinking its strange for me to say that I want to go away, because I have not yet told you my reason for leaving said Omoagbe. Far away from here there is an island in the great river, this island is the home of the evil spirits. I often heard how they invade this land, kill and rob the people and carry off all they can find. These evil spirit hate every human being I must go and conquer them and bring back all they have robbed this land that is why I want to go away for a short time!
Basur was most surprised hearing all this from a little boy of what himself had not known. He thought it is the best time to let the boy go and fight for his land. He was strong and fearless and besides all this, Basur knew he was not an ordinary child he believes that the child was sent to them as a special gift from God. He felt very sure that the evil spirit will be powerless against him . I will not hinder you in your determination . Go to the island as soon as possible and conquer the evil. bring peace back to your fathers land . The next day, Omoagbe set out for his journey he was very sorry to leave his old parents he thought how lonely they will be while he was away. He warned them and matched out of the house and of the city.
Omoagbe went to the evil land and fought with them and triumphantly brought home with him the evil chief as a prisoner and the daughters of the king and others when the wicked evil spirit had carried off to be his slaves, were taken safely to their homes and delivered to their parents.
The whole country made a hero of Omoagbe the melon baby on his victorious return, rejoicing that the country was now free from the evil spirits who had been terror to the land for a long time.
The old couples joy was greater than ever and the treasure Omoagbe the melon baby had brought home with him enabled them to live in prosperity to the end of their lives.