The new year's day was the day we did the ritual. We moved from house to house, in our best clothes and our brightest smiles. For our smiles, they gave us money and for our not-so-sonorous voices, they gave us more money. It was also the day Tola went mute and never spoke again.
That day, Tola had stuck to me like a gum to a cloth. She didn't smile much, didn't sing louder like us. No one could blame her. Her sister, like us, had gone to give out new year's food and she never returned. The village's prophet told us not to sweat. The young girl was going to walk home by herself. It was a hope we held on to. A thin, unclear hope. A mustard seed faith, the man of God said, was all we needed.
We stood by the prophets' door. A basket of food was balanced in my hand. "Peace be unto you," he smiled at us. We gave him the basket, a well-packaged new year's meal from my mother. He motioned to a two-seater by the left side of his room and we sat shyly. He took out a piece of cloth to clean the spilled red oil on the basket. Tola must have seen something on the old man's rag, for she went dumb and never spoke of it. Never spoke again. "What did Tola See?" They asked me. I could only shake my head. I wish I knew.
Photo credit: Google
Who knows what Tola saw?