In Ignorant Bliss

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All Sorts of Neighbours

Of all the neighbours that bound Hometown in its rapturous cocoon, the mores of the people of Akankwu to its Northwest ranked the foulest. Though nominally pleasant and good natured individually, this appeared not to apply when it got to their collective wills. First, not only do their gods allow the existence of twins, but only their in the entire environs was it mandatory that a woman must be deflowered before marriage.

That apart, their entire life appeared to revolve on the mystery of the palm tree which they took for totem and worship. It was a cardinal sin to touch the tree without veneration. This had the tree sprouting from every space in their town that was not either a compound or a farm. A situation made the direr given that none of the trees belonged to anyone; its nuts only picked up as they ripened and fell naturally from the trees by whomsoever desired.

This also used to be the practice in Hometown in gone centuries though the trees belonged to families. It was said that the trees only began to be harvested when their neighbors kept trespassing to pick the nuts ahead of the owners. According to the legend, this prevented what would have been the most internecine war ever fought in the world. And to date only the udara tree was reserved the honor in Home town.

Also, owing to their veneration of the palm, these neighbors to Hometown’s Northwest had no need for pestle and mortar in the extraction of oil from the ripened nuts of the palm tree. Instead the nuts are put in a vat and mashed with their bare feet in a supposed communion of their soles with the gods. Either because of this or because the nuts got to the end of the tethers of their life before falling off the trees, oil from Akankwu came in sleeping solutions. This needed to be first boiled to attain the liquid state of nominal oil. As a result no one from Hometown as much as touched oil from their shore even when the commodity was at its scarcest.

Not unlike they also treated palm wine from there. Because they never pruned the hirsute trees, they were not savvy in the science and art of tapping sap from standing trees at all. The only got the tipple from dying trees that first have to be failed to be tapped. Upon a time long gone they would not even let the tree fall to the ground of its own accord, lest it fell on feces which they defecated in quantum in their woods. Suffice it to add that they also had no places dedicated to the passing of human waste of the liquid and solid state.

‘Torn and rent by their quondam follies’, they were rumored to have stopped the falling-palm-catching ritual following repeated crushing of multitudes by falling trees. It was also revealed that a weather-beaten soothsayer in the land had alluded the practice to the high level of intoxicants in their local brews. However, many in the land had jettisoned the latter on account of dying for the gods being more important than intoxication before reality prevailed. Though today the townsfolk still doused themselves palm wine on account of it being an avowed antidote to death, many from there will steal out to savor the more palatable wine of Hometown’s ambidextrous tappers.

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