Jojo of the Lewe
Many years had passed since the young villager had been called into the ancient forest of Hilarum. Where once he denied his father’s words and teachings, he now believed in them wholeheartedly. Though he was forbidden to speak of the gathering, Jojo began to take up a strong interest in the art of healing soon after.
Since the gathering, Jojo had grown in years and in stature. He was now a young man, one who was spiritual and humble in nature.
His father was most pleased with Jojo’s interest and devotion to the arts of medicines.
The gathering was a memory that Jojo looked to often. He recalled it exactly as it was brought upon him; how a lion had chased him into a pool that transferred him to the ancient forest. Then there, an old man appeared to he and 3 other boys, all from different lands of Hilarum. He then told them of the prophecy and how they will be called again from their lands to fulfill that prophecy.
The next part of what the old man said often perplexed Jojo. He wished that he could speak to his father about these things, but he knew not to speak of what he saw that night.
Nearly 10 years had gone by since the gathering and Jojo found himself training to become the village healer, just like his father.
His father, who people in the village referred to as “Chinwe,” practiced the art of healing with medicines found in the jungle. Often he taught Jojo how to use them, but also where to find them. He showed Jojo the ways of the jungle as he got older, and how it was important to respect all creatures that lived there.
At the present time, Jojo was standing outside of his family’s hut in their small village Daro, their realm being called Lewe. He was washing the dirt and dust off of his black ashen skin. A few other villagers were walking by, some of the men carrying meat in from the jungle, women holding baskets, their children following close behind.
His own mother was inside, tending to his younger brothers and sisters.
“Jojo,” he heard his father call from inside.
Jojo walked inside the hut, several of his siblings standing in the dirt, others pestering their mother.
One of his sisters, Rumi, was sitting quietly with a basket, braiding it carefully. She looked up at her big brother and smiled.
“Rumi,” Jojo said, bending down. “This is great work that you’re doing. I’m sure that Mother and Father are pleased.”
Rumi nodded, her eyes bright and full of life, just like Jojo’s. She was ten years old now. It was hard for Jojo to look and her and not think about the night with the lion and the prophecy.
“Ma says I should sell them, but I like giving them away.”
Their father called for Jojo again and Rumi looked up at him. “Can I come?”
Jojo stood up and beckoned her to follow.
Towards the back of the hut was a doorway, adorned with several strings of beads. This was where his father did the healing of the people of the village.
Jojo and Rumi walked past the rest of his siblings and into the healing room.
“My son. It is time for us to go into the jungle to collect plants and herbs that I use for healing.”
“You would like me to come with you?”
Rumi interrupted. “Can I come too, Pa?”
Their father looked and Rumi and smiled. “When you are a little older, Rumi. Then you may come.”
As the father and son got up to leave, they informed the rest of the family of their small journey into the jungle.
“Be careful, Jojo,” his mother, whom Jojo shared a likeness with, told him. Her face was caked with dirt, but she still smiled, her eyes kind.
“I will, Ma,” he assured her.
Soon Jojo and his father left their hut and traveled across the village. Several of the villagers stopped to greet the Chinwe and his son. They bade them good luck in the jungle, and thanked the Chinwe for healing them or one of their family members.
As soon as they broke the tree line, Jojo was overcome with that familiar feeling again. Each time he came upon the stream, he could almost remember exactly how he felt in the ancient forest that night.
As they walked, his father spoke of many things relating to healing.
“You have grown in knowledge when it comes to the art of healing and medicines,” his father relented.
“Yes, Pa. My trust and faith in it grows each day.”
“There is always more to learn,” his father spoke. The Chinwe then smiled in the direction of his son, who had grown in knowledge and maturity. “I have sensed the powers of healing in you for a long time.”
Jojo just nodded, feeling at peace.
They walked and talked some more, picking up plants and various herbs that aligned the path. Jojo’s father illustrated to him the different purposes the plants and herbs served them.
“There are many things in the jungle that can be used for healing, yes. But the Lewe people are often tempted by the great power of these things. You know of the mistreatment in the other villages, my son.”
Jojo nodded as they turned around to walk back to the village. Some might be scared to walk in the jungle so freely, without weapons of any kind. But Jojo did not feel afraid. He was with his father.
“I trust when you take over as Chinwe that you will not to use these things for selfish gain and power.”
The father and son made it back to the stream, flowing steadily and naturally with the path. The birds of the jungle called out colorfully and all was well.
But Jojo did feel a disturbance. As if something was unsettling his heart.
He looked over at the stream, where a cloud of red began flowing, coming from the direction of the village.
His father looked stricken with fear after he saw the stream and they both began to run back to the village.
The closer they got to the village, the more sounds of unrest they heard. The stream was a steady flow of blood-clouded water now.
The Chinwe was not as fast as Jojo, but they made it to the village together. As they rounded the corner they saw people running by, screaming, yelling; their faces painted.
They set fire to some of the huts and were fighting the men, throwing the women out of their huts. Children were screaming, young boys tried to fight alongside their fathers.
“Jojo!” his father called to him, pulling him by the arm. “I will go back to the hut! Look for your brothers. They may be somewhere in the crowd trying to fight.”
His father’s eyes worried after Jojo, but the young man felt no fear.
His legs carried him across the camp, eyes searching for his brothers, but he did not see them.
“Baako! Dafari!” He called out, scanning the scene.
Villagers were still running past him. He watched the strangers as they beat the men with sticks, and sent spears through their flesh. Blood boiled on the ground from the heat of the sun, pots shattered, the women kept screaming.
Still, he did not see his brothers.
They must be home protecting the family, he thought to himself reassuringly.
Just as Jojo turned to run back to the hut, to join his father and brothers, he spotted one of the strangers standing over an elderly man that lived in their village. He was screaming at him, hitting him with a club.
Jojo felt such conviction in his heart, like his greater purpose was calling to him.
He changed his course and shouted at the stranger. The stranger turned, his face painted white in contrast with the blackness of his skin.
“Stop!” Jojo called.
The stranger charged at him, holding the club high, yelling loudly.
Jojo backed up, putting his hands in the air.
The stranger kept coming, his face as young as Jojo’s, but full of hate and greed. He hit Jojo with the club on the shoulder and shoved him to the ground. He yelled again and stood above Jojo, raising the club again to strike him.
The stranger’s eyes were cold, his body heavy with sweat and blood. But Jojo was not afraid even though he felt the end was upon him.
With one final cry the stranger called out once more, a sound of triumph. His forehead was wrinkled, his teeth bared.
But suddenly a spear flew through the air, piercing into the side of the stranger’s head. Jojo watched the light go out of his eyes, and the stranger crumpled to the ground.
His brother Dafari came into view, picking Jojo up.
“Jojo! Come back to the hut!”
Jojo began to run with his brother but he looked back at the face of the stranger. It was innocent and lifeless.
The rest of the strangers began to gather up and run away from the village just as Jojo and Dafari got back to their hut.
The brothers held hands until they made it back, their sisters and younger brothers standing just outside. Some were crying, holding on to one another. Rumi was standing beside them, a single tear running down her cheek.
“What is it, Rumi?” Dafari asked her.
“Baako is hurt,” she told them. “Pa is trying to heal him but he is also hurt.”
Jojo felt something stir inside him once again.
He and Dafari entered the hut, going back to the healing room where Baako was lying on the table. The Chinwe had tied a piece of cloth around his leg, but blood was still dripping onto the floor.
When the Chinwe locked eyes with Jojo he summoned him over. He then showed him his hand, cut across the palm.
“Jojo, I cannot crush the herbs that we collected to stop the blood coming from your brothers wound.”
Baako groaned in agony, hitting the table with his fist.
Jojo nodded. “I know what to do.”
Carefully, Jojo took the herbs from his father and crushed them accordingly. He mixed in the fine solutions and began to unwrap his brother’s leg.
After he pressed the herbs into the wound, he lit the healing incense on fire, spreading it around the room, chanting just like his father did.
When he was finished, his father put a hand on his back.
“The spirit is pleased with you,” he said, placing another hand on Baako’s forehead.
“He will heal quickly,” Jojo told him, knowingly.
“Yes,” agreed his father. “Thank you, my son.”
As Jojo and Dafari turned to leave, his father called to them. “My sons. Many will come seeking healing. Both of you must go to the stream and bring back buckets of water.”
“Yes, Pa,” Dafari answered. He was always obedient.
Jojo nodded and they left the hut, their mother Sune hugging them before they went.
They traveled through the village, taking in the destruction that the strangers had caused. There were men lying in the streets, their wives crying over their bodies. Children were still screaming, too many young boys had been killed.
Jojo found it hard to look at, but Dafari shook his head. “Where is this peace that father speaks of?”
He turned to his brother. “It is coming.”
Dafari casted his eyes down. “Sometimes I feel that it never will.”
Eventually they made it to the stream.
They had just filled their buckets, the stream no longer running red, when Jojo felt that familiar feeling again, the one he felt when he thought of the gathering. The only other time he had felt it this strong was that night.
“You go on, Dafari. I’m going to stay.”
His younger brother nodded and turned to leave, but Jojo grabbed his arm. He felt that he would not see his brother for a long time.
“Have faith, my brother.”
Dafari pressed his lips together in acknowledgement, and Jojo knew that he had taken it to heart.
When Dafari was finally from his sight, Jojo set down the bucket. He looked expectantly into the jungle, eyeing between the trees. The feeling was so strong that Jojo knew it was time for the reckoning.
Just as he knew it would, there appeared two golden eyes between the brush. Slowly, a large beast came forth from the jungle, his pace steady. The lion stepped over the stream, and Jojo was not afraid of it. He knew that it would not chase him this time.
The magnificent beast stood in front of Jojo, its eyes glowing. They communicated to one another without words just as the lion shook its brilliant mane.
Both Jojo and the lion turned at the same time and walked down the path side by side, further into the jungle.