THE WRESTLING MATCH by Torty Abasi Tortivie

Ogbolokuro was surprised.

After his thud on the ground, stars took over his head and he lay fallen still. Then gradually his vision cleared and he got back himself slowly. Managing to get up, he muttered to the referees that he wanted to surrender to his opponent and back out. Consequently, the man was declared winner while Gilikpe limped to his corner to join his people.

Another pair up came out to slug it out; who was stronger?

Ogbolokuro kept their ogele going. After all, losing at first instance is not losing all the way.

‘Bolou nama mbi,’ the talking drum called.

He raised three fingers, indicating three throws.

When the fight began, his Yokorobiri opponent had tried to slam his heavy hand on his neck, but he dodged it. That made the man go furious – Bolou-nama wasted his time. Each time he let the hand pass off in the air, the crowd cheered at his smartness. The drum kept rattling his title, and he claimed that like the dragonfly it was hard to pin him down. His opponent roared: ‘Should you run again, I’ll slap you.’

Before the man could realise, Bolou-nama had tossed him around by pushing at his head sidewards. Before spinning three-sixty, the man was on his knees. Bolou-nama went over to his back, cross-lifted him and made a flawless throw.

Ogbolokuro was jubilating at last.

But that was the only time Bolounama could thow the man because the man, learning something, began to fight defensively. It ended in a point for Bolou-nama.

The third pair up; both bony and determined, and seeming to understand each other, ended up entertaining the crowd, none prevailing to the degree of a successful throw.

Finally, two emerged. One; short, thin, stiff-looking and wearing a confident face. The other; tall and huge. Each preferred having his opponent the way he was.

In those days, and even now, shedding of tears was part of wrestling boast. But sometimes, those who teared up crashed on their back even before a crayfish turned red on fire. And so when the Ogbolokuro man saw his opponent he started wailing. He saw a previously defeated opponent in the man. ‘It is a pity,’ he cried.

But even after the second bout none had thrown the other.

Then the onyoabu started fanning himself with his feather-made handfan.

As they engaged the third time, the bigger man held the other’s right hand and tugged at it and the man came forth. The more the onyoabu fanned, the stronger the bigger man hauled himself against the other. He put his right hand in-between the other’s thighs, heaved him up in a ‘fireman-carry’ and sent him crashing.

The winner was already in the air even before he was declared. It began to pour as they jubilated homewards on muddy roads, singing:

Okookoo sisei o

Oguara toni famu wo mini o

Heeeeeeeeen!

Okookoo sisei o

Oguara toni famu wo mini o

Heeeeeen anh heeeeeen!

Torty Abasi Tortivie is a poet and fiction writer in Nigeria

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