Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oma of the Niger Delta: The Story of Naked Beauty


I saw you in the twilight
Disrobed in the state of nature
And I gaped and gasped in awesome delight
Spellbound and elated in rapture
As I beheld your voluptuous features
As I gazed upon your priceless treasures
From peak of the mountain
I went down to the fountain
In the valley of your mons veneris
And holding on to your alluring pillars
I have been transfixed at the altar of your estuary
The estuary of your conjugal sanctuary.

I saw the falconer trading his falcon
With the bounty hunter for his gun
Lost in their lust for your connubial offerings
Spellbound by the allures of your charms
And I came in the fleeting mist of the fleeing night
To behold you even before the Aurora Borealis
And saw you embracing the heavenly light
As Father Heaven kissed Mother Earth
And you were enchanted in heavenly mirth
Oblivious of my winking mortal eyes
Hypnotized in the ether of celestial bliss.
At the unveiling of the beloved daughter of Eve
Made perfect in the bowels of boundless love.

Let the fire be kindled in my heart
The eternal flame of my spirit
The breath of eternity
The ether of life formed in purity
Born bare and born free
As my enchanted eyes can now see
Freed from the chains of pains
The pains of natal travails
Oh! Woman! Thou art the vessel of motherhood.
And in thy mammary gourds abound our first food
How much every man is bound to thy loins
For from thy canal every man is born
Through the third eye of Eve where love flows
From the seed sown the fruit is grown
The sweetest fruit of love is found in the virgin
To behold your naked beauty is not a sin.

Tonye a young artist who loves to paint impressionist studies of natural subjects from the views of his camera leaves the coastal city of Port Harcourt and crosses the sea to Bonny Island. And on the Bonny Island he builds a make shift studio with the help of a local boy Odion in the fishing port of Agaja village. And Odion has a very attractive nubile sister Oma. And Oma is fascinated by the unique character of Tonye who is always wearing a loose tunic, knee length baggy pants and leather sandals with his camera hanging from a string around his neck and his sketchpad in his hands. His pencils and colour pens are in the pockets of his baggy pants. He is tall and slim and seems to be fond of her only brother Odion. But, Tonye seems to be more interested in his nature studies than any romantic attractions.

Tonye wants to capture the sunrise from the horizon as the subject of his next oil painting on canvas and wakes up early enough before the dawn so that he will not miss the first glimpse of the sunrise at dawn. And as he walks out of his make shift studio in the darkness of the wee hours of the morning, he sees a unclothed female figure bathing in the shallow waters of the lagoon. And from a distance he watches her until the first rays of the sunrise reveal the voluptuous features of Oma before his very eyes. And he is compelled by his instincts to capture her nudity in his camera. To capture the unclothed beauty in the sunrise before she realizes that someone is watching her or leaves. And after taking some shots of her, he shifts his focus on the sunrise at dawn. He dashes back to his studio and Oma never knows that her unclothed body has been seen and captured in camera by the eagle eyes and sharp lenses of Tonye.

Some days later as Tonye is looking at the prints of his shots of unclothed Oma and the sunrise, he makes up his mind to paint her. And as he begins to paint her with the sunrise behind her, Odion comes in with Oma and Tonye quickly uses a cloth to cover up the painting on the easel to prevent them from seeing it to avoid any embarrassment. He tries to distract their attention and says he is very busy now. But Odion pulls him away that he has to show him something that he must see. Reluctantly, Tonye goes with Odion and Oma. And they lead him to a ruptured oil pipeline in the nearby grove. Tonye warns them to keep off, because of the dangers of oil pipeline explosions. He says he must report to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian police. He calls the office of the NNPC and the police on his cell phone. Then, he says they should cover up the exposed ruptured oil pipeline with plants. Tonye and Odion are busy doing so when Oma says she has to return home before their parents become worried over their whereabouts.

As Oma is hurrying home, three village youths confront her and want to harass her. One of them wants to take advantage of her weakness. But she escapes from his grip. Oma runs to Tonye’s studio and bolts the door from within.

Oma is still panting and out of curiosity, she decides to see what Tonye has even been painting lately. As she does so, she mistakenly brushes against Tonye’s sketchpad on his desk and the sketchpad drops to the floor with some photographs falling out of it. And as she quickly picks up the photographs to put them back in the sketchpad, she discovers the revealing copies of the photographs of herself bathing in the unclothed in the shallow waters of the lagoon. She is shocked to see them. So, this Tonye has only been pretending not to like her and has been ogling at her when she has been bathing unclothed in the darkness of the midnight. So, he is a voyeur.

Later, Tonye is returning to his studio with Odion when he notices Oma looking askance at him with a confrontational grimace. He wonders why she is cross with him. Oma quickly dismisses Odion that he is wanted urgently at home. And as Odion leaves, Oma tells Tonye that she wants to see him in camera in the privacy of his studio. Tonye wonders why and becomes suspicious as his conscience pricks him over the photographs of her nudity. And as soon as they are inside the studio, Oma brings out the photographs kept inside Tonye’s sketchpad and she uncovers the painting of her nudity.
“Why?” Oma asks.
Tonye swallows lumps of saliva before replying.
“Art. Art. Art. Art captures the beauty of nature. So, I couldn’t resist the sight of your unclothed body when I saw you bathing just before dawn. I came out to capture the sunrise and there you were, a unclothed beauty bathing in the open in the darkness when others were sleeping. I was surprised to see you bathing in the lagoon at such a time before dawn. At first, I thought it was a spirit. Could this be a mermaid? Then as the first rays of the sunrise reflected on the unclothed female figure, I recognized you. And I couldn’t resist the temptation to capture this unclothed beauty in my camera and to paint it on canvas. A unclothed beauty in the sunrise.”
Oma is bemused and at the same time flattered by the admiration of her innocent beauty.

Oma tells Tonye to shut the door of his studio and as he does so and turns, he sees her as she drops her single wrapper, standing stark unclothed before his very eyes.

‘Nobody must know,” Oma says.

Tonye gapes and nods affirmatively.

Tonye gazes at her and sighs. He has seen so many photographs of unclothed women and few models have posed for him in the unclothed in the city. But none of them can be compared to the unclothed beauty before his very eyes. He feels the overwhelming urge of sexual passion and the bulge in his crotch. But, he resists the temptation and swallowing lumps of saliva he goes to Oma and picks up her wrapper. Tonye wraps the wrapper around Oma to cover her nakedness. He does not want to violate her beauty in the lust of the flesh.

Oma is wondering why Tonye has declined to do what she has expected. To sleep with her since she has willingly surrendered her body to him.

“Not now Oma. Not now,” Tonye says.
“Why?” Oma asks.
“There is time for everything,” Tonye replies.

Tonye says he prefers to photograph and paint Oma.
Oma agrees and Tonye says he will pay her to pose unclothed for him to photograph and paint her in his studio.

“But, nobody must know,” Oma says.
“Nobody will ever know,” Tonye promises.

Oma poses unclothed for Tonye who paints her body with pipe clay before taking many shots of her and then uses the photographs to produce the oil paintings on canvas of her unclothed beauty. Tonye pays her well and still resists the temptations to sleep with her.
And he reads her extracts from Pablo Neruda’s “Ode To unclothed Beauty” to eulogize her and she is so elated by his eloquence.

Later, Tonye takes the photograph of the parents of Oma and Odion as they are leaving for their next fishing trip. Then he returns to his studio.

Oma has fallen in love with Tonye and wonders why he has declined to make love to her.
She wants Tonye to love her and marry her.

Then, Tonye leaves Bonny Island. He leaves some lump sum of money and the key to his studio with Odion to hand them over to Oma with a note telling her that he is leaving for city of Port Harcourt to arrange for the Art exhibition of his photographs and oil paintings of the unclothed beauty of Oma.

Oma is afraid that Tonye may not return and she will lose him. Then, she and Odion return to their home.

But Tonye returns with the good news of the successful art exhibition of unclothed Beauty and the inquiries on Oma as foreign journalists want to meet with her and interview her.

Later, two foreign journalists visit Tonye for the sole purpose of interviewing Oma.
And after the interview Oma tells Tonye that she is going to the nearby Okrika Kingdom for an important traditional ceremony with her aunt and Tonye decides to go with them so that he can see some colourful spectacles for his photography and painting.

Tonye and Oma enjoy the interesting highlights of the traditional ceremony where some virgin maidens dance topless in the native rites of purity. Tonye takes some pictures of them and later leaves with Oma and her aunt.

Some days later, Tonye informs Oma that he is traveling to Rome for an Art festival and soon leaves through the Port Harcourt International airport.

While Tonye is away, the villagers soon find out about the pipeline leakage. Oma’s father meets with the elders of the village on how to prevent the dangers and accidents of oil pipeline explosions. But some greedy ones go behind to plan how to siphon the crude oil from the leaking pipeline.

The oil pipeline vandals arrive to see many villagers siphoning oil from the ruptured pipeline and they confront themselves over the rights to vandalize the oil pipelines passing through their village. And as the confrontation becomes violent, clashes of metals cause sparks and ignite the volatile oil pipeline. The deafening explosion echoes with an earth tremor shaking the whole village. The other villagers scamper in fear and trembling from their farms and market. As they rush to go in the direction of the explosion, they are frightened at the horrific sight of the fiery inferno from the explosion as the heat and thick black smoke of the conflagration envelope their village. The whole place is in pandemonium as the panic-stricken surviving villagers flee to escape from the dangers of the spreading pipeline fire and the coming law enforcement authorities. The village is soon deserted.

The tragic news of the catastrophic oil pipeline explosion in the village makes headlines in the local and foreign media and Tonye sees it on TV in his hotel room in far away Rome. Tonye is afraid for the fate of Oma and Odion and their parents. He decides to return without delay.

Tonye returns to see the village looking like a ravaged and sacked settlement with only few inhabitants and surrounded by the armed officers of the Nigerian Police and other government officials on a rescue mission and manhunt for the wanted vandals who caused the disaster. Tonye is frantically looking for Oma, Odion and their family. He is panting and breathing heavily until he sees Oma’s father in the company of the villagers who survived and some were nursing their wounds as they are mourning the death of over 50 villagers killed in the tragedy. Tonye comforts the bereaved families with Oma’s parents. He asks after Oma and Odion. Their parents say Oma has gone to Port Harcourt for her clearance and will soon return and Odion is traumatized by the loss of two of his close playmates.

Oma soon returns from Port Harcourt and is overjoyed to see Tonye. They embrace happily.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

© Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima 2006 - 2010. All rights reserved. No part of this literature can be copied and used in any format or medium without the approval of the author and copyright owner. All violations will be subject to litigation.

The screenplay co-authored by accomplished multiple award winning Nollywood filmmaker Dr. Chika Christian Onu and Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima is available as hardcover book Naked Beauty for US$20.00.

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