Every day Chikara would observe the humans as they made their way to his territory. As the sole guardian of Chacachacare Island, he was forbidden from leaving his keep and was forced to exist in solitude; away from his kin after he broke his father’s most important law. Fraternizing with humans was forbidden – a rule that Chikara disregarded after becoming enamoured with a human young woman.
Chikara revealed his true ethereal form to her which resulted in his banishment from his father’s kingdom and expulsion from royal status. His punishment was his demotion to the role of guardian of Chacachacare– a tiny island off the northwest coast of Trinidad. The visiting humans were his only company– not that they knew he existed. They would often come to his island in droves to enjoy the scenic natural gems being offered when the need to be immersed in nature touched their spirits.
His salt pond was a crowd favourite. They loved to float in the pond and luxuriate in the warmth its depths provided. They were actually lolling about in his sister, Ezulé’s tears; a fact that was unbeknownst to the humans. Unlike his sister, Chikara was incapable of emotion. Chikara’s sole purpose was to protect the island and the secret magic that dwelled within. His was an existence that would always be devoid of anything that could make his life worthwhile.
No guardian could rival the power and influence that Chikara wielded but that fact meant very little to him. Chikara yearned for nothing except for his desire to feel the emotions that humans took for granted. He ached to experience the unbridled joy and the peace of spirit they demonstrated when they immersed themselves in nature.
It had been more than a century since Chikara had felt the buzz of energy within his veins, which was a clear indication that one of his kind was nearby. She appeared out of thin air before him with her arms akimbo. “Brother!” she shouted, as she flung herself into Chikara’s arms. “I missed you!” Chikara was not sure how to respond. He just stood awkwardly observing his sister. It had been centuries since he’d last had a visitor that could see him and he’d forgotten the nuances of communication. In spite of his initial hesitation, Chikara quickly pulled himself together and greeted his sister with all the feigned enthusiasm he could muster. “Great to see you Ezulé,” said Chikara. “What brings you here to my humble home?” he asked.
Ezulé didn’t seem to observe Chikara’s lacklustre demeanor and continued with her animated chatter. “Chikara you will not believe why I am here!” she enthused. “I reminded father that today was your birthday and convinced him to allow me to bless you with whatever you wish for,” she continued. “The magic will only last for today so choose wisely!” Having been alone on the island for centuries, Chikara had long forgotten his birthday. He wasn’t sure how to react to Ezulé’s words and he certainly did not know what he wanted.
Then it hit him. “I want to be human. I want to experience the beauty of this island in the way the humans do,” he emphasized. Ezulé wondered what could have possessed Chikara to inspire his desire to be human but she said nothing. Instead, she whispered her incantations and Chikara transformed before her eyes into the human shell he desired.
Chikara fell down with the force of the emotions he thought were forever lost to him as he beamed with happiness. He thanked Ezulé and quickly made his way to the salt pond the humans frequented. He made sure to smell every flower he happened upon and drink in the warm, sweet air. At the salt pond, he noticed that the Road Trip TT adventure team was there. He’d frequently seen the group on the island so Chikara was happy to mingle with the nature lover team.
Chikara slowly walked into the pond, thoroughly enjoying the feel of the sticky, squishy mud between his toes. He leaned back into the water and welcomed the wet embrace of its warmth. At that moment, all the hurt and bitter resentment Chikara felt for his father came rushing back, causing him to unabashedly shed his pain and finally release the negative energy he’d bottled up for centuries. Ezulé, disguised as a Chacachacare shiny lizard, watched gravely as her brother wept. “I forgive you father,” his quivering lips mouthed. Ezulé smiled as a tear slipped out of her small, black, beady eyes. “Finally, the curse is broken,” she whispered. “Finally, my brother is free.”
Zainab Kamara is a freelance writer based in Trinidad and Tobago. She holds degrees in journalism, public relations, international relations and political science. She writes articles for Central Beat Magazine and is also a part of the Robert & Christopher Publishers team.
In her free time, Zainab enjoys binge watching anime, hiking with the Road Trip TT team and baking red velvet cupcakes. Follow her on Instagram @blacknefertiti to find out more about her journey as an aspiring griot (storyteller).