12 Sep 4: Ogamma
PROMPT: Write about dancing.
I watched her hips move freely, seemingly unhinged from her waist. The amber glow of the fire licked her ebony skin as her bead-shackled ankles danced excitedly around it in swift, fluid movements. The rattling of her waist beads mixed with the pounding of the skin drums and sailed up to the starlit skies as one melodious sound.
The excited murmurs and chants from the other onlookers just faded along with the music as my mind gave in to the enchantment before me. Her slender frame twisted and shook in time with the beat freely, without any care or restriction – never mind that she was clad in nothing but beads that dangled loosely over her perky breasts and privates. The fire seemed to enhance her already prominent facial features and her beauty radiated. Her eyes were closed, and she looked peaceful – happy even – loosing herself entirely in the dance ritual, unhindered by the burning coal beneath her feet.
Every year, I would come out with everyone else to watch the Ogamma dancer of the year, and wish and wonder and shudder at the beautiful intensity of it all. I imagined what it would be like to be the one chosen to dance for the village. An incredible honor it would be, but would I have the courage to pull it off? How would I even get my body to move like that? The ritual was very precise – every twist, every turn had to be properly timed and prosecuted, every hand movement signified something. The slightest mistake could render the whole night void. Would I be able to handle such a responsibility?
The beating of the drums intensified and my focus returned to the dancer before me. This was the part of the dance where everyone’s heart got caught in their throat. We all watched as her pace picked up and the coal beneath her feet burned a brighter red. Eyes still closed, she hopped and twisted and turned around the fire, never missing a beat or showing any signs of pain. One turn, two turns, and then her eyes sprung open on the third. She was gone now; her sunken eyes signified that Ogamma herself had taken over.
A gentle calm washed over the square as we watched the priestess dance to a gentle hum that she herself radiated. She seemed to just float above the coals, her feet never quite making contact with the surface as she moved systematically around the crackling flames. The humming stopped as she went full circle and there was a collective gasp as we watched her throw herself into the fire. We struggled to stay calm as the drumming picked up slowly, although I’m not sure if the drumming was from the skin drums or just our collective hearts beating simultaneously against our chests.
And then she rose from the flames, to a slow steady applause from her appreciative audience, an acceptable offering to Ogamma. Now forever marked and protected, dedicated to serving as the village priestess for the next year.