The heavens give way to indigo and orange at the edge of the world. Their dim glow announcing a new day and calls to the hornbill and the Zebra. The bush stirs and the mighty lion yawns loud and true.
A soft breeze picks up carrying on its wings a melody. A tune heard only by the chosen one. It is the song of the Naming Tree and it beckons to a heart.
Nuru lies quietly as the ears of her spirit drink in the subtle tune and absorb the unspoken words from her forefathers. Could this be? It has only been a single full moon since she and Akuchi had been bound by blood and soul beneath the tree of commitment.
It is rare for any new bride to be chosen before a full twelve cycles of the moon had passed and unheard of after only one. The voice, as clear as the gurgling stream behind their village, a soft inner vibration of melody so sweet it almost breaks her heart.
With sleep’s thick blanket still clouding her mind, she rises from her pallet of straw and soft animal hide, wraps her sarong around her naked body, and makes her way to the center of the hut. Kneeling, she blows and pokes at the simmering embers of the fire, and small white flakes of ash float up into the air, coming to rest on her midnight braids and glowing face.
Sitting a few moments with legs folded beneath her, she sips the broth she has warmed and imagines the look of love in her beloved’s eyes when she sings their child’s naming song to him.
A distant cock crow pulls her from her dreaming state, signaling that it is time to make ready for her journey. Before she heads out to collect water from the stream with which to bathe, Nuru stands and says a silent prayer of thanks to her ancestors for the blessing they are to bestow on her.
Washed and dressed she rolls her long braided licorice hair high on her head and walks out from the hut. She glances to the east and greets the early morning sun, with a smile, then continues on her journey. She has not felt this blessed since the day she had been chosen to be Akuchi’s life companion.
Her bare feet pad softly past the huts and red dust puffs up around her ankles in small rufescent clouds as she makes her way toward the circle of Baobabs. The cluster of ancient trees is of great importance to her people. In them dwell the spirits of their ancestors. The souls of those who were before, and who now guard the knowledge of life, death and eternity.
The light of the universe is kept safe and when necessary, endowed upon their people. The naming tree stands in the center of the forest. It whispers the name of every unborn child in its mother’s ears before physical conception has occurred.
Their ancestors choose the parents most befitting the soul who is ready to begin its life on earth. This is a very significant happening for a mother, for in their tribe a name not only defines the person, but also their purpose in life.
Nuru makes her way up the path between tall honied stalks of grass which precariously balance fresh dew drops on their pointed heads. Her fingers nimbly caress the dewy tips and send glistening diamond drops falling to the rich earth.
The Naming Tree fills her ears with the dreamy melody of the love her child will bring into her life. It reaches to her, stretching out its slim ethereal arms and pulls her toward it. She sits against its enormous base, beneath its gnarled upturned limbs and listens: Like the Tree of Commitment, this tree too holds a special power, deep within its bark, branches, and roots—the essence of all those who have been before her. The wise and the beautiful, the silly and the clever, the meek and the strong. All these souls, the forest of the ancestors hold close in their hearts.
Slowly the tune forms words, filling her heart and her mind with a vivid vision of the child that is to come.
The sun leans toward the edge of the western horizon when the hunting party returns. Akuchi washes by the stream before heading into the bustling community. He is a tall, strong man and the people of the village respect and look up to him, for he is to follow in the footsteps of his father and chief.
He makes his way toward his hut to find his wife. How he has longed for her this last week, his body burns with need for hers. He looks about, how odd that the village is not busying themselves with preparing the meat from their hunt? Instead, he notices as he makes his way down the dirt path which cuts through the market and huts, that his people still, and solemnly bow their heads.
Akuchi’s heart beats against the bones of his chest. Has something happened to his beloved? His pace quickens and as he rounds the corner, his ears fill with the sweetest sound he has ever heard.
Standing outside the entrance of their home is Nuru, and pouring from her mouth a melody so sublime his heart is wrapped in light. He comes to stand before her as the mystic words ride the haunting melody and wind their way around him, slipping into his soul. He realizes it is the song of their child, and his deep gold eyes well up with tears of joy. He blinks and blithe droplets roll down the perfect chocolate skin of his cheeks. Nuru looks up and is lost in the molten heat radiating from her husband as he cups her face in his large, calloused, hunter’s hands.
She reads the question in his eyes and nods in answer, before taking his hand in hers and leads him into their hut.