Sunny morning at the hill’s foot I was ten years old when I encountered the raiders from the northlands for first time. It was a late sunrise and the thin sliver of a last trimester moon still bejeweled the ash-grey sky. The last of the morning cockcrows had echoed across this valley, calling late risers to answer the melody of wakefulness. Across the length of an enchanted valley all appear drab, without mirth, awaiting the infusion of the crimson ray of the summer sun which will soon crest the twin peaks of Enu-ejima to bath this valley with her radiance, then will the hidden beauty of this land be seen in all her glory. Though, I have seen this spectacle a thousand times, yet I eagerly await its coming with awed eyes each day. My young mind is yet to come to terms with the reflections of light off the lush green leaves and the flutter of forest birds as they welcome the new day with their cries. Today I knew it will come late, just like it had been doing for several weeks now –the old ones say it is the doing of the gods who sent it on an errand. I do not argue for it is above my minds reach to contemplate the hidden ways of the gods. Lying back on my raffia mat, spread just inside the door of the round earthen hut I share with my siblings, I looked again towards the distant peaks, seeking for that tell-tale shimmer that will send me running towards the eastern wall of our homestead where my vigil heralds the rising sun. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, I tarried, hoping that counting the bamboo poles holding up the thatch and raffia roof will ease the pain of waiting. I actually heard my name the first time it was called. I did not answer and did not expect to be reprimanded for that since it is dangerous to answer calls from sources unknown, or one might acknowledge a spirits call and follow it to the land of the dead within an infant’s heartbeat. I was seriously peeved when Adaora my ill tempered elder sister barged into the hut and emptied a bucketful of cold rain water on me. I jumped up screaming and rushed after her. Being more nimble than me, she easily kept me at bay, sidestepping my attempts to grab her and sink my teeth into her calf. She took to running around the thatch kitchen our mothers use in the rainy season. I followed her gamely, knowing I did not stand a chance of catching up with her but too infuriated to care. Guessing I was growing weaker, she changed direction and ran towards me, coming close enough for my seeking hands to grasp her waist clothe, barely, then skipping away before I could gain purchase. Frustration brought quick tears to my eyes and sobs, long held in check, burst fourth with ululations loud enough to bring our mothers running to investigate. Mama Ukwu, my father’s eldest wife was the first on the scene, her ample bosom jingling in the grip of momentum and gravity. “What or what is making that boy cry?” she inquired with vengeance, bearing down on Adaora who was then cowering, her mischievous smile having faded off at her first glimpse of mama Ukwu’s fury. “I did not do anything to him I only woke him up with water since he was sleeping like a hyena.” Adaora said, drawing away from Mama Ukwu as much as he cold dare without admitting too much guilt. “And you would know how a hyena sleeps? I sent you to call him to eat not to cause him pain.” Mama Ukwu moved with a sudden swiftness that belied her age, grabbing Adaora by the crook of her skinny arm she pulled her against her body. “My husband it is your turn to retaliate.” She said to me.