Charles Edward Caplife
Legend of Nangomia's Sesamic Book
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The Rebellious Island (original: L'Île Rebelle I, ISBN: 2-915882-00-2)

Note: The book doesn't contain images. The original edition is in French, and there is no translation. For those of you who don't read French, and are still interested in this legend, here is a glimpse, especially written for you. What follows is not a translation, and not the essence of the book. It is an overview of the chapter entitled The Battle of Balan. The action is set at Fierté-en-Île (a Caribbean island facing a large country called The Octagon), during the Fourth Dynastic Intention, under the ruling of Lemal, president-for-life. People from Fierté-en-Île are called Fierilians, and those from The Octagon, Octagonians. The following episode begins at the moment the Octagon embassy has started investigating about A. Dugommier, an Octagonian ethnologist who disappeared somewhere in the Fierilian jungle.

54. The Battle of Balan


Migrating birds The Dugommier affair began in Balan, on the north coast of Fierté-en-Île. According to some French newspapers, in that small village, and around, it is known as the « Légende du Livre Sésamique de Nangommier ». In fact, the villagers gave the title in Creole — Lejann nan liv se zanmi kay Nangomye — to some English-speaking journalists, who simply put it as "Legend of Nangomia's Sesamic Book." Then many newspapers, all over the world, reproduced that fantastic title.

Nobody knows exactly how it all began. There was a sudden and persistent rumor spreading through Balan and beyond: a pè-savann* (savanna-priest or sorcerer) has got a new magic book, a manuscript containing a sound knowledge about Fierté-en-Île and its inhabitants; a book of power and glory, written under divine dictation by the ambidextrous voodoo priest, the great medium, great seer, Antoine Nangommier himself. Amongst many revelations, it contained the secret of Agwe, god of the oceans, and protector of the seafarers. Anybody who would possess that book would get the ability to disappear at will and reappear elsewhere. If the meditation stage required for that exploit was considered too intense, the happy owner had another possibility: by pronouncing the appropriate formula, he could spring his wings, cross the oceans, and reach the other side of the water, far abroad. But, in all cases, the frontiers dividing the planet were opened to him, as to the migrating birds. No more visas, no more costly plane tickets, and even no more planes were necessary. The human being was accessing the Standard of Liberty.

In all reckonings, never a book has been so fabulous, never a book has raised so much covetousness and jealousy. The legend says that at the time they were informed of its existence, a lot of men deserted all other duties to concentrate exclusively on how to get that sesame. One could see them, spying the pè-savann, following him wherever he went, hugging the walls of his house. Only lions and other felids in the African savannas, at the crucial moments of hunting, could pretend to be more pedantic or acrobatic. All Fierilian memories have kept images of these men performing calculated slow motion, advancing on tiptoe, instantaneously flattening on the ground, hiding swiftly behind a tree trunk, a pile, or even a reed. It was great art, indeed.

At the same time, the henceforth-famous pè-savann received numerous, unattended, and strange visits. People came from far away to consult him, whatever it might cost. But they didn't ask him anymore to baptize houses, celebrate weddings, or sing Latin funerals. They didn't insist anymore on getting health, love, luck at games, or even abundant harvests. The only thing they wanted was to make the fabulous travel.

Harassed, the pè-savann made public declarations: he wasn't doktè-fèy (shrub-doctor or mystic healer), medium, and definitely not sorcerer. He claimed to be simply a true catholic-priest. Of course, he did not mention that his sacerdotal knowledge has never gone beyond the sacristan level. Nor did he reveal that he has been fired because of a girl who was too gorgeous, too chubby — as the Fierilians like their women—, one of those girls that only God knows how to tailor them to give torments to a poor man.


Cloak and dagger fighters But one day, a chapitè (chapter-man or diviner) stole the book, maybe thanks to some devilish incantation. The legend says that he made a pact with the Evil One: his soul against the book! In any case, that was the conclusion of the villagers, for they could not explain how this man had managed to accomplish his theft in broad daylight, at noon.

A sharp quarrel broke out, like fire in a pinewood. Only machetes could cut down the ownership claims. And every spectator distinctly heard the metallic sound of the koulins (Collins swords) as they were furiously extracted from their leather sheaths. And the shock has been frontal and brutal. As they needed more and more space, the fighters rapidly reached the bushes, and disappeared to the sight of the villagers, who felt more than disappointed about that. Only the sound of the metal shocking against the metal, as if there was a new blacksmith around, revealed that the fight was still going on.

Indefatigable, the two men fought till the twilight; and from twilight to dawn; and from dawn to twilight again; from the mountains to the seashore, and from the seashore to the mountains; during three days and three nights. The legend says that their swords hissed in the air, made sparks on the rocks, cut trees and shrubs, leaving only desolation wherever the battle passed. It also says that, as only teenagers were swift enough to follow the warriors, exceptionally, the old allowed the young to swear. And the young swear. They have seen the men, fighting as in a cloak and dagger film: with one foot forward, one foot behind, sometimes one hand on the hip, and then attacking, stepping back, twirling, feinting. They have seen them stop, rarely, to drink tranpe (a mixture of rum and pepper), and then resume fighting more savagely than ever.


To be continued...


[Excerpt from the Caplife Dictionary appended to the book]

In the French version, such alien expressions are assembled in a dictionary appended to the book. Here, we will simply put an approximate meaning in parentheses.

Excerpt in PDF format

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