Stephanie wondered what
was wrong with Auntie Maggie, she could hear the sound of her footsteps in her
room as she hadn’t stepped out this morning. Elohor was the only one going in
and out of her mother’s room.  Stephanie
looked up to see Elohor go in again and this time she had a bundle of grass in
her hands.
“Elohor, what’s going
on?” Stephanie asked.

Elohor looked around to
be sure that no one was eavesdropping and said.
“I don’t know…my mommy
is ill, half of her body is burnt…” She said.
“What? Why? What
happened? Did fire raze her room?” Stephanie asked in surprise.
“I don’t know ooo…I’ve
been picking herbs at the garden all morning to help soothe the burns and heal
it.”
“Oh my goodness! Does it
hurt her?”
“Hmmm….hurt is an
understatement! It’s like she’s on fire! That’s what she told me…”
“I want to see
her….please let me see her…” Stephanie started.
“I don’t know if she
wants anyone to see her this way….” Elohor said.
Stephanie nodded and
walked back into Elohor’s room and sat on the bed. Elohor’s room shared a slim
wall with her mother’s room so everything that was said in auntie Maggie’s room could be
heard by Stephanie. She heard Elohor’s footsteps leave the room and she
contemplated on whether to visit auntie Maggie or not. She was just about
getting up from the bed when she heard a strangled voice.
“No! This wasn’t
supposed to happen!” Aunt Maggie said.
Stephanie stood up and
inched close to the wall, ‘what’s not supposed to happen?’ she thought,
‘And who is auntie Maggie speaking with?’
“She was meant to
die….but what did I get? I got burnt instead. Worst of all, her useless
daughter is in my compartment, hale and hearty!” Auntie Maggie continued.
Stephanie’s ears
pricked, ‘who’s the useless daughter? Who’s auntie Maggie referring to?’
“Yes, we made her sleep
with the masquerades and no, I don’t know if she’s still haemorrhaging! That
blood of hers was supposed to feed us continually but it’s as though it’s up to
no good because her mother keeps praying and praying. I want them all dead, you
hear? I want them dead!” Maggie said with a passion.
Stephanie’s mouth stood
wide open and she couldn’t believe what she was listening to. Did aunt Maggie had a
hand in her haemorrhaging? Was she some kind of a witch?’ She thought. Suddenly
she heard her mother’s words as she confronted Auntie Maggie yesterday,
“You caused this and I will prove it to the world that you
are nothing but a witch…”
Her mother had been right all along! She was shocked to the
roots of her hair, she began to back out from the wall and quickly turned to
exit the room but stopped in shock. She stood face to face with a woman she’d
never seen in her life. The woman tied a red piece of cloth around her chest
and had markings around her face and when she saw her she smiled and said.
“Hello Stephanie….we
meet again…” The woman said with blood stained teeth.
Stephanie suddenly
remembered who she was, she was auntie Maggie’s supposed cousin that they had
gone to visit last week- the woman whose house she had eaten the cookies and
slept in. She opened her mouth to let out a piercing scream but no words came
forth.
*********
Ekweme stared at the
pastor in self-pity, he couldn’t believe that his wife was this stupid, ‘Does
she want me to die? Ehn, does she want me to die?’
He kept saying within
himself.
“Please pastor, I
believe that prayers would help solve his case. I can’t explain what happened
ooo but all I know is that his son saw him sprawled on the ground this morning.”
His wife said.
Thelma had left everyone
at the sitting room and was running around the house in search of her husband.
“Obinna! Obim!” She
called out in tears.
His sister joined in too
and they both combed the house and checked the surrounding farmlands to see if
they could find him.
“Just as we are about to
pray for him ehn. Just as a miracle is about to happen….why God! Why?” Thelma
screamed in tears.
“Don’t cry…God will
help us out, we will find Obinna.”
‘If I don’t see him, I’m
not returning to Lagos ooo…” Thelma cried.
“O ye of little faith!”
Evangeline said from behind them, she had left the house in search of Thelma
and her sister in-law.
Thelma turned to regard
Evangeline.
“What if? What if he
doesn’t show up? What if he left the house and a car knocked him over? What if
ritualists have found him? What if?” Thelma cried loudly.
“Stop doubting and trust
God. What have I been telling you these past days? Trust God and watch as He
opens the doors of heaven to answer your prayers. Do you think our God is deaf?
He listens, He will do it in his own good time.”
“What good time? Is
today not a good time? Why is He wasting so much time?” Thelma cried.
“Will you stop it? Don’t
talk like one that doesn’t know or that haven’t seen the power of God made manifest because you have witnessed it. Don’t let God get angry with you.”
Evangeline said sounding angry.
“It’s okay Thelma…God
will help us….” Chi said.
They all walked back to
the house while Thelma still shed tears.
Pastor Emmanuel was
looking at Ekweme and he knew that there were lots of atrocities committed by the man so he said to the wife.
“We’ll stay here till
nine pm, then we’ll begin to pray. I believe that God wants to open the heavens
today and He wants to touch someone to confess…” As he said the last words,
he looked at Ekweme.
Ekweme looked at him and
wished he could hiss but the stiffness in his body wouldn’t let him.
“Confess? To who?
Mtchewww….look at the little rat that is saying I should confess. I’d rather
die than confess!”
Ekweme thought to himself. “Where is that useless boy called
Nnayelugo! What is taking him so long in calling my powerful friend, Dibia?”
*********
Nnayelugo finally
reached the shrine after being beaten by the girls at the tap and losing one of
his slippers.
“Nnayelugo…what brings
you here?” Dibia asked.
“Nnayi ukwu!” Nnayelugo
smiled.
“What brings you here?
Stop wasting my time!” The Dibia said.
Nnayelugo looked at the
moulded idols on the ground of the shrine and asked.
“Biko, what happened to
that fat idol that used to sit here?”
“Which one?” The dibia
asked angrily.
“The tall fat one
na…or have you forgotten?”
“It broke last night…”
“Ehen! It broke? But it’s
a god na…how can a god break?” Nnayelugo asked.
“What do you want here? Please
stop wasting my time?”
“Na wah ooo…I’ve never
heard of a god that breaks before. At least, the God I know that the reverend
father talks about at church on Sundays doesn’t break.”
“Get straight to the
point my friend!”
“Okay, my father is
critically ill and needs your help.”
“I cannot come now, I
have gods to appease…”
“When will you come?”
“By nine o’clock
tonight.”
“Okay then…see you…”
Nnayelugo said to the dibia.
The dibia looked at him, expecting him to leave but he stayed put.
“When you are tired of
sitting in my shrine, you can leave.” The dibia said as he walked away with a
palm frond leaf in his hand and making incantations.
“Ehen, where is that
palm wine that the dibia use to keep somewhere around?” Nnayelugo asked himself
as he ransacked the small shrine.
He saw the palm wine and
hurriedly took a small idol carrying a kind of open pot on its head and turned it into a make-shift cup and poured the
wine inside and drank. After that, he dropped the palm wine gourd and was about
to leave when he saw some money in a small calabash pot. He took it, placed it
inside his pocket and smiled.
“I will show Ngozika
that I am a rich man and she won’t make shakara for me again.” He said, 
whistling as he left the shrine and promising to treat himself to a large bowl
of Isi Ewu.
Photo Credit:
1.www.magic899.com.au

To be
continued on Thursday…..

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