It was the most frightful night I ever had. It seemed the forces of darkness conspired to teach me the realities of metaphysics, so they placed a black blanket over the earth shutting the watchful eyes of God. As I think back, my mind is replete with images of scared demons scampering from mortal men who are deathly scared. It was a terribly scary night.
An uncle of mine was involved in an accident in Lagos, and taken to the hospital on the island by witnesses. They dumped him at the gate since they did not want to take responsibility for the accident and cost of treatment. Grudgingly, the gate men dragged the bleeding, dying body into the reception hall of the hospital and dumped him on the floor.
He got respite several minutes later when the nurses took him in. But then, he had lost so much blood that he hadn’t even one percent chance of survival. He died, and was transferred to the mortuary.
Meanwhile, we had no inkling of what was going on. It was three days after he passed on that we got a call at the village that we had a corpse to claim. I guess they kept trying the numbers on his mobile phone until they got through to one of us. It was an awfully sad news. I still remember the gravity of gloom that descended on the entire family.
In Yakurr, Cross River State, where I come from, we never allow our elders to be buried outside. It is of pertinent importance to our people that out corpses are brought home, and befittingly sent to the world beyond where they unite with their ancestors. So, you could imagine the rush with which modalities on how to bring him home were decided.
Within twenty-four hours, our elders arrived at the hospital. And then, they heard the worst – he had been mistakenly given a mass burial with some neglected corpses! Abomination! Taboo! Never! They must have screamed.
Immediately, we got the update at the village (thanks to GSM).
I must tell you, I heard the wailings of the gods. They shed torrid tears. And for the first time, I saw my lion-hearted uncles cry like babies. But, it wasn’t over.
An emergency meeting of the elders was summoned, and they deliberated on how to handle the matter. They decided that the corpse must be exhumed, no matter what. Uhh! It was a dreadful thought, I must tell you.
My family entered into conflict with the mortuary management over the exhumation of the body. And finally, over a month later, we won. A rotten human corpse, which they claimed was my late uncles’ was packaged and handed over to our elders. And to the village, they proceeded.
O, I still perceive the smell …. It was as pungent and acrid as nothing I had ever known. Bottles of perfumes were emptied to ameliorate the murderous stench. But then, it was like throwing a drop of water on a raging inferno.
He was buried right opposite the room where my brother and I slept.
That night was the ‘blackest’ I ever experienced. The moon was on leave. We always left the door and windows of our room open so as to let in air, even though we had been warned against it. On this night, we had been asleep for several hours, and around 2am, Jimmy, my brother, heard a sound outside, and he awoke. He tried to sleep afterwards, but sleep eluded his eyes. He continued to try, however.
While struggling to fall back to sleep, he heard a sound outside. From his position, he tried to look through the window, but pitch blackness alone, he saw. The sound re-echoed, and then, gradually became defined as human footsteps. At this realization, Jimmy relaxed; our uncle in the house usually came out to sleep on our grand mother’s grave. He was probably the one.
The footsteps continued outside… Tap…Tap…Tap…Tap…Tap…
All of a sudden, the cotton flapped a little, and then the footsteps began to echo inside our room, close to Jimmy’s head. “Who are you?!” he asked with a quavering voice, seriously scared.
Right then, the steps retraced backwards, and the cotton flapped. The steps continued to sound rapidly outside, fading, while a massive wind began to flap the cotton powerful. Right then, Jimmy tapped me, “Robert!”
My eyes opened, and I perceived the wind flapping the cotton powerfully.
“Jesus!” I screamed, and held on tightly to Jimmy. We both ran to the extreme corner of the room where we held each other tightly and screamed, “Papa! Papa O! Papa O!”
We continued to scream, even when it was obvious that the spirit had scampered out.
Some minutes later, every adult in the compound was in our little room. They patiently listened to our tale. When we were through with the narration, they reiterated their usual warning – ALWAYS LOCK THE DOORS AND THE WINDOWS. And they dispersed to their various rooms, leaving us to handle our fears.