Another horror that shook the village even more than all the other horrors awaited the people in the morning. The king was discovered hanging in his room! He had taken his own life! It was unheard of! A man take his own life?!
Suicide was an unheard of concept. It was a taboo. A man could do many things and commit many atrocities but taking the life that was the exclusive reserve of the gods was unimaginable. How much more a king?!
It was the first time in the whole village and its environs that such a thing had happened.
Even the normal gossipy nature of the village was cowed by this happenstance. Work, food, routine was forgotten in the wake of the discovery. They shuffled aimlessly from one place to the other, seeking for comfort and reason none could give.
The Ori Awo who wondered why he had been chosen by the gods to live to witness these disasters made sacrifices and prayers to the gods and brought down the hanging body of the king he had crowned just slightly more than a decade earlier.
The king could not be buried after such a death. His body was wrapped in an ordinary wrapper and thrown into the forest for the wild animals to feast on. That was the only kind of end fit for a suicide.
It was the first time as far back as existence when Ajilenko would not give a king full burial rites. The first time a king would die without honor.
The mantle of leadership was now to pass to the king’s immediate younger brother but before he could be crowned the land had to be cleansed. The people were told to embark on a seven day purifying fast and they all eagerly complied. If only their troubles could be so easily overcome by just abstaining from food.
The fast commenced the same day for no one had even put food in the mouth that day. Every single person fasted. There was no one too young to join. No little child alive to feed.
But that night, the planned cleansing had to be interrupted in a way no one could have envisaged. As the stars rose in the sky that night, the headless ghost of Omoboja followed by the spirit of Oba Erinmade carrying her head in his hand passed through the village.
Many saw them and fled in fear into their homes. Others peered out of the safety of their homes and saw the same spectacle. The dead couple headed to the palace and entered, whereupon the living inhabitants of the palace scrambled out of their home. It was said the ghosts entered the king’s quarters and stayed awhile before moving to the rooms that had belonged to Omoboja. No one can verify the truth of this since no one was bold enough to go into the palace after them. All I know is that they were inside till just before dawn when they reemerged and retraced their steps through the village back into the forest.
Ori Awo had to seek the intervention of his gods again. The answer he got was that the husband and wife were simply returning to their home but on how to get rid of them, the gods were strangely silent.
Ori Awo fell back on his years of training and experience and offered countless sacrifices and prayers and incantations but it was all to no avail. Every night without fail, the two lovers came out of the forest and made their way to the palace where they stayed till dawn. The palace by now was completely deserted even during the daytime. No one wanted to live in a house that was used by the dead for their unliving trysts.
The villagers took to withdrawing indoors once the sun set and peeking out of doorways for the now familiar sight while they wondered how long this would go on. Things might have gone on like this indefinitely if not for one day when someone observed the headless ghost of Omoboja was with child!
The news spread and the following night, every mat was lifted from every doorway to confirm that fact.
There was no doubt about it; Omoboja in her dead form was ripening with child!
When the sun rose the following day, more than one family was seen with all their worldly possessions departing the village of Ajilenko. Over the next few days, the exodus continued. No one waited to confirm their fear that the death of infants would continue with this development. Everyone preferred to be safe than sorry. Not even the would-be king stayed back. Even the Ori Awo abandoned his unproductive sacrifices and joined the migrating throng. Soon, Ajilenko was stripped bare. Even animals, perhaps sensing something strange in the uncanny way they have, moved away from the land.
The people of Ajilenko, common folks and royalty alike made their homes in different villages and started new lives. They adjusted and kept mum about their former home for fear of being ostracized. Their children grew up believing their adopted home was their real land and very soon as generations died out and new generations were born, that became the truth. They knew no other home apart from the one they were raised in. Ajilenko became a myth.
But that village was no myth. It really existed. But the once thriving village is now a barren wasteland. It has become part of the forest guarding the mountains.
It is said that the ghosts of Omoboja and Erinmade still prowl that land. It is also said that she regularly conceives and gives birth and the undead babies always die on the eighth day. It is further said that on such eighth day, every animal or bird or insect found within the boundaries of the erstwhile village lose their young. As you may have already concluded, these rumors are all still hearsay. No one has actually gone there to prove them. But remember, no one has visited there to disprove them either.