Little Witch

We were having breakfast, my girlfriend and I. It was one of her occasional weekends off from work and she’d visited. And honestly I was loving it, I couldn’t complain; a meal of crisp toasts and fried eggs, coffee just how I liked it -strong, black, sugary-, a small stack of the dailies placed neatly at the edge of the table on my right, and not to mention the carnal gratification of preceding eves… I had to hand it to Ejiro, the girl was a perfect housekeeper, would make a wonderful wife. A shame if she wouldn’t be mine. Her flaws? Not much except that being a semi skilled Eliza nurse with a lowly backwater background and not to mention a tongue readily fluent in pidgin didn’t exactly cut out the ideal picture of a daughter-in-law to my mother’s discerning eyes.
As for me I did mind Ejiro, always. Of all that I had ventured into a relationship with, hers seemed the easiest, one of the very few that had demanded my most serious consideration. There was however only a skepticism as regards her efficiency; if she like the numerous others before her wasn’t simply trying too hard to please just so she could end up in the family good books. My mother enjoyed finery, I desired realness.
Sitting across the table feasting my stomach on her tasty culinary preparations, my eyes on her luscious appearance, I noted her attention was seized; taken by the newspapers on the edge of the table. I followed her gaze to the top of the stack, to the headline on Bini Yarn, a cheap two-paged indigenous tabloid which carried as much bogus news as it did any news at all and to the headline that read thus- Evil: Little Witch Murders Sister’s Lover, underneath a distorted black and white picture of a dreadlocked girl child. I let out an unconscious hiss and sipped from my mug.
Ejiro giggled ‘Weensh abi?…’ she winked ‘…you go fear now.’
Poor thing, I thought as I smiled back, believing such crap. Mother was obviously right.
————————
The premises of the State Medical Center, Ekhiadolor like any other of its kind is often low spirited, dull; the weight of ailments perhaps hanging down like rain soaked clouds about to fall off in huge chunks right atop the colored roofs of the many edifices clustered in the center of the compound. My department however, psychiatry, usually casts a different scenario. Maybe it is the detachment, the being thrown to the far edge of the compound alone with the sole companionship of the morgue and its resultant dearth of unpleasant sights as bleeding lacerations, plastered limbs, nauseated patients, and so forth but the worst sight we often come upon is a screaming patient, running wild through walkways usually in a fit of uncontainable euphoria, chased by guards and attendants, his or her temporary exuberance easily checkmated by shots of tranquilizers. It is fun to watch and I must confess often desiring to witness such pursuits. My department is often lively.
The chief consultant and my direct boss, Dr. Frank Obanovwe enters my office two mornings later, the usual sharp smell of musk which his wife usually drenches him in announcing him as he tosses a file atop my desk and takes the armchair across from me.
‘New case, Phil…’ he scratches his beards ‘…and a state matter as well. It is already in the news.’
I open the file. The first sheet is a police report. My boss continues.
‘The police have already done their tests. Ours is just confirmatory. You are to carry out a series of consulting sessions in the space of a week. I want a good quick job.’
I don’t know when he leaves. I’ve already begun scanning through the other pages. It is the girl child. The same one accused of murder, accused of being a witch. The picture in the file is the same one the tabloid used but it is clearer and colored. The child is cute, dark skinned with inquisitive eyes staring up at me, trying to suppress laughter.
————————-
She walked into my office on the first day of our consultative session and stood beside the visitor’s chair across my desk; a tiny five year old frame that belied her documented eight years and three months. She wore a simple patterned gown that stopped short of brown flat soled sandals. ’Good Afternoon sir.’
‘Sit dear.’
She didn’t. Instead, standing at the same spot, she pursed her lips and began to inspect my office; her eyes roamed the charts and almanacs that hung limply from the walls, the wooden shelf with a glass cover where we placed departmental awards and endorsements and even the metal waste basket lying at the foot of my desk behind a stack of unattended files.
Her face was impressed by the time she was through. ‘Hmm. It’s clean o…’ then she sat, squirming in her seat so that the leather creaked ‘…the police people office is dirty…everywhere dust, dust…’ she even sneered ‘…and my father house is dirty sef. It’s because my mummy is not coming back that’s why. Aunty Efe use to clean my daddy house before, anytime her boyfriend is coming. But she don‘t use to do it again…’ she turned to me ‘…shebi you have girlfriend?’
I choked on the words, cold sweat breaking out on my forehead. She continued.
‘I know you use to clean your house only when your girlfriend is coming. So that you people will go and be doing totori.’
The words slipped out in a whisper. ‘You little witch.’
———————
In my opinion, it didn’t take much to understand Anita. She was a child, a sweet little normal and intelligent child who learnt a lot faster than most of her contemporaries, asked questions where she felt the need to and said things the way she saw them. And being a child was something I hadn’t done in a long time; though I had residues of my childhood in me, I wasn’t sure I could remember what it felt like being one. I learned from her.
I paid a working visit to her home; one building, many rooms, more tenants. Her father Mr. Okonedo was a carpenter. He looked old, expressionless and said he was forty eight. He sat across from me on a bench in the frontage of the building, his chin balanced on a knuckle whose elbow dug into his thigh. He wore a pair of frayed faded shorts. His elder child Efe sat on the broken steps of the building a short distance away from his feet. She knitted with colored wool and broken broomsticks and cracked gum loudly between hurrying lips.
Mr. Okonedo had lost his wife at childbirth, Anita’s birth. The doctor at the community clinic told him she’d had a ruptured womb and had bled internally. Many of the locals believed the child was a witch. She had eaten her mother’s womb so there wouldn’t be any other children after her, they had concluded. That was eight years ago, the first accusation and now once again, the accusations had resurfaced; their suspicions sourced from an unexpected and uncanny lunacy that had befallen Ovie (the civil servant-only-son of the community head who doubled as Efe’s betrothed) one sunny morning and had sent him screaming to a gruesome death beneath the tires of a truck laden with cement for the completion of a town hall project. Some of the unfortunate witnesses swore that they’d heard Ovie calling out to Anita to come to his aid as he dashed out of his father’s compound. Mr. Okonedo didn’t know what to believe. The wedding was supposed to have been in less than two weeks.
When I asked if he was aware of any aberrations in the his family’s mental history, the man simply shook his head. ‘Na only my wife papa brother pikin wey been join army go fight for civil war na him mad after him come back. Them talk say na him papa second wife na im do am for am.’
I asked him if he ever noticed anything unusual about Anita.
‘Like wetin?’
‘Anything at all. From unusual mannerisms like excessive moodiness, constant soliloquizing, extreme anger and so on.’
He chuckled. ‘You nor dey vex? Abi you never talk with yaself before? Na that one mean say you dey mad?…’ he hissed, shaking his head ‘…una wey read book dey funny me o.’
I tried to explain to him. ‘It’s only part of a series of tests to know if there’s anything wrong…’
‘Leave all that grammar abeg…them talk say Anita my pikin na weensh, na wetin I wan know. She be weensh abi she nor be weensh?…nor be this one wey you dey talk about craze…wetin craze get to do with say person na weensh…?’ he hissed again ‘…una nor sabi anything, na only to talk grammar na im una sabi.’
Silent seconds dotted with the sound of Efe cracking gum ticked past and the forty eight year old looked at the girl at his feet, shook his head slowly.
‘And this one wey dey here carry Ovie pikin for belle now.’
Anita seemed oblivious of all that floated in the ambience about her. She skipped out of her family’s single room apartment in the recesses of the building, her upper lip coated with a thin film of the ice cream I’d brought upon my arrival and hurried over to where I sat holding up two mutilated hairless Barbie dolls.
‘See my two angel…’ she said, showing them to me one after the other. The first doll had lost a chunk of its upper head while the other seemed to have most of its mid region carved out with a sharp object. ‘…this one is angel Gabriel and this one is angel Michael.
My daddy say that he will buy me another one.’ she turned and rushed into her father’s thighs, swinging on his knees so that her legs didn’t touch the ground.
‘Daddy, shebi you will buy me another angel?’
The man didn’t look at her. ‘Yes my pikin, I go buy am.’
——————
I write my report even before our next and final session the following day and then I am forced to lie awake half through the night listening to my mother gush all over with excitement as she tells me on the phone that the Ade Bensons have accepted to give their daughter, Lola to be my wife. Chief Ade Benson had often been a visiting surgeon during my medical school years at Coventry. Presently, he runs a number of private practices in Lagos. Mother says I would have to return to Lagos in a week in commencement of the traditional ceremonies.
Anita comes around noon accompanied by her usual police escort who in his regular fashion simply opens the door, lets her in and waits on the other side. She sits in the armchair and squirms so that the leather creaks. She smiles but it is a smile with limited edges, an impure smile with restrictions.
She says. ‘Me and my daddy and Aunty Efe are going my grandmother house in Okpanam. I will grow big there and my daddy will have work there and Aunty Efe will born her child there. I will not see you again.’
She hugs me when it was time to go, shoves my farewell gifts of packets of biscuits and sweets into the front pouch of her denim overalls and yells towards the door. ‘Oga Musa, come and collect the paper.’ We laugh.
—————-
The new room is white. Like all the others in the building. I sit on the bed and look out high windows at the empty walkways. The place still looks the same but it isn’t lively anymore, hasn’t been in a while now. The patients are in their rooms. They should be at rest, awaiting lunch. Mother is visiting. She sits on the opposite edge of the bed across from me. She watches me as though there is a problem, her sad eyes making me shy, nervous and I don’t know when I begin to toy with the golden band on the wedding finger of my left hand.
Of late she has begun to look at me that way, the way that makes me very embarrassed. And she has become quite possessive, I mean with her visiting me all the time and treating me as though I were an invalid, trying to feed me in the mouth and all that. And especially as she knows that these acts can only keep me uncomfortable and irritated. I thought her possessiveness would seize once I got married. Guess I was wrong.
Lola is on the bed beside me. Turned away with her eyes at the ceiling. I have to keep an eye on her lest she gets missing like she once did. Mother angers me with her refusal to acknowledge my wife. I do not understand this. She says this isn’t Lola, it’s a doll. The first time we had this argument she said Lola was dead, that she died during our honeymoon on the beach front off the Hawaiian coast, she had gone for her daily dip and was mauled by a shark, had her right arm torn off. It was unbelievable being that Lola was lying there on the bed, beside me although I was got a bit confused when I noticed once again that her right arm was missing. It’s still missing. My boss, Dr. Obanovwe was also there and would you believe that he sided with her? I got a little mad and ran off down the yard, into the walkways.
Lunch comes. Once again I’ve requested my favorite: toast, fried eggs and coffee but the tray has pap and boiled beans beside a cup of the sour grape juice they always offer us. I’ve also requested that Ejiro desists from serving my lunch but she never listens. And to think she is always in denial, saying she’s not Ejiro, making up silly names like Mary, Joy or Sade. And how annoying, everyone supports her including mother. Do they think I’m crazy?
Once we even fought over Lola with me pulling at her legs while Ejiro yanked at her trunk saying that harmful toys were not allowed in the rooms. How insolent. I think it was where Lola’s arm got missing. But better now that Lola is okay, her thick brown hair, slim figure, caramel colored skin and all.
Mother and Ejiro are now best of friends. Quite annoying when you think that it was mother’s idea that I never got married to Ejiro in the first place. Mother seems not to mind her classlessness anymore. Women and their insecure minds. They exchange pleasantries while I grab Lola and keep her close to me, keep her safe.
Ejiro drops the steel tray atop the bedside platform. I watch her plum figure bent over in a sparkling uniform, nothing like it looked when it used to be bent over in the past meagerly dressed in one of my long sleeved shirts and her cotton panties. She smiles; her sweet, alluring yet pretentious smile shrouding a naked wickedness and says ‘lunch.’ Then she turns to leave stopping only at the final moment before sliding through the exit so that I can catch her wink.



19 thoughts on “Little Witch” by focus (@focus)

  1. Totally love this fast paced crazy piece…every line, short and sharp, packing a lot of punches…kudos

    1. Thanks sassytel. Glad you read and liked it.

  2. I like the way everything seemed to mesh together.The story is nice and the way you used flashbacks was very smooth.This is the type of story that I can buy with my money.

    1. Wow! am honored
      Pay me now…lol
      thanks

  3. Absolutely engaging.

    Welldone.

  4. This is a pity. The psychiatrist becomes the patient. Insanity is a topic that makes me wonder really.

    Nice one, focus. Well done… $ß.

    1. Don’t think on the topic too much…it has side effects
      thanks for reading

  5. You know this like you had done the research quite well. Nicely written.

  6. I noticed you wrote sieze instead of cease for stop. I liked the transitions in the first parts, but the last one was quite a jump. Otherwise, very well done.

    1. Noted Myne…Thanks

  7. Wow…beautiful imagination you have here!

    The narration was fluid and vivid in imagery, descriptive power was scrumptious.
    I was engaged all the way.
    The psychiatrist becoming the patient was a shocking transition.
    The story leaves a number of questions begging answers…but I enjoyed the read all the way.

    1. What sort of questions?
      Rhetoric or otherwise?

  8. Uyiosa (@wordsfromuyi)

    Nice flow, got me keeping track of each character. So, the teacher became the student. I had a feeling he would become insane, or is he? More please.

  9. mendel martha (@ihenyengladysusile)

    though i was a bit confused at the point of transformation,because all of a sudden he became insane,hw come na haba he seemed just fine but anyways a nice one

  10. Absolutely lovely! I thought some sentences were too long at the onset though. And how Lola ‘super-swiftly’ becomes the object of his affection, with no hint at their r/ship previously, to the point he loses his mind with her demise I feel is… unrealistic.
    Asides all those personal impressions, this is classic!

  11. Wonderfully written.The story all meshed up n giving 1 more insight.hmmm,its got me thinking.
    Welldone.

  12. @focus Apart from the second “sieze” for which you meant “cease”, you have a wonderful sense of imagination.

    Well Done!!!

  13. i love the twist of this story, and the pacy pace

  14. Sorry for taking so long with the replies. Am grateful to those who read.

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