Tega watched me as I walked down the unfrequented paths that led to the burial ground. The path was tiny, and thickets from left and right covered the paths. I had to use my hands to make way down the path. As I went further, the way ahead seemed unfrequented and less human; I couldn’t hear any human voice. All I was hearing were the cacophonies of nocturnal animals as they prepared for the night.
The clouds were already shrouding the sun by the time I got to the graveyard’s rusty iron gate . I could see the graveyard ahead. There were cars, about six of them, parked near the gate. I especially remember the Toyota Yaris, a blue coloured one; it was the last car that sped past me. I moved stealthy, with great dexterity around the cars, towards the iron gate.
The gate was wide open, so I just slipped noiselessly inside the graveyard. The graveyard was truly the home of the dead. The dead are physically taciturn, but their spirits were noisy in activity. The winds were blowing mysteriously from no direction in particular, and its howling sounds only helped mystified the graveyard. It seemed the spirits of the dead were moving with the wind, and it made the hairs on my skin to stand still. I felt fleshless, and instead, I was covered with trepidation.
Who is there?
I quickly hid behind a gravestone. My arms and legs began to tremble. I couldn’t control it.
But I thought I heard someone speak. I peeped over the grave stone like a soldier who was aiming for his target from a cover.
There was no one.
The winds continued blowing with the howling sounds. I looked up to the sky; it was getting dark. Darks clouds were slowly gathering on the sky. I better get to where the guys are and see what they are doing. That would greatly aid my article, I thought.
I moved gently from gravestone to gravestone. Some were old. Green algae were already growing on them that they covered the names of the occupant; others were still new; they probably had names, dates and quotes on them. The dark clouds didn’t let me confirm that.
I heard voices.
I stopped moving. The voices were thin and constant; like they were chanting a spell in unison; but they seemed further a bit. I moved closer, still hiding behind the gravestones. The voices were now clear, but they weren’t clear in meaning. I peeped. I could see seven men with similar attires of a long sleeve and a jean trouser of varying colors. There was also another man. He wore white attires with a red necklace on his neck; his shirt looked like a sawn-off Agbada; his pants looked like an over-sized baggy pants. I had seen enough Nollywood film to know that he was an Ifa priest. He was the one leading the chants, while the others chanted along like zombies. They surrounded a bonfire they had made, and the bonfire was right on a grave!
All of a sudden, the Ifa priest raised his hands, making a gesture for them to stop. They all stopped chanting. Then the Ifa priest started to render Ifa panegyrics. After a while, he paused.
“Let he one who wants wealth come forward.” The Ifa priest said.
A guy amongst the seven guys came forward; he went close to the Ifa priest and knelt down. He was slightly taller than me, and he shouldn’t be more than 5ft 4 in height.
“What is your name?” the Ifa priest asked him.
“What a wonderful name you have. Just like your name, Olakanmi, it’s your turn to enter the haven of wealth,”
“I’m sure your friends must have told you all you need to do. But I will repeat it again. I asked you to bring a young lady’s tongue, heart, breast and pubic hairs. That you did with ease that amazed me. It shows how desperate you are. I’m impressed. What we want to do is that, we would wed the lady’s spirit to another spirit. So in return, the spirit would give you money for helping it secure a wife. When I mean money, I mean money. Money would flow in till you get tired of it. But there is a final part you have to play in order to get this wealth, and that’s why we are here today. You will have to sleep in his grave till morning!”
The guy who was kneeling exclaimed, “Sleep till morning!”
“Yes, didn’t they tell you? To make money isn’t easy. All these men you see here, riding in exotics cars and living expensive life, did you ever think of how they got the wealth? They all slept in the grave just like you are going to do now. Or don’t you want to be rich?”
“I want to be rich baba,”
“Good, then you must eat up your fears. We will all leave now, and return by dawn. By then, the spirit would have concluded the wedding ceremony.”
“Spirits, Wedding; Baba, I don’t understand. What will I do? How will I know the spirit? Does it understand Yoruba or English? How do I ask it for money…” the guy asked, stammering with fear.
“You don’t complain here young man; just do as you are told. Sleep on his grave, and the rest would be unveiled to you. And no more questions.” The Ifa priest said. He gestured to the other guys to move forward, and they began to chant the spell they were chanting earlier.
I shivered. The guys and the man in white attires started moving away from the guy, chanting the spell they were chanting earlier on. They were coming in my direction!
My heart began thudding. I could feel it beat hard against my ribs. My hairs stood still. I was frozen with fear.
Go right, No left
I was confused. The guys were closing in, and their chants were becoming louder. There was no way I could escape now without the guys noticing me. I started a silent prayer. I had never strongly believed in a God. But I knew he somehow existed. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t leave me alone.
Suddenly the guy whom they left in the grave cried out. They all stopped chanting, and they turned back to the grave.
Thank God. You’re marvellous.
I moved away, almost noiselessly, from the gravestone I was towards the bush on my left. I was just settling well in the bush when the guys turned back chanting as they walked. The guys passed away slowly, not noticing a guy who could spell their doom is somewhere in the bush to the left.
So these are the killers of the lady who was murdered yesterday.
I knew finally, I had a tangible evidence to write my cover story. I would be free from Dr Adegbite and his expulsion threats by the time I wrote it. Mama would be very happy that I did her proud. The article would go places, and I might even be lucky to get a column for myself in one of the national newspaper; maybe Punch.
I heard car engines starting. It must be the guys going. My nerves relaxed as I breathed out a sigh of relieve.
I started to move out of the bush slowly. The car sounds were now getting fainter; they must be going, I thought. I moved out completely from the bush. My heart beat returned to normal and I breathed properly. This state wasn’t as my body went cold all of a sudden, like I had just seen a ghost.
“Show your face,” a voice called out. I could smell the bullets nettled in the gun as he pressed it against my neck.
I turned slowly, raising my two hands up. I knew I was in for big trouble. All I remember was a swing, and blackout that descended on me like an eclipse.
PS: Rituals explained here are just fiction.
To be continued.