‘URUSHI’: An unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or the anticipation of danger.
Folu retrieved the large bunch of keys from the bet hole in the chinos trouser he was wearing. It had been a very hectic and an exhausting day for him. The rain that started pouring almost at cock crow that morning had continued nonstop, at times as a drizzle, other times as heavy downpour accompanied with blaring thunder and bright flashes of lightening tearing across the sky and sending fear into his mind; that kind of rain that made one question if the world was coming to an end. Standing in front of the wooden door leading into his flat, his hand on his key hanger, with his fingers, he located the house key amidst the vast array of keys in his clustered key holder. Days before, Fasote his colleague at the office had questioned why he kept such a large bunch of keys while others colleagues had made jest about his bunch of key being synonymous with his large and bulky size. Usually when such jokes were made, it almost as a rule elicited rounds of laughter which generally reverberated in the hall that was their office and then subsided and that would be it. Why he kept such a large key holder Folu himself cannot tell. As a matter of fact, many of the keys in the bunch were out of use as even he himself cannot tell what purpose they served or which locks they opened. Yet, he kept the bunch of keys.
He heaved a sigh and then inserted the house key into the eyehole and the door bulged. He entered his massive living room. Against the counsel of some of his friends months before, he had paid the rent for this large apartment anyways. The fact that he was a bachelor which was the point his friends raised in support of their argument did not discourage him. He made the payment for the apartment with the justification in his mind that even if the apartment seems too large for him presently, its size would not be a factor in the future because he would one day get married and have children. Either way, when the children starts coming, he will still need such a flat as large as this one way or the other.
Soon after he opened the door to his flat, Folu did not as much as drop his bag or relieve himself of his shoes as he strides through the massive living room into his bedroom. It was the tick-tok-tick-tok sound of the Quartz wall clock hanging conspicuously on the wall in his living room that attracted his gaze to it. The time is 11:40 PM. He had stayed out too late today, he reasoned. He removed his gaze from the wall clock almost as soon as he stared at it. Within seconds, he was in his room. He was too tired to go into the kitchen to fix dinner. The lunch Mrs. Alao bought him earlier that day would do for the night he decided. As soon as he entered his room, he dropped his bag and entered the bathroom attached to his bedroom. In another few minutes he emerged, beads of water covering his massive body, he felt some relief from the stress he had gone through that day. The warm shower had given him some semblance of strength and there, hugging the tiled floor in a perpetual union was his massive bed beckoning on him to fall to it. He would empty his massive, lazy and bulky form on it and when he does, it would take only his alarm clock to wake him up at the crowing of roasters the following day he decided.
With this, Folu fell upon his bed with a thud. Yet, all that would not be as almost as soon as he emptied his exhausted form on his bed with hope that Mother Sleep would come and take him to dream land, he heard it….
…the uncanny sound that Folu heard came off at first like the mew of a cat. It was when it filtered into the room the second time that he recognized it. The sound was unmistakable.
“….F-o-n-u…” the voice, dragging and sluggish, called. Initially it came off like a whisper and then the caller gradually began to increase the tempo of the sound of his voice. A child’s voice! Was he in a trance or dreaming? Folu wondered in his mind and yet could not explain. As a matter of fact, at the moment he heard the voice; he could not put in plain words what he felt. Fear? Surprise? Shock? He could not tell for certain. He lived in the house all by himself. There is no way there could be an intruder how much more an intruding infant. The incessant call however continued to filter in from the direction of his kitchen. The child that was calling would not be more than two years old he reasoned from the way the voice sounded. And the kid sounded as one child who was learning to talk or in distress! Certainly this was one child who had not mastered the act of speaking very well from the manner it was pronouncing the name Folu decided. He sat up on his bed. At this instant his adrenaline had risen and sleep had grown wings and flew from his eyes. His exhaustion disappeared almost immediately. He was wearing boxer shorts that serve as his night wears which he had changed into soon after he entered his room earlier. Should he run? Hide? Call for help? As he sat there thinking of what line of action to take and as fear had already taken the better part of him, the intensity of the rain suddenly increased. Increasing and sounding now as though huge grapes were now dropping on his roof freely from the heavens. The sound of the rains on the roof by this time was as deafening as it was scary. Yet, somehow he could still hear the call of the infant which continued to filter into his room loud and clear despite the sound of the rain. The television was still beaming signals. Ironically and unusually, despite this heavy rain, there was no power cut. Earlier, he had switched on the television as soon as he entered the room to find Channels Television showing “Zombie the Flesh Eater”, a horror flick. Not interested, Folu had ignored the television. Now with this sound, Folu walked slowly to where the television was and switched it off. He needed the room to be really hushed for him to be sure what sound it was he was hearing, whether he was sleep walking and which direction exactly the sound was coming from.
“F-o-n-u……. F-o-n-u” the call kept coming from the kitchen. Folu began to shiver. Despite his fear, he summoned the strength and rising to his feet, he began to tip toe soundlessly as if hearing the sound of his own foot fall would kill him, towards his kitchen. Upon reaching the entrance of his kitchen, the call stopped abruptly. It stopped as if whoever the infant that was calling was knew he had reached the entrance to his kitchen. Folu stopped in his track. While he was still standing there, his heart beating against the wall of his chest and beads of sweat now appearing on his forehead even though he had just has a bath, and while he was still wondering what child it was that was calling out his name in that awkward manner, the call resumed again. However, this time the call began to come from the living room as against the kitchen which was the first place he heard the call come from. Baffled and yet as if some invisible hand was pulling and leading him on, Folu began moving towards the living room, still tip toeing. On his way to the living room, the call stopped again for few seconds. Just as Folu paused to decide what next to do, like some strange piano playing now, the voice resumed, this time from one of the empty rooms in the flat which Folu had converted into a store where he kept house items which he considered useless with hope that they might be one day useful again. Just as he decided to trace the voice to the empty room where it was now coming from, there was instant power cut. ‘JEEEZ’ Folu exclaimed. With this power cut came darkness so thick a knife could slice through it. At that instant a massive thunder tore through the sky. The sound of the thunder was so loud that Folu had experienced momentary deafness. With this thunder came flashes of lightening so bright that it could have been brighter than 10 advanced search lights put together which beamed as if directly into his retina. That brightness made him lost his sight for a few seconds. He groped in the dark to find his way back to his kitchen to locate the candle stick and match box sitting on top one of the kitchen cabinets in his kitchen. He bit his lips in regret. He had been advised countless times to get a rechargeable lamp but had refused. The call kept coming.
Folu reached the door leading to the empty room more out of the reflex of someone who knew the corners of his house perfectly than because of the illumination that the candle light provided as the flickering flame was dancing to and fro to the rhythm of the cold evening breeze. At the door, again as if the infant in the room knew Folu had reached the door, it stopped calling. This sent fear rising from the pit of Folu’s stomach and remaining trapped in his throat. Despite this, Folu pressed his ears against the door to pick any sound. SILENCE. The silence this time was so thick that if a needle had dropped at that instant, the boom of the drop would have been so loud, sounding as though a plane had crashed and the crash would have echoed all across the house. Folu pushed the door gently. The door gave way and at that moment, a stench so thick it could have suffocated an elephant oozed from the room and hit him. Dazed by the stench, Folu recovered just in time to see it. To see the creature behind the voice that was the cause of his fear….
The sight of the infant drenched in blood and seated on the bare floor and blood all about the floor where he was sitting and backing Folu shocked him. A crawling infant! He sat facing the wall and toying with an object that Folu could not readily make out what it was at that moment. Folu was shocked beyond words upon the discovery of the source of his fear. He stood there like a piece of statue staring blankly at the infant. The candle stick still in his hand, the flickering flame still dancing to and fro as if it would go out any moment, Folu strained his eyes to see what the child was toying with. Unable to see what the child was toying with in the poorly lit room, just as he regained his senses and made to turn back and flee, the child turned to face him. The smile on the child’s face was as scary as it had that kind of a knowing expression in it; that kind of expression that usually appear on the face of some mischievous adult who was up to something sinister. The child continued to hold the weird smile as if he was posing for a photographic camera in preparation for some weird horror movie. Folu stopped in his track and made to scream but the words froze in his mouth. He had wanted to scream and take to his heels. But like some spell had left the child’s eyes and charmed him, he stopped and remained fixed on one spot like a sculpture. Just about that moment again, a massive thunder tore through the sky. The walls of the building shuck. The lightening that followed the thunder this time was so bright it made it possible for Folu to see it all. He saw that the child held out something that looked like some raw meat; Raw meat that looked like a combination of the inner parts of and the intestine, heart and bile of either an animal or a human being. The infant held it up for Folu to see as if he was offering it to him. While the child held up the huge combination of raw meat as if he was oblivious of its weight or that some unseen force was helping him to lift up that size of beef, he kept smiling and this time his eye balls began to shine like that of a cat who was in the dark. A chill ran down Folu’s spine. His legs became weak and he felt as though his soul had left is body. The child lifted the meat higher, and offering it to him, he called out again, ‘F-O-N-U’ in that awkward and wired manner. The shriek that escaped from Folu’s throat echoed in the distance. He screamed so loud his throat might as well tear. And just about that time that he cried out…
….he woke up. Covered in sweat and shivering, he rolled of the sofa he had been reclining on and fell on the tiled floor. He had been dreaming. And this dream was so real. The afternoon dream had made him scream so loud he had interrupted the conversation his uncle was having with members of his family in his living room. Shocked, everyone from his uncle, his uncle’s wife to their two daughters, Folu’s cousins, rushed to his side. Realizing he had been dreaming and had actually gotten so scared he had screamed like a baby made Folu feel stupid and embarrassed.
“Ha! Boda Folu, what is the matter?” Sade was the first to speak.
“It must have been a bad dream” Sade’s younger sister Foluke added
“Eyah, pele. And I told you to go and sleep in the room o you didn’t listen. Pele. See as you are sweating. Go and have a bath. You sure could use a bath” His uncle’s wife said.
“Uncle Folu is too fat that is why he is always sweating like a hippopotamus” Foluke, very young, attempted some humour. The family laughed.
“Hmm… Afternoon dreams.” That was all Folu’s uncle said amidst a sigh and with a nod of the head thoughtfully. All that his uncle and his family was saying meant nothing to Folu as he sat there on the tiled floor staring at the family now gathered around him, as he tried to put himself together and make sense of it all. He could not utter a word. However, he was later able to lift himself off the floor, sat back on the sofa for a few minutes and tried to regain his senses and make certain what had just happened was really a dream or for real. The dream was so real; more real to him than Christmas day. Yet it was a dream; a terrible and scary mid-day dream at that. Just then, Sade prompted the dad.
“Daddy, oya continue your story” she said as everyone took back their seats in the living room.
“Yes daddy it true, continue the story” Foluke supported Sade.
Folu’s uncle cleared his throat and then continued.
“Yes, like I was saying. That was how we buried my father that evening o. Strangely enough; two days after baba died and was buried one of my uncles came in from Okene a town in Kogi state and told stories of how he saw baba! All efforts to persuade uncle that baba died two days before fell on deaf ears”
“Really!” Asked Sade
“Yes” Folu’s uncle answered and continued.
“Weirdly, on the night that my father died, something uncanny happened. It happened that after his burial on the night of the day he died, it happened that I had no place to sleep in the family compound because of the number of relatives that had come to join us in mourning baba’s demise. So, on that cold evening night I went into the house, retrieved my mat and came out to the open compound. Because the compound was small and crowded I could not find a suitable place to lay my mat. And so, I laid my mat on top baba’s grave, still fresh because it was dug that evening, and slept on it. That night, I had a dream. I am not sure if I can describe it as a dream, real life incident or a trance. In the dream, baba sat by my side on the grave side. He placed a hand on my chest. His hand was cold; as cold as steel. He then instructed me to dig up the ground beneath the mango tree that was few feet from where he is buried when I woke up later in the morning. He told me that that’s where he buried the clay pot which contained his savings. The family had been short of funds to perform his burial rights as at when he died. The following day, we the family members who had been wondering how we would get the funds for his burial ceremony as a chief that he was, which would last the following days, suddenly found we had access to a huge amount of money to cover for all the expenses that we could have incurred during the ceremony. All this happened of course, because of a mere dream? We were all shocked. And as a matter of fact….”
“Na wa o. This is serious o” the uncle’s wife interrupted
“Yes, very serious” the uncle replied and continued.
“As a matter of fact, when I woke up and told family members what baba told me in the dream…”
While the discussion was going on, Folu had decided he had heard enough. He dragged his lazy self from off the sofa and headed for the room. Going out of earshot, he heard no more of the conversation between his uncle and his family. Within minutes, Folu was under the shower in the room. He had made up his mind to leave for Ile-Ife his base that same evening. He had come to Lagos the day before, a Thursday, to buy the battery for his Sony laptop. He had searched every computer shop in Ile-Ife but couldn’t get one to buy. He had originally planned to return to Ife on Sunday, but suddenly changed his mind. Before his left his uncle and family in the parlour, he had stole a glance at the wall clock and the time read 5:15 PM. While in the bathroom still taking his shower and hearing the distant chattering of his uncle and his family, he suddenly heard someone screamed and badge into the living room. It was Chichi, a tenant in his uncle’s house. It was her voice that he heard.
“Ewo eee!” Chichi screamed catching her breath. “Wonders shall never end ooo! Neighbourrrrrrrrr make una come see fawol wey no be man wey dey cry for hot afternoon ooo” she cried as soon as she scrambled into the living room taking Folu uncle’s family by surprise.
“Daddy, what is ‘fawol wey no be man wey dey cry’?” Foluke, 12 years and always inquisitive had asked the father trying to mimic Chichi’s thick Igbo accent and attempting humour again for the second time.
“Hmmm. Aunty Chichi is trying to tell us that something strange has happened. Usually it is cocks that crow not hens ok? And they crow mostly in the mornings. So, it would be strange indeed if aunty Chichi is right that instead of a roaster crow, it’s a hen that’s crowing.” Turning to Chichi who now stood panting and occasionally rubbing her palms against each other and showing them to the ceiling in a questioning manner, Folu’s uncle asked.
“Are you sure of what you are saying? That there is a hen that crows in this compound?”
“I say make una come see. The whole yard don gather for there. Tufiakwa. Aruu eeee”. Before the words dropped from her mouth, she was out the door as fast as she had come. By now Folu had turned off the shower and was listening intently inside the bathroom by pressing his ear against the wall that separated the bathroom from the living room. He heard commotion followed by footfalls in the living room. In seconds, the living room was empty and silent. Folu could tell this even though he was in the bathroom because of the massive silence that descended on his uncle’s 2 bedrooms flat in the massive compound soon after the commotion that he heard. This area of Lagos is strange he thought. As a matter of fact, he had not particularly enjoyed his stay in Lagos this past 2 days. By the time he was done having his bath and parking his things, his uncle and the family had returned. He reached the living room and without bothering to ask them how the episode of the ‘Crowing Hen’ went, he informed them he was leaving for Ile-Ife.
“Ha! Bodaaaa. This is not our arrangement o. What about the thing you promised me?” Sade was the first to speak.
“Don’t worry Sade, I will send it to you as soon as I get to Ile-Ife.” Folu assured her with a mild pat on the back.
“Uncle Folu, its almost late now, why not wait till Sunday as you planned or at least till tomorrow morning” the uncle’s wife advised.
“Ife is not far. If I leave now, in another 3 hours, I will be home”. He returned.
“Why did you suddenly change of mind, I thought you said you will leave on Sunday?”
“Uncle, I just got a call that I need to be in Ife today. Besides there is a report I need to submit to my oga which we must present to the management of my office on Monday. And he needs to get it tomorrow so he can vet it before work on Monday” Folu lied.
“Oh o. I see. Isn’t it that same oga of yours, pa Okotete the one you told me about? Why would he bother?”
“Hmm Uncle, he will o. The man is a workaholic o. Even if he finds nothing to do, he’d rather work on irrelevant matters. Movement without motion, that what we call his attitude at times” he said and laughed.
“Well, that might be his nature. There are people like him who make themselves busy even if what they are working on is not necessary or important. I used to have a staff like that.” His uncle returned.
“Uncle, this one, his own is worse” Folu said and laughed again.
“Well, you can’t bend a dry fish. If that’s his nature then your duty is to learn hoe to cope with him. Ok then, drive safely ok”
“Sure uncle I will”
With this, the entire family saw him to his car in the massive and crowded compound. In another 30 minutes, Folu was already at Berger end of Lagos Ibadan expressway. His Toyota Camry ‘Pencil light’ as he likes to call it was in good shape and so, in another 3 hours, he should be in Ile-Ife, he reasoned. By the time Folu reached Berger, he soon discovered that the express way leading from Berger to Ibafo-Mowe area was caught in a massive traffic. God! He cursed under his breath. The entire expressway was at a standstill. So massive was the traffic that most motorist, led by the yellow with black stripe Lagos buses popularly known as ‘danfo’ had created alternative routes any where they could find any semblance of a road. The expressway, as massive as it is was jam-packed with vehicles of different shapes and sizes. Looking at the expressway leading off from Lagos, Folu saw the cars filed in a long stretch like one large immobile snake. Upon enquires, he was informed that one of the countless churches that lines the expressway was doing their religious programmes. That was the chief cause the traffic gridlock. He could not go back to his uncle’s house. He had no choice but to wait it out. The next 5 hours that Folu spent in the traffic were the most agonizing 5 hours of his recent driving experience. Thankfully, he later left the traffic without having to go back to his uncle’s house at the expiration of the 5 hours. At least he was grateful for that. That eerie house where nightmares were part of sleep and hens crow at mid-day he thought.
By the time Folu reached Gbogan in the State of Osun, it was 11 PM in the night. But his Car seemed ok therefore there was no cause for worry. His only regret is that the State of Osun is not like Lagos where by this time of night the streets would still be bubbling with life. Lagos, the city that never sleeps he thought as a smile flashed across his face. In contrast, the State of Osun, the state that was permanently asleep he thought with a hiss. In another 30 minutes or less, he would be in Ife he reasoned. However, few kilometers after Gbogan, Folu noticed on his dashboard that his car was overheating. The temperature suddenly became so high. Folu had initially ignored it. He hoped he could rough the journey till he got to Ife. However, the fact that some steam was now appeared inside the car as though the car was smoking made him decide against roughing the journey to Ile-Ife. He knew his radiator was ok. Why then was his car overheating and now smoking? The whole vicinity was so quiet and empty that the very sound that insects were making was as loud as though planes were crashing by the second despite the breeze wiping against his ears from outside. He decided he would pull over as soon as he came upon a place that had the minutest traces of life and check his car. Luckily, he soon saw an old building. Thankful, he pulled over by the side of the road just in front of the building. It is a one storey building. An old house actually. Folu alighted from his car. As soon as he alighted from the car, he had noticed a difference in the cold outside breeze as against what he was feeling inside his car. He opened his burnet. It was then he saw it; the culprit. The reason the temperature of his car was so high. The radiator of the car was empty. All the water had drained. His Gasket would have burnt had he continued on the journey, he knew. Confused Folu stood there thinking of what next to do. His predicament was made worse by the reality of the fact that he was in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. He hoped and prayed a Good Samaritan would happen by.
Suddenly, an old woman nearly doubled forward by age appeared behind him.
Folu did not hear her approach. He just saw her behind him. At first he was taken aback. But the fact that the old woman, apart from looking a little unkempt, looked frail and harmless had made him loosen his guard.
“Ekale o omo mi. Se kosi o? Ta ni e bere?”
Folu regarded the old woman. She is almost totally grey. Slim, a little bent and holding a funny looking walking stick in her shaky hands to support her frame, her hair was in-between unkempt and tidy. Her voice quaked and shook as she spoke. Even though visibility level was down to zero at that time of the night, with the help of the headlights of his car, Folu could make out the features of the old woman. As she spoke, Folu noticed her teeth were almost all gone. Only a few tooth remained attached to her gum. Her hands looked frail as though they had died and were eagerly waiting for the old woman’s body to join them and they shook with every gesticulation she was making.
“Ha! Mama, e kale ma. Ilu Eko ni mo ti’n bo. Ile-Ife ni mo’n lo”
“Kilode ti o se fin orun ri? Kilo se mutor re? Folu ignored the question. Instead he had asked a question.
“Mama, ejo, ni bo ni mo ti le ri eni ti o le ba mi tun moto mi se?” As he asked this question, he wasn’t thinking straight because at that time of night there was no way he could have been able to get a mechanic.
“Lorun yi? Ile ti su. Gbogbo awon mekaniki ti se tan o, o’n de ti lo le o”
Folu looked at his wristwatch. 11:55 PM. He looked at his phone. There was the ‘No Service’ sign on it. This meant there was no signal on his phone and as such he cannot make calls. At this point he was not thinking aright. His mind was more like a shredding machine by now.
Though a little wary of the old woman, with her help all the same, Folu was able to get some water with which he filled the radiator of his car but the car wouldn’t start even after the filling. After many tries, he knew if he continued to force the car, the ignition might be damaged. With a lot of hesitation, he had heeded the old woman’s advice and decided to pass the night in the woman’s house. Having used the Steering Lock to padlock the steering of his car, he satisfied that his car was secured even though it was packed in front of the house and by the side of the expressway. He entered the storey building with the old woman. When offered amala and ewedu, soon after they entered the house, he declined politely pointing out to the old woman that it was too late at that time of the night to eat. After chatting for a few minutes with the old woman from whom he learned that the old woman’s children had all grown up and left home, he was showed the guest room where he was to pass the night. Fear had however prevailed on him and thus made him decide stay in the parlour instead. He did not sleep that night. He stayed awake praying the day would break as fast as possible. That prayer was answered. The day broke before he knew it.
At cock-crow, it was an exhausted Folu that rose from the dirty sofa he had slept on. As a matter of fact, he did not sleep all through the night. He did not get the chance of taking a good look at the house part because it was dark and he was tired and part also because the old woman was a constant companion before both of them bade each other goodnight the previous night. Realizing he now had an opportunity to, he had assessed the house, glancing around nervously as he saw somber looking portrait of the old woman and an old man who could pass for the husband any day hung on the wall and staring at him behind layers of dust. By now, cold hesitant light were now streaming in through an open window in the parlour. There were no pictures of kids on the wall save the old woman and man’s pictures. As Folu walked up to the door leading to the old woman’s room he couldn’t help but feel someone was following him. Still he braved it there. At the door, he called out
“m-a-m-a” a number of times but no response came from the room. Still he greeted, “momo, e karo ma, mo ti ji o e de seun ano o”. SILENCE. Wondering where the old woman may have gone this early even though all the doors in the house were still firmly under locks with no signs anyone had left the house, Folu tried the door knob leading into the old woman’s room. The door bulged at one touch. He opened the door up to its arc and peak inside the room. The old woman was not there in her room. Instead Folu saw some huge pile of white fabrics arranged atop the bed that he had guessed was the bed the old woman had slept on. The cloths were arranged as though it was a human being who lay on the bed. On the wall near the bed was a large portrait picture of the old woman smiling to Folu as if she was beckoning on him to come inside the poorly lit room. By the foot of the bed was a long broom and some very old and worn-out bathroom slippers placed neatly on the floor as though someone had left them there deliberately with the intention to retrieve them later. As Folu regarded the objects on the floor by the bed, suddenly he felt as if something had just brushed pass him. His heart skipped momentarily and he stole a nervous glance around behind his back and inside the untidy and clustered room. Seeing nothing, he had dashed straight for the main door in the parlour leading out of the house more out of fear and reflex than out of a calculated attempt of someone who knew exactly what he was doing.
Reaching the main door, he opened it and emerged outside the house. Soon as he got out of the compound, he saw that the expressway was still barren of life like the night before. While still wondering where the old woman had gone that early, he saw a motorcycle popularly known as okada coming towards his direction. Atop the motorcycle was the young man riding it and an old man who sat astride the motorcycle. He waved them down. At first they didn’t want to stop. After some hesitation, they stopped but not exactly at the front of the old house where Folu stood. Having stopped, Folu walked up to where they were and enquired of them where he could get a mechanic that could help fix his car. As if surprised what he was doing in that vicinity, the two strangers told him that he needed to go into town to get a mechanic. He pleaded with the duo to help him to town. Before they agreed, still surprised, they had asked what he was doing at the approach of the house. Folu explained his ordeal and how the old woman came to his rescue by accommodating him the previous night. What old woman? They asked. They were even more alarmed to learn that Folu had slept in that house till morning. While Folu insisted that he slept in the house, he was informed by the old man on the motorcycle that no one had lived in that house for the last 5 years. All the time the old man was speaking with Folu, the young motorcycle driver was nodding his agreement to all that the old man was saying. The old woman in question and her husband died childless years before. Since their death and burial 5 years ago, that house has been empty and uninhabited. In fact, bats, vultures and all manner of weird creatures were now the form of life that converge there and use it as their rendezvous and meeting point every night. This is part of the reason why everyone stayed clear of the house he was told. The old man who informed Folu that he is an ‘Abore’ and that he was actually the one who performed the burial rights for the late couple, seeing the look of disbelief in Folu’s face, had invited him to follow himself and the young motorcycle driver into the compound. Initially hesitant, on a second thought, like a lamb been led to the slaughter, Folu dumbly followed the duo into the compound without another question. In the compound now, Folu was shown two graves which he had not noticed before then. On one of the graves he saw, to his utter amazement the inscription;
‘Late Madam Efunsetan Ikuforiji Abike
Nee Iyalode of Gbogan
October 11, 1920- May 14, 2014
May her soul rest in peace.’
..boldly inscribed on the marble slab on the topmost part of the grave.
As if that was not enough, Folu saw the statue head of the same woman he had met the previous night and seen on the portrait picture he had seen hanging on the wall inside the house early that morning, on top the grave.
At that instant his mouth became dry. All the hair behind the back of his neck stood erect in dread. He felt light as if he was floating or as if his soul was floating effortlessly behind him. Just then, a headache tore through his head. He opened his mouth to speak but could not get the words out. Like someone who had seen a ghost, the words remained trapped in his throat.
“Sho tan?” the young motorcycle driver said to him before turning to the old man.
“Baba, edaku eja mo lo. Ema je ki bodayi fi ti e koba wa”
Before Folu gathered himself enough to stammer another word, the two strangers were out the gate as fast as they had come. He regained himself and rushed outside the gate after them, but what he saw and heard was the receding smoke and the fading engine sound from the motorcycle. The two strangers were gone almost as soon as they had appeared. Now standing there all by himself, lost for words and scared to death, not knowing exactly what line of action to take next, Folu turned and regarded the house one more time. It was then he saw the house proper. An almost dilapidated building, dirty cloths hung on a line in the compound, empty ‘pure water’ nylon flew about around the house. A part of the fence was almost falling apart. He looked up the sky and saw some weird looking vultures and bats hovering around in the sky just above the roof of the house as though they had heard a church bell and were gathering for a meeting. All of a sudden, the cloud overhead out of the blue looked like it was going to rain. It was then it became clear to Folu that truly the house had not been inhabited for some time; it was beyond doubt a bizarre house. By now, fear had taken over the better part of him. He began to shiver as though ice had replaced his spine. Still standing there confused and really scared, he heard a voice behind him yet again; that same familiar yet cracking voice.
“Omo mi” the voice called.
Folu turned around to the direction the voice came from and it was then that he saw it all……