Tentacles

Iyalode is here again. I disliked the woman and I always wonder why my mum was so close to her. They had been friends for as long as I could remember and she has the habit of coming to our house almost every weekend. As soon as I heard her voice, chatting with my brother on the porch, I grabbed the bucket and duster from where I had dropped them on the reception floor. I had just finished cleaning the panes and was lazing on the sofa. I dashed into my room and locked the door. I deposited the bucket and the duster in the adjoining bathroom and sat on the bed thinking of what next to do. I was dodging Iyalode and I didn’t want her to engage me in her endless conversation.
“E nle onile yi o.” “Greetings to the owner of this house.” Iyalode’s greetings wafted into my ears from the living room where she was. I switched on my laptop and browsed through my movie collections to choose the one I would watch.
“Iyalode, E kaaro ma.” “Iyalode, Good morning ma.” My mum called out her greeting to Iyalode from the kitchen where she was. She instructed Barakatnto finish up with the akara which they had both been frying. Quaker oats was ready and I heard my brother begging Barakat to add some more to his portion. I paused the movie I was watching and slowly crept out of my room in a bid to avoid Iyalode. If she knew I was at home, she would ask why I had refused to come and say hello to her since she came. As I tiptoed to the kitchen, my brother turned from where he was standing at the kitchen entrance and I held a finger to my mouth to signal to him to keep quiet. He understood and didn’t say a word. Barakat saw me and handed out a bowl of oats to me, I sat at the counter on the tall stool and dug the spoon I was holding into the oats. I was just about to put the spoon of oats in my mouth when Iyalode walked into the kitchen with my mum. I dropped the spoon and hurriedly rose up to greet her.
“Ehn! Ehn! Bukola, iwo wa ninu ile yi sha?” “Ehn! Ehn! Bukola, so you’re in this house?” she asked. I nodded. She then turned to my mum and asked why she didn’t tell her that I was at home. She thought I was in school. My mum told her that we were on break. She walked to the cabinet top where the akara was steaming hot from the aluminium colander. She took a fork from the drawer and picked two balls of akara from the colander which she dropped on a paper plate. Inside of me, I was seething with disgust for the woman. She was too free in someone else’s house. She took a bite from one of the akara balls and nodded repeatedly signifying that she loved the taste. Mum asked her if she would love to have some oats but she declined saying that she was an “ara oko” meaning “bush woman” and that she would prefer pap instead. We had no pap in the house so mum asked again if she would substitute custard for pap and Iyalode agreed. Mum made the custard and placed the bowl of custard in front of her where she sat across from me on the counter.
With a mouthful of akara, she asked if my mum still remembered the vigil which she had invited her to in her church and my mum replied that she has not forgotten. I wondered in my heart if my mum would really attend the vigil. Iyalode attended a white garment church known as the Celestial Church of Christ and we were Pentecostals who attended a church known as The Redeemed Christian Church of God.
***
Later on, my worst fears turned into reality when my mum called us and told us to prepare for the vigil at Iyalode’s church on Friday saying that we needed serious prayers in our family and the programme at Iyalode’s churchwould be a powerful one which could not afford to miss. All through the week, I tried to pretend that I was ill so that I would not attend the vigil but my mum stressed that I had to go most especially now that I was ill. She said the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ will be there and I would be healed. Friday night came and we all got into the car; myself, my brother Tayo, my cousin Toun and the housemaid Barakat. Dad was away on a tribunal assignment; he was a judge and he was going to be there for a while. I knew we wouldn’t be embarking on this journey to Iyalode’s church if dad was around.
About thirty minutes after we left the house, we got to the church and I could hear the sound of jingling bells and loud singing from the parking lot where we were. Mum locked the car doors as soon as we had all alighted and we all moved towards the church building. Immediately I set my feet in the church, I knew I hated the place. The atmosphere was different from that of our own church. People danced and made jerky movements like they were being tormented by evil spirits. I wanted to go home at once. We were different from all the other members who wore white garments and no shoes because we wore our normal clothes although we had been told to remove our shoes at the church entrance.
All of a sudden, the tempo of the song changed and the beats became faster and louder. A man who I later recognized as the Oluso (Shepherd) stepped out and stood on the altar holding a silver cane in his hand. He stood there uttering different words. Some were comprehensible, others were not.
“Ehn! Ehn! Emi sokale” meaning the Holy Spirit has come down.
“Okay, Uhmmm, Eli,” all the while charging forward and making jerky movements. Then he breaks into a song:
“Elo rama,
Elo Shiloh,
Emi olola wa gbemisoke,
Emi mimo gbemisoke,
Elo, Elo oba ogo (2x)”
The song meant that the Holy Spirit should come and lift him up. The people in the congregation sang and clapped vigorously to the song, jerking and coiling and recoiling. I stood up in front of my seat and just watched the whole drama happening around me. Oluso raised another song and everyone joined in.
“Jah Elo…Elo”
They kept singing the song until suddenly, Oluso stepped down from the altar, grabbed a palm frond and just kept coming in my direction. Something told me to run but I remained rooted to the spot where I was. Before I knew what was happening, Oluso was all over me, dusting me all over with the palm frond and chanting some words which were unintelligible to me. He dragged me out and told me to kneel in front of the congregation. Then he asked who my mum was and I told him. He summoned her and told her that my spirit, soul and body were infested with demons. He said he was casting them out with the use of the palm frond. My mum’s eyes opened a bit wider as she tried to take in what Oluso had just said.
“Demons ke? Bawo lo shey je?” “Demons ke? How come?” that was all my mum kept saying. How and when did it happen? I, Myself didn’t have the answer to the question. Oluso told my mum to see him after the vigil and she was to bring me along with her when she came. Next, Oluso moves on to my cousin Toun and started sprinkling holy water on her. He said she was possessed with the spirit of ogbanje. He also said that Barakat had a marine spirit dwelling in her. It was only my brother and my mum who weren’t diagnosed with anything. My mum said nothing, she merely folded her hands together in front of her under her breasts and watched as the prophet dipped the palm frond into a bucket of holy water and dusted each one of us with it vigorously till he was satisfied that the demons were gone.
The congregation made remarks as we were being cleansed by the prophet. I heard some of the comments and I knew my brother heard some too because he looked at me and shook his head.
“These alakowe people will not go to churches where they will tell them what is wrong with them,” one woman said. Alakowe meaning learned people.
“Imagine the number of demons in one household.” Another person said.
“It is that poor woman, their mother that I pity,” said another man.
I said to my brother; “this is a church for illiterates” and he nodded with a smile on his face.
There was nothing like the preaching of the word all through the vigil. It was mainly dancing and singing and lots of prophecies. There were some people in the church who they referred to as Alore, they were the ones who prophecied. The prophecies were reeled out in a very funny way. The Alore suddenly charges like she’s about to hit someone and then stopped midway. She then began to make sudden jerky movements whilst making her pronouncements.
“Iwo, Iwo, Iwo…omo emi, mase, mase, mase travel l’ose to n bo, ki iwo, ki iwo, ki iwo, ma ba ku”
“You, You, You…son of man, do not, do not, do not travel next week, so that, so that, so that you will not die”
***
After the “power packed programme” as my mum called it, we went to Oluso’s office to see him. The office was adjoined to the church building and we met a lot of people waiting to see him too at the reception. We were given numbers by one of the ushers and our number was number twenty-five. We waited for a very long time before it was finally our turn to see Oluso. We were ushered into the room by one of the Alores (Prophetesses). The office was sparsely furnished. There was one huge desk which the Oluso sat behind on a wooden chair and there were two plastic chairs that faced him on the other side where we stood. He asked us to have our seats and we sat on the plastic chairs. My eyes kept moving from one end of the office to the other. Apart from the desk and the chairs in the office, there was nothing else except for the bell on the desk and a clock on the wall.
Oluso asked for my mum’s name and she replied that she was simply referred to as Mama Bukky. He asked for her real name and she gave him a fake one which left me wondering. He nodded and told her that I would have to do igbele (living in church) for three days. My mum nodded in agreement and I looked on in awe. I was asked to fast and break at six p.m every day. He also gave my mum a long list of things to buy. She took a long look at the list and then told me to get up.
“You can’t take her away now ma she has to stay behind to commence her igbele. You can go ahead and get everything she would need and bring it here for her.” Oluso said. My mum smiled wryly and told Oluso that we had somewhere to go which was very important and she promised to bring me back the following day. Oluso nodded. She thanked him and we left. The rest of the family were waiting for us inside the church and mum wanted to get home fast so that we could all try to get some sleep but she was stopped by Iyalode who was still waiting to see Oluso. Iyalode tried to engage mum in a chit-chat but mum politely cut her off and told her they would see later. Iyalode was waiting with her daughter Banke who we all referred to as ‘Aunty Banke’ in our house because she was older than all of us. Mum told me that they wanted to see Oluso on account of Aunty Banke’s late marriage that wasn’t forthcoming.
As soon as we got into the car, mum gave me the list which Oluso had given her in his office. As I read through the list, my eyes grew round and were almost as big as saucers. “What!” I exclaimed. I sat in the passenger’s seat in front beside mum. She was driving. She asked me,
“Do you know why I gave the prophet a fake name?”
“No, Ma.”
“It is because I don’t think he’s a genuine prophet.”
Within me, I felt relieved. Finally, mum has agreed with me that the prophet was fake. I looked at the list again and I was bewildered. I was surprised. The list read: Two pigeons, two local fowl’s eggs, two bottles of Miss Paris perfume, ten packets of yellow, red, blue, green candles each.
“What is this?” I muttered to myself. I asked mum if that was a church or a shrine. She replied that she was confused too. She told me that it was because of the list that she had realized we were in the wrong place and that was why she didn’t allow me to wait behind for igbele. She further stressed the point to us that Christians ought to pray in times of trouble and not offer sacrifices as heathens do. She told me that the list contained materials used for sacrifices.
***
Bobo, my brother and I stepped out of the Silverbird Cinemas at Ikeja City Mall and headed towards the escalator. Though my brother’s name was Tayo, we called him Bobo because he was the only son. I was almost stepping on the escalator when my brother tugged at the cross-bag I was carrying and pointed in a particular direction. I tried to figure out what he was pointing at. It was Aunty Banke, she was on a queue waiting to get a drink. Her tummy was protruding and immediately, I assumed that she was now married. I was so happy and I urged Bobo to come cith me so that we could go and say hi to her. To our uttermost shock, Aunty Banke behaved as if she didn’t know who we were. We were so disappointed and had to leave in order to avoid any form of embarrassment.
When we got home, Bobo and I narrated the whole story to our mum. She had a sad expression on her face and then she confirmed to us that what we said was true. She said Oluso had given Iyalode a list similar to the one he gave us but unlike my mum, Iyalode had bought all the items and took them to the church. She said Oluso made a kind of soap and asked Aunty Banke to bathe with it for a month after which, she would get a husband. Mum said Aunty Banke had used the soap to bathe like the prophet instructed her to but instead of getting a husband, she started dreaming about Oluso and before long, she was crazily in love with him. She packed her belongings one day and left for Oluso’s house at the back of the church where she became his third wife. All efforts by her parents to bring her back home proved futile and at a point, she couldn’t even recognize anyone she knew before she moved to Oluso’s house anymore. Mum told us that Iyalode had told her all these some days ago hoping she could help her find a solution to the problem and she had told her to keep praying. Mum said Iyalode was distraught and I pitied her.
It had been seven months since we went for the vigil and Iyalode’s beautiful, intelligent, architect and only daughter was now carrying Oluso’s baby. She had been caught in the tentacles of her mother’s faith.
*



4 thoughts on “Tentacles” by Omoteniola (@Teniola)

  1. Do try to space the dialogues–in other works you’d write, I mean. It’ll help to make your work more ‘reader-friendly’.

  2. Welldone, nice story but I feel the execution could have been done better. Few typo errors which can be easily avoided…overall good story.

  3. Thanks a lot @namdi, i will space my dialogues out next time. I’m glad u liked d story.

  4. Thanks a lot @ikechris, I’ll be more careful next time. Thanks for reading the story.

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