“All widows are witches”
Chiamaka’s hair was longer than this goat hair I have on my head. It was wooly, full and long, a real African hair. The blade I used to demolish the hair off her head was as sharp as my words spoken to her. I had told her I was bringing justice home and performing the ritual. Now I know it was just envy parading behind the ritual. If only time would dance back an inch, I would forever be grateful
* * *
Ngozi fell terribly ill after gulping it all down. To me, it was just a confirmatory test that she was a witch. Only a witch would fall sick after drinking the water used to wash a dead spouse. It was no big deal you know. We have immune systems that help us to fight things that enter our bodies,so my children tell me. But whose immune system would not bow to such imposter?
* * *
That Ugochi that thought she was beautiful. She always walked about with her fair smooth skin. She never grew dark despite the hot Nigerian sun. We had so many clashes. First was when she was given the “Ezinne” title in church. I was so vexed because I had gone around and wasted energy to lobby for the title while she got it freely. Second was when her son Uzo won the scholarship the white men brought to the village. My son Obi should have been the one to win it, he was more brilliant. I was silently praying for her to become a witch. When the time came, I made her to bath in the water used to bath her spouse’s corpse for one week. This was to wash off any effect her husband’s spirit can have on her in revenge for his death. It was for her own sake. Her skin had acquired some kind of reaction and things that I have never seen began to sprout from her skin. To everyone that was a sign she was a witch. Did that make me happy or sad?
* * *
My friend Nneka who was my right hand woman recently became a witch. She cried so much I thought the gods would have mercy on her and take her too. She was locked in a small room and made to stay there for days without food. She was bemocked by everyone including me. I had to do it. I was the head of the women in the village, the “Eze ndi-nne”. I couldn’t let them think I was biased even if it was as glaring as this black attire I am putting on.
* * *
I cleaned my eyes. I refuse to cry the way Nneka did. It was a shameless thing to do. Everyone knows that the witch who cries the most definitely killed her husband. It didn’t matter if your husband was the breadwinner of your family like Chizoba who had eight children. It didn’t matter if you had known your husband since the age of thirteen and he was your sole friend for fifty five years which is Ezinne’s story. It didn’t matter if your husband died just few months after your wedding ceremony and you were heavily pregnant during his death,you would not be the first, ask Cynthia. Nothing mattered. You were not meant to cry. You are meant to be strong during the initiation.
The men had nothing to do with this ritual. You see, it is strictly a female affair. Yes, women were the ones that chose the initiation ritual and made sure it was carried out till the very end. I wiped the sweat off my head. It was easier being the one giving out the ritual than being the one undergoing it.
” You are a witch and you killed your husband, our brother. Ewooooooo you definitely killed our brother”, those words I had said over and over again and those words I am now hearing over and over again
No one cares if my husband died of something the white doctors called stroke. But why should they. I didn’t also care if Justina’s husband died in a car accident or Ebere’s husband who died of something they called cancer. Did I listen to Obiageli whose husband was killed by a lion while he was hunting? I vividly remember I accused her of changing to the lion. No one listens to someone’s story. Whatever way he died, whether natural or supernatural, you killed him.
What if I had realized that all widows were not witches? What if I had t
“All widows are witches”