Chapter 1 – A HEAD TOO SMALL
Looking at the giant gate of the Akeredolus’- with his head too small to house wisdom and a mouth that was big enough to swallow the world – Ayodeji could tell that something was not right in the big compound of the gigantic house. The gate was unusually opened, and when he ducked his head into the compound to check if there was an obvious reason for the unusual quietness, the notorious dogs too refused to bark, making it even more awkward.
Ayo felt reluctant at first, he remembered that houses that were under robbers attack looked just like this, but his head was too small for wisdom or fear. He remembered the wise saying that it is not good for a bird to eat and dine with some house owners and then desert them on the day of death, so he just trudged on, quietly saying; “Kunle…Kunle” as he walked, so that anyone looking at him would not think he is sneaking in to steal something.
Mutterings from the sitting room sealed his lips when he got near the house. The door to it was also wide open, and there were very obvious sobs and tears from the sounds he heard. “Was someone dead?’ Ayo wondered as he walked calmly in, like a ghost.
Nobody smiled at him, not even Kunle’s mother who always made a joke that satisfying Ayo’s appetite could put the world in stark famine. Her eyes were red like over ripe pawpaw and swollen. Her husband sat on the long cushion, with his head bowed in shame. There was the whole family, except Kunle. The ones who were not crying were frowning.
When Ayo fully entered the sitting room, he saw Kunle in the middle of the sitting room, lying almost lifelessly underneath the speeding fan, his arms and legs were wide apart, so that nothing would disturb anything. He was breathing audibly and slowly. Something was wrong.
“Kunle!” Ayo screamed impulsively. Then he noticed that there was an herbalist in the sitting room too, sitting beside his friend. The herbalist was the centre of attraction, he was throwing pebble sized cowries into the air and picking them in a skilful way when they landed on his white mat, to discern what the spirits were saying.
‘What could be wrong?’ Ayo wondered, his shout had not even changed the mood in the room, it only succeeded in increasing the mother’s tempo.
“Gbadebo. There is only one solution.” The old herbalist sitting with legs apart spoke to Kunle’s father.
“Yes Baba?” Mr. Akeredolu said with rapt attention. “What is it sir?”
“One of the men in this family– who shares the blood of this family – must carry a sacrifice to appease the witches who are behind Olakunle’s matter.”
“What?!” Kunle’s two brothers shouted in unison.
Their father neglected them, “Baba, that is not difficult, at least if Kunle’s brothers cannot do it, I can.”
“This sacrifice must be carried in the afternoon! In broad daylight before all eyes. It must also be in a well-populated market place.” The man concluded.
A huge surprise fell on the room, the only mouths that were not opened were those occupied with tears.
“Baba.” Kunle’s father was now sweating visibly, “I am a politician. You can see that my sons have rejected doing that, and I thought I could until you mentioned that it would be in the afternoon.
The press men would be all over me. News would spread around the city like wild fire, people would misinterpret the situation and say all sorts of things to ridicule my next election…”
“Gbadebo! You knew me very well before you consulted me.” The old man warned,“the gods have made their stance known, and you have just three days to do this before his life is completely taken out.”
“What?!” Mrs. Akeredolu yelled, “Baba, is there no way a woman in the family can carry it?”
“The gods have left no other option. Unless you are not sure if these sons belong to Gbadebo.”
“Baba! What are you saying? Please don’t cause problem Baba, all my children are my husband’s” She sobbed.
“The gods have spoken. Within three days, you have to pick between saving your son’s life or carrying the sacrifice in broad day light.”
“But baba, please help us find another means naw.” Tinuke protested, “Afterall daddy is very rich, he can pay you.” She pleaded.
“A little child sees powerful fetish charms but calls it vegetable. What do you know? You – an ordinary girl child.
You had better tell your father to spend all his money preparing the ingredients that would be used for the sacrifice because some of the things required are very scarce and therefore expensive, or he better use the money to buy coffin. This child cannot live four more days from now if the sacrifice is not properly carried. I’d advise you make haste.”
Having said that, the old man stood from his mat, an assistant hurriedly wrapped the mat and carried it over his shoulders while he and the old man walked out.
“Daddy! See, let me make this known now, there is no way I would stoop so low to carry one foolish sacrifice in broad day light.” Tobi – the first son of the family -spoke carelessly, “I am a university graduate for crying out loud! In a twenty-first century for that matter. What do you want people to say?
Dad, you can be very sure that I can’t do it.”
Mr. Akeredolu was angered, “See how you are talking to me like this? Are you -”
“Dad, there is no need to be overly furious about this,” Leke cut in rudely, “this is a world of social media, how do you expect any of us to go through such shameful display at a market place. It is an unreasonable quest, who can take away the blemish that would come with it?”
“Shut up you two!” Tinuke shouted angrily, “If Kunle were to be in your shoes, would he not have done it for you?”
There was a little silence.
“But at least, he is not in our shoes now. And besides, he brought this upon himself, let him bear the consequence.” Establishing that, Tobi left the siting room. If the others knew his intentions, they would know that he was heading for Osogbo before night.
Leke was ignorant of his brother’s intention, he announced his; “I have already promised Jeba that I would come and see him today. So I am going to Ibadan.”
The parents face squeezed with tears and regrets, none of them could stop the youths. The mention of death had not even scared them, they either disbelieved the man or didn’t think it was worth the risk.
To be continued…