”Today, I must teach him never to get drunk again”, it was Papa’s voice. He was fuming with rage. I could hear him from where I was lying. I do know in no near time, he would storm into my room with guava cane and flog the hell out of me.
As I make to get out of the bed, my whole body ached. I felt like iron bars were tied up around my joints or should I say, I looked more of a person beaten up by five or more persons. I looked at myself, I was naked! For the very first time, I went to sleep without my pants or shorts on. It was at this time, I looked around my entire room. Chai! The room was more of a solders’ ransacked place, my school bag hung on the windowpane. Papa’s transistor radio lay adjacent to the door entrance. My clothes were scattered all around the entire room. Teddy bear, the doll that I cherished so much was torn into half with its head lying beside Papa’s radio. The window curtain was shredded like the kaftan of Onye ara the mad man at the village market. To compound the whole issue, I was a bracelet Papa had always boasted of its capability of magnetizing witches cut into two equal parts. Papa did tell me once that Papa Nnukwu gave him the bracelet when witches could not allow him be.
He also claimed that, the bracelet was the reason Mama Uju ceased to visit our compound anymore. Mama Uju lives next compound to ours. Mama said, she have seen her fly at night like birds. According to several reports, she killed her husband and children in order o remain alive through her witchcraft. Her only surviving daughter, Uju ran away to unknown destination. She was isolated, but a home into our family. She spends the whole night telling us funny stories of the Nigerian/Biafran civil war while in the morning; she calls in to know if we slept well. To me, the poor woman looked too kind to be a witch.
“Just allow him be” I heard Mama say to Papa. “He may not be drunk”
Mama will always come to my defense when the need arises. Anytime, I went astray and Mama was not around to act as a shield from the lashes from Papa’s cane, I would run out of the house. But, I really can’t assume my very self that even if Mama wasn’t around, Papa won’t dare touch me. To Papa, I was drunk because he perceived the odour of kai kai. The truth was, I did not drink or tasted any liquid that had mixture of alcohol. I just cannot understand or anything happening around me. I over heard when Mama said that I was lost for three whole days. She has concluded that ritualists have used me for an ogwuego.
According to her, it was a search party comprising of youths and the local vigilantes organized by Papa found me lying near the road that leads to Oke-ofia forest that houses Amadioha the great deity. Since the advent of Christianity, none has ventured into the forest except Eze-muo the chief priest, who died a decade ago. Did I enter or what did I go near the forest to do seem to be a mystery to all. I do know tongues were already wagging that am the next chief priest, but Mama will not tolerate that. She would rather chose to spend the rest of her life, sleeping around churches with me than allowing me the chief priest of Amadioha.
I found the strength to get out of the bed, and then went to the mirror on the wall. I couldn’t believe what I saw. My eyes were red as blood. Smoke oozed out of my mouth. On my head was a thick cloud of burning flame.
“Fire! Fire!!, I screamed beating my head with my two hands. Mama rushed in carrying a bucket of water and emptied on it on my body while Papa came in came with a cloth soaked in water to beat out the fire. I was rolling on the floor and screaming on a high voice while Mama poured water, Papa got his cloth to work in order to put out the smoke if not fire.