The Past begets the Now
She opens her eyes. She tries to lift her arm. But it is limp. As limp as gbure oloboro. And she feels a slight sting of pain at the back of her palm. The drip. She is however sure the child, her child, is now out. That he is now in the world. He is no longer inside her. And she feels for the first time in over nine months, at ease.
Her thread of thought led her back through the many years she’s lived without a child. The many insults from her husband’s people. The many ladies they brought her husband – to replace her. The many lies from the thieves called men of God. How they sucked her to the bone. How they dried her river. Foolish her! some had even tasted her body. So many things had gone, all for one thing. A child.
Then her journey to the past takes a halt in a room. The room where she got an answer to her prayers.
She told the man her problems. She told him she needed a child. That she’d been married for over six years without one. One who would feel her breasts with small soft and feeble hands, and suck with a toothless mouth, and bite with pink toothless gums. She told him she’d been to different places, different men. Men who fed her empty words of well-rehearsed lines: wolis, alfas, yemiwos, oniseguns… But they all had failed, she said. And she concluded with ‘And then my friend told me about you.’
The old man was a small wizened man with grey hairs sprinkled over his head like ash. He was in Ankara, dansiki actually, and a white bead-chain hung around his neck like a pride, while thick red ones coiled like adders around his left wrist. O wi be se be. That was his name. That was what they called him. Although she’d laughed at the arrogance of a man calling himself such a name. Only God says and does. Only God does not fail. She thought differently when he smiled softly and said, ‘May Eledua grant you answers to your prayer.’
That was all he said. He then cupped the cowries in his right palm, said some incantations and allowed them speak to him on the well carved and well-polished wooden circle. Opele.
‘Ma fi kikan ju jaye
Ma fi girigiri pile oro
Ihun Olohun ba fun ni la n gba
Ti’kole Orun bo w’aye
Won ni kon kara n le
Ebo ni kon ya mu se
Eyin o gbo oo
Eyin o mo
Eyin o mo wipe
Ihun t’Olorun ba fun ni la n gba’.
The old man sighed and then allowed a wry smile surface, as though he was trying to put up a show. ‘Woman, your child is on its way. In fact, he is very near. Nearer than you think. Ifa says patience.’
She’d told the man she’d been patient enough, that she wanted a child now. That she was willing to give it whatever it would take. That she was ready to dine with the devil, for she had come with a very long spoon. A spoon longer than the devil’s.
Now as she looks into her son’s thin eyes – snake eyes – and the two thin pink things in his mouth, she realises she has been wrong all the way. That a man can never dine with the devil and be satisfied.
She screams, but the baby boy, with hair all over, dark brittle hair like one belonging to a goat, smiles. And then the world, her world turns black. And she is…
She is sitting in the doctor’s office. The walls are painted the colour of Blue Band. On the table are papers, and a stethoscope also sits in front of the young man. He looks dishevelled, as though he had an encounter with the man in charge of hell. His tie is loose, and his coat hangs crazily on the chair behind him. It seems hot in here, though the standing fan is working at its best.
After a long stretch of silence, the young man speaks. ‘What do we do to him?’
She’d thought about it, and whatever he looks like is no one’s business. She would not kill her son for anything in the world. Even if he is the devil himself. ‘Give him to me.’
The look he wears is one of fear. ‘You don’t know what this means, Mrs Kofoworola,’ he said.
‘I know what I want Mr Michel. Give me my son, and leave the rest to me.’
And that was how it all began. She took her son home. She raised her son, and he grew. He grew to be the Monster.
Watch out for the next in the series. You can also visit ernestiyana.wordpress.com