“Gentlemen,” Jide Falomo began, Iniquity and Wasiu stole my pot of soup. The soup was three minutes to be done and they emptied it into a container and ran away. Please tell me, is that good?
“What is this one again?” Mama Cowbell’s husband said. “A whole pot of soup!”
“My woman put stockfish and snail inside. I spent 12,000 naira on the soup.”
“Lawyer! 12,000 for one pot of soup?
“She wanted something special. Went online and got the recipe and the preparation process and those riff raffs turned up and took it all away.”
“Lawyer I say you spent 12,000 on one pot of soup?”
“What is wrong with that?” Jide said.
“How much do you think they sell stockfish and snails? I’m sure there is still dry fish and meat inside,” Josiah said.
“Is that what we should be concerned about or this ugly behavior. Alfa, you have to call your son to order. But first, they must return the soup or what is left of it otherwise…” Mr Zubi said.
“I’m sorry sir but I cannot have that anymore. They carried my food to God knows where and you expect me to collect it back from them.”
“The Iniquity we know will not return anything he has taken. Ndifreke’s keke is an example. And it is a shame that we did not do anything about that and now he is emboldened to remove soup from the fire. If tomorrow he feels like he will even take somebody’s wife or child and we will continue to keep quiet.”
“It was Ndifreke’s decision not to do anything about the keke. But the soup…” Mr Zubi said.
“We did not set up this council to let people do as they want. We set up this council to deliberate and take action as appropriate. Ndifreke did nothing because he could not prove that Iniquity took the keke. Nobody agreed to testify that they saw anything even though we all knew he did it.”
“He went to prison shortly after and you all forgot about it,” the Alfa said.
“Yes, but we did not address it. Call your son to order. He did not finish his sentence. Now that covid is forgotten he should go back to prison so that we can have peace.”
“Mr Josiah I will tell him you said so.”
“Erm Alfa. Please don’t misunderstand me.”
“Enough! Mr Zubi admonished. The point has already been made. We are here to find solutions. I’m sure no one expects this gentleman to go to the police over a pot of soup. And he is right, Even I wouldn’t take it back if it were brought to me. So the next best thing is for the boy to return the money spent on making the soup and apologize. He should also promise to be of good behavior because frankly if he carries on like this we will involve the landlord and ultimately the police.”
“That is noted Mr Zubi.” The Alfa said. I will find the money for this friend.”
“Did you people hear that the people that committed the Owo shooting surrendered to the police? The women went out and called on Sango and the men used their own legs and went to surrender.”
“In Asari Dokubo’s voice…no be juju be dat?”
“Mr Cosmas. You have never spoken about this juju of a thing. How do you explain that?”
“Before the advent of the Middle Eastern religions Christianity and Islam we ascribe to now, we had our own traditional religions that took care of things. Traditional African religion frowns against evil in the main. Instances abound where people that killed by witchcraft, stole, or were involved in immorality were brought to justice by the traditional deities and people mostly stayed in line. The foreign religions came, called it juju and fetish, and encouraged you to abandon your religions and embrace theirs; which essentially was telling you to start flying when you could barely crawl.”
“Most of you are not ready for Christ. That is why when you have problems and you shout Jesus! Jusus! and he does not answer you you crawl in the night to your juju man. That really is where you belong and you ought to stay there and develop until you are ready for something higher and you would be shown the path. Many who call themselves pastors today are better off as Priests of Obatala.”
“But juju men are wicked and cast spells and kill.”
“In all walks of life there are good people and there are bad people. There are bad juju men who misuse the knowledge they have for evil just as there are pastors and prayer warriors who having discovered the power in the name of Christ set up denominations and pray for people to die! die! die! die! die! and call on destruction for their fellow men forgetting the simple admonition of Christ to turn the other cheek. This lot is as bad as the juju man who helps you to kill by incantations. This sort of behavior is intrinsic in the black man. Whether by juju or by the name of the god of the white man they will harm their fellow men if they knew how to.”
“So someone can die from those prayers?”
“Yes. There is power in the words we speak. When you pray die! die! die! die! die! you direct the primordial power that courses through the universe by your collective volitions for a specific purpose. To kill. It is the same thing witches do. They summon demons formed by evil thoughts and send them on the same kind of errand. It is worse when you do it in the name of God. Many will be shocked where they would find themselves when they pass away.”
“I just saw in the news that the Owo killers were not caught after all.”
“It does not invalidate what I just told you.”
“So we should all go and worship Ifa, Amadioha, and then rest?”
“If you are already doing so, do so proudly. So long as you are not harming your fellow man, you are operating at a level consistent with your present development so no worries. In time, you will see that those gods can only do so much for you and you will yearn for more. Then you will be led appropriately.
“I have heard of people called to traditional spiritual roles who have refused to heed the call because they think it is bad. They suffer torment, languish from church to church in some cases, and never find solution. They don’t know that they are called just as the pastor claims to have been called and in refusing to heed the call they fail to fulfill their destinies and die as spiritual destitute. I doubt that they go to heaven.”
“Like Papa Efe. They said he should have been a chief priest. Where do you think he is now Mr Cosmas?”
“I wouldn’t know. But if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say not where he thought he would be when he refused his calling.”
Chisco followed behind Achike and tried to talk to his guide.
“Why have you been quiet since? Did you see what happened?”
“I saw it,” His spirit guide said.
“But you told led me to go and heal the Togo woman and instead I went and brought Mama Akunna back to life.”
“I am as surprised as you are.”
“Why? Are you not a spirit? Should you not know everything?”
“I am a spirit but I am not God. I am with you to lead you so that I can be free myself. I can also make mistakes. I told you from the beginning that you don’t have to do everything I say.”
“So what’s the point if we can both make mistakes?”
“I will lead you so you don’t make the mistakes I made when I lived because we have something in common. Nine out of ten times following me will help you more than if you don’t. But it is possible that in the future, someone else is assigned to you and I go and guide another if we are no longer compatible. I led you to do the healing because that is something I know. What has happened I do not know.”
“Thank you very much. I will remember that.”
“Who are you talking to Ogbu?” Achike said as they marched back to the ward.”
“I dey talk to myself brother.”
“Are you adding madness to the list of my problems now?”
“No be so brother.”
“Then shut up and let me know that it is only a witch that I have to contend with.”
“I don hear. How we go do am?”
“When we reach there, I will stand at the door and watch and you will go and use the pillow and suffocate her.”
“Brother, make I watch for you make you do am.”
Achike expected that. It was his idea and his problem really.
“What of the nurse?”
‘I will send her to go and buy coke.”
“Brother, you sure say this thing go work?”
“Ogbu, it has to work.”
When they got to the ward, they noticed that there were more nurses than usual about. They even saw two doctors entering the room where Eyonyam was. They were about to turn back when a nurse recognized them and called out to Achike.
“Mr Nduka! We have been looking for you!”
“Please hurry and come. We have good news”
Achike and his brother approached the ward stealthily. A nurse threw the door open and they saw Eyonyam seated on her bed fully dressed in iro and buba and smiling at them.
“Someone we don’t know came and paid her bills in full. Before we could say anything, the woman left without even waiting for a receipt. You can go home with her now.”
Ndifreke walked into Maya’s room as if he was in a trance. She stretched out her arms and he fell into them and began to sob.
“I miss you, Maya. My God, I miss you. See what those idiots have done to me.”
Maya guided him to a couch and sat opposite him. His eyes were watery.
“What is this Ndi? Why are you like this?”
“Please Maya. I don’t know what this is but let it end. You are my destiny.”
“How many times will we do this?”
“We don’t need to do it again. Ever. We get back together right now and confine everything to the past.”
“You are shaken by what your esteemed managers abi directors have done. I don’t want to say I told you so.”
“This is not about them. I doubt that that would have even happened if you were with me. We worked Maya. Please let’s end this…whatever it is… fight, rift, whatever. It is only us that don’t see that we are lying to ourselves. We belong together.”
“I wanted you to come up here because I wanted to talk to you about the business. You are right that it would not have happened if we worked together. And I offered that.”
“I wasn’t thinking straight. Come and work with me Maya. It is only logical. The two owners of the story.”
“It is too late now. I am heavier and get tired easily. I want you to take Clementina.”
“Let her work for you. She will be good for you.”
“But I want you back.”
“No, you don’t. I’m only a familiar comfort. Now your friends have messed you up and you don’t know what to do. You’d be saying this same thing to her if it was madam Elizabeth you saw first. I like you a lot Ndi. And for as long as we live here I’ll continue to watch over you. Nevertheless, we are over as a couple. You know that yourself.”
Ndifreke studied Maya. Pregnancy suited her. She looked like a proper woman now. A proper beautiful wise woman.
“You are only twenty-two Maya.”
“I feel like I’m fifty,” She said and chuckled. “How many twenty-two-year-olds have had the life I’ve had? Raped by father. Dead witch mother. Two pregnancies. Boyfriend and sugar daddy…”
“Does it make you uncomfortable?”
“Not that. You don’t have to say it like that.”
“That’s how you know you don’t need me. You can’t digest my story. You are just hurt and frightened now. When this blows over we’ll see if you feel like this still.”
Ndifreke regarded her. “Maya” he sighed.
She continued to look at him as if she could read his mind.
Resigned, he said, “Why were you so sure I was going to come up here?”
“If I don’t know you by now, then I have failed as a human being.”
Clementina emerged from the room. Again she was wearing another of Maya’s hand-me-downs Ndifreke liked. A knee-length gown that was bursting at the seams due to her fullness.
“Bro Ndi I want to start at once.”
“You have to, erm…I’m still talking with your sister. I’m yet to decide. There’s school for you you know…”
“Ndi I have to go and rest now. You shouldn’t close your business because of those two. Go and reopen. Show Clementina around and forget about me.”
She stood up rather easily for her size and walked gingerly into the room.
Clementina stretched out her hand and said “The keys”.
Ndifreke handed her a bunch and she bounced out of the room. When he emerged, he found Joseph on the balcony.
Ndifreke wanted to ignore him but Joseph beckoned him over and stretched out a hand.
“We haven’t really properly met. es un placer conocerte” he said and stretched out his hand.
“Listen, man, I’m really not in the mood for that.”
“I only said It’s nice to meet you.”
“I’m only saying you should quit trying to turn me on. You’re not my type.”
“Easy man. Why the bad temper.”
“Like you didn’t notice I just got a one billion naira credit alert from Tinubu.”
Joseph chuckled and said “Oh. Your workers. Foolish boys. But you shouldn’t have thrown them under the bus like that amigo.”
“What do you know?”
“They are young and stupid. True. But they are your friends. You stick up for your friends when there is trouble and then kick them in the balls later. From what I see, they’d have done that for you if it were the other way round, reglas de amistad.”
“Fuck off man!” Ndifreke said and walked away. He saw Nurse Jo peering at him through the curtain as he walked past her room and he could hear Joseph chuckling behind him. Rather than go to the office he went to his room and lay in the bed. Remembering Clementina was waiting for him at the office he brought out his phone and texted her on WhatsApp.
“I’ll take a one-hour break. You can close and come back after then, then we’ll see.”
Moments later his bedroom door parted and Clementina entered the room. Ndifreke opened his eyes and watched her. She turned back and went and turned the door lock and returned. Without a word, she crept into the bed beside him.
“Why?” Ndifreke said.
“Why what Ndi?” Clementina said. She called him Ndi. She did not say Bro Ndi.
“You’ve both become very weird. What did Jonjo do to you both?”
“I don’t know.”
“You are both different now. You are both impossible.”
“We have passed through so much that we have become one. I am Maya and Maya is me.”
“You are damaged.”
“We are happy to be.”
“Whose idea is this?”
“I know what is happening Tina.”
“What do you know?”
“She is giving you to me. She knows that right now I’m in no position to resist anything.”
“She loves you.”
“And she gives you to me.”
“I love you as well.”
“You are only a child.”
Clementina stretched her hand and felt his bulge. She undid his zip, reached into his boxers, and brought out his stiff penis.
“Just as I thought it would be.”
“I’ll regret this.”
“No you won’t. Think of me as her.”
“You both need help.”
“You are all that we need.”
TO BE CONTINUED.