Tethered on trees far back into the compound were goats and rams of different sizes. Towards their right was what appeared like a market. People were milling about, minding their x. The compound wasn’t bounded. Their eyes could travel miles.
Debola stared at the receding back. She was rooted to a spot. Her mind searched…that back looked vaguely familiar. She didn’t know that Aunty prophetess had taken a few steps away from her. Not until the prophetess came back to nudge her did she collect herself.
“What’s the problem with you? We have to be fast here. We have a time consuming task before us and we must be fast about it. We’re not the only people coming to see the wise ones. If we’re fast enough, we’ll be done on time,” the prophetess said.
“So what do we do first?” Debola asked her.
“We buy the goat first,” the prophetess said, drawing her to the livestock section of the boundless market.
A young man approached them and told them that he was detailed to take care of their needs. He was dressed in an Ankara shirt and trousers. Within one hour, they were done with their purchases and were taken to a secluded part of the vast compound. A small slaughter slab was to the left while further down the right, was a wooden door.
“You will watch as they slaughter the goat. As that is being done, you will be praying for what you’re here for,” their guide told them.
Debola nodded. The prophetess thanked the youngman who had offered them a bench to sit on, about 50 metres from the slaughter slab. A young man with a short machete came and knelt before them and Debola almost screamed in terror.
The prophetess nudged her and whispered, “Bless him with money. He’s the one to slaughter your sacrificial goat”.
Debola dipped a shaking hand into her bag and pulled out some naira notes. She didn’t even bother to count. She thrust them into the outstretched hands of the young man.
“May your prayers be answered,” the young man said and moved to the goat.
They watched as the youngman, with the help of two other men, slaughtered and cleaned the goat, then cut it up into cooking pot friendly chunks.
After that, Debola was shown a space where she prepared the vegetable soup for the gods.
The most tedious part was when she had to pound the yam. She was tired but she had to do it because she was told that no other hands must touch the meal she was making for the gods.
She sweated profusely while pounding the yam. She had to ensure that sweat didn’t drop into the mortar and she also wasn’t allowed to clean it. She flung her head this way and that, to ensure sweat didn’t drop into the mortar. As the pestle hit the paste in the mortar, she prayed fervently in her mind.
Aunty prophetess observed her from a safe distance. She didn’t offer to help her. She couldn’t have helped even if she wanted to, because it was Debola’s cross and she must carry it alone, the wise ones had instructed.
When she was done, she was made to serve the wise ones, who had gone back to their original positions on the stools under the tree.
Aunty prophetess and Debola sat on the bench and watched the wise ones eat the delicious meal. As they swallowed morsel after morsel, they prayed for Debola. She had been told to be praying for whatever she wanted as the food travelled down the throats of the wise ones. She was doing just that, fervently, the saddening news she received earlier not withstanding: she was told that she wasn’t going to partake of the mouth watering meal she deployed her culinary expertise to prepare. She was tired but she didn’t mind. She was hungry and thirsty too.
“Please sir, can we drink water?” Debola ventured to ask with a shaky voice.
The wise ones had finished eating. They were smacking their tongues and picking bits and pieces of the meat from between their brown, ancient teeth.
“Oh yes, why not?” The oldest of the wise ones said with gusto. He shouted someone’s name and a young man sauntered out from the backyard, his hand smeared with oil. Debola needed not to be told that he was among those feasting on her delicious sacrificial meal.
“Please get our visitors water to drink,” the old man told him.
He nodded and went back in. He came back moments later with two packs of sachet water in his bare hands.
Debola’s suspicion was confirmed: the water smelt of vegetable soup she prepared with goat meat. Her tummy churned, she was hungry!
She and the prophetess accepted the water with appreciation and drank.
By the time they left that village in the evening, they were almost fainting. At the bus park, they bought whatever edible bits they could find and wolved them down with soft drinks: they were ravenously hungry.
In Debola’s bag were the things she was given -a cup of solid black soap which she must bath with every morning and night, and a black eyeliner, which she was asked to apply whenever she was going to see the man of her dreams.
She smiled as she patted the carefully wrapped charms in her handbag.
Jay was a sitting duck. By the time she was through with him, he would have been turned into her zombie. She smiled.
She turned to Aunty prophetess and struck up a conversation as they waited for the stationwagon to fill up with passengers.
By the time the last passenger entered the vehicle and the driver pulled out of the park on their return journey to Lagos, they were deep in conversation.
“Aunty, you’re joking, right? Tell me you’re pulling my legs,” Debola said.
“How can I be joking? Am I not a human being? You think I don’t have feelings, that I don’t need a man in my life? Do you think I was growing younger all these years? Wise up girl! I have always been in need of a man and had been seriously searching for one. Providence dropped one on my waiting laps,” aunty prophetess said.
Wide eyed, Debola stared at her.
She had known aunty prophetess for more than six years. They met in a worship centre where she had gone for prayers. Aunty prophetess was one of the ‘seers’ in that worship centre. She had given Debola a message about her past that was true. Debola was impressed. She adopted the prophetess as her personal ‘seer’. Debola did nothing without her approval. Unfortunately, the few times Debola didn’t consult her and acted independently, she failed woefully. She almost lost her life the last time, when she forced her way into Jay’s house and tried to install herself in his house and life as his wife. She shuddered as she remembered her ordeal in the kidnappers’ den.
“Are you feeling cold?” Aunty prophetess asked her.
“No, I’m not. It’s just that what you’re telling me is unbelievable,” she said.
“What’s strange about a woman desiring a man and getting pregnant for him?” She asked Debola.
“You are not married to the man and you’re pregnant for him,” Debola said.
“Men are everywhere but not all are ready for marriage. So, once you get one that’s responsible enough, you grab him with both hands,” the prophetess said.
“How did you get him? How come I found it so difficult to tie Jay down? You’re supposed to help me get a man. Instead, you got yourself one,” Debola said sadly.
“You think it was easy to get this man? I moved! I had to do a number of things. He didn’t drop on my laps,” the prophetess said.
That was too much for Debola to assimilate. She stared at the prophetess, mouth agape.
“What didn’t I do?” She managed to ask.
“It’s isn’t about what you didn’t do. It’s about what you did. I warned you not to attempt to take over another woman’s house forcefully. But it’s okay. Now you met with the wise ones, your prayers have been answered. It was after I prepared my sacrificial food for the gods that I netted my man,” the prophetess said.
Debola stared ahead of her. She still didn’t understand why a seer would need a seer. Anyway…Jay was in trouble. After charming him, she would lead him by the nose. She smiled, yet, she felt uneasy. Something about what she saw in the wise men’s compound, or someone she saw there! She couldn’t just place her finger on it….
Two days later, a provocatively-dressed Debola was seated on the couch in Jay’s office. She would have been here yesterday but she needed to rest. The previous day’s journey was tiring. She didn’t realise how energy-sapping the ritual was until she woke up yesterday morning and couldn’t move a limb.
She smiled. She had taken her time to dress up today. Though a discerning eye would notice the baby bump, she still squeezed herself into a bandage gown.
She smiled and batted her eyelids as Jay observed her at intervals. He was seated on his executive chair. He hadn’t made any move to leave his seat.
“What’s wrong with your eyes?” He asked her.
Debola smiled as sugary feelings coursed through her body. Yeah! She’d enamoured him already! She batted her eyelids at him again. Jay stared at her and went back to what he was calculating on his phone. After a while, he darted her a look again and realised her eyes were trained on him. He squirmed on his seat. Debola rolled her eyes at him. He forced himself back to what he was calculating on his phone.
He felt a slight movement and looked up. Debola had just finished rummaging in her handbag. She dragged herself up from the couch. She was rolling her eyes and batting her eyelids at the same time as she moved to the convenience.
Immediately the door closed behind her, she danced silently in jubilation. She had got him! Her charms were working on him! Yippeeeeeee!!!
She quickly dabbed a fresh layer of the charmed eyeliner on her eyelids. She had taken it from her handbag. After today, Jay would be tailing her like housefly on palmwine trail. She looked into the mirror above the sink and smiled with satisfaction. She turned the tap on and off to create the impression that she had used the water cistern and smiled. Now, to go for the kill! She opened the door and literally sailed to her handbag, dropped the charmed eyeliner and turned towards him.
Jay stared at her. As she moved towards him, fluttering her eyelashes, he stood up. She smiled at him and reached out to touch him. Jay looked into her eyes and felt like he was drowning in a river. She smiled at him and he shrieked, dodged her outstretched arms and ran out of the office…
Adele was learning to walk without assistance. The sprained ankle had slowed her down and she needed to get back to work, but her boss would hear none of it. While she was out of office, she had been working from home and her boss had realised that she could work from anywhere…
Bolan had been secretive the past few days…in fact since he asked for the data page of her international passport about a week ago. She had watched him and wondered if something was amiss. She had decided to move back to her house. Bolan had always been open to her. But these days, there were times he would walk away to answer calls. It was strange. She decided she would talk to him today.
When he came home that evening, he didn’t look her in the eyes even when he gave her a somewhat perfunctory kiss.
“We need to talk,” he told her.
His voice was grave. Her heart sunk. It was obvious the honeymoon was over. He threw a slim envelope on her laps and went to sit on a bar stool. They were in his private sitting room in his house.
She tore open the envelope and slipped out two sheets of paper, eyes blinded by tears. She couldn’t read what was there; tears would not let her.
Bolan was beside her before she knew it.
“My woman, I have an urgent business in Dubai. I have to travel. I can’t leave you here alone. So I made the arrangements. Since you still have about a week off, we’ll travel together. We’ll be away for just five days,” he said, adding, “We leave in two days time, at the beginning of the two-day Sallah holiday.”
Adele stared at him. Gawd! Are there still men like Bolan? She burst into tears, she had been so afraid she was about to lose the only man that had shown her so much love!
He scooped her into his arms, kissed her all over and divested her of every item of dressing on her…
Let’s continue this journey on Sunday!
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