The idea that a person would desire death is insane. But an Abiku is not like us. Having to stay on earth without the possibility of dying young is an Abiku’s worse fate. In the past seven weeks, we’ve watched as Adunni—our beloved Abiku—struggled to turn around the misfortune of being born into the Lamorin family, how hard she’s tried to frustrate Gbonka’s attempts to make her stay. In the final episode, the truth behind Adunni’s misfortune comes to light. Yes, we all thought it was Asake and her gang that tricked Adunni into Gbonka’s den, but, as you’ll find out, the Gods are implicated in the saga.
From Ayodele, Laolu, and I: thanks to everyone who read the series, shared it, or left a comment. You’ve made the project so worth it.
Elegbara chuckled as Ruth Lamorin threw accusations at her husband.
That was when I realised this was not about me. It never was.
Elegbara floated off the cushion on which she sat and patted Ruth on the back. “Sit down Ruth, I’ll take it from here. About 29years ago, Edward Isola Lamorin summoned me.” She said as she strolled towards Mother Earth.
She turned towards us and then drew a square mark in the air, “Let me show you a piece of my memory.”
A younger looking Edward Lamorin filled the screen. Except for a leather pouch slung over his shoulder, he was stark naked, standing in front of him was Elegbara in her male form, complete with the overdone red skin, horns, cloven hooves and the thick penis reaching down to his ankles.
The two were in a small clearing, a blazing fire in-between them. The surrounding trees completed the eerie scene with the crooked shadows they cast on Elegbara and Edward.
“I want you to fill up my church with people,” Edward said without any preambles, “I need people to come to the knowledge of Christ. It appears that they don’t like the truth. Most people would rather go to churches preaching prosperity than a kingdom minded church like mine.”
“Let us get this straight,” Elegbara said, “You, Edward, formerly known as Isola Lamorin, the pastor of a Christian church, has just summoned us, Elegbara, your friendly neighborhood devil, to help you fill your church up. You do not see the absurdity in your logic!”
“I have become all things to all men that I might, by all means, save some.” Edward said quietly.
“Your becoming all things to all men is by summoning demons supposedly from the pits of hell to help you. The same demons you are trying to deliver these same people from? Edward man,” Elegbara shook his head sadly, “you shouldn’t be here. You need to see a psychiatrist.”
“I am sure of what I want, sir.” Edward picked up a calabash from the ground and held it towards Elegbara.
Elegbara shook his head firmly. “Are you admitting that we are more powerful than your European gods?”
“I admit no such thing.” Edward’s arms held the calabash steady and his face was expressionless.
“Then what’s the point of this meeting?” Elegbara asked.
“I did not come here to discuss the whys and where-to-fores. I have already done the needful,” Edward placed the calabash filled with eko, palm oil, cowry shells and eggs carefully on the open fire. He inserted his hand in the leather pouch and shook a powdery substance over the fire. The red flames turned blue and burned brighter. “You cannot turn down my request. This is my sacrifice.”
Elegbara lifted up an eyebrow, “You know pretty well that we can always turn down the sacrifice. Not all sacrifices are acceptable. Yes, you do have the right to summon us, after all. It’s your prerogative, but you cannot compel us to accept your sacrifice.”
“I know you might say something like that and that’s why I brought this along.” Edward pulled a stone out of the pouch. He placed the smooth, oval shaped stone on the palm of his left hand and held it out to Elegbara.
“And what might this be?” he asked.
“You gave this to me when I was thirteen years old and had just been initiated into The Path. You gave your word that if I asked for anything it would be granted to me.” Edward replied coolly.
“Our word means nothing right now, as you no longer follow The Path,” Elegbara said.
“My following or not following The Path has nothing to do with your giving me the token. There was no caveat.” Edward insisted.
“If I grant you your desires, what will you give to me?”
“What do you want?” Edward asked.
“Give me your son and your church will be filled to the rafters within the year.” Elegbara said.
“Fill my church up within a month, and you can have his seed.” Edward replied.
“He shall know no woman.” Elegbara pronounced. One of the flames leapt out of the fire and hovered above their heads. The heat was so intense Edward started sweating, but he held his ground.
“He will have as many women as he wants,” Edward threw some powder at the flame burning above their heads, turning its intense orange to blue.
The two watched the fire as it consumed their words.
“He shall have Abiku,” Elegbara added, the fire turned back to its original orange and ate up the air rapidly.
“His seed is yours. You can do whatever you like with it.” As Edward’s words joined that of Elegbara in the air, the flame exploded, throwing Edward off his feet and burning the surrounding trees into ashes. It sealed their vows.
Elegbara watched dispassionately as Edward tried to pull his bleeding body off the ground. He nodded in approval as Edward finally managed to rise to his feet unsteadily.
Elegbara stretched his hand over the fire. The blue flames leaped joyfully as Edward handed the stone to him. He squeezed it into dust, as the dust was being swept out of his hand. elegbara made one more proclamation.
“You shall have no more children from your loins, Edward. So be it.”
Elegbara waved and the screen disappeared.
“He confessed everything to me a few years ago,” Ruth Lamorin said into the silence that followed Elegbara back to her seat. “He told me he’s tried to break the hold of the devil over our family since he made that bargain, claimed it was the devil’s handiwork. That was when I made up my mind to contact Gbonka about our son. By then Gbenga had started questioning his blind faith in his father’s teachings,” She paused. “About two years ago, Gbenga resigned from his position as a Pastor in his father’s church, and I knew it was time I spoke to him about his grandfather.”
Gbenga flinched as his mother tried to reach out to him. He moved as far away as possible from her.
I understood why Mother Earth was displeased with Ruth. How could a woman know such a thing and stay married to a man who had betrayed her on all levels, worse still, hide such a thing from her only child? One never knows what goes on in the head of these human beings.
“So you knew all these and didn’t tell me mother. Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you allow him to do this to me?”
“Son,” Edward Lamorin said as he rose to his feet.
“Do not ever call me by that appellation again, I do not know you, Edward Lamorin, you are dead to me!” Gbenga’s distress filled the air with angry pregnant clouds. The clouds hung over the heads of his parents, threatening to birth his anger on them at any point.
Once again Mother Earth rose from her throne and flew down to Gbenga. She wrapped him in her arms as he sobbed, deep, heart wrenching tears, into her ample bosom.
“Let it go. You need to let it go,” She said to him.
The clouds decreased in intent and intensity, but they did not disperse completely. They hung over Ruth who looked at her husband with eyes filled with hatred and Edward, who had nowhere to hide his fear and shame.
“Please settle down everybody.” Mother Earth said as she settled on her throne. “Gbenga, I shall heal you and in exchange you will go and study our ways with your grandfather. You shall teach your children the path.”
“Nobody will take my baby away from me! I am not going to allow you to take her away from me.” Labake interjected, everybody looked her way.
“Nobody will take her away from you Labake. She’s yours, for the period she has given, you will have other children. The child you hold in your arms is a free spirit. She is not yours to keep. It is the way of the universe, there are some things as immutable as the law of gravity.”
“So Adunni is going to get away with the way she keeps tampering with the laws of nature!” Asake snapped.
“Well it appears so. I’m sorry you feel so strongly about this.” Mother Earth said.
“I should feel strongly about it, mother. I have always followed the rules. I have followed the path of the Abiku without questioning anything or wanting to change our modus operandi,” Asake paused.
“Look at it this way Asake. You have gotten away with quite a lot. You meddled with Aroba and betrayed a fellow Abiku.” Mother Earth pointed out.
“You guys used me! You used me to make a point. This has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with humiliating Edward Lamorin who brought one of your own to shame. I should have known! The way everything went on so smoothly. I should have suspected that the gods had a hand in this.” Asake sounded really angry.
“And what do you intend to do about it?” Ojola said. “You wouldn’t have been used if you had not allowed yourself to be used. And anyway we are all at the power of the universe.”
“I guess I’m done here.” Asake said and melted into the air. She was followed by Chimeka and Bala.
“These children. I don’t think they’ll ever understand.” Mother Earth sighed sadly. “We are done here.”
“What about me?” I will get something out of this debacle. If the gods think they can just play me for a fool, they don’t know me. “What do I get from all these? Am I supposed to just crawl back inside the body of that baby over there and pretend that nothing happened? What about the power I used to create the baby you used to punish your darling Edward and help your precious Gbonka take revenge on his son?”
“It’s always about power with you Adunni.” Ojola hissed at me.
“Why do you sound surprised, after all Eleduwa made her like that.” Time added.
Mother Earth looked at me with a smile. “More power shall be added to you. More than you’ve expended in the past two years of your project.”
“I want specifics please.” I snapped.
Mother Earth removed one of the bead bracelets around her wrist and it appeared on mine.
“There! Now you’re one of my adepts aside from being Abiku.” She said.
“And its powers?” I asked as I admired the coral beads.
“It shall reveal itself in due time.”
“And since you are now my adept, Ojola will be in charge of monitoring how you use your powers.” She added.
That wiped the smile right off my face, Ojola laughed.
My name is Adunni, I am Mother Earth’s favourite Abiku. I’m presently occupying my earthly body, I am five years old.
My mother’s name is Labake. She is a storyteller, her first book, The Bargain, is a bestseller.
My father’s name is Gbenga. He is a Babalawo-in-training. My great-grandfather, Gbonka said he’s the best student he has ever had.
My Great-grandfather, as you already know, is one of the most powerful Babalawos the world has ever seen, but he’s so old and frail. He will die soon. I will make sure of that!
My paternal-grandmother, Ruth, shocked her family and the congregation of her husband’s church by divorcing him. She said she’d lived all her life for different people and that now she wanted to live for herself. Right now she’s travelling around Nigeria and studying the culture of the people. She regularly sends me gifts of unusual toys she’s found in the villages and towns.
My Grandfather, Edward, resigned his post as the head pastor of one of the biggest church in the country. He is presently traveling around the country hot on my grandmother’s trail. He claims not to care whether she remarries him or not, but that she’s the love of his life and that he’ll have no other.
I overheard my grandma Chinonye telling my mummy that grandma Ruth is trying to get a restraining order on him. Mummy said Grandpa Edward is one of those men that believe no woman can resist him. Grandma Chinonye said she was one of those women.
Father is still not talking to both his parents although he claims he’s forgiven them. As an Ifa acolyte he cannot afford to be unforgiving.
I hate Ojola, he’s always appearing when you least expected him.
My names are Jesutitofunmi, Oluwafikunayomi, Ajasayo the daughter of Lamorin. I have a little brother named Gbonka. He is very uninteresting. All he does is eat, cry and poop and run all over the place. Mother is pregnant with a new baby, the baby is going to be a girl. I know that.
I am going to die very soon and since it has been predicted, mother has promised to throw me the biggest party ever.
“Aja,” mother called me and I stopped playing with my food. As usual I had left some on the plate for my playmates because yam porridge is our favorite meal.
I love my new playmates. They are fun.
Their names are Lola, Madu and Gozi.
Other children in my school are always looking at me funny when I’m playing with my mates. I laugh at them because they are blind. Only a few of them can see my playmates, but those ones like to pretend they don’t see them too. Stupid Emere children!
I looked at my mum’s rounded tummy and waved at my little sister to be, I’m glad I won’t be here when mother has her. I hate competition and the girl is going to be very beautiful.
“Yes, maami,” I said and smiled at her.
“You know that I love you and I want what’s best for you. I have already told you several times how much I’m going to miss you when you’re gone.” She smiled back at me, and moved closer to the open door.
I knew something was wrong.
“What is it, maami?” I asked, narrowing my eyes.
“You know you’re supposed to die next month.” She said.
“Yes, and I’m looking forward to it, especially the party that you promised to throw for me.” I stood up from where I was seated and clenched my fists.
“Well, you’re not going anywhere, Ojola has told me your real name.” She slammed the door as she sped out of the room.
NexT on A NEW STORY
Born in Ibadan in the early 70’s, Ayodele Olofintuade spent her holidays with her grandfather who lived a stone’s throw from Olumo Rock. He nurtured her young mind by making her read Yoruba classics like Ireke Onibudo, Irinkerindo ninu Igbo Elegbeje, Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irumole to him. She read Mass Communication at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu.
She is a writer, spoken words artiste, teacher and editor, who has been a graphic artist, sales girl, cybercafe attendant, dance instructor and information technology teacher. She has worked with children in one capacity or the other in the past 13 years. She presently runs a project called Laipo Reads, a community/mobile library that makes book available to children. Olofintuade was the first runner up in the NLNG Prize for Literature 2010.