THE GHOST VISITOR – Episode 8
The joy in her heart made her unafraid of the dark or the noise in the nearby bushes. With a skip in her stride, Nneoma strode home. When she drew near to her husband’s family compound, she blew out her lamp light and sneaked in. Her door was not locked, so she gently pushed it open and went in. She danced around the house for a moment and then ran into the kitchen, it was almost dawn and her intention was to warm the leftover food she had. Her children would return home soon and would certainly ask for food. When she stooped to light re in her cooking place, she felt a hand at the back of her head, she swung around to see who it was. The sight she saw left frissons of dread shooting through her veins. She made to shout for help, but her voice gave no sound. The mighty presence, raised its hand and slapped her to unconsciousness. Beside her replace, Nneoma lay. To her it was like crossing a divide; like stepping from one room into another within fractions of seconds. She sprang to her feet and looked around. She was suddenly in a place she could not recognize. Her kitchen and everything in it were gone. It was and endless stretch of empty world with no trees, grass, mountains, or water. It was just empty. Its soil was red and hot. She looked around wondering where she was. “I cannot be dead! The gods cannot do this to me! Who will take care of my children?” She tried to pray to the gods of her people, but a voice spoke up and demanded her up.
She looked for where to hide but there was none. The sound of the voice was like the sound of death itself. It was as if all she wanted was to run from the voice. Shaking with dread and crying, she looked about hopelessly. When the voice spoke again, it was gentler, “This place is hell. You don’t want to come back to it…” the voice paused. Nneoma felt the voice was familiar she had heard it before. Now that it spoke to her gently, she could sense the familiarity in it. Something made her x her gaze on the hot red soil, to her utter shock, the ground under her feet caved in and she saw that beneath the soles of her feet was a world filled with burning flames. In a flash she saw innumerable number of men and women sinking into that world of burning flames and being consumed in it. Their cries tore her soul apart. Then she remembered what she saw when Eleke had her dragged to the chambers of hell. She had seen a man, only that he was different and was not like the men she had known amongst her people. He had spoken to her in a voice unlike any she had heard all her life. And all he said was, “I will show you the truth.” When he spoke to her she realized the flames had no power over her. In the face of the horror underneath her feet, she craved to hear that strange man to speak to her again. “What is the truth?! Please show me the truth!” “This place is the truth. All who follow the sacrifices of the gods of your people come here.” That was unthinkable. Nneoma felt offended and being lied to. “We offer what we do to our gods because they demand it and our gods are just!” “Who were you told is at peace in his death?” “My husband, Olekanma. At least I saw him this morning in the land of the spirits. He was fine!” “This is your husband,” said the voice. Immediately a force grabbed Nneoma and plunged her into the world of burning flames under her feet. In a corner of it was Olekanma being devoured by a raging fire. Nneoma could not stand the sight of her husband in such torture. It was the worst horror her eyes had seen. She turned away, but the image was everywhere. She closed her eyes, but that could not stop her from seeing the image. It was not just that Olekanma was being tortured in flames, he was being eaten up by tiny, little creatures she had not seen before. She went on her knees and cried out, “Please take me away from this place!” “Nneoma! Nneoma!! Open your eyes and look at me!” It was the voice of Olekanma. Nneoma opened her eyes a little. Olekanma was standing in front of him. “Obi m, what you saw in the land of the spirits this morning was a lie. This is the truth. I have never left this place nor been to any palace since Eleke took my heart that morning.” “But I saw you! I kissed you, and we held each other!” “I know that too, but I was not the one you kissed. Spirits here can change their forms like Eleke did when he slept with you. They have the power to take the form of anyone they wish to.” Nneoma felt giddy and her head swooned. What she was seeing and hearing were beyond her. Her teeth clattered as waves of dread shot through her body. “They will try to take Onyeka from you and make him a priest who will take blood for the gods. He will take both human and animal blood. Do not let them! You must stop them! If you let them take him, then he will come to this place too!”
“Tuakwa! (God forbid!)” Nneoma spat. “Make sure no one finds out about what you know. Do not trust Nwaraka. He knows the truth, but has been deceived with empty promises.” Nneoma began to repeat to herself, “Do not trust Nwaraka, for he has been deceived with empty promises… My children! Nwaraka has my children!” Nneoma tried to run but found herself waking up from the vision she had just had. At the door of her kitchen were two apprentices from Nwaraka, listening to her muttering to herself, “Do not trust Nwaraka, for he has been deceived with empty promises.” The apprentices were holding her children by the hands. By the time she got a hold of herself and stopped saying those words, the apprentices had heard enough. She stood to her feet, ran toward the apprentices and snatched her children away from them. “Nneoma Uruaku, Nwaraka would have you return this evening with Onyeka and a white c–k. The gods have seen a gift in him,” said one of the apprentices. Nneoma did not argue. She simply nodded, her hands firmly around her children. She knew exactly what to do. Meanwhile the elders who were sent to Okwohia to ascertain why a spirit was attacking Nneoma’s household were sent back home with the same message by the three different native doctors they consulted with. The message was, “The mystery of the attacks on Nneoma’s household is a matter for the gods, they will speak to no mortal about it.” When the apprentices had left, Nneoma paced about her house anxiously. Her children could tell something was wrong. However, they could not wait to tell her what happened at Nwaraka’s shrine in the night. “Mama, papa visited us at Nwaraka’s shrine in the night. He said Onyeka will be a great voodoo priest,” Nneka said with glee. Nneoma’s mouth hung open in absolute disbelief. She looked from Nneka to Onyeka, and tears pooled from her eyes. “Mama what is it? You look troubled,” Azubuike asked. Nneoma composed herself and tried to explain things to her children. “Whoever you saw at Nwaraka’s shrine was not your father. I have been to the land of the spirits twice this morning. I saw things and heard things even the best native doctors in all of Igbo land do not know yet. Your father warned me to never let them make Onyeka a voodoo priest. There is a great deception going on against our people. It has been revealed to me…” Nneoma was still saying when Onyeka made know what he saw in the night. “Mama, it was not papa who came to see us at Nwaraka’s shrine.”. His words surprised everyone present. Nneoma grabbed him and asked apprehensively, “What did you see Onyeka?” “He had horns. That man had horns, papa doesn’t have horns,” Onyeka replied. “Pack your bags! Pack your bags children, we are running away!” Nneoma shouted to her children.
THE GHOST VISITOR – Episode 9
While Nneoma and her children were making ready to run from their village, Nwaraka and his apprentices were consulting with spirits to know why Nneoma woke up from her trance saying, “Do not trust Nwaraka, for he has been deceived with empty promises.” Nwaraka was miffed that he could not see everything he wanted to see clearly. “I see eyes that can see clearer than mine. I see feet running down to Nwete and back. I see gifts of the gods far greater than mine and those of the native doctors in Okwohia. All these are from Nneoma Uruaku’s home. What are we missing?” Nwaraka asked, staring into the faces of his apprentices for answers which the gods would not give him. “There is something going on in that family and the gods won’t reveal it. First it was the spirit which came visiting them with the intent to kill and after that the gods refused to reveal why the spirit was attacking Olekanma’s wife and children. Something big is going on in that family and in our village and no one can tell what it is. How could a mighty servant of the gods like me be around and secrets of the gods are revealed to a woman and her children who are not even in the lineage of priests and native doctors?” Nwaraka asked, looking into the smoke of the gods, his water pot and mirror for answers from the land of the spirits.
“Nnanyi, since you said you saw feet running down to Nwete and back, and all indications are that those feet are from Nneoma’s house, let us then have her arrested and forced to reveal what she knows,” suggested one of Nwaraka’s senior apprentices. “That is a good idea but it is also fraught with risks and danger. If Nneoma was the one who went down to Nwete last night, why is she still alive? Our custom declares that any who does such would not return from the river of the gods alive. Why then is she alive? You two went down to her house and saw her alive. This is a big puzzle, my boys.” “Nnanyi, we can threaten Nneoma with the feet which went down to the river! It has to be her. She did not sleep in her husband’s brother’s house last night and neither did she pass the night here. Who else has the need to take such a risk if not her?” inquired one of the apprentices. “Witchcraft! Witchcraft is the answer! The only way the feet could be linked to Nneoma is if we claim she is a witch! Like we know, witches do go down to Nwete for power,” an apprentice said, beaming with smile. He was sure he had handed to Nwaraka what he needed to make Nneoma look guilty in the eyes of the village.” “Udensi! Take warriors, run down to Nneoma’s house and arrest her and all her children. They are all seeds of witchcraft. I see a connection between Olekanma’s mysterious death and what is going on right now in his house. Nneoma and her children are cavorting with evil spirits! Aru!” Nwaraka exclaimed and spit on the ground. Udensi bolted off. Turning to Ikenna, Nwaraka barked, “Go summon the elders at the village square, tell them it is an urgent matter.” Ikenna ran off. Nwaraka began to consult once more with the spirits for clearer direction about the claims he was to make against Nneoma and her children. They gave him no answer, and that worried him very much. Yet he deadened his conscience and chose to go ahead with that decision. “If she knows something I don’t know, then what makes me the seer of my people. How on earth did she even manage to go down to Nwete without being afraid or running mad in the process? How did she come back alive? If she is not the one, why have our people not seen any dead body at the river by now?” “Nnanyi, little fairy spirits at the river can tell whose feet those are. They have always spoken to us,” Chuba suggested. As quickly as he said that, Nwaraka began to make incantations which would open the portal to the world of those fairy spirits. Instead of the white smoke which usually rose when he consulted them to help him with a task, a black smoke rose. Nwaraka sprang to his feet and ran from the black smoke. “Nnanyi, this is an evil omen! Should we not leave this matter alone since the gods have said it is a matter for the gods?” Chuba asked, shaking like a weather beaten bird. “This is strange Chuba. I have not seen anything like it before,” said Nwaraka. “Nnanyi Nwaraka! The great seer of our time. The one whom the gods speak with face to face!” “What is it Chuba? Why the praise singing at this time?” “I am concerned about Olekanma’s visit last night…” Chuba paused. Nwaraka gave him all his attention. Chuba was known as a deep thinker; when he spoke, he spoke wisely, and made a lot of sense, especially that which was not common. “Speak on Chuba.” “When Olekanma was here last night, he cut the figure of a happy man. Is it not true that every dead man knows what or who killed him?” “What is your point Chuba?” “I am wondering why Olekanma did not reveal to you that his wife, Nneoma is a witch, but revealed that Onyeka will make a great priest for the gods.” “Hmmm,” Nwaraka grunted. Chuba had spoken wisely as if he was an elder. However, the problem was that Nwaraka knew much more than he had let everyone know. There were lies about the spirit world he was to cover. He feared they may have been revealed to Nneoma and his children. Deep in the farmlands, Nneoma and her children meandered through bush paths with baskets on their heads, hoping to reach Ehume before anyone would notice their disappearance from the village. They all held their nerves, doing their best to play the part of those going to work in the vast farmlands between Ehume and Isiafor. Sadly, for Nneoma and her children, warriors had picked up information that they had seen heading for the farmlands on their border with Isiafor.