Agnes saw a funny up and down movement on the spring bed. She had safely packed her bicycle outside, walked into the open room where they kept kitchen utensils, pots, traps, bags, basins, heads
Agnes saw a funny up and down movement on the spring bed. She had safely packed her bicycle outside, walked into the open room where they kept kitchen utensils, pots, traps, bags, basins, heads of yam and many other household items. The door was open. She walked in and used the other door by the right that had a curtain, that was the last room in the line of uncompleted block house she had built with her husband. It was when she slapped the curtain out of her way that she saw the movement. She rushed to the dancing bed and dragged away the dirty sheet covering whatever it was.
Otuto screamed and placed his two hands over his groins.
“Heeeeh Otuto! Chineke! Otuto! What are you doing?”
“Nothing, nothing Mama!” Came his shivering reply.
“This boy, what are you learning. Heeeh! Chimoooooo!” His mother wailed.
The little boy was engrossed in touching himself and trying out some things he had seen somewhere. He didn’t know his mother will come back to drop some firewood and head back to the farm.
“You are supposed to meet us at the farm after school and this is what you are doing….doing your head.”
Agnes began to slap him, she threw her hands on air shouting for people to come. Otuto pulled on his short. More provoked, she took a garri-frying stick that was stuck to an open window and began to hit him. Otuto found a means and ran out of the house. Agnes shouted till her head became too heavy for her neck.
Otuto later climbed the bicycle and went to meet his siblings in the farm. He knew he had sickened his mother.
Agnes felt like weeping, she began to think she offended someone who had began to retaliate from the spirit world or somewhere. How had she given birth to such a child? She questioned herself. The teachers from school were already tired of his frivolous behaviour. Three days back, he had been caught in the bathroom with Olumma’s small daughter. Otuto was making Agnes learn how to hide her shame. She flapped on the kitchen stool in front of the open room and removed her headdress. The air around her blew heat and evil.
That was the beginning of what Otuto lived as a life. While his siblings were in the farm, he was busy stealing a neighbour’s apple, orange or hen eggs. Agnes and her husband Chibuike had screamed their lungs out.
“An ear that will hear something is not usually as big as a cap.”
Chibuike barked one night after a man had come to report that he saw Otuto with his daughter. The villagers, especially people of their kindred who were aware of the miscreant, Otuto had began to warn their sons and daughters to avoid the boy.
Chibuike complained to his personal gods on why they had to gift him with such a first son, the first child of his lineage. He shook his head often and begged people to pardon his family. At a point, he urged people to do whatever they wanted with Otuto each time they caught him ambling in evil.
He stopped joining his family in the farm after school. The village primary school closed earlier than the secondary school that wasn’t even in their own village but in the last village. Otuto attended school with the new silver bicycle, he was meant to ride home after school, eat and ride to the farm they had chosen to work on that day and help, no matter how little. Besides, weeding in the evening was better, the sun had already began to die. They usually loaded the bicycles with firewood or bags of cocoyam, pumpkin or any other available farm produce for home. This system of labour stopped progressing when the bad spirit possessed Otuto. The only place he went to without force was school. His class mates knew it was because of the girls.
Otuto lingered in life mischievously and finished secondary school. By that time, two of his younger brothers had began their own secondary education. The last boy and their only sister still attended primary school. Chibuike refused to send him to the University. The man feared for what his son will become in the bigger world where he and his wife won’t be present to rebuke him. This pissed Otuto to nonsense and constituted more to his delinquency. Years later, he followed a preacher who had come to their village to host a crusade and disappeared. Everyone seemed happy about the news yet worried for his whereabouts. Agnes wept till her fellow women began to point to her that she had three other sons that will make her proud.
As though, Otuto was dead. Agnes angrily quarrelled the ones who consoled her like that in form of mockery. Life pushed on in the village, eight months later, Otuto returned in another version. His family was more elated as they saw him as a tidied form, low haircut, a shirt on a trouser, a black belt firm around his waist. All properly fitted. His mother touched him all over, affirming that he was well fed. Otuto proclaimed that he was now a man of God. A preacher of the gospel. Agnes danced round her compound and blessed her son. The next morning, Otuto made them hold a family devotion. Chibuike was a pagan but found himself singing with his family that morning to the glory of God in heaven. Otuto had briefed them that the preacher he ran away with was from Aluu and that God had greatly touched his life through the man. People joyed at the news, so in the morning they heard Otuto’s loud voice preaching and calling on people to repent. He sang vibrantly in his home at nights, praying and destroying the gods of his village. All the powerful praying and fasting began to wane when Otuto found Awele, a year later. He had tried in preventing himself from befriending a woman, yet by her, all his guards failed. He knew Awele very well from their childhood and wondered how she had grown into a beautiful plump young girl. Seven years had done a lot of moulding on the lass.
The relationship started first by Awele praying with him and a few others when their local church had closed, joining him to do the work of God. When people began to sense the closeness between the two, they did not budge believing that he had changed. Many even teased Agnes that she will soon be a grandmother given that Otuto will marry Awele momentarily. It was when Chibuike and his family and some close neighbours heard Awele screaming one early morning that history repeated itself. Otuto was carrying Awele on his shoulder into his room. The helpless girl screamed hoarsely for help. Before people came around, he had succeeded in stuffing her into the room. Her voice still thundered the atmosphere. Otuto was ready for people’s natter, he stood in front of his closed door, one hand firm on the door handle.
“What is it? Can you all not mind your business? We are only quarreling and I am going to marry Awele soon….she is my wife, my wife… no one should ask anything. Leave here now…leave my father’s compound.”
People stood around for a while and went away with multiple accounts of the incident. Chibuike and Agnes were speechless. Awele was warned by her people to stay away from Otuto for a while. Although it was useless since Awele was already feeling married to Otuto and her man knew how to rough-handle her. Otuto’s preaching and loud midnight prayers soon began to look like hypocrisy to the villagers but they were busy with their own lives and found no voice to talk.
Otuto soon dragged in a very plump girl and this caused a serious fight between himself and Awele. She left him right away and began to gossip to her friends what a hypocrite Otuto was. The next day, the brothers of the plump girl arrived to confront Otuto and enquire what he had with their sister but did not find him. The villagers did not see the quarry again since after that day. Agnes confirmed that he packed some of his things and ran away.
Later, the seed of all the churchy things Awele and Otuto did began to grow. The pregnancy was not questioned but was mocked and most persons began to say that Christians were the worst sinners on earth. Commiting sin in the dark but condemning others to hell. Few persons stopped attending the local church and the prayer group that was formed by Otuto capsized.
On the eight month of Awele’s pregnancy, Otuto came home again and made peace with his family. He apologised to Awele who willingly forgave him, being relieved that the father of her child was back. She began to come from her home to visit him often and pass the nights. They lived like that till the baby’s birth. Otuto was very happy that she had delivered a boy and for a good time remained coolheaded. His misdemeanors resumed later but were not infamous especially since he had to work hard to feed his son and semi-wife. That, he could not do, the burden was on Chibuike and Agnes. Finally, he ended up a motorcyclist and a man of the village, not leaving any time soon.
His parents extensively had hope in his siblings who were doing better. Otuto ended up the one who killed the goats during village meetings. No gathering with cocks or goats for killing that didn’t have Otuto presence. Women even invited him to come slaughter animals for them. He could have been called a village layabout if he wasn’t at least that useful.
When Aboy, Otuto’s son became five, insecurity reared its rascal head into the village from other neighbouring villages. The bad fraternities in the village began by fighting between themselves, stealing domestic animals and farm produce before they began to kidnap people from the highway. They usually kidnapped their victims and hold them in the thick bushes in the village till the stipulated ransom was paid. People soon became afraid to go to farms and ponds since their hide outs were forest based. The leader of the most notorious gang had acquired deadly charms that empowered his boys and him. They terrorised the village even at noon and stole from anyone who dared to confront them. After some time, they began to destroy and burn people’s houses for any slightest reason. Worst, villagers were also being kidnapped and extorted. The reign of this insecurity continued for over two years before the government acted haven been poked by local newspapers and radio pleading for them to help the innocent villagers and travellers on highway.
The first batch of the police sent to the village were felled by the boys. Two survived the battle and returned to the station with dangerous reports. Soldiers and more police men were immediately dispatched again and after a tough battle which took over seven months, the village began to return into a peaceful inhabitant. After the first air of peace, the villages in the Local Government Area had a serious traditional meeting that helped them reach a decree that a local and equipped security group should be formed in all the villages to secure the people and also annihilate any form of cultism. Otuto was not the leader of the evil confraternity that almost ruined his people. He was one of the young men chosen to be a member of the security group in his own village. Awele had left him on the onset of the insecurity to the city to lead a better life. The way she left him openly demonstrated the disgust of a child who had grown too old and have willingly rejected his mother’s breast milk. While Otuto became a guard in his village, rumour began to sing that Awele had married another man in the city. Otuto only rubbed his chin, he was already a man with a child he worked hard to feed above anything. He tried being serious with other women but failed, most persons were aware of his sly nature. It was on one these attempts that he began to woo Udoh, a buxom girl that had just finished her secondary education.
After her senior examination, Udoh had stayed two years at home working on people’s farms with her mother and sisters to earn a living. Udoh was focused on saving for her tertiary education so she saw Otuto as an evil spirit sent to deceive her. Her kindred was far apart from Otutos’ and she was much younger than him so didn’t know the initial reputation of the young man except that he was a member of the village security group. The few cult members caught in the village were brutally maimed and shot to dead by the security group. The security group was like the latest ordained possessors of power and the state government backed them with the necessary arms while their villages cooked them with charms. They were the perfect match to the few cult members that still wanted to spring up. They killed any suspect right away after their sacred knife had indicated that the person belonged to a hidden group. They were also known for disciplining any girl befriending any of the bad boys.
Udoh’s blatant refusal to play with Otuto in a negative way, struck a button in him. By this time, the security group were well respected and feared by the people.
Udoh was at home washing her clothes one evening, when three motorcycle having the security members as their occupants speedily drove into her home. She stood up and went to welcome them
All she heard was, “Climb the bike!”
The only occupant in one of the motorcycles had alighted, urging her to climb in behind the rider. Udoh was perplexed.
“Climb the bike!” Another roar frightened her. No one was home yet to witness what was happening except a neighbour who later reported to her people when they returned.
Udoh’s mother ran to village hall where the security men had made their headquarter to find Udoh as a pulp. Blood and sand patched all over her clothe. The woman shouted and seized her life for seconds, she only moved when she saw that Udoh could roll to a side with the help of her buttocks. Her hands and legs seemed to be dead. People had already gathered before the woman arrived. They were saying that the security confirmed that Udoh was dating a cult guy. As helpless as the villagers were in the hands of the security men, no one queried nor found it necessary to report to the king. Everything they did was law and order and people readily believed them since they possessed the sacred knife that could dictate the unseen. Udoh’s mother picked up her child and rushed her to a pharmacy. Four days later while being treated at home, Udoh woke up and began to weep after realising what had become of her. Her right hand could not move. She wept and addressed every accusation pointing towards a love affair with a cult guy. Udoh wept her mysery but only confided in her family about Otuto’s incessant leer on her and how she had rejected him.
“We should go and report to the King,” rose her sister’s voice.
Their mother said nothing to that. She went outside, climbed her bicycle and rode away. Udoh and her sister only heard her voice in the evening. She was definitely shouting for Udoh to have heard her from the village square adjacent their house. Her mother was holding her bicycle to a side while talking to two men and a woman.
“He will see something. He will see the other side of a widow. What these so called security men will come to do in this village already has two heads. They will soon do more than what those bad boys did. Eh? See what they have done to my daughter, for nothing. Eh? He must face me. He must face me before this entire village.”
Udoh’s mother shouted till she began to sob,
“What do I have? If not these two girls. Look at me… Udoh. Eh? Who does not know Udoh my daughter.. She is not that kind of child. Why? Why have they done this to my daughter. Oh… God in heaven. God!”
Her listeners began to console her. At that point, Udoh resumed her weeping, her sister joined her. The medicine woman had confirmed that her right hand was totally broken. Udoh had heard the news and fell to the ground, wishing that they had killed her. With her industrious nature, what could she do with a left hand? She cried.
Her mother had gone to report to her kinsmen, the King and few other chiefs that she knew. As she entered her compound, she was breathing hard, still shouting.
“Time has come for them. Time has come. Time has come for them to tell everyone where they got that sacred knife from.”
Two weeks had to pass for Udoh to be able to appear before the King. The news had gone around the village that Udoh said they didn’t place any sacred knife on her to determine her offence before they began to beat and hit her with the head of their guns. Each time Udoh recalled the cruel way they battered her, she thought the method they simply killed the cultists themselves could have been better for her. The pain of the innocent clutched in her throat, no one could understand the memory she was dealing with and her tears on the evidence right on her body.
She limped to the palace on the summon date, she and her mother waited for minutes before some members of the security group arrived. Otuto did not show up that day, the next and afterwards. The life of a man who fights and run. Ututo had departed the village again with no trace.
While the village council was busy discussing how to sanction the security group, Udoh hanged in the village like a cloud of misfortune. The pity from people’s eyes and hisses painted her figure everyday. At first, she kept indoors till her sister bought raw groundnuts one day that needed to be fried. Udoh volunteered to fry it to everyone’s amazement. So she fried unsteadily with her left hand, willing her body to follow the willpower of her mind and the soreness of her voice as she sang.
The widow wept as her child turned the groundnuts in a wide hot pot enduring the many times the hotness burnt her. It was a teary afternoon for the family, Udoh wept and fried on. At night, she felt teased by herself for what she had achieved and decided to fry and sell groundnuts. In months, people began to get used to Udoh’s groundnuts, tied in small cellophane wraps, placed orderly for different prices in a small transparent rubber kept on a small table in front of her compound. That was the beginning of what became a big provision shop many years later. Udoh’s sisters were the ones who got tertiary education with the massive sponsor from her business.
Otuto worked in a timber shop in town where he had sought refuge the night he ran away. He worked there for three years before he became a taxi driver. One night, he was very tipsy as usual in a pub. The darkness of that night mesmerised him like the look of a lady bent before him. She was picking up a paper. Otuto gaped at her body language, really sweet, sweeter than his girlfriend who should be in his one room apartment awaiting his return. He moved further and touched.
“Hands off my goods.” She barked!
“Goods. Wetin you dey sell?”
“I sell and buy human body.” She replied bouncing her half-open breasts. Otuto’s head ran amiss. Like her skirt, her sentences were simple and short. One would think she attended Orominieke Girls, a girls secondary school in town known mostly for vomiting wild females into the society.
“Abeg sell give me.”
The curvaceous girl giggled and fell on his body. The freshness of her mammalian gland sweetened his chest. Otuto followed as she led the way. Outside, she stopped an empty taxi that took them to a dark street. She paid. They chatted wildly and laughed as they walked. Otuto was restless between his trouser, he begged her house to approach so that he can climb the beautiful horse and have a sweet ride all night. He would spend all his savings, he won’t care. She led him to a gate, opened it and locked it with two padlocks, they laughed into a room, kissing and scattering each other. She opened another door in the room, it led them to a very wide room, like a mini hall. A beautiful bed by one side, a chair in front of a table at the middle, a shining bulb hung up, illuminating the chair. She pushed the chair out of the table and caressed him into sitting. His trouser was already unzipped. She pulled it out together with his underpants and took him in her mouth. Otuto groaned in a mad acceleration, she was sentencing him beyond limits. She rubbed her thick self against him. Otuto jerked needing her right at that moment. She kissed him and detached her lips swiftly like she had a nature’s call. She lifted a finger that told Otuto, “I am coming. Hold on, I want to urinate, I am coming.”
Otuto waited for a minute, he turned back to look at what was coming. She was with a sharp blinking matchet. Without faking, she cut his head off with one blow.
The head fell and rolled, his blood shooting like fireworks.
“I am the daughter of Ogbunabali, my father kills at night. I kill when life is the sweetest for a man.”
She kidnapped and sold children to her customers in the black market, she had just started selling body parts.
In the village of Omawa, Otuto did not return again.