“Where do you think you are going to?” Amara echoed loudly in my ears.
“I am going to pick my three Igbuala mangoes I left on the floor in the bush.”
“I thought you promised not to eat the mangoes again? I thought you had thrown them away? Why then have you chosen to go back for them?”
I halted and carried my hands on my waist. I was exhausted and now very thirsty. I bent down supporting myself with my hands placed on my laps. I struggled to catch my breath as I spat several times on the floor.
“But you told me without the red Igbula mangoes, I stood no chance against the remaining five demons. Or did you lie to me.?”
“I am a god and the gods do not lie Ikenga. I told you the truth. Without the red Igbuala mangoes, you cannot see any other spirits. You are back to being a human. And if you cannot see any other spirit, you will not know what hit you. You will die miserably.”
“Is that why people die mysteriously. Is it the demons that kills them?” I asked.
“For some, yes. The gods kill them using the spirit demons. For some, the gods have no hands in their death. They die a normal death. They live their normal lives and when their body is tired, their spirit leaves to the home of the gods. Others die at the appointed time the gods had provided for them to die.”
I quickly remembered the death of Ajudibike- Eze Patala’s first son. He was a youth- a young boy of 17years old. He had testified to have felt tiny stings on his body before his death. I remembered how he laid on the floor in his compound screaming. He complained bitterly about strange bites.
Grandma and I were just returning from the market when we saw the huge crowd gather in the compound of Eze Patala. We also wanted to know what was happening and stopped by to see.
When we walked into the compound, we sighted Ajudibike sitting on the floor with just a boxer on his waist. He was vibrating like a slaughtered local chicken.
So many people tried to hold him. Some gathered to fan him with their mats. The women who had surrounded him began to pray to the gods on his behalf. Some of the women who could not pray, pulled their wrappers and joined in fanning Ajudibike. We all prayed to the gods that Ajudibike does not die.
But that same day at sunset, when the c–k had crowed four times, Ajudibike died a painful death. He kept coughing out thick blood from his mouth. Red blood ran through his nose and ears. So many people thought Ajudibike was poisoned. Some others had thought he had a strange illness that took his life. But yet every one believed that the gods had a reason why they had allowed the death of Ajudibike to take place.
“Was it a demon that killed Ajudibike?” I asked inquisitively.
“Yes. The gods permitted the Efuzuala scorpions to sting him to death.”
“The same scorpions I faced moments back?”
“Yes. The same scorpions. Ajudibike had stollen huge tubers of yams from the farmland of Ibesi, the poor widow who had just lost her husband to the painful hands of death- a poor widow with no other source of livelihood except the small yam plantation her husband had left her.”
“She went to her farmland and discovered her yams were missing. Ibesi cried out to the gods bitterly. She directed her cries to Ibuzulu the god of vengeance and justice. Agundaobi was touched by her tears too. Together they sent the Efuzuala scorpions to avenge her tears.”
“Ikenga, no cry reaches the ears of the gods faster than a woman’s tears. When a woman prays for you to succeed, the gods answers her prayers. When she curses you, the gods answers her too. But when her cries is accompanied with a bitter tear, the gods answers with swift action.”
“Why did the big Efuzuala scorpion sneeze and die so quickly? Why did it fall to the floor without me touching it?”
“You found shelter in the hands of the Kolanut tree. The kola nut tree is the tree of life. It is death to any demon creature that nears it. The mother demon sniffed the smell of the kolanut tree and fell flat to the floor. She died with every one of her creatures. You were just lucky Ikenga.”
“But why can’t Agundaobi let me go hence I am still just a human? The mangoes have faded off from my eyes. Why is he sending strange creatures to me. Why? Why does he wants to kill me.” I asked with a soaked eye and a beating heart.
“You are paying for your disobedience Ikenga. You have annoyed the gods. Agundaobi will not stop unless you face your punishments for eating from the sacred fruits of his wife.”
“You should be grateful. No one has ever gone pass the first demon. No one. But you have defeated two. There is something special about you Ikenga. But you will not go too far. every creature you face, becomes even more stronger and more dangerous”
“Your next demon shall find you soon. And without the Igbuala mangoes, you shall not see them. And then, your death shall be swift and quick.”
I took to my heels as fast as possible. I ran with all the strength I had with me. As I arrived at the spot I had thrown the three red Igbuala mangoes, I saw the white rabbit I had seen earlier on.
It was devouring one of the red mangoes with all the pleasure and delight in the world. It was just about eating the next, when I picked the stone I had kicked earlier on, and flung it with all my might. The white rabbit withdrew back and suddenly disappeared into thin air as the stone landed on the floor.
I ran and quickly grabbed unto the two red Igbuala mangoes and took a quick bite. I s—-d the sweet red juice and licked my tongue like a dog who had finished a bowl of delicious portage. I dipped the last Igbuala mangoes in my pocket and turned round in search of Amara.
“Amara where are you? Show me your face.” I shouted.