As i left my father’s sitting room in a confused state, i ran into my uncle’s wife who smiled and hugged me happily on seeing me.
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“how have you been doing my son?. My husband has been looking for a way to speak with you privately” she said happily.
“really?, is Pa Tony at home now?” i asked while the old woman nodded.
“yes you can go see him right away” she replied with a great smile.
I headed straight to Pa Tony’s house without any second thought. The old man was my father’s step brother and the oldest in the family. He also was very fond of me but my recent problems kind of made me hide from my close relatives..
Pa Tony smiled happily as he saw me enter his sitting room. I greeted him politely, sitting on an empty chair close to him.
“so how have you been doing my son?. I have heard stories, disappointing stories about you. Your life story is now an open secret to everyone” he said seriously while i drew back in shame. The old man was well known for being honest and straight forward.
“yea things are very bad for me. I dug my own grave sir and no matter how much i try to fix things, something else comes up to ruin everything” i muttered quietly.
“do you know Udoka the carpenter?” he suddenly asked.
“yes of course i know him. His eldest son committed suicide last year” i answered, wondering the direction he was heading with the question.
“i was fifteen years old when your father was born. I have watched over him till this day. You are my son and i can never lie to you” he said and kept quiet while my mind began racing towards many directions as i searched for a clue on where he was heading with his words.
“just like Udoka the carpenter, your father failed performing the necessary rites due for every first male child in the community. The consequences of such neglect is what you are having now. Temptations, frustrations, heartbreak and finally death. Udoka refused heeding to warnings because he felt he was the only Christian in the world. I’m also a good Christian. A Christian father in the catholic church, but i performed the rights for my first son. There are things you don’t question in this world. Nobody is asking you or your dad to come worship an oracle or deity. All he could have done then was to send money across to the people in charge. But no he refused, simply because your mother wasn’t in support. As a man, there comes a time when you have to draw a line between acting as a man and acting the script written by your wife” he poured out while i silently listened with rapt attention.
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“just take a look at Udoka’s son. He was a promising business man, suddenly his wife dies during child birth, his business folds up and he commits suicide. Then take a look at your own life. You never behaved irresponsibly as a youth, suddenly your promising life is being turn apart just from a single mistake which on a very good day would have resulted to nothing. Now where is your wife??” he asked with a strange kind of certainty that threw me back with fear as his words settled in me.
Oh yes i was raised up in a Christian way. I believed in God, but, but, but this has to do with tradition…..
” now go and confront your father. This is your life we are talking about” he commanded with a stern voice. I instantly ran back to my father like a child who was pursued by an evil masquerade
My dad instantly sensed danger as he saw me appear before him in an angry mood. He drew back on his chair and stared at me cautiously.
“what’s this about?” he asked. I bit my lips, frowned at him before telling him all Pa Tony told me. He listened quietly without interrupting me even for a single moment. When i was done, he coughed and called my mother who quickly appeared and stared at us curiously.
“my brother told him everything concerning the rituals we failed doing when he was born. Now he wants answers” he said to my mum who scoffed, drew close and touched my right shoulder.
“you shouldn’t stand before your dad with such posture. Sit down let’s talk” she said softly, calming my spirit. I obeyed and sat down. My dad’s eyes never left me.
“your dad wanted to perform the rituals when you were born but i refused. As Christians you know such thing is against our faith?” she explained while i nodded.
“you shouldn’t get mad at anyone. We simply did what we thought was best for you. Well you are now an adult. You are now capable of making your own decisions. If you feel that the ritual that wasn’t performed for you is the cause of all your problems. Go ahead with it but as for me, i know it isn’t” she said seriously, her eyes all over me with concern.
It was my decision to make after all but unfortunately for my dear mother, my mind was totally with Pa Tony’s words. It was my life at stake just like he said and i wasn’t ready to gamble with it or die for my faith just like Pa Udoka’s son.
“mum, i’m going to perform the rituals on my own. I’m sorry to disappoint you” i said with a calm voice, avoiding her eyes and breathing deeply.
“very well then, it’s your decision” she muttered with resignation.
An hour later, i headed back to Pa Tony’s house after resting and putting my mind in order. I was determined to perform the rituals, determined to tie up every loose ends or anything suspected to be influencing my current situation.
Oh yes i was educated, oh yes i was a Christian, but i just wasn’t going to take chances with something i didn’t know how or when it started. I equally wasn’t ready to gamble with my life.
Pa Tony was very happy to see me and he shook hands with me as soon as i told him my decision. Ten minutes later, he led me to Okparaugo’s house located at the outskirt of our little community.
Okparaugo was a jovial middle aged man. He looked neat and simple unlike the native doctors we see in African movies. Pa Tony quickly told him the reason for our visit. He instantly shook hands with me, praising me.
“you know the white men brought religion, education and many good things for us, eradicating our traditions. But not all the traditions are dead. The science of nature and the Universe practised by our forefathers is very much alive and we should learn to respect it” he lectured while i nodded.
After chatting with us for some minutes, we got back to the topic on hand. He collected five thousand naira from me, then asked me to return by 7pm.
“you are now an adult, your presence will be required during the rituals because i will have to cleanse your spirit” he said seriously.
I returned to my father’s house afterwards, and spent quite a lot of time arguing with Jessica over the phone. I told her about the rituals and just like my mother she was against it.
8pm saw me seated with Okparaugo in his small shrine. He sang some local songs, performed some smelly mixtures with leaves, lit up a fire with some specially arranged woods and slaughtered a male fowl. I really didn’t know how it happened but as soon as the leaves he prepared was thrown into the fire and the smoke went upwards, a strong wind blew across my face with little force.
“African science” i reasoned with a smile.
“you have been cleansed. The evil wind of misfortune just left your presence. You are now okay. However the past still can’t be easily cleared, but It will clear with time. I tried looking into your future but was blinded by burning flames. I don’t know the reason but go and be scared of nothing. Someone will be waiting for you in the city” he said with a strange tone. I picked up myself and left, smiling and wondering what exactly his strange words meant. But at least i was happy that i was no longer owing the gods of the land anything.
By 10am the next day, i returned to my apartment to see comfort waiting for me with a big travel bag. I couldn’t believe my eyes at first until she smiled and greeted me.
“my parents are tired of me. I can’t continue being a burden to them. I’m here to stay” she said with a very serious voice that left me gasping with shock.