“Aaarr!” Ms. Helen screamed, her grip tightened around little Aaron, pulling him to her skirt and covering his eyes, so he didn’t look upon his mother’s bloodied body, as blood oozed from all over.
She almost couldn’t believe her daughter in law was dead. But the truth lay before her.
All the guests, and the servants, had taken off, running out of the house and screaming out their lungs.
John, the security man, was shocked by the development. Why were the guests screaming and running off? Some even left their cars and bicycles, as they preferred to run on foot.
“He’s a monster”, he heard one of the escaping guest say.
“We need to get the authorities to lock him up. Else he will kill again”, another said.
Leaving his security post, John ran into the house to ascertain what was wrong.
He got in just as Aaron’s claws were lining Rodah with the final cut. A deep one to her heart.
He had ripped her open in several places. Blood oozed out. Satisfied, Aaron pulled back to another monster’s side, barring long fangs. She laughed, wickedly
John’s “no”, came in a whisper. He knew the monster in navy uniform was his master. He knew, because he had seen this sort of black magic before.
But he wasn’t sure, who the other monster, laughing viciously, was. He guessed it could be the wicked woman from Iri, who had been after Rodah. But he thought it wise not to ask.
“Finally. My enemy is dead”, the other monster said, still laughing.
“You’ll never go scott free”, Ms. Helen yelled, her veins pushing out of her neck, and tears streaming down her cheeks, “karma will catch up with you”.
“Yes. As it will with you”, Ese gradually transformed back to the senior navy officer’s beautify wife, then stretched one hand forward, “give me the boy”, she ordered.
“You will never have him!”, she spat, pulling little Aaron behind her, “you’ll have to kill me first”.
“Your wish will come true. But what better way to see it come true, than to watch the man you call son, do it”, she turned to Aaron, “Aaron dear”, she smiled, “kill her”.
Aaron sneered, taking few steps forward.
“No!” That was John, already running towards Ms. Helen. What use was it, sacrificing a life to protect a boy who was already protected. Being Aaron’s son, he was sure the evil woman wouldn’t kill the boy.
Although his loud ‘no’ caused Ese to look in his direction. “You better stay out of my way, if you want to live”, she warned him.
“Take the boy if you want. But leave us alone”.
Getting to where Ms. Helen stood, resilient, he calmed her down, spoke to her in soft tones, and then pulled the boy from behind the older woman and started to lead him straight to Ese. The boy cried, pulled back and kicked. He screamed, not wanting to be anywhere near the ugly monster and the evil-looking lady.
“You’re smart”, Ese said to John, chuckling, as she signaled an angry Aaron to relax, “and it’s the only reason why you will live”.
She took little Aaron from him and in a twinkle of an eye, disappeared with the boy and his monster father.
Ms. Helen cried, harder, and dropped to the floor, begging for death. How could she lose a son for a second time? And not just a son. A daughter in law and a grandson too? She kicked, screamed and hit her hands on the cold floor, calling out to Aaron.
She didn’t know what to do. Rodah’s parents were abroad, hence they couldn’t attend the sad anniversary. What was she going to do? She never, not even once, followed them to see Ese’s mother at the shrine back at Iri. How then was she going to get help?
While she cried and allowed several thoughts run through her head, John moved to inspect Rodah’s butchered body. Tears dropped from his eyes. And having been the one who drove the family, twice, to Ese’s mother’s shrine, and hearing all the discussions they had, he knew what to do.
“All that crying wouldn’t help, madam”, he called out to Ms. Helen, “I need your help here”.
Ms. Helen didn’t respond. She kept rolling on the floor. John had to rush to her side, force her to her feet and yelled some sense into her, before she asked, with tear soaked eyes, “what can we do?”
“We are taking her back to Iri. That witch’s mother will know what to do”.
While Ms. Helen ran upstairs to get some money for the journey, John carried Rodah’s dead body and started out of the mansion. He placed her at the back seat of the car and covered her body with a black nylon, to avoid suspicion from officers of the law.
Ms. Helen was out in a few minutes with her purse and a very small bag. And since the house had been deserted by almost all the servants, except one, she placed the house under the care of the one, while they made their way to Iri.
The time, was 6:44 PM
As night approached, thick dark clouds gathered, and the downpour that followed was terrible. Lightning struck. Taking down trees. Thunders followed. Blasting noisily up in the clouds.
John was sure, his dead madam was terribly angry at being killed. Or was she angry it was her husband who did the killing?
“Her spirit is mad with anger”, he said, keeping his eyes on the road.
“And she has every right to be”. Ms. Helen replied.
Of course, the next five hours, 11:00 PM dot, met them just getting into Bendel State. Another two hours met them driving at top speed, into the quiet village of Iri. A lot of the villagers had already retired for the night, leaving only the vigilante group to ensure peace. And when the vigilante group asked who they were and where they were heading, they simply covered up by saying, Chief Akiri was at the priest’s shrine and they had come to take him back to Lagos.
They let them pass.
The next 10 minutes that followed found them speeding down the muddy road that led to the shrine. Thanks to the rain. It didn’t seem to have subsided at all.
Upon reaching the shrine, Mrs. Eugene, holding up a wood that burned at the top, stood outside the hut of the small shrine. Despite the heavy rain, the fire from the wood refused to go out. And John was sure, this woman truly knew magic.
The Chief Priest soon emerged from the hut and joined his wife outside. The rain drenched them as they watched John carry Rodah’s body out of the car and moved to stand in front of them, so they could see clearly, how butchered the body was.
Because of the rain sliding down her cheeks, no one could tell if Mrs. Eugene was crying or not. But for sure. Her countenance was very sad, and when she eventually cried out, her cry was like the yelling of a Banshee.
Her voice rang in the ethers and those standing close to her fell on their knees, with hands covering their ears tightly.
For there was a little secret no one knew. Long ago, when Mrs. Eugene was still married to her first husband, she didn’t have one child. She had two. Two beautiful girls. Twins. But not identical. While one twin took to the father, the other took to the mother.
But after the death of her husband and being forced to go back to the village for survival, she ran into Chief Akiri. The man was not so wealthy back then, but he was powerful and could afford the important things in life.
It so happened, he and his wife had been trying to have children. All to no avail. And when he saw a suffering woman with two healthy girls, he had to make the move. At least, no one knew her very well in the village back then. And no one would notice he took the children from her.
Chief told her, she was poor. No one would look after her. She’d suffer and die with her girls. But if she gave them to him, he’d ensure they were well taken care of, and attended the best schools. Also, he’d give her a small house to live comfortably in, a piece of land to farm, so as to grow her own food, and some money.
Mrs. Eugene was reluctant. But after two days in the village, and she still didn’t know how she and her girls would survive, she thought it wise to send one girl to Chief, while she struggled to care for the other. But before she did, she took her clothes off, in the middle of the night, and prayed to whatever gods ruled the village, to ensure her daughters’ paths crossed, in the near future, and to ensure they became best of friends.
Sure, the girls were already used to each other. And the eldest of the twin would always ask for her sister. But it was a risk she had to take.
The following morning, she took the younger of the twin to Chief. He was angry. As he wanted both girls. Mrs. Eugene stood her ground. She was not going to give away both girl’s. They were her reason for living. And taking them away meant asking for her death.
After much talks. Chief accepted the child. Of course, with resentment.
“You know our deal. You’re never to come near her again”. He reminded her.
“What if she chooses to come near me”, Mrs. Eugene asked,
“Then you’re never to disclose her real identity to her, not even to her twin”.
“I will not accept that”, she protested.
“Then we have no deal”, Chief roared, as he was already angry at being deprived of the other twin.
“Please. Please”, the weary lady dropped on her knees, “don’t keep me away from my child”.
“You can see her”, Mrs. Akiri said, stepping into the issue, “Maybe when she visits Iri with us. But you cannot speak to her, or tell her who she really is. It is the only way we can be sure we totally have her. And you wouldn’t interfere”.
Mrs. Eugene cried. But she eventually gave in.
Chief kept his word. He gave her the little house he inherited from a late uncle who had no children, and also, a small piece of land, out of his farm land. In addition, he gave her some money to start out. It wasn’t much. Just enough to last them for a while.
Chief had told her, since he was going to take care of the second child, it is assumed, he was taking care of her for her mother.
Life was sad afterwards, for the single parent. But the presence of the second twin kept her going. Until she met the medicine man, whose apprentice she became.
Ese soon forgot about her twin, as her mother always told her, she had no twin. It was a manipulative process that worked. And little Ese accepted, she never had a twin.
As Mrs. Eugene grew stronger in medicine, she worked to ensure, her prayers to the gods, the night before she gave out her younger twin to the Akiris, came to pass. And it did.
But seeing what a beautiful, charming, high-class, and educated girl her daughter, who the Akiris named Rodah, had become, she didn’t think it was wise to tell her the truth. That meant lowering Rodah’s status in the community. And so she kept quiet about the truth. But she was always happy to have her in her home.
Chief and his wife, bought her gifts to actually appeal to her, to keep their secret. But they covered up their act when Rodah asked, saying they only bought gifts for her, so she wouldn’t harm their child, after Chief sent her out of his brother’s house rudely.
Her joy though, was in the fact that both her daughters were best of friends. No other friend came between them. Not even when Rodah was abroad studying. For she sent letters home every now and then, to her sister, turned friend.
Knowing how deceptive Chief was, and craving a vengeance in her heart, she’d have supported her daughter in taking Aaron away from Rodah, had she really been Chief’s daughter. Oh. The gods must know that. But Rodah was not Chief’s daughter. She was her own daughter. Ese’s twin.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t understand what evil had taken over her elder of the twin. With all the magic Ese had learnt, she had hoped Ese would know by now, Rodah was her sister.
What’s worse? Ese killed her sister. Her own flesh and blood. Now looking sadly at her daughter’s body, she knew Ese had evil plans in store. But not death. Her mind never believed that Ese was capable of such. Torture. Yes. But not death. Not Rodah.
Since she had no right to Rodah anymore, she had hoped, that the boy she recently bore for her new husband, the priest, would bring her joy and help her forget Ese’s atrocities. But it was not the case.
“You have every right to be angry, my daughter”, she said, at last, after her screams had subsided, “you have every right to revenge. But will you kill your own sister, as she killed you? You must know now, from where you are, who you really are. My flesh. My child. I carried you in my womb, the same time as your elder sister. You must know that now…”
As she spoke, Ms. Helen’s eyes widened in realization. Before now, she could never really understand why a mother was protecting another man’s child from her own daughter. Wasn’t Mrs. Eugene supposed to side her daughter in the fight for Aaron? But she didn’t. And now she knew why.
She turned to John. He turned to her too. The look on his face said it all. Now, he too understood better. Rodah was never Chief and Mrs. Akiri’s daughter.
They turned their attention back to the grieving mother, as she churned out incantations upon incantations. And when she finally ceased speaking, lightning flashed, brighter than it ever did before. Thunder rolled, loudly, like a bomb had exploded in a cave and the walls were crashing down just above their heads.
Ms. Helen and John held close to each other. Realizing that even nature seemed to be mourning the dead girl.
But few seconds past. And the rain started to subside.
“Yes you know now, who you are”, Mrs. Eugene spoke, looking into the dark sky, “you are my own child. Now let us prepare you for the journey ahead. We need you back. And we need you to help your sister against whatever dark force has taken over her body”, she looked up at John, “please bring her in”, she turned and led the way into the hut. The others followed.
To Be Continued…
©Karo Oforofuo. August 2017. All rights reserved
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