”Why hate them because they sin different from you? Everyone sins as conscripted. Everyone.”
As is usually the case, the above quote has little or nothing to do with the story I am about to tell. I felt the need to share. After all you and I are friends …are we not?
Glad we cleared that up.
How have you been?
Sigh…I wish the best for you, I promise you that I do.
I got back from a hiking trip this past weekend.
I had considered the option of making this journey along the lines of;
The hazards of corrupt police,
Unhappy military checkpoints.
Local government officials,
Ill-positioned Civil Defence officers,
Road Safety officers with misplaced priorities and Drug Enforcement Agency officials.
Oh… and Vehicle Inspection Officers.
And herds of cattle crossing federal highways in droves.
I kid you not, all these constraints could happen to you. They are easy to experience. All possible within a two-hour journey depending on where you are travelling to.
Leaving out the ever-rising cost of petrol is deliberate. I will not whine. I refuse to.
A lingering headache finally convicted me. I felt that going someplace outdoor, far from the city. Like to a farm, waterfall or river would restore my default settings.
Besides the Abuja Hash House Harriers had formed a quorum. We were in attendance, contribution and planning. What could go wrong?
Nothing went wrong. I laughed because the management of the Abuja Hash House Harriers is ‘mismanagement’. I kid you not. Google them and ask them yourself. No need to return to tell me I am correct, consider yourself re-educated.
So there was Joan, (My friend and sister from another mother.)
Scurutum… (do not ask me what her name means, I am here to learn too. And can anybody tell me what she put in that macaroni we ate Sunday afternoon before takeoff?)
N.K, (our accepted mother-hen for the trip. Her editing and penmanship are topnotch.)
Obie (he and N.K are partners or something. By the way, Obie is the cause of this entire problem. I will get back to this later),
Simeon (the beard on the guy looks like a cute infestation. Lol, something creepy about the man. I will call him out very soon…NOTE TO SELF.)
There was El-Giva our beautiful, boisterous on-air personality.
I.K (Ikechukwu, aka P. Lube…don’t ask…aka Aikohol…if you are reading this then you get that inference. I trust your genius. Neapolitan Hippie, non-conformist. selfless father to his Terrier Smeagle? Smiggle? Whatever the noun! And husband to Denise – our default mode of transportation. Denise is a trusty Toyota Camry 2000.)
And Grace; the newbie. Stacked like Roger Rabbit’s wife. Fantastic playlist. Do not know a thing about her.
And there was me.
Last but not the least, our hosts for the weekend of October the second;
Khaleesi. Professional project manager. Very cool dreadlocks.
Boss-man, Khaleesi’s husband and Dominus of the farm.
We travelled about three hours to their lovely farm. It lay upon a small hill.
Most hiking groups;
Abuja Hash House Harriers love it there. It is a beautiful place that spans over sixty hectares. Self-sustaining and job providing.
On the day of departure, we left in two batches. Joan, Obie, Scurutum and N.K took off at one thirty pm in one car.
I.K, Simeon, El-Giva, Gracie and I left a later at five-thirty pm.
Khaleesi and Boss-man were already at the farm for the weekend. It is their ranch.
Remember when I said Obie was the cause of the entire problem? Yes?
Want to make sure you are still paying attention.
I arrived at about nine pm with a headache the size of India.
It was fun catching up. We are all creatures of the same habits. If you know; you know.
We sat around the cars. Wrought iron chair frames. Tree trunks, open car trunks …anywhere we could, we perched.
We talked. We laughed. We ate. We drank. We all healed.
Now remember when I said Obie was the cause of the entire problem? This is not that problem.
In retrospect though, what should have ‘snapped me awake’? It was when Boss-man offered us all some fragrant herbal tea. He preferred to use a four litre aluminium kettle.
The tea was scrumptious do not misunderstand me. The issue was that neither Boss-man, his wife or even the staff was able or willing to tell us what was in the brew.
I could smell and taste;
Neem, ginger cloves, and cinamon. Hibiscus flower, and several other herbs and spices I cannot place. And honey.
Like I said, there was nothing wrong with the tea. It was delicious. as a matter of fact, boss-man had two cups every time it brewed. In his usual offhand, eloquent way, he explained to us that the tea was an elixir of sorts. He said that the formula was an ancient recipe handed down his family tree by oral tradition. He told us that the tea was excellent for combating malaria, typhoid, and chesty coughs. It was also ideal for a myriad of aches and pains.
I matched him cup for cup! It had become obvious that the pain in my head was as a result of some disease. Not stress as I had earlier misdiagnosed.
I had endured exposure to mosquitoes over the past three months. A new usual suspect more notorious than stress was the unidentified subject. Knowing how I felt in the light of his claims about the cherry red piping hot brew. I drank both cups with sober purposefulness.
I had about five cups over the next three days. I felt wonderful. I felt great. I still feel amazing. It is safe to say that whatever is in that kettle is of commercial value.
I am not sure what Obie may have sketched or painted. It is possible that he had captured a landscape, some scenic beauty, a hut or building before I arrived. While I was there, I only saw him paint once. And it lasted the entire day. I will not lie to you. Obie stood under the tropical African sun and made a painting that took over six hours.
I cannot confirm the weather statistics for October the third right now. But it was so hot and humid that it rained from midnight to the crack of dawn. The downpour was so torrential that it felt like the gods of the land were having a peeing contest. It seemed like the gods after bouts of drinking, all took to peeing on the same spot… the farm. Our current position.
That problem I keep accusing Obie of? This is it.
I saw Obie paint some particular pictures;
First the oil painting.
The next day he drew a building on the farm with charcoal. On the day of the charcoal sketch, he also sketched a bulldozer.
Those I saw him draw.
The next morning the sounds of heavy rains awakened me. I was too exhausted to check the time. I remember feeling sorry for whoever had chosen to sleep in the tent under the elements. Then I fell asleep again.
Then there is the other way I wake up.
I awaken very alert. Muscles taut. My focus narrowed down to details I refuse to traumatise you with.
I woke up that same morning (again), only this time the digital clock on my iPhone read 4:44 am.
My head still hurt. My limbs hurt ‘sweetly’. When I stretched, it felt good…yup. Everyone agreed last night that I had malaria.
The accommodation provided had conveniences en-suite. But I felt compelled to relieve my bladder outside. I had my target about twenty five meters north of my door, in front of a huge pile of firewood.
The rains had eased at this point. Chilly gusts of wind were crisscrossing the cold, wet morning. All around, the furious whistle of the wind was audible.
Shivering I hurried and concluded my business and made to return.
Then I heard voices…the voices were like peals of thunder. Each voice seemed to have a different octave. Loud, crashing, rolling words that seemed angry.
The night before, Boss-man and Khaleesi set up a white plastic table that had fold-able iron legs. It was upon this table that food, drinks, phones and snacks rested.
This morning though, the table had three ancient looking men around it in a heated argument.
Their voices, I could now see were not only thunderous. The force with which they spoke produced lightning storms way up in the sky. The flashes of lightning lit up the countryside for miles around,
It was a bizarre and enchanting sight.
The rains had begun falling again.
The more emotional and argumentative the old men became… rain, lightning and thunder increased in response.
I was shirtless. I had on light-brown cargo shorts. I had on my feet some comfortable crocs. Around my neck was a square obsidian black chi pendant, it was a gift from Himiko. A Japanese exchange student I was romantically involved with about fifteen years ago. she said it was carved out of a meteorite. I have worn it everyday since I got it. It looks cool and truth is that i believe her story.
Besides it was a gesture and symbol of her love and it was for my protection.
That day at dawn though, the pendant started glowing a brilliant gold. not the entire pendant, the funny etchings carved into it. Then it lifted off my chest and seemed to pull me toward the unhappy trio of ancient spirits.
Oh well I was there already was I not? It has been my lot to experience the most amazing things across many realities.
I have since heeded the call to the office of the paranormal.
But I still thought about some form of human backup. I remember hoping there would be another hiker awake for some reason. And I remember checking my waterproof rubber smart watch.
When I saw that the time was still 4:44 am I almost panicked.
All the other gauges on the stylish luxury brand seemed to have run amok. The dials were lighting up and off as they pleased. The functions of my timepiece were displaying over each other in quick succession.
But the digital clock maintained an eerie ‘4:44 am’. Which made no sense because I had been out there for at least ten minutes.
As I approached them against my own volition, they stopped yelling. And began to cast incredulous glances at me. And then at each other.
”Can he see us?”
”What then is this?”
”Who is it?”
I heard them murmur and bicker.
And as I took my place at the table the pendant floated back down to my chest. But the inscriptions upon it kept on emitting a golden pulsating glow.
They were all staring at me at this point.
“I am not wet. the tears from the clouds do not bathe me.” I pointed out. They stared harder and concurred in their awfully loud voices.
”I seem to understand your tongue, and you understand me too.” To which they nodded as if in considerable thought.
”And I do not want to be here, but…here I am…”
Then they told me in heated voices what their problem was. Why was the human encapsulating their essences in charcoal and coloured oil paste?
What were his intentions?
Those things he had painted or sketched in charcoal had to be burnt in this time and space. The failure to comply, required only blood would accepted as remittance.
The blood of us all to be precise.
I understood their point of view. But they would not understand ours. Alas moral suasion with between physical and spiritual entities is at best laughable.
Spiritual births the physical. Not the other way around as most humans think.
And so I went to the end of the problem.
It is an art Himiko taught me.
Then I started to hear stuttered words from stammering lips.
The words were familiar, ethereal but I could not interpret them.
The tongues seemed to emanate from nothing. But only to break over the vicinity around the table in showers of smouldering embers. The embers scorched nothing but the ancients three.
I watched them fidget in distress.
I saw them studying me in unconcealed suspicion. So I held up both hands, palms splayed in a gesture of openness and peace.
The gesture seemed to attract dozens of these fiery balls to my form. They latched onto me until my throat to crotch glowed bright gold like my pendant.
The ancient three seemed to all take steps away from me at this point.
Then surprising all four of us, I exploded.
The explosion projected the embers from my visage with such force… that it obliterated the ancient three.
They were in that instance erased from the human point of space and time.
They were no longer before me.
At the table now was a female seated.
She was wearing a loose cotton gown. It had colourful prints.
She was wearing red woollen socks or leggings, I could not tell if they were socks, stockings or leggings.
She had another wrapper over her head like a pious Muslim woman would.
And she had her head bowed as though in prayer.
I tired in an instant. I was sleepy.
The obvious danger was now averted. So I turned around and walked away.
”Yo bro, I’m sorry if my morning prayers disturbed your reflections.” Joan called out from under the wrapper.
”Far from it!” I replied in good cheer.
If only she knew how many souls we had saved.
If only they all knew.
Well…, at least you know.