Ælfgifu and the Charm of Sango

El – fgifu:- (El – ghi – foo)

“… Latini\nized form of Ælfgifu, an Old English name derived from ælf “elf” + giefu “gift”, or/and Æðelgifu, from æðel “noble” + giefu “gift”. This was the name of the first wife of the English king Æðelræd (Ethelred) II… ”

#Nameberry.com

“… The Ikogosi Warm Springs is a tourist attraction located at Ikogosi, a town in Ekiti State, southwestern Nigeria.[1] Flowing abreast the warm spring is another cold spring which meets the warm spring at a confluence, each maintaining its thermal properties.[2] These attributes make the spring a tourist attraction in Nigeria.[3] Research suggested that the warm spring has a temperature of about 70oC at the source and 37oC at the confluence.[4]The Ikogosi Warm Springs is a tourist attraction located at Ikogosi, a town in Ekiti State, southwestern Nigeria.[1] Flowing abreast the warm spring is another cold spring which meets the warm spring at a confluence, each maintaining its thermal properties.[2] These attributes make the spring a tourist attraction in Nigeria.[3] Research suggested that the warm spring has a temperature of about 70oC at the source and 37oC at the confluence.[4… “

Wikipedia.

We had no business going all the way to Osun state!

Well, there was that waterfall and the village on top of the hill, but that is a conundrum for another day. That state is where Becky is from… So yeah… I wanted to go see her roots.

I mean where she is from you evil-minded ogre! Nothing else. You are spoiled rotten. We will not last long as friends…

So we ended up in Ekiti State of Nigeria. We were headed to the exotic Ikogosi warm springs. We had a few other stops at waterfalls and shrines.

I have grown accustomed to paranormal issues in my life. I will be just fine.

And so you can imagine how underwhelmed I was when we arrived at the springs and checked in. There was nothing spectacular for me!

We were about seventeen on the team, three Germans, an Indian, an elf (yes you read that right), a bunch of amazing Nigerians and a lesbian. (uhmmm… I’m being mean I know. But she should have said, “yes” to me. I do not like rejection).

Consequently, I speak for myself. But one or two of my fellow #Backpackers agreed with me.

We hit the pool at about nine pm. The pool had just been drained and so we were reduced to splashing in about a foot of lukewarm water…

Tufiakwa!

(expletive, meaning ‘God forbid’). Don’t quote me though, that is what Muchee told me. She should know I think. After all she is an Ibo girl. Not sure which of the Ibo – speaking states she is from. I should dig into her core values.

I mean where she is from you evil-minded ogre! Nothing else. You are spoiled rotten. We will not last as friends…

A ‘tour guide’ had given us what was supposed to be her version of the origin of the Ikogosi warm springs. By the time she was done, I was bashing my head into random Iroko trees just to stay awake.

Darling Jesus, Maranatha!?

By the time our late dinner swung by, I was successfully plucking out my eyelashes. One strand at a time.

It was drizzling outside. It was pitch black too. It was about eleven pm when my team finally fell asleep.

I crept out of my shared room armed with my trusty machete, walking boots, night vision goggles and a small cup (yes you read that right).

I was home free (well not quite) when a voice stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Hey Sexy…”

It was El-fgifu. Suffice it to say that she is many things to different people. As of tonight, to me, she was misplaced.

I squinted at her beautiful features trying to read her mind.

“Hey baby” I finally replied. “Whatchu doing up?”

“Where are you sneaking off to Sexy?” I hear that she works with her voice in a radio station. I can only imagine the sanctions from the national broadcasting corporation. That woman’s voice is an aphrodisiac!

“If I tell you, I would have to marry you… Or kill you…” I quoted to her.

“Who are you in this body?! Loose him and let him go!!” She recited back at me.

‘If you know, you know.

We both burst out laughing.

We knew.

As I turned away, I heard her voice call out. I turned to see her standing and lifting a locket from around her neck with two hands. She held it up hands slightly apart. The shape of the leather strap to the locket was a perfect triangle.

She said that she wanted to lend me her locket but that I was too tall. She asked me to please take a knee. I am a tall fella, she is all of five feet flat. Her request made a modicum of sense.

She did not allow me touch her or the locket throughout the time . I am not stupid, I knew that that locket was actually a charm she carried around for protection and good luck. And so I gratefully complied. I used to be a prolific womanizer, I have learned to acknowledge a lover’s intuition. As long as she truly loves you.

I walked past the heated waters of the pool and got to the meeting point of the hot and cold streams of water that never mixed. It was pitch black and raining and so I was sure that I was largely unseen by human eyes.

In precise movements, I filled the small cup with equal amounts of the cold and hot waters and quaffed it in one swallow. I knelt in the waters and braced myself… Meditating…

A minute later I rose out of the shallow streams and started up the gangway that held a caution. “DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT”. I broke into a measured jog and vaulted over the wall onto the rocky and uneven forest floor at the other side.

I pulled out my machete and hurried upwards towards the real source of the heated waters of Ikogosi. Sure enough, I saw what I wanted to see. I spent about a minute on my knees doing what I had to do. Maybe one day I will be able to tell you about these things that I saw and did. But right now, I cannot.

I was back over the wall as quickly as I could manage. I was covered in smelly sweat by this time. I had adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was giddy and felt a surge of invincibility.

I got to the pool and decided to take a swim. After all, the warm springs were said to have healing powers.

There were two ladies already enjoying the pool. From a distance, it looked like Becky and Amaka, fellow Backpackers. I dove nude into the pool and began swimming laps. I swam vigorously for about fifteen minutes and then I had to take a break.

I heard Becky call my name and so I waded through the pool to meet them where they were seated under the torrent of steaming water that was filling up the swimming pool.

Though my instincts already knew that they were neither Becky nor Amaka, my legs pulled me toward them on their own volition.

“What did you do?” The first woman asked me. Mild. Gentle. A flirt.

“Do you know what you have done?” The second older (and angrier) woman snapped at me.

I had no idea what to say. Primarily because they were both speaking to me in Yoruba language which I have never spoken, read or understood.

Secondarily because I realized in those seconds that I now somehow understood the said language.

Tertiarily (shut up editor!) because I was now fully aware of who these women were.

My silence seemed to infuriate the second woman because she stood up suddenly and made to touch me.

A small bolt of lightning or was it a livid cackle of static electricity scattered the air in a thunderous boom. They both flinched, screaming in terror.

I placated Oduduwa’s grandchilds’ wives as best as I could. I commended them for working together for the first time in centuries to fight a trespassing sage such as myself. I requested that they go about their fancies and allow me do the same.

By the time I got back to the guest chalets, it was as quiet as a graveyard in the dead of winter.

But El-fgifu was still sitting out drinking out of a cup. An alcoholic beverage I wager.

Why am I not sure about the contents of her cup? After all we were very close as individuals. After all we genuinely knew, liked and respected each other…

You see as I made to remove her locket from around my neck, I noticed that it was no longer on me.

No it did not fall off, it was inexplicably back around El-fgifu’s neck. The charm itself nestled comfortably between her deep cleavage.

It was all too much for me to handle in one night.

I walked past her thoroughly flabbergasted and weary to my bone marrow.

“Goodnight Sexy!” She called after me.

“Good morning Baby… It is two am. See you in a bit” I replied as I walked.

Advertisements

How I Met Your Wife

Hey man…

I greet you.

My efforts at surveillance show me that you have developed an affinity for my blog. So I have decided to ‘talk’ to you here.

I am not sure what you hope to achieve by stalking me in person. Yes I have seen you at least five times this week. I had to beg my friends not to break your leg.

Literally beg.

I begged on your behalf. I do not beg. Yet I begged for you because I know that you are a fool.

Let me address the tiger in the kitchen. Let me confront your problem headon…

Yes I slept with your wife.

Severally.

Are you happy now? I have given you evidence in writing. If you require pictures, please ask me nicely. I will consider your request thoughtfully.

I am not sure what you think you will achieve by following me about. I see you at my book readings. You even bought a copy of all my books. Yes we saw you. You featured prominently via CCTV footage playback. I own that hotel by the way. Your body language piqued the interest of my security outfit.

I saved your life that day too.

Since I suspect that you will soon be murdered, let me help you. Allow me attempt to dilute your foolishness with understanding as concerns your wife.

She is not worth the effort. Your wife is fundamentally disturbed from deep within. You are bereft of the competence her issues require. It is not your fault.

Your woman has the sex drive and morals of an alley cat. She will copulate with anyone. She is open to any sexual deviance, as long as she has Tramadol in her system. She is a junkie. Trust me, the revelation of her list of lovers will hasten your impending death.

Unjustifiably, your affair with her friend upset her beyond belief. She is getting back at you. I suspect that you bedded the said friend in retaliation for adultery. You both need copious amounts of Jesus. Just bask in His presence or something. You both require spiritual help.

I am prominent. I am popular. I am a celebrity. I am your preferred ‘scapegoat’. I understand your myopic reasoning.

Like others before you, mention my name and you will enjoy undivided attention. So I guess it is easy for you to latch unto my legacy and try to get some succor. You will not get an ounce of flesh off me. I am essentially a spirit. You are playing with hurt, a lot of pain, grief and eternal damnation. Your demise will physically hurt you because I will not be there to beg for your life.

My posse have no tender mercies.

Consider this your last warning.

In my world if you “do anyhow; you will see anyhow…”

Your wife was with me for two days and three nights. We met Friday night at my lounge. She left my suite on Monday morning.

She was dressed like a call girl. I hear that she lives in the same house as you. I learned that you were at home when she left to go ‘hang out’ without you or the kids that Friday. I learned all these after that weekend.

You sir, who is incapable of calling your woman to order has the temerity to stalk me?

Me?!

You could not even get junkies to sell you a gun. That aberration you call a sawed – off shotgun will kill you if you ever get to pull its trigger. It is a faulty contraption. Every dude worth his turf on our streets know that gun.

There… I just saved your life again.

Dude… Chill.

Die for a cause more worthy than that succubus you call your wife.

She hates herself.

She hates you.

She even hates the pope. And she is catholic!

She wants you dead, for no tangible reason. She told me so.

You know that I am right.

Her issues were not immediately obvious. She was high and drunk. And I was uncharacteristically immoral that weekend.

As of thirty minutes ago, she is still maintaining her lie of not being married. If you ask nicely, I may ‘munch’ that chat and send to you.

Charity begins at home. Sort it out with her.

If you are seen stalking me again…

Well…

Let’s Call Her ‘Vitiligo’

Many years ago, I was a struggling young man. I had no money. I did not have a car. I was at the mercy of public transportation.

One day I had to fix all three of my wristwatches. So I went to the main market to have them sorted out.

I was sitting in front of the artisan that day, and there was a mosque behind me. I was smack in the middle of the market.

Ever hear the folklore about looking between your legs in a marketplace? They say you will see spirits or dead entities. Another version says you will see them upside down. Well… I’m the kind of person who likes to check up on stuff like this.

And so at some point I stood up and pretended to stretch. I finished my deception by bending to touch my toes and looked between my shoulder – wide feet. Despite the throng in the marketplace that day, I saw ‘someone’ immediately.

And she froze midstride.

I stood up ramrod like a statue. I knew that I was in trouble.

I sat back slowly and through my peripheral saw her still looking at me. Same position. Same person.
She was tall. Shapely. Nothing too much. But she had vitiligo. Patches around her mouth and neck.
I soon left in a hurry. Ran out of the market to the car park and got into public transportation. I moved suddenly. There was no way she could have caught up with me.
I was seated in front with the driver. Passengers quickly filled up the cab and (to my great relief) we were soon on our way.
I felt eyes locked to the back of my head at some point. Like lasers boring into my medulla. I turned slowly and locked eyes with Vitiligo. Yeah, let us call her that.
I panicked! A street before my stop I disembarked and bolted through an alley.

I arrived home panting and shaking.

About fifteen minutes later I walked outside for some reason I cannot recall and saw her standing outside my fence. Staring at me. I bolted bank inside.
She hounded me over the next few days.

It got so bad that my neighbors moved out citing spiritual harassment. They told me that a lady with patches on her face kept tormenting at night.

I had a girlfriend in that year. She broke up with me and ran. She said a spirit was harassing her at my place. Especially when she closed her eyes to sleep in my room. Day or night, she would suffer bad dreams. He’s the culprit was a woman with vitiligo.
My brother and I shared my humble abode. He began to suffer severe sleep apnea. In all his nightmares, a woman with vivid patches on her face and neck would sit on his chest and smother him until he woke up screaming in terror.
I would be at church and feel eyes staring at me. Sure enough, I would turn around and see her standing not too far behind me.
She was just outside my door at work. Staring at me.
Now, it was obvious to me after the first week that ;

I was the only one who could see her without fear.

I was the only one who she was not tormenting. At least not in a life threatening manner.
She could not, or would not harm me.
And so I did the only thing reasonable…
I set my alarm for twelve midnight and woke up by said time.

I walked outside and sat on a wooden bench that was more of a death trap than bench.

Sure enough she was outside by the fence.
I beckoned her over and she acquiesced.

I invited her to sit down by my side, and she complied wordlessly.

I turned to face her, looking straight into her eyes and apologized for my stupidity and immaturity.
I requested that she forgive me and go about her previous endeavors going forward.

I promised her that I would not be doing anything as stupid going forward.

She got up and without saying a word, vanished.

I have not heard of, or seen her since.

The Day She Died…

We had been quarreling for a while now.

Every little thing seemed to set us off. We were fighting ninety percent of the time these days.

Deola was starting to look like a good replacement..

Deola… Ah… ‘Dee’ as I loved to call her. Buxom. Nubian beauty. Bold and forthright. She had been hitting on me with a vengeance for months. She was promising me ‘heaven on earth’. She told me that she was game ‘whatever, wherever, whenever’, that all I had to do was ask.

Chaaaiiii!

Chika was nagging again. Her gratey voice snapped me out of my reverie.

Chikadibia… Sigh… So beautiful that it was not fair. As smart as starched military khakis too. Her mind is astronomical! It also helped that she was the only woman I knew via recent experiences that could handle me sexually.

That day we were arguing about a wedding she wanted to attend. I had told her that she could not go. She was livid. She was trying to make my life a living hell.

Throughout her tirade I was ‘sexting’ with Deola. Mild stuff.

But,

Deola was starting to look like a good replacement.

Long story short, Chika defied my instructions and went for the wedding. (I am that sort of boyfriend, get over yourself. Thankfully, I am not dating you).

I was seated in my opulent den when she returned. She sashayed toward me, smiling like nothing was wrong. She bent over and leaned in and kissed my cheek and then sat down beside me.

Something inside my head snapped. Audibly I am sure.

I let loose a vile litany of invectives. I was well into giving her a piece of my mind when the corner of her mouth started twitching.

Little tics at first. Then sight tremors and finally that side of her mouth began to twitch.

But I was on a roll.

I had just begun cursing her out, (yes it is that sort of relationship, get over yourself. Thankfully, I am not dating you) when I perceived that all was not well.

My sick, twisted, wicked and premeditated words dried up instantly.

The second I saw the corner of her mouth droop just a fraction of an inch. I bolted out of the room.

By the time I returned with my car keys, she was slumped on the floor face down.

I had her in the hospital about thirteen minutes later. The nurses had her on oxygen and hooked up to a few machines. They were starting to check her blood pressure. They were also trying to get blood from her arm to run some tests.

Chika suddenly stiffened, and then started to stretch unnaturally. Then she seemed to crumple… Then stiffen… Then crumple. It was clearly a bizarre death dance.

Pandemonium broke out. It was grotesque sight. Her previously beautiful face was scrunched up in a series of revolting rictuses.

I was standing by the door. I am a big and tall man, the nurses needed all the space they could get. I had just closed my eyes to pray for her when I heard her start to convulse.

The seizures were so violent that the hospital bed was bouncing off the white tiles of the floor.

I forced the deepest calm I could muster and from within began to pray for her. Inaudibly I think. I did not want her to die. Not because I would have to explain what happened, but because I loved Chika.

I am not sure how long I prayed, but it can’t have been for more than a few seconds… When someone, something prompted me to open my eyes.

I saw a vertical plume of light slowly rise from Chika and slowly start to ascend. I darted forward and held the light.

Yes, you read that right. Until I did it I did not know it to be possible. But it felt like the only move I had. And it worked because I was now somehow holding Chika by the wrist.

On the bed, she had flatlined and the nurses were still struggling to resuscitate her.

Here, about a meter away I was holding on to her spirit.

“Baby-m… (term of endearment, ‘my baby’) please don’t go… Please baby don’t leave me” I begged her celestial version.

“It is time Igwe. My time has come.” She objectively reported.

“Chika, I am sorry!” I remember crying out audibly.

The nurses were practicing CPR on her earth suit at this point. One of the nurses had her hands on her head and was weeping quite loudly.

“Igwe I forgive you… Don’t worry… I am tired… Bye – bye…” She told me in a sad voice. Her guileless eyes held proof of forgiveness. Her entire visage was devoid of malice or ill will.

Chaaaiiii!

Never! Not on my watch!! So I employed the only strategy that I could. I uttered words that I knew would touch Chika’s spirit. A suggestion that was sincere. It would be tendered from my spirit to hers.

“Chikadibia, I want you to be my wife. I want you to give birth to children for us… I will go and see your parents tomorrow.”

Time froze for an instant.

She looked into my eyes for a while. Then she turned around and returned into her earth suit.

Then all of her as I knew it slowly sat up on the bed.

The nurses fled in terror when she sat up slowly. Hospital sheet sliding off to reveal her impossibly beautiful face. They ran because she had just been pronounced, ‘dead’.

We have been married for thirteen years now.

We have three children.

Two girls and a boy.

About Last Night

#may16

Dear Tommy,

Sup?!

I’m sure Ayisha called you. Hmmm I can only imagine what she told you. Saw your calls, I could not pick up. I am not myself.

As you know, yesterday was my birthday and I also launched ‘MAY 16’ my new novel. Ayisha rallied around and did her bit. It was satisfactory. I expected more from my girlfriend and mother of my one child, but that is not my issue now.

Nneka called me. Yes the same Nneka. You of all people know that I am in good terms with ALL of my ex’s. But because of Ayisha I have pushed Nneka far away. I do not want to go through that type of public fiasco again.

Anyways she called me to wish me a happy birthday and then she told me that she still loved me and always would. She also said that she would leave any man for me. She said that she could do anything for me. I told her that I loved her too and wished her well in her upcoming marriage.

Are you with me so far!?

At about six pm yesterday, she called and invited me to her lounge. Now we are in the same social groups and in the same social networks. We always use her lounge for ‘surprise’ birthdays. It is an open secret. It is not rocket science to our circle of friends anymore.

I assumed that it was my turn.

Are you following me so far?

When I got there, sure enough the place was filled with the same usual suspects. I still thought they would do something and wish me a happy birthday.

Nneka owns the lounge so she ordered a bottle of Hennessy for both of us. We were all up in the VIP.

I lost track of anything after two shots. You and I know that it would take a full bottle of Hennessy to get me inebriated. I believe that she slipped in a roofie or something.

I was in and out of consciousness for a while. I came to at one point and she was having sex with me. I was sitting and she was on top. We were still in the lounge because I could hear music. We had unprotected sex.

At another point when I surfaced from the haze she was in my lap crying. At another point, we were having sex again. And again she was on top.

Her wedding is in a week. Even when we dated, we always used condoms. And I know her, she is the purest of souls. As you know, the only reason we parted ways was because Ayisha got pregnant. Nneka could not handle that curve ball. But shortly after, even you know that she tried to come back. You know that if I asked Nneka to marry me right now, she would.

So why would she do this? I know why…

Anyways, I don’t know how I got home. I woke up before dawn to Ayisha physically assaulting me. She beat me out of sleep yelling out that I cheated on her. The insecure woman had stripped me naked as I slept. Not to make me comfortable, but to sniff my private parts. She found what she was looking for.

I did not retaliate. I got dressed and left the house. The entire neighbors were out and had even called the police. I left before they arrived.

In other news, the writers residency to Canada came in two days ago. I have been offered a three month residency to finish my next book. I have accepted as at eight am this morning.

So why did Nneka do it? Simple… Her wedding is in a few days, and she would rather be with me. Since she cannot yet, she has taken my seed. She and her husband are going to raise me and her baby without his knowing. Or consent.

They are relocating to Canada.

Are you still following me?!

I hope to see Nneka in a few hours. I will try to get her to cancel her wedding and marry me. She is not picking up my calls though. I do not think she intends to ever pick up again.

If I fail to see her (I do not think she intends to ever see me again), I will have at least three months to locate her in Canada.

Why?

She went to an extreme I appreciate. Our separation was not because of lack of love. Nneka would die for me. That is the kind of woman I want.

I am not leaving Ayisha because she assaulted me. It is just that right now I know that it is Nneka I want.

I have dumped my cell phone number. The police are looking for me I hear. Ayisha is at work again, maligning my good name. You know she has clout. Lol, I am in so much trouble!

I will call you in a week. I will use the ‘Hotspot maneuver’… Wink…

Tell mummy. She will understand. Get her to tell daddy.

It will all work out… You know who I am and what I can do. Have I ever failed in anything I really wanted? So do not worry. Just pacify Ayisha and buy me four months. Or better still just check up on Myra for me often and stay out of me and Ayisha’s drama.

Aiight… This is your favorite black sheep brother bleating on up outta here!

Peace!

P. S: Go to my ‘safe house’, key is by the fountain, under ‘that’ stone… ENJOY! wink… Wink…

Farin Ruwa Falls & The Shrine of Mbing

“Farin Ruwa Falls is a waterfall found in the central region of Nigeria. It is among the highest waterfalls in Nigeria. It is significant among Africa’s falls when the total height covered by the waterfall is considered.

The source of Farin Ruwa falls is found on the Nasarawa State, from whence it gushes down over the edge of the Nasarawa. During its descent from the Jos Plateau, the water drops a total height of about 150 metres (492 ft).[1]This drop is higher compared to the more popular Victoria Falls, which drops a height of around 108 metres (354 ft) during its descent.[2

Farin Ruwa falls is found in the Farin Ruwa Development Area, under Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. The falls is found along the boundary of Plateau State and Nasarawa State, under the Bokkosand Wamba Local Government Areas of the two states. The falls has its source on the Jos plateau, in the Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State.

The falls was discovered by the then Britishcolonial rulers of Nigeria in the 1950s. A catering Rest House was established in Gur Hill at Marhai village close to the falls in order to exploit it commercially. To protect its rich heritage, the colonial administration gazetted it and named it Marhai Forest Reserve. However, despite this early development, Farin Ruwa was consigned to the background until the creation of Nasarawa State in 1996.[3] The waterfall is about 120 kilometres from Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, and 30 kilometres from Wamba town.

Farin Ruwa is a Hausa language word meaning ‘white water’. Farin Ruwa is a description of the nature of the falls by the local inhabitants of the Farin Ruwa area.[4]The height covered during the descent of the falls is very great, so that the descending water crashes during its way down the Jos plateau escarpment. The falls gradually turns white in colour as a result of the height covered by the falls during its descent.

The falls, as a result of its white colour, appears in the distance to the inhabitants of the Farin Ruwa area like white smoke on the mountains. This white nature of the falls earned it the name Farin Ruwa from the inhabitants.

Wikipedia.

“She is so blissfully naive!” I remember thinking as I spoke to Cherie.

Cherie was also an astounding romantic. She was a nice person.

In a few hours from when I first spoke to her, I would confirm that she too possessed the ‘X-Factor‘… One of us rare individuals who have the mystic cross(es) etched in their palms naturally.

Cherie has absolutely nothing to do with the story I am about to tell. I want her though. I want a new protégé. I need a muse esoteric.

The distance from the village closest to the Farin Ruwa Falls is about five kilometers from the falls. In the event that you overzealously decide to measure the distance, and my estimate falls short… Fuck you very much. Hehehehehe…

About a kilometer from the falls, you meet the two gentlemen who function as officials. They give you the normal talk and then lead you through an undulating depreciated man-made pathway through a corridor of trees so sparsely spaced it looks slightly unnatural.

But it is all beautiful.

The waterfall is nice…

Water is cool…

Blah… Blah… Blah…

I was being a gentleman and carrying Cherie’s backpack. At some point, she told me that I was a nice man. I remember replying that, “I am not a nice person; but I can be nice.”

Cherie has absolutely nothing to do with the story I am telling. I want her though. I want a new protégé. I need a muse esoteric.

Later that evening, after we had all returned to our Wamba campsite, we started to barbecue turkey, goat and fish.

I made sure to be positioned just by the shadows. I made sure that I was well noticed for about three hours. And then at a moment most auspicious, I faded off into the night.

I hiked back to the waterfalls. I covered the distance in about ninety minutes.

I gingerly approached the edge of the pathway where the officials would always start their talk, just before the first few cement steps bordered on one side by a very shaky metal hand rail.

Opposite that stretch of steps was a dilapidated hut. Earlier that day, the waterfall official had confirmed my suspicion that the place was a shrine. Long before white missionaries affected their traditions, chief priests would hike up to this point and consult the gods on issues ranging from permission to go to war and which crops would prosper during the farming season ahead.

I understood that there was usually one chief priest. The priest’s tenure was usually by spiritual appointment. The custom was dead though. Overrun by civilization and Christianity.

But earlier, my nostrils had caught a whiff of a distinct sweat type. Don’t bother asking me how, only my nose truly knows. I have learned to trust my instincts. In my line of work, instincts are paramount.

It was a waning full moon and so visibility was above average for that time of the night. The air had a zephyr that came and went every forty seconds or so.

I sat in the darkness on the forest floor Dandasana style and slowly dropped my heart beat and pulses to a significantly slower speed.

I am not sure how long it took me to ‘confirm’ (hear/feel minute movement and then perceive a scent/smell), but it typically takes a little over ten minutes.

I remained statue still and patiently waited.

From within the ruins of the dilapidated hut, a figure gingerly extracted itself from a hole in the ground. It glanced around furtively and cautiously stepped out of the ruins into the open.

This was who I was here for. ‘My client’ was quite specific. They just forgot to mention that it was a woman. Not that it would have mattered anyway.

Her bromhidrosis was quite bad. In the open, that body odor was really strong. She was wearing a simple dress that was so old it had become threadbare. She should not have bothered with the dress, there was little left to the imagination. Even under moonlight.

She barely had the time to react before I was upon her. I am a freakishly strong person, but she had strength like I had never seen in a woman. She trashed, bucked and writhed about like a catfish in a barrel evading capture. I had her wrists and ankles tied up firmly within a minute nonetheless. A few seconds to gag her too.

I activated my transmitter after deciding that a flare would be too overt. From that second, I had seven minutes to get to the muster point half a kilometer NW.

I picked her up in a fireman’s carry and began a slow run. She was not heavy and I had adrenaline in full circulation. I made it to the spot under five minutes. I therefore had about ninety seconds to understand who I was kidnapping.

I found my kit and secured the perimeter. I quickly donned night vision goggles, Honey Badger low visibility carbine, complete with a suppressor went under my left armpit, two stun grenades went into each pocket of my combat pants. I set off four smoke screens in a distinct pattern… I now had about sixty seconds to evacuation.

She was an albino. Her eyes had cataracts so bad I was sure she was blind. Her breasts were quite large and had almost no droop… She was not older than twenty two. She was whimpering and shivering uncontrollably.

I heard the sound of the apache and saw them toss out more smokescreen. I confirmed perimeter security via ‘comms’ and retreated for the pick up.

She was extracted in thirty two seconds.

I was jogging back to the campsite in Wamba by the thirty fifth second.

I got back without incident and showered briskly. It was about three am. I requested for an Uber online.

The cab arrived as requested by 7:30 am. I left the Wamba campsite citing ‘family emergencies’.

I do not know what ‘my client’ wants with an albino chief priestess from Wamba. Or how they knew that she existed in the first place. I try not to get involved. I am a professional.

Serti Takum

Veni veni, Emmanuel captivum solve Israel, qui gemit in exsilio, privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel, nascetur pro te Israel!”

I do not think that there are many of us left. I am afraid I may be the last one.

Lore, strange truths were whispered in my ears from birth. From lips I never saw. They told me of ancient mysteries, they spoke to me repeatedly long before I had understanding. I have grown with these ‘gifts’. I Am.

Joan was there.

Becky was there.

I. K. was there.

Nura too, I think. The remaining Backpackers were in the second Hilux pickup truck.

It began that morning when we set out to camp at Mayo Kam. We stopped after the petrol station. It’s name (the petrol stations’) escapes me now. Where those traders line up to sell their wares to travellers. As always, we stopped to ‘eat local’. We got some moi-moi (bean pudding) cooked in plastic bags. We also got the yams we intended to roast by the camp fire from there too.

I was seated in front with ‘It Is Raining‘, our eerily quiet driver. I cannot lie, his name really is, It Is Raining. The rest of the team were fussing about trying to buy a bunch of stuff we did not need. I. K. came to me smoking a cigarette and being as rambunctious as only he can manage.

She was standing slightly behind the rest of the traders. She was tall for a local. The table upon which her kuli -kuli (deep-fried, hard and crunchy groundnut paste) was placed was understandably higher than anyone else’s. She had a boy of about ten years old beside her. She was close to this child I perceived. Not a sibling, he was too plain. Or maybe I should say that she was too beautiful. As of right now, despite all that transpired, I still do not know the ties that bound them together.

She was wearing a black cotton embroidered gown. She was slim and lithe. She was exotically beautiful. Dark Nubian. She truly did not belong there.

She and the boy… And so I stared a tad too long.

Naturally, she bristled under my direct gaze and as is the manner of men and women and love and sex and marriage; she made me know that she was interested in me too.

Taraba state of Nigeria still embraces a laid back and traditional culture. Decorum, modesty and decency still obtain. So I discretely commissioned It Is Raining to arrange for a discreet rendezvous scheduled for the next day. Seven pm to be exact. It Is Raining returned to me bearing news that gladdened my heart and my pleasure showed. She watched my face and coyly began stealing admiring glances at me. While Backpackers are not in fairness indecent, they can be quite direct. They teased me relentlessly about the obvious chemistry Serti (yes, that was her name) and I just shared.

As I have revealed in a previous tale, Mayo Kam was a kind of ‘Garden of Eden’. Permit me not to relive that past at the expense of this future. Suffice it to say that we got back to the transit camp the next day, at about noon.

I. K. and I immediately set about imbibing copious amounts of beer. We were joined by one Backpacker after the other until the makeshift ‘bar’ became pleasantly rowdy. At some point, we all decided to barbecue some meat later that night.

That evening, in preparation for my date, I had a long shower and massaged a lot of coconut oil onto my entire skin. It was lightly perfumed with frankincense. I donned a flowing white robe and made sure to wear my ceremonial beads. I finished my ritual by burning a specific special Oudh from Asia.

My ‘hotel room’ (if you could call it that) was basic. A small bed, a one-seat sofa and a plastic chair. I had arranged both seats side by side at the foot of the bed. Behind the seats was a large window it’s panes were made of glass louvres. I shut them and pulled the curtains shut. I required privacy.

I then proceeded to sit in the dark. I meditated on Serti until a soft knock on my door announced her arrival.

I turned on the lights and opened the door. Unsurprisingly she was still as beautiful as the day before. Unsurprisingly, she came with the boy. I sat them on the seats and then sat down opposite them both.

I gazed into her eyes for a bit, and then his. I returned to her lovely face and smiled at her. She smiled shyly in response. I held out both my hands; one to Serti, the other to the boy. They took my hand in theirs and then at my request, held hands too.

“It is time Serti…” I gently informed her.

Her face clouded over as the pain, bitterness, memories all popped out of her soul, through her eyes and into my consciousness. The preceding twenty two words is the part of my calling I hate. I blinked back tears of empathy and gently whispered,

“It is time Serti.”

This time she nodded curtly. The boy answered ‘yes’ even though I was not talking to him.

And so I lifted up my voice…

“…O come, thou Rod of Jesse’s stem
From every foe deliver them
That trust thy mighty power to save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.

O come, thou Branch of Jesse’s Tree
Free them from Satan’s tyranny
That trust thy mighty power to save,
And give them Victory o’er the grave...Amen! “

And they both vanished into the bosom of the Lord.

Then I cried.

Mourning them.

Those two Spirits Lost.

I do not think that there are many of us left. I am afraid I may be the last one.

Lore…, strange truths were whispered in my ears from birth. From lips I never saw. They told me of ancient mysteries, they spoke to me repeatedly long before I had understanding. I have grown with these ‘gifts’.

I Am A Watcher.

I am mandated to maintain spiritual harmony and balance.

To evict and to summon.

To bind and to cast out.

I have been blessed with (The) requisite power and authority.