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.

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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.

Chappal Wadi

About my Christmas…

It was supposed to be nice and easy. Time spent with family and friends. That is until she called me from the fire.

My muse I mean. Not the young, hot one though. It was old, old mother. I was stir-frying venison and vegetables on the 21st of December 2017 when the bright blue flames of the gas burner cackled and grew. She was within. Within hours I was mysteriously the wildcard selected to accompany the urban myths, adventurers extraordinaire and totally bonkers Backpackers Nigeria® to climb Chappal Wadi. The highest point in West Africa and Nigeria. And aka, The Mountain of Death.

We took off on the 23rd of December, 2017. I refuse to bore you with details of that journey. It was gruelling and fun though.

Fast-forward to the 26th of December, 2017. We were finally at Ngoruje, a transit camp run by the Nigerian Gashaka Gumti National Park. We arrived at about six pm after about seven hours traveling on bad roads. We set up our tents and soon had a fire going. We were surrounded by the reserved trees of the national park. It was chilly and windy. It was dark. The only light came from the campfire.

Yet I could sense that she was waiting for me. And so I walked towards the edge of the forest. It was dark and cold there, but quiet. I sat gingerly on the exposed roots of a tree and almost immediately I perceived her. She always smelled of cinnamon and wood smoke. Old old mother is very very old. She told me a lot of things about the Backpackers Nigeria® and bid me to put my life on the line for them. She is not one known to be garrulous or to linger. I left the edge of the forest with a heavy heart.

It is called the Mountain of Death for various reasons. The park rangers told me that it was because many tourists had died there.

The majority of the good people of Taraba state were largely unaware of the existence of the Mountain of Death. Did not know, did not care.

The motorcycle riders that risked their lives and ours for about four hours ferrying us on dangerously undulating rocky foot-wide trails up and down mountain sides from Ngoruje to Njawai told me that it was because many families had died there simultaneously – mysteriously many years ago. No evident reason.

The head of the hamlet at the base of the mountain, in Njawai told me a lot of things. He especially asked me to convince the Backpackers Nigeria® not to climb. When I asked why, he said that I had ‘the mark of pure light’, and that I knew why. The conversation was in Fulfulde (pronounced Fool-fool-day), the main tongue of the Fulanis. One of the motorcycle riders was ineffectively translating to and fro because I was speaking in the Hausa language.

At the end, the head of the hamlet reluctantly gave us his permission to go up the mountain… But not his blessings. We were ten Backpackers, two park rangers, two journalists and three local guides.

Just before I lost view of the hamlet, I raised my hand in salutation to the head of the hamlet, and he curiously waved ‘goodbye’ back at me.

The altitude sickness was gradual and severe. We were in poor shape within the hour. The climb was up a gradual slope. We sighted antelopes, birds and startled God-knows-what further into the bushes.

There were a couple of things that had been bothering me.

Firstly, we were definitely in Cameroon and not Nigeria-Mambilla as was advertised. Secondly, we had not secured migration passes from the Cameroon’s immigration authority, I was not sure, but I felt like we were being watched. Stalked even. Thirdly, and most importantly I was gradually getting covered in goosebumps… It’s my gift. An early warning signal of sorts.

I was one of the only three that was armed with a firearm. I was the only civilian armed. I had fallen behind because I had to relieve myself. I was on my way back when I heard muffled moans and hushed tones ahead. When I caught up, my team were all standing still like statues. All of them.

I could hear the sound of flapping. Like really large wings flapping. But I could see nothing. The pungent smell of sulphur confirmed the presence of what I could not see. The gusts of wind from the flapping was raising up dust, leaves and grass. Items of clothing worn by people standing stock-still billowing eerily.

I heard the flaps move slightly away to the first local tour guide. Before my eyes, and in a few seconds, the man gradually emaciated like he was being sucked dry. Like an adult dragging on caprisonne quickly. Kukah crumpled (obviously) lifeless to the ground. Bardeh, the second local tour guide suffered the same fate. Then I perceived it move towards Sarai.

“Stop!” I yelled.

I felt it stop, deliberate and veer towards me in a slow whoosh. I remember wishing that I had called out ‘stop in Jesus name’ instead of just ‘stop’.

However, about a meter away from me, I heard the sound of singeing and I smelled burning feathers… I think.

I swear I heard whimpering and another rush toward me and then singeing again, burning feathers… and then all went quiet.

It spoke in an ancient tongue. In guttural and curt syllables. I deduced that I was being asked questions. And so I introduced everyone by name and explained in English why we were here… And then all went quiet.

“Please. Leave. Now… ” it grated in its harsh guttural voice. And yes, in English.

Instantly the air cleared. The bodies on the floor vanished and the trance was broken. The Backpackers® emerged all seemingly clueless as to current direction, location, urgency and time.

“Let’s hurry back down!” I shouted.

“Hey Big D, what about Bardeh and the other one?! Raj enquired.

“They went back faster.” I quietly replied turning away so he could not see my face.

“It’s getting dark, I’m getting cold…” Rebecca petulantly whined.

“We need to pick up the pace! This place is dangerous, especially at night!!” I called out and began to lead the long way down.

All Backpackers® are alive and well. Clueless about what really happened on the Mountain of Death, but alive and well.

May Bardeh and Kukah rest in peace.

Happy New Year!

Death Becomes Him

I can not believe that this impetuous, over-pampered and carnally-minded simpleton actually picked up that phone call… 

I swear by the throne of Jehovah, I will kill him first chance I get. 


Ring… Ring… Ring… Ring… 

“Hello…?” 

“… I kept hoping that you’d pick up one day…” 

“Uhmmmm… Yeah… I was conflicted.” 

“Because of what I am?” 

“What are you exactly?” 

“I could show you…” 

Laughs…“For real?” 

More nervous laughter… “Where are you exactly?” 

“Here.” She answered from behind him. 

I kept watch over him. He could not see me, but she could. 

From that day they were inseparable. That day in which he had unwittingly summoned her by accepting her ‘hello’  from’ the other side’. They talked a lot. Very often. He was a very curious soul. 

He was exactly thirty three years, three months, three days, three hours, three minutes and three seconds old when he (unfortunately) stumbled upon the ability to ‘summon’. 

I confronted her one night when he was asleep. I was after all his protector. In righteous indignation I insisted on being told her plans. 

She knew that I had the power to translate her spirit back into the abyss. I am holy and righteous. Maybe that is why she demurely replied me in almost suspicious humility. 

She told me that she loved him. 

“But you are a succubus, a demon!” I recall blurting out. 

She then reminded me about the time the sons of God took for themselves wives of the sons of men. And how they cohabited in love and harmony ever after. It was their offspring that became unruly, not the abominable anomaly. 

I can not believe that I am admitting this, but she was right. 

I immediately summoned Headquarters for wisdom; and reinforcements were expeditiously despatched. The Company clearly considered this client untouchable. He was the apple of someone’s eye. He was clearly special and the beloved of someone important. 

We watched as ABIKU taught him great mysteries. She revealed ancient Truths and Verities that he clearly hungered for. She showed him the treasures of darkness and the hidden riches of secret places. He inevitably became very rich and prosperous speedily. He practically rode the high places of at least two worlds. 

She was plump, shapely and comely. The human vessel she chose was as he found pleasing. She inexplicably favored him for his warmth and meekness. Under our surveillance, she metamorphosed into human (female) tendencies of jealousy, tears and domestication. 

They were under no illusions about who and what she was, and yet they proceeded to know each other carnally. Because of her default (basic) existence and office, they copulated often, and with reckless abandon. Succubi are carnal like that. She was extremely pleased with him. They were in love. 

It has been a decade now. Their unholy liaison is now confirmed by the presence of a ruddy, cheeky and naughty lad. ABIKU is a mother. 

My name is Chrioni. I am the messenger of Yahweh; (The Alpha and The Omega, The First and The Last, Holy of Holies, Jehovah.) 

I am the head guardian angel primarily assigned to this mortal, and then to his family. 

The situation has all of us messengers befuddled. And from the murderous looks of the demons snarling and hissing constantly at ABIKU, her kind are incensed beyond belief. 

We are all watching and waiting. 

God Is Good Transport Company 

The Ramadan fast ended with a two-day public holiday in my country. 

The holidays fell on a Monday and a Tuesday. It provided for a long holiday/weekend. Muslims in my country must have been ecstatic. 

I was not. 

I had to work. 

My work needed me to travel. 

All flights to my work place were fully booked. 

I had no choice but to go by road. 

The road trip would take eight hours. Beard of Moses! Aaaarghh!! 

A few days later I was on my way back home. Same road transportation company, but I did not get my preferred seat beside the driver (or captain as God is Good drivers prefer to be called). I got seat number ‘7’, close to the door, with plenty of leg room…but no headrest. Beard of Moses! Aaaarghh!! 

Seated to my left was a pretty girl. Despite my sour disposition, that fact was impossible to miss. 

Something reeked though. That fact too, was impossible to miss. It smelled of something slightly fetid like a damp item of clothing, pungent body odor or unchanged sanitary pads left on for too long. 

Yes, my nose can perceive that. 

My nose knows. 

It is not my fault. 

I was born this way. 

Please, leave me be. 

We both kept to ourselves throughout the duration of the journey. Maybe like me she did not understand the dialect the rest of the passengers were speaking. Maybe like me she was not a member of the church the rest of the passengers obviously belonged to. They had booked as a group. But she smiled at me bashfully whenever she caught me looking at her, she was very pretty. And she had very long (and dirty) hair.  

The bus was a fourteen seater Toyota Hiace. Fully air-conditioned. The captain was nicknamed ‘Man of God’. The bus was in very good condition. 

Five hours into the journey, the stench grew increasingly worse. Man of God was becoming increasingly jittery too. He began driving quite badly. My country-people are extremely religious, and these passengers were members of the ‘MFM’ church. Their prayers were notoriously firebrand and they frequently called for the death of perceived enemies human and non human. They immediately reverted to type and began to pray in agreement, loudly. 

It seemed to calm Man of God somewhat. Whenever the prayers waned though, the stench would propagate exponentially and Man of God would seem like he was attempting to crash the bus and their prayers would intensify and it would seem to calm Man of God somewhat. 

Mercifully we arrived at a scheduled rest point. It was the last stop before the final two and a half hours to our destination. Gratefully we all scrambled out to go eat, relieve ourselves and / or return circulation to cramped and tired limbs. 

About fifteen minutes later, we began reentering the bus to continue the journey. We were all accounted for, except for my pretty neighbor. 

Ten minutes later she was still nowhere to be found… Same thing fifteen minutes later… The situation remained unchanged thirty minutes after that. At this point the passengers had gotten impatient to the point of hostility. They demanded that we drive off without her. All the restaurants and conveniences had been searched to no avail. 

I then advised that we refer to the ‘passenger’s manifest’ and get her cell phone number and try to call her. Man of God acquiesced… He tried calling her, but his service provider had poor service where we were. Utterly disgusted at the entire scenario, I requested for the number and dialed it. I kept it on ‘speaker’ and it rang unanswered five times. I subsequently suggested that we call her next of kin who’s details ABIKU had also listed on the passenger’s manifest. Man of God acquiesced… And luckily a woman picked up and suspiciously requested for the identity of the caller. We were all listening, the call was on ‘speaker’. 

“Madam, good evening. Na me be driver for God is Good Motors. Abeg one woman wey follow me travel drop your number as next of kin. Her name na ABIKU GAWA. Her phone number na 0*******666. We no fit find the woman. You know am?” 

Silence… 

“Hello madam, you hear wetin I talk? Abeg you know the woman?” 

Heavy breathing… 

“If this is a prank, I suggest you stop it immediately!” She suddenly spat out. Hysteria bubbling under… 

“Madam no be ‘plank‘. We dey find the owner of the number. We go continue journey leave am for here o!” 

“She is dead! She died four years ago!! Why are you doing this?!” 

Beard of Moses! 

Pandemonium broke out!! 

Long story short, I joined them in a heated prayer session that lasted the rest of the journey. Obviously we arrived safely. 

I am an author. I write on my android smartphone. It is convenient and I get to write on the ‘go’. This incident took place a week ago.  As I started writing this recollection, ABIKU GAWA suddenly started calling me back. The ‘Truecaller’ application on my phone confirmed her name. So far I’ve refused to pick up thirteen of her calls within the last forty minutes.