Diary of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit

When Dibia Ndem left our home that evening, I wanted to follow him outside my father’s compound. I wanted answers, I wanted to ask how he knew it was my Leopard that destroyed the Boar that almost wrecked my Uncle’s farm.

Yesterdays nightmare was the worst I ever had. I dreamt of a long brawl that resulted to the death of a Boar. In that dream the Leopard attacked a Boar which was busy digging up newly planted yam seedlings. In the morning my bones felt broken and I could barely move my legs and arms. When Nene served my breakfast of warm oil soup and boiled cocoyam, I asked her if she witnessed any event the previous night.

Dede, at a point I thought you had convulsion or epilepsy,” she replied. “You grunted like a buffalo, twisted here and there like a string in the wind and Mumi said you were possessed…” It was common for Nene to call me bighead, but on this occasion, she chose not to. Maybe she felt pity and my pain.

“Thank you Nene, that will be all.” I cut her short.

But eloquent Nene would not listen, she narrated how Dibia Ndem held my palms and squeezed crushed Alligator pepper mixed with chalk and other things into my eyes to keep me awake through the night. She walked away when I insisted that she stopped talking. She was too young to understand that I was possessed by Grandfather’s spirit animal. Dibia Ndem revealed that the initiation came long before I was born. I now bore the burden of another- a deceased grandfather who without consulting me, transferred his powers to me.

It was the talk of the clan, I overheard people discuss the wild cat that bothered the surrounding villages and each time they mention that it was a Leopard I shrug and hope that it was not my spirit animal. People around Nkilije had special powers to conjure and use spirits of animals for security, for power or even as a means of retaliation.

Father had brought several concoctions and charms for me and when Dibia Ndem advised him not to send me to college yet, he shook his head like a lizard stuck in a bottle. He has always bragged about his intelligent boy and how I will someday return to help build a school in my village. I never had considered finishing school talkless of building one in my village. That’s my father’s ideas, not mine. The person that got me interested in attending school was Fata, the young girl from my village who also wrote and passed the Entrance exam. She received her admission letter to City College, Mbammam even before me. She was fair with red cheeks that looks like roses in the noon sun. Mother was light hearted, she cried herself to sleep each time the spirit animal was on a mission and took possession of me…

To be continued

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