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Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 6

That night I had another attack. It was midnight and everybody was settled for some sleep. The moon was white, there were no stars and the evening brought mild breezes. Wild dogs and wolves howled from the hilly distance and the night was deafened in their terrifying noise. Night was nobody’s friend those days. Travelers were adviced not to travel by night. If they do they risk being attacked by wild animals or if unlucky may be taken by slave or head hunters or even worse, as the villagers believed, killed by wandering spirits of dead men.

I can’t recall exactly how it started, but in few minutes I fell off my bamboo bed and continued struggling with some invincible power on the ground. The twist and turns created a scene. The fall and noise woke even the heaviest sleeper and my sentinel, Nene. She yelled in fear and ran out of the room. Her dog followed her. From the passage I heard her cry for she was afraid to leave the hut that night.

I heard someone call Papa, ‘Where you deh Papa? Come fast please! It must be your boy.’ It seemed that this man heard Nene’s cry and woke to find out what the matter was. A rush followed as Papa and some men came. I felt hands all over my body when they tried to lift me up from the ground. I felt everything but couldn’t move. My body was stiff, I couldn’t even blink an eyelid.

‘Place him on his bamboo bed, so that his chest will be elevated.’ A voice adviced. Then my body was taken up to my bamboo bed. I sighed in pain. I felt palms pulling away at my legs and hands, massaging my body with some hot ointment. Few palms rubbed mmanu aku into my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I sneezed, heavily, again and again. The pain was indescribable but as a man leaned over and made incantations I fell asleep immediately. I learned later in the morning, that father hired a dibia.

***

Morning was picturesque and dramatic as usual. Palm trees started a happy procession with the wind, that may continue till noon. Tree leaves fall, scattering with the flirty wind all over the hamlet. Little girls wished away the leaves so they could lazy around without sweeping. Activities resumed, older boys to farms, older girls to streams, younger boys to check rodent traps, younger girls to sweep. The women and men left for their various chores; dogs, cats and poultry played in the early sun. The whole village sent an emissary to my father’s compound to hear the latest news. My father who didn’t like much drama sent most away with assurance that I was fine.

‘Papa.’ I called from my room.

‘I’m here, my son.’

‘My head hurts badly.’

‘I’m sorry nwam, ndo. You’ll be fine, you’ll see.’ He consoled me. ‘Woman bring him some breakfast!’ He called to my mother. She wasn’t allowed into the room initially but the food gave her the chance to.

The aroma of yam and goat meat pepper soup rented the room when Mama brought the food. As Mama put the tray on the table she started crying. Papa asked some women to lead her away from the room…

To be continued…

By Oke Iroegbu

Finance Graduate, Bibliophile and Bard of Ovim, his hometown. Read more at www.oiroegbu.com/about

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