“Who is the witch?” (short story)

The morning after Benyiwa had buried her 6yrs old daughter, she drowned herself in tears in her single room, questioning God and why He couldn’t save the life of her little angel. In her rantings, she cursed her stars for this dreadful day. Benyiwa proceeded to bathe herself in sand on the compound of her family house. She wailed and called upon the ghost of her dead mother.

A week on, the weeping and rantings ceased after steadily dwindling. But deep down her heart, she hadn’t healed from her lose. She roamed from one deity to the other to find the root cause of her daughter’s demise.

In the space of one month, Benyiwa had visited six different pastors, five traditional priests, four herbalists and two self-acclaimed ritualists to seek who and what killed her daughter. Three of the pastors didn’t see any other foreign cause of her daughter’s death the postmortem report.

She debunked what these pastors asserted and called the report a scam to cover the truth of her daughter’s exit. The other three pastors suggested a week of fasting and prayers but a passionate food lover as Benyiwa, she couldn’t resist letting food into her belly let alone pray. Two of the traditional priests concluded that Benyiwa’s eldest sister was the main force behind the cause of her daughter’s death.

These conclusions were nothing to draw sense from to Benyiwa because she was the eldest child of her siblings. She rained insults at the priests and colored them well with her best of fiery words her anger could produce. One of the priests swore to cast an incurable spell of Coronavirus on Benyiwa if she dared crossed the path of displeasing his gods.

Benyiwa coughed on him three times, boasted of its impossibility and asked him to inhale the Coronavirus she had just let out through her cough.

For the two self-acclaimed ritualists, the least said the better. One proposed bathing Benyiwa at night in his room, naked with a bucket of ‘sanctified’ water to reveal whoever killed her daughter. Benyiwa agreed at the last sound of his words. Anything to get the ‘killer’, she was ready and in at all cost.

The night came for the spiritual bathing; the ritualist took Benyiwa to his bathroom and began to undress himself. He asked Benyiwaa to do same, and she obliged. “Before we begin, I would have to have an erotic encounter with you- that’s how the spirit can enter you first…” he established.

“Ah!” Benyiwa stood disordered in her mind. She resisted in the initial but upon further convincing, she agreed and allowed him have his way for the intended purpose. Three days within which Benyiwa was told she would dream continuously of her daughter’s killer, all she dreamt of was she being chased by different animals each night.

On the third night, she was chased by a snail. Ridiculous.

She got fed up after the third ritualist requested for an amount of money she couldn’t come by even by if she had to sell her last piece of cupper neck chain. Benyiwa almost gave up till a friend recommended a ‘powerful’ spiritualist to her.

“This woman, hm, she can see tomorrow from today and yesterday from tomorrow. I have tried and can attest that she is the answer to your worries” the friend affirmed without a voice of doubt. Benyiwa arranged to visit this ‘powerful’ spiritualist.

She spent three days in the presence of the spiritualist and returned on an afternoon with a gang in the community to her family house to rain allegations against her 90 years old grandmother. They held clubs, broken sticks, cutlasses and anything solid that could cause harm in their attack.

“You witch! You are the cause of everyone’s woes in the community. You killed my daughter and you have the nerve to live” Benyiwa spat fire at her grandmother who had just exited her room after taking a warm bath for the afternoon.

A stout guy dragged the edge of a cutlass on the ground, and it got grandma shivering. She stared at the mob before her and questioned Benyiwa but her thin voice was swept under the heavy furious voices of these youths. Her wrinkles deepened suddenly. The usual beautiful look in her eyes faded. Her grey hair were the only thing that crowned her head in this gloomy moment.

“Witch!”, they continued the rage and promised to send the old lady to her grave.

Two guys heckled the old lady and dragged her on her feeble feet out of the compound house towards the town-square. She was held amid the shouting, and sour words from these disgruntled youths. They raised their weapons high in the 200meters distance to the square. The old lady paused thrice and begged for her bony weak ankles but not a single soul heeded.

Tears were too dry to walk down her eyes.
Her past flashed through her mind,
and the future depressed her soul.
She had lived the beginning of her life
but her end was too near to escape it.
She dreamt of a day death would pay a visit
to lay her soul down the feet of men
But never did she imagine it would end
this bitter without a crown of glory.

Finally, they arrived at the mini-platform at the center of the community. The old lady was pushed to the cemented floor and asked to confess her sins before departed. She went mute for the five minutes she was asked to do so and finally broke the silence to affirm she isn’t a witch.

A long whip flew a distance and landed on her neck. It left bruises on her tender skin in just a single strike. She bowed her head, raised it and pleaded. Benyiwa, leader of the gang held a piece of belt and circled her grandmother. She swirled one end of the belt behind her to attempt a strike but it was held behind her when she powered her arm to lash her grandmother.

“You won’t do that” a deep voice behind her commanded. Benyiwa turned and it was the chief priest of the land. She went on to ask the priest to consult his gods to pronounce the old lady a witch. The crowd hailed.

“I will do that, but before I do, would you tell your gang how you left your daughter in the house for three days to follow your boyfriend to a party when she needed medical attention? Who is the witch? When she was hospitalized for three days, how many times did you visit her till she was pronounced dead? Who is the wicth?”

The crowd murmured.

“You people say she is the cause of your struggle?”

“Yes!”, everyone exclaimed.

“Yaw Dui, you who is lazy as a sick tortoise, you say this woman is a witch? Abena Ntroba, tell me how many children have you aborted aside the five I know of, and I will consult my gods. Muniru, how many times haven’t your father secured jobs for you but as an intelligent kleptomaniac as you are, you get sacked. Yaa Gyesu, should I tell these people how many times you mixed fine broken glasses in your husband’s soup to slowly send him to his forefathers? Today, you have the strength to say the woman who held your mother and yourself from the womb at birth is a witch”

The championed voice of these youths had grown lean along the secrets revealed by the chief priest.

“Hm, Kabor, the man beside you, whom you call your bosom friend is the father of your three children if your wife hasn’t told you”

“Eiiii!!”, a section of the crowd screamed.

“Now, if any of you wants to reach this woman through whom some of you wouldn’t have been born if not for her experience in childbirth, reach me first and the gods would announce their rage. Take a step towards me and you would be told stories by your forefathers tonight”, the priest swore and raised a metal bar decorated with red cloth.

The crowd dispersed within minutes. The priest saw to it that the old lady was unharmed till she departed earth four years after in a peaceful sleep.

© 2020 Eben Ace

Photo Credit: Michael Aboya (@aboya.8)

  • A case of pronouncing old women wicthes and blaming them for misfortunes when they aren’t the cause. Old age is not a witchy age.

Source: Ebenezer Ace Kojo ( Facebook user)

By Isaac

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