The Witches of Okpolo

By Onyinye Orabuike

I once shared a room with a cousin that
killed mosquitoes on the wall. I tried to tell
her it wasn’t right, but she would have
none of it.

The sight of the dirty blood stains all over
the walls made me feel as though I was
living in a hunter’s bedchamber, and there
was no escape. Each time I raise this with
her she would accuse of being a terribly
deep sleeper which explained why I could
even tolerate both the mosquito bites and
their sorrowful dirge.

She said she couldn’t stand them, so most
night she would wake up once or twice and
squash the mosquitoes against the wall,
ensuring a steady rise in the number of the
embarrassing dirty stains on our wall.

There was little I could do to stop her, so
fought a depressing battle trying to act as
thought there was nothing remotely
upsetting about living a hunter’s bunk.
We were sharing a room in our big
brothers’ apartment. The brother was not
based in Lagos and only came around once
or twice a year. So when he said he no
longer wanted the apartment, I quickly
paid for it and set about giving our room a
face lift. I repainted the room and pleaded
with my little cousin to desist from her
favourite pastime of killing mosquitoes on
the wall. I bought Baygon and mosquito
coil, but complained about the smell. She
was asthmatic and the smell triggers her
symptoms.

I was so heartbroken when I saw the first
scarlet stain on the new wall. And as you
already can guess, the red stains continued
to grow. I imagined the whinny vampires
grinning to themselves and telling me to
pack and move my sorry backside out of
their zone.

It may not be related but it reminded me of
a funny experience that I will never forget.
I returned to Kano that evening from
school, and I noticed I didn’t get a
particularly warm welcome. The
understanding was that it was only money
problem that could bring a student back
home before the end of the semester. I
didn’t let this bother me. All I had wanted
was to spend a day or two away from
school stress, eat good food for a change,
and return with my transportation money
if nothing more.

The weather that night was particularly
hot and stuffy, even for a city like Kano.
There was no light so I decided to sleep out
at the balcony because of the heat. But it
turned out the mosques in that vicinity was
on a mission that night. I couldn’t sleep,
not even a wink. They bit me mercilessly
and sang into my ears, until I began to feel
as though there was a conspiracy
somewhere to make me miserable. I was
already grown but my frustration that
night was so real that I shed genuine tears.

I began to rain down curses on the
accursed blood suckers. I wished Amadioha
would rain down fire and thunder from
the sky and consume the vile witches of
okpolo that wouldn’t let me enjoy the cool
breeze outside. I knew Agbara the god of
vengeance, and Sango will not spare them.

I called on Ifa the god of iron to reach
with his strong arms, shred them all to
pieces and spray their carcasses to the
winds.

After tossing and turning for the better
part of the evening, I was forced to go
inside the house despite the heat. Inside,
the temperature was so hot and unbearable
I feared I would either pass out or go mad.
When I opened my eyes again it was
morning. The witches of okpolo…?. I didn’t
know where on earth I got that from. I
must have dosed off sometime in the early
hours of the morning but the sleep didn’t
feel anything close to refreshing. I woke up
feeling so beaten up and cooked like a
boiled cocoyam leaf.

I didn’t stay the weekend in Kano as I had
planned. I carried my bag and went back to
Zaria the very next day.

The End

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