I never believed in ghostly powers until Nwanyieke died. The moment she was laid to rest, heavy droplets began to pelt mercilessly from angry clouds, swishing through the wind with a vague ominous intent.
“Mama, why are the gods silent? I thought Ezemmuo poured libations to appease Nwanyieke’s spirit?” I asked after several days of ceaseless downpour.
“My daughter, spirits that wake from ‘hard’ deaths are difficult to appease, especially the wicked ones.”
Every night’s dream was a nightmare; Nwanyieke would appear to me, brandishing fearsome claws with a wicked smirk and foaming in the mouth. But I always found solace in clinging to Jack, who slept beside me. Jack was my entire world – my pet puppy, my first love and a reflection of my late father.
“Mili Ota has overflown its banks. Our farms are all destroyed”, Mama cried one fateful morning, clutching her empty basket. The next day, Mili Ota had grown fiercer, flowing beyond farms into domiciled huts, dragging everything in its path along with it.
Everyone was scrambling to flee to safety, tugging, heaving and cursing.
In the ensuing disarray, I lost hold of Jack.
“Jack! Jack!” I screamed. Mili Ota had drowned a couple of villagers, when I found Jack. Its paw was stuck in a floating stump as it fought to stay alive.
“Nooo! Jack!” I screamed and pulled it by the tail onto a raft that fortunately floated by. Regrettably, the water current was just too strong for a kid to handle and Jack’s raft began to cave in. I held on to Jack and the bedraggled raft as we joined in the stream’s convoy floating to an unknown destination.
“Jack, stay with me”, I cried, gasping frantically for breath.
“You belong to the spirit world, child. Come back home!” That voice was Nwanyieke’s but it seemed to be coming from the fallen trees swaying along with the water current.
“Ada, come back home! You don’t belong here!”
Those words continued to echo slowly and steadily in my subconscious mind as Jack and I struggled to defeat the cold arms of death.
BY OTUBELU, CHINAZOM CHUKWUDI