Ife was beginning to ask questions, and her mother was impatient wondering why all the sudden questions. Ife would sit for long moments staring at nothing. She became quite friendly with her maternal uncle Sasaenia. His name struck her at first for it was not a common name, it meant ‘a rare person’. Yeye Agba said they had to give him that name as the priests had warned that they should treat him special even while she was pregnant. His father had been a feared and powerful medicine man but Uncle Sasa had simply refused to learn to be a herbalist nor medicine man nor learn anything else. He would roam the farm alone and would come home with animals he had killed. He intrigued Ife, she would sit with him some nights, ask him why grandmother tended to treat him like he was still a young boy. He gave her a smile and said it was because he was so sickly and was always have fainting spells. Ife was surprised, “Really Uncle, honest fainting spells or you were faking it to get out of going to the farm?” That made him laugh saying he could not very well remember as that was about sixty years or more ago he defended himself. There was a twinkle in his eyes and Ife suspected he would have faked some of those fainting spells.
Uncle Sasa as everyone tended to call him was what you might call a medicine man. He had an easy going nature to him and was always getting caught by the village security. He never could tell that it was time to go home he would say. Most nights the hunters’ gong will catch him hurrying home to beat the deadline. Sometime he would be caught and forced to ‘hawk’ bean cake at night.
Those nights Yeye Agba would rail at him as everyone heard him moving from street to street hawking bean cakes at midnight. Of course no one dared come out and the younger children will simply giggle. Mama will sigh and toss but Ife would listen to know how many minutes it took Uncle Sasa to come into their street. The next morning he would be tired sleeping from the stress, but he would be caught again a day or two later.
One such morning she tip toed into his room and asked him why he would not simply join in the watch and be done with hawking. He had smiled and said he had other functions he did for the village. Ife was puzzled and he smiled that he made the medicine that ensured protection from the witches who would be about at the same time too. Ife stared at him, “You mean real witches flying about Uncle Sasa?”
“Well you wouldn’t really see them with your normal eyes you know but they are around and sometimes are mean” he said.
“Really. Cool Uncle Sasa, tell me how do you know a person is a witch?”
“Well they look like one you know?”
“How does a witch look?”
“Hmm.. you know I never really gave that some thought because ..come to think of it they look normal, I guess you just know, I mean I just know when a witch passes by.”
“Exactly, sometimes they have bad colours right?” Ife was excited that there was somebody who just knew things like her. She felt she was not strange after all. Of course it was a normal thing to see strange people and know immediately they were bad or good she told her uncle about the colours. He said he never saw any colour but listened in amazement as Ife explained about the Misty ones, what they looked like and how they were of different sizes and shapes.
“You know Uncle Sasa, they are always with us and then there is the same copy as you that outlines you sometimes up in your head, just a copy of you only it looks better sometimes than you on the ground”
“You mean my shadow? Everyone has a shadow Ife.”
“Yes I know of shadows that is the earth copy of you, Uncle, but I am talking about the one that is the real you up in white shadow just off your shoulder level, I call it misty because they look sometimes like the misty ones only misty ones are sometimes shot through with light” Ife was impatient. Her uncle shook his head and sighed saying maybe his sight was bad but he really could only identify the simple shadow. Ife sighed suddenly feeling alone again. For a few seconds she had felt relieved that she was not odd. She had learnt to keep her counsel. Her father had watched her keenly for a few weeks but nothing else had happened. Ife knew she was under watch too by her mother. She guessed her father had told her what happened in the city so she waited hoping her mother will talk to her but nothing had happened.
The prophet had been extra friendly asking her to come to church. Ife remembering what had happened the last time simply smiled and said she was busy with homework she had brought from school. He had laughed and said she was special and he would give her a special place in the church if she changed her mind.
Not frigging likely in your church, and be treated like some tourist attraction.
Ife had smiled and promised to come but managed to be too tired every Sunday morning. Her mother suspected she was avoiding coming to church and sighed. Ife knew she could make her mother happy if she attended church but she had the sneaking feeling that she was going to be used in a way that would make things look bad. She also didn’t feel she liked the idea of her mother’s church.