The Gods Never Leave Us Empty-Handed
"Ofobuike, it is going to be a great but sad day," Mazi Agwoturumbe declared as a slight tremor seemed to pass through him, and he shivered.
He sat with splayed legs on the floor of the veranda made of dry compressed mud in front of his hut. He was dressed in a loincloth and a cloth wrapped around one shoulder which exposed his slim, wiry thighs and powerful shoulder and back muscles. Apart from his goatee and all the hair on his scalp having turned white, one could have mistakenly concluded that he was about forty years old. But he had been the best medicine man East of the Niger River for longer than forty years, so he was probably much older than that. He gathered up the cowries displayed in front of him, between his two legs and cast them again. Once more, a tremor ran through his body.
"Ha! I see scary things. Ofo, today is a sad day, indeed!"
Wikipedia CC0The Medicine Man
"Yes, Papa," Ofobuike responded. Ofobuike was the last son of Mazi Agwoturumbe. He was the only one amongst his siblings who decided to learn his father's art. Others had gone off to school and travelled to the cities and countries where they held different jobs and developed successful careers. When Ofobuike graduated from the University, he returned home to continue working with his father. Mazi Agwoturumbe came from a long line of juju priests and all his forebears served one diety or the other down as far as anyone could trace. It was his grandfather who deviated and became what was known as Dibia or Medicine Man. When visitors came from all over the country and called him Chief Priest, he let it slide because he recognised their ignorance. But he was not a priest to any god. He was only intimately acquainted with spiritual forces and knew how to use them to his, and the benefits of his client and this skill was something he inherited from his grandfather. Most people did not know how, him, a single man could wield such powers like the power that enabled him to stretch hunchbacks. Little did they know that he did not have to use the power; all that was necessary was knowing the laws that would enable the forces to co-operate to achieve desired purposes. To safely complete high success rate in his work, he needed to be wary of the rare side-effects of working with barely-known forces.
"For everything you win, there is something lost," he would say.
Amanze was the second of five children and the only son of Chief Amanze Snr.
He had decided early in his life that he would travel the world, make loads of money and live like a king. The first part of his plan was to leave the country through any means possible. His break came when S. S. Vittoria berthed at Port Harcourt wharf, and Amanze got the job of loading cargo on the ship which was billed to leave for Port Alexander in a month's time. He was a very charming boy. Before the end of the week, he had made friends with the ship captain, and the captain took quite a liking to him. Amanze left with the ship when the time came. The captain thought he had gotten himself a crew member, but Amanze had other plans. He disappeared in Alaska just after the ship arrived and gradually he moved from Alaska to Maryland.
Amanze did not land on his feet, but the folks back home had no idea what he had to go through to settle into a foreign land with little education and without the appropriate legal requirements. It took him a little less than a decade to settle in. Before then, the pressure was piling up from back home for him to return.
"I am getting old. I would like to see my grandson before I join my ancestors," his father lamented.
Meanwhile, he had bragged amongst his friends how his boy was living the American dream. Amanze, on his part, had missed home. In spite of the better life that living abroad offered, he was often nostalgic for the country of his birth where he was a first-class citizen. He could not help but feel like a second class or even a third class citizen in the US. But he could not return home empty-handed. He decided he would buy an SUV and send ahead of his arrival. Word of the arriving jeep reached his hometown before the news of his return got there. Besides the vehicle, he could not afford anything else of much value except food and other essential items. His initial intention was to sell the SUV back home before returning to the US, but he was shocked to hear that the vehicle was a gift he bought for his dad. This situation made him more than a little uncomfortable, but he decided he could probably manage to obtain his return ticket if he cut short his visit and returned to the United States earlier than planned, without selling the SUV. One day he returned home and narrated a story about how uniformed men robbed him of the car.
It was 10:05 pm, two weeks before his planned return to the US, he was driving to see his old friends in a neighbouring town when some men dressed in police uniforms waved him down.
"Hello, officers, how may I help you," he asked.
"Sir, please step down from the vehicle. A car that fit the description of this car has been reported to have been involved in a robbery, and we have been ordered to stop and search."
Amanze obeyed, but as he did so, one of the officers searching the vehicle exclaimed that he had found a gun in his car. He rushed over to the passenger side of the car but was stopped by another police officer.
"You have to follow us to the station," said the police officer that stopped him. "Go and join the police truck. We shall drive this one back."
Amanze was still disoriented as he walked towards the police truck when the engine of his car revved up and shot away. He turned to chase it and realised the futility of the action then he ran towards the police vehicle as they drove away. His cell phone was in his car, and he had no way of calling anyone. Who would he call, he wondered.
He walked to the nearest bus stop and took a bus to his friend's home. They helped him make efforts to retrieve the vehicle through the help of the police to no avail. He did not have the opportunity to change the SIM card in the GPS tracker, so there was no way to trace the vehicle.
When Chief Amanze Snr heard about the loss, he was unperturbed. Agwoturumbe had solved bigger cases than that for him in the past. He did not like to visit Agwoturumbe often not because he was ineffective but because the perpetrators of the crime are not only found, but they also died mysteriously. He had hoped that the police would find the car and thereby avoid the consequences that would follow from what he must do to recover what belonged to him.
Mazi Agwoturumbe had left home to fetch the herbs that he would require to work for the day. He lived a few kilometres from the rest of the village as his father had lived, so his home was surrounded by a forest with a wide variety of plants, some of which had mysterious qualities when combined with other natural elements. He was always able to foresee all the people that would visit him on a daily basis and the nature of the problem they would bring with him, so he prepared ahead of time. He sat on a small stool with his back to the dirt road that led to his hut. The yellow sun was rising from the horizon to his right side, casting his long, lean shadow to the left. Between his feet was a little mortar in which there was dark green substance. With the equally small pestle, he mashed the content of the mortar. Then suddenly he began to speak.
"Ofo, my son! Ofobuike, please bring me a bench for the great have come upon us," he said in a loud voice, forcing his son to rush out of the hut with a bench.
"Chief Amanze, son of Omenuko. Son of the soil. A single man that is must be welcomed as a crowd. We have provided you with a bench for a seat to show we know that you never walk alone! The only animal that feeds when the hunter is firing away at him. Seven men in one!" he continued.
Chief Amanze had parked his station wagon about six hundred meters from the residence of Mazi Agwoturumbe. He was about two hundred meters away when he began to hear the voice of the medicine man calling out to him even though he could not see the hut because shrubs covered it. The sound became more explicit as he approached the cabin. He would have been surprised about the words the medicine man was saying if that was his first time. It always assured him when Agwoturumbe talks about his problem even before setting eyes on him. The small dirt road opened up to what seemed like a big clearing in the bush. The floor of the premises was red and utterly devoid of any form of dirt including leaves and that always amazed the chief since many big trees surrounded the hut. He walked and sat on the bench in front of the medicine man as he continued praising him.
Eventually, Agwoturumbe stood from the little stool, carried the small mortar to an enormous clay pot containing some dark liquid. With his right hand, he scooped a portion of the content of the mortar, added it to the pot and stirred it with his palm. He stared at it for a few moments and shook his head, and then he returned to a mat made of jute placed opposite Chief Amanze and sat down.
"What I see is unbelievable! I can see you have come to recover what you lost, my friend. But I would ask you to go. Not everything that is lost can be found. For everything you win, there is something lost, and for everything you lost, there is something won. Go, my friend," he said, and his face was a mask of sadness.
"I want my car back, and I am willing to do whatever it takes, Wise One," Chief Amanze replied.
"Whatever it takes? Can you bear the consequences? Can you? Your entire generation has gone up in flames, and your name is forever gone in history."
"I did not come all the way here to go back empty-handed," the chief said, as he brought out a big wrap of money.
"The gods never leave us empty-handed. We are either blessed or cursed," he said, as a mouse magically appeared in his hands. "The spirit of the people that took what belongs to you have been cast in this animal. Take it and do what you will with it. You can let it run free in the bush as you leave or you can let some accident meet it on the way. But if you let it go, then you must let go of what you lost. Nkiru ka, The future holds greater things. This one is free, my friend," he said, and when he finished speaking, his face lost every expression, and he suddenly looked much older. He gently gave the mouse to Chief Amanze, patted him on the shoulder and walked into his hut.
Chief Amanze left and walked back to his car. Before he arrived where he had parked, he wrung the neck of the mouse, threw it into a stream nearby and drove home. He was about half a kilometre from his home when he heard screams coming from the direction of his house. As he approached the house, he saw the stolen car parked in front of his residence. He walked into his living room. Amanze Jnr was dead.
Authored by: @churchboy
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