It was almost mid-day, and Deidre stretched as she came awake slowly. Her sleep had been deep and dreamless for the first time in the past few days, and she felt well rested. She glanced at the clock and leapt out of bed as she realised she had to hurry so as not to be late for her appointment with Baba Apata. Last night’s party had been a success in more ways than one, she had snagged the leading role, leaving more seasoned actresses quite disgruntled at her good fortune. She touched her hand to her scalp, and could hardly feel any pain at all even when she applied pressure to the sore patches. Deinde had been the perfect companion, and she was convinced that her visit to the babalawo would put an end to the nightmarish events that had occurred previously. Her hair undulated around her as she moved, and she admitted wryly to herself that she was in no hurry to remove the weave, despite what she had gone through.
Baba Apata was ready and waiting when she arrived, and he listened to everything she had to say in appalled fascination while trying to pretend that it was the kind of tale he heard everyday. ‘And you say her name is Ijawunmi?’ as he drew out every syllable of the name in appreciation of its meaning. ‘Yes’ came her terse reply. He threw down some cowrie shells and stared at them in concentration while he pondered over which band to hire for his upcoming nuptials, and then he turned to her in triumph. ‘The gods have spoken, she is a mammy water spirit, and we will tie her so she can not come on dry land anymore. You must avoid going near any seas or rivers as long as the hair is on your head, and you will be fine. You will have to come back this evening for a charm to place under your pillow, this will ensure that she remains tied. It will cost you N40,000 for the charm, and N2000 for kolanuts for the gods.’ ‘And I don’t have to remove the hair?’ ‘No, not at all, not till you are ready to take it out’ came Baba Apata’s quick response, and Deidre was more than happy to count out the required sum. She enquired what time he wanted her to return, and then calculated that she had a few hours to spare before then. Feeling much lighter than she had on coming in, she practically skipped out.‘Ijawunmi ko, Ifewunmi ni’ muttered Leke as he stared at her driving off. ‘Foolish woman, I am sure it is the guilt she feels over chasing another woman’s husband that is causing her hair to fall out.’ And with that, he started rooting through his vast collection of props in order to fashion her ‘charm’ for her.
Deidre hummed to herself as she drove, she had been prepared to pay much more than Baba had requested, it was not as if the money was actually coming out of her own pocket, it was Deinde’s mess, and he jolly well had to pay to clear it up. Her phone was on the seat next to her, and she glanced at it as it rang. ‘Think of the devil’ she thought as she saw his name flashing on her phone ‘he’ll have to wait till I get home’. As she pulled into her complex, she hit the speed dial, and heard his voice almost before the first ring had ended. ‘Deinde, come over’ she drawled, ‘I’m in the mood to celebrate, and I’m sure you know what that means. Make sure you bring your wallet too’ and with that she hung up. Deinde arrived in the next thirty minutes, and even though they engaged in heavy petting, she kept a tight rein on things as she did not want them ending up asleep in each other’s arms before the charm was safely underneath her pillow. An hour later, feeling all loved up, they drove out in Deinde’s car to go for a meal, after which they intended to stop at Baba Apata’s before returning to Deidre’s.
Shade felt unsettled as she prayed. She knew without any doubts that Deinde was having an affair, but this one was different. His past flings had rarely lasted for more than a fortnight, but she knew he had been seeing this particular girl for over six months. She had come on this retreat because she had decided to leave him, it did not matter to her anymore that she would be frowned upon for not suffering in silence as so many of her fellow church members did, but she had come to the end of her tether, and wanted no more of him and his philandering ways. She felt a bittersweet joy that they had not been able to have any children yet despite having been married for six years, but was relieved she did not have to factor them into the decision she had reluctantly made. She remembered the cut in his hand, and again felt an urge to pray for him, and even though she didn’t see why she had to, she obediently lifted him up in prayer again.
Deidre loved Kiru Taye’s books, and though she had despaired of meeting a man who could move her the way the fictional heroes did, Deinde ticked all her boxes in just the right manner. Their bodies glistened with sweat as they finally drew apart, and she purred with satisfaction as she lay her head on his chest. ‘When are you going to tell Shade you’re leaving her’ she asked. ‘As soon as she returns from her retreat’ he replied ‘you are all I have ever wanted in a woman, I can’t deny it anymore, not even to myself’ and with a satisfied smile she fell asleep. The following days were uneventful, Shade had not argued with Deinde when he had informed her he was moving out, strangely enough she had seemed relieved, and he had happily moved in with Deidre. It seemed their lives were idyllic, and they looked forward to a future together.
The Umbanda festival was in full swing, and excitement and dread filled the air in equal measure. Shango worshippers were ecstatic, as they knew this was the season for settling old scores, and those who wanted nothing to do with the old religion crammed into churches every evening for Mass, as they tried to ward off the evil that hung around like a tangible force. Parents kept a close eye on their children, especially in the favelas, and it was not uncommon to hear women wailing that a child or the other was missing. Everyone knew that it was the season for ritual sacrifices, and that the gods were partial towards the blood of young children. Ijawunmi and her cohorts were in their element, and they received every sacrifice brought by their acolytes gladly. They had a steady supply of blood, both animal and human, and they gorged themselves on it as they prepared for the coming battle.
To be continued…….