This is the story of a 78-year – old woman who used her only child for money making ritual in the 70s. She is now a Born Again Christian.
She lives in one room. The room stinks to high heavens for she eats, dresses, baths and uses potty in the same room. She made me realize it that she lives in a family house. In a nutshell the dilapidated building where is a mud house and had been abandoned due to the danger it poses for it has cracks allover and no reasonable tenant will live there even for free. Apart from this everybody is afraid to live there where this old woman lives.
“Close the door, look at the picture placed at the back of the door”, the old woman instructed me with her voice shaking , no thanks to old age that has dealt a fatal blow on her.
” That is my son”, she pointed , “my only child. I was influenced by bad friends. I was stupid and I am regretting my action now.
“I hope you will learn a lesson and tell your friends too to learn from it .All what I am revealing to you is nothing but the truth .The best way in life is to be happy no matter how poor you are . Just believe that is how God created us and we were not born equal and we are bound to face challenges in life .But hold on to God for all is vanity”.
“Mama , are you now a preacher ?”, I asked .”Yes, I am. I have given my life to Jesus Christ . I can still read with my recommended eye glasses and I have read the Holy Bible from Genesis to Revelation several times. I have the Holy Koran here with me here too .All I am begging for is forgiveness from God “, she said.
” Only very few people will know me. For it’s been a long time.I have relocated back home after spending many years outside my hometown .It was during the Udoji Salary increment /award when the Federal government increased salaries and gave out loans in 1974 or thereabouts that my case started unfolding. Many civil servants bought electronics like Sound system, Black and white television, furniture, motorcycles , Volkswagen Beetle , Toyota , Vespa among others .
”I was a petty trader, a fish monger .I had friends that used to come all the way from Lagos to attend parties together in my town .That was when clothes like Wonyosi , Damask , Guinea Brocade reigned , Bonfo or Mafo gota styles in vogue. For men it was Baggy. Then we had high heels, Bob Marley shoes,but I had no money to buy , and then five yards was 15Naira , a big money at that time!.
“My friends bought theirs but I had no money to buy , luckily one of them bought for me. We always had visitors from Lagos and it was almost every weekend we had parties . I always complained to them of not having money to buy their special clothes .One of them bought Damask, and Guinea brocade for me.They spent money and the highest denomination then was one Naira .Some would come from Lagos with the best and choice cars Mercedez Benz , some with Citroen, Volvo all from Lagos state to my hometown ( a riverrine area I should not mention for they will quickly know it is me )
“One day , Josephine called me and advised me to stop hawking fish and since I was still young and could have money in future to take care of other children I would still have .
“Let I forget, I was not living with my husband , for he was a Federal Civil servant thus he was being transferred from one state to another .With our one child I was trying to get pregnant for him so he comes home regularly and we always meet.
“One of my friends called me one day and advised me to use my only child for money and that I would still have another child since I was still young .At first I quarreled with her and reported her to one of our friends who laughed at me and said it was the in- thing and nothing spoiled .
“Do you remember the story of Baba Ibeji that used one of his twins for money making ritual in those days?. Well you could be young then “, she said While still talking she asked me to excuse her in order to ease herself .I went out for one hour and came back later .
When I came back she asked the point she was and I told her, she continued her mind-boggling story as I developed goose pimples.
“It was true that using man being for money – making was the in -thing and in vogue then. In fact some weekly magazines carried some of the stories then. I remember another one in (she mentioned the place) , when a girl was hawking puff puff and was called upstairs by a man into his living room and was never seen again. She was later traced to the man’s place and when his house was searched the girl was found carrying a of calabash on her head. Thank God for her younger sister was kept waiting endlessly downstairs expecting her sister to come down, she later raised an alarm. if not she couldn’t have been found. Immediately the girl’s name was called money began to drop .It was real , too real .Money ? Is the root of evil .
“My son, David graduated from one of the federal Universities he read Civil Engineering .He he was a brilliant chap , he made a second class upper division and went for his NYSC which he completed .
“I tricked him to the herbalist’s house , I told him we were going to do juju for him to get a job in an oil company where he passed the test and needed to go for an interview. He trusted me and never doubted me . We got there and after some incantations on him, he slept off and his internal organs and some parts were removed .In the dead of the night I with the herbalist went to dump his remains in the river .I was surprised that nobody saw us .On the following day I was the first to report at the police station that I was looking for David . At the police station I cried , and cried and cried .His father also cried and consoled me that I would have another child”.
As the woman said last sentence , she shook her head and said ” I have repented .I know I am a sinner .If one confesses his sin God will forgive him , this I believe” . She continued.
“Few years later I became rich; I had small boats for fishing. I joined the popular thick Madam Club, and also many Social Clubs .For many years they called me to be the Chair person of occasions .I donated money and my name rang bell, In fact without me an occasion will not be interesting as I used to donate generously .
”My husband did not suspect me and always asked after my welfare, I persuaded him to leave the civil service and joined me in the business .
”One day , I was in the room lamenting , talking to myself crying and unconsciously said “David , please forgive me for I didn’t know . I was pushed into doing it “, my husband overheard me and asked what was the meaning, but I lied to him .
”My business boomed . I bought canoe boats , trailer lorries , I was rich.Many came to me for assistance and I offered them.I had gold , I traveled very well .
”A woman who knew when I was hawking fish before I became rich asked me to show her the way but I told her it was through hard work, loan from the bank and contacts . She went to the bank , took loan and bought a canoe boat and did other businesses but along the line she failed .The bank she owed auctioned her property .She didn’t know the source of my wealth .
”I went to doctors who placed me on fertility drugs ,I went to Europe , USA, and Indian hospitals looking for the fruit of the womb but nothing came .
“When I clocked 60 , my wealth was dwindling . But one day a woman came for financial assistance and said two of her children did not go to school as she had not paid their school fees .But I spoke rudely to her and sent away and that I had no time since I was in a meeting but she didn’t go she waited till 5 pm in the evening , yet I didn’t answer her .Later I sent my Personal Assistant to tell her to come back the following day. When she was going I overheard her as she hissed and said “we all know your secret , you who used your son for money -making ritual can not spend the money “. When I heard I was shocked .How did she know ? Who told her ? .
“The second day she repeated her call and I gave her a lot of money she never expected . I called her in and asked her to repeat what she said the previous day, she was shocked that I heard. I begged her to tell me where she heard .Yet, she refused to tell me .I threatened her but she didn’t talk .
“As usual ,one weekend I went to a party with some of my friends , when I was pressed I went to visit the ”Ladies”. From the toilet I was hearing two women washing their hands after they too had used the ”Ladies” having conversations describing me with what I wore .One of them said ‘that woman , who spent a lot at the party used her only child for money making ritual. She thought we didn’t know and everybody is now aware including her husband , but she didn’t know’
“When I went back to my seat at the party I pretended as if nothing happened , after spending few minutes I left.
“When I got home, I didn’t tell my husband .But the last straw that broke the camel’s back was what I heard with my two ears .
“One day I told my husband I was traveling , but I didn’t travel .I came back at midnight and since I had the keys with me I came in and met him with a woman. I lost my temper and vented my anger on her , called her names and threw her out that night but she shocked me with her words , saying ‘Mama, who asked you to use your only child for money ?. I have three kids for your husband and whether you like it or not I am his wife’. I called my husband and asked him many questions , but he shouted at me and told me since we were wealthy we needed to have these kids who will inherit my property and bury me when I am gone. I became mad .So I have been working for him and his other family ? “
“Later I asked him of the rumour about my wealth. My husband said ” You see my wife , the moment your money was booming I suspected you. One day I caught you begging your son to forgive you but decided to keep quiet and married another woman secretly who can give me children. So we are using the money to take care of them that is why I didn’t talk again , of what use?’
”Some years ago a Bank liquidated and was closed down, I had millions of Naira and foreign currencies accounts there. Another Bank where I kept my money and domiciliary account was shut down. We all knew what happened to some very popular banks in this country . All my businesses began to fall. I sold my houses in Lagos and in Port Harcourt and thought I would reinvest but I was swindled by fraudsters .
“I have been going to church everyday begging God to forgive me .I donated money to churches and to Mosques as charity .
”But one day I called my husband and begged him to tell me who told him my secret, he said it was my friend who introduced me to the herbalist that did juju for me .He said ‘your friend , Josephine called me and said you were rude to her , and that she was the one who showed the way to wealth for you .She even said you all have a clique ‘.
“Now I have clocked 78 years of age .I have gone back to my place of birth. People should not pity me but help me beg God for forgiveness .
”Nobody uses Mercedez Benz, Volvo we all craved for then again. Nobody uses Black and White television again, where is Wonyosi , Damask again?”.
Asked whether the craze for money is good , she said ” As long as we are in this world we shall continue to look for money by all means .But I implore you don’t use human blood. My money is gone, my only child is gone, nobody to look up to .
“My husband died 10yearsago, and had abandoned me for long calling me a witch. All my friends who did same had died and none went to their graves with their wealth .I am still living to suffer for my sin.”
As she made the last sentence ” I know I have sinned but I have confessed my sins and I will be forgiven “, she took her Bible and continued reading louder this time .
When I was leaving I gave the old woman two hundred Naira. I looked at the faded picture of her son pasted on the back of the door , shook my head , and said in my mind ” who knows what this boy could have become ? “.