June 2006 11.45pm
The night was a black gourd frothing over with the dark wine of foreboding. A petrified moon hid itself beneath duvets of midnight clouds. Somewhere in the overhanging trees, a forlorn owl hooted disconsolately, desolately. In a shack below, pythons writhed restlessly on the floor, showing their vexation with loud sibilant hisses. A shrivelled and wizened herbalist muttering incantations traced a name in a mixture of cowrie shells and sands contained in a red calabash on the clay earth. The smell of blood was heavy in the air. On different granite altars, cocks, throats slit , oozed their lives away slowly, inexorably.
Light from a single hurricane lamp in the room capitulated before walls of opacity round about. The young man sitting in the midst of the hut was an incongruity with his white Polo T-shirt, blue jeans and grey sketchers. Though, the happenings tonight were not strange to him, yet there was a deeper dimension to the evil that was being concocted that night. It was such that goose bumps broke out all over him thicker than the profusion of udala fruits in January. However, he did not budge. His livelihood was at stake, he was going for broke! He had promised to change the medicine man’s status forever by inflating his bank account with obscene amounts of money. This had motivated the sorcerer known as “Baba Okunkun” the Father of darkness, to pull out all the stops!
Earlier on, the old man stripped naked at the riverbank, had chanted into a black and white striped horn with unwavering concentration. Eyes closed in deep meditation; he had shivered in mystical ecstasy until ripples had showed up in the middle of the river. Three huge pythons had swum out, obsidian eyes gleaming with malevolence. The largest was all black; the others were albinos and of the same size.
They had followed the herbalist meekly like lambs into the hut made up of banana leaves and bamboo branches. The serpents had lined up perpendicular to the calabash on three different sides, hissing furiously. That was when the man started to write into the sands of time (having a name written here means that the destiny of the bearer’s name was about to be truncated suddenly and shockingly)…the name he wrote was…Israel….
March 2006 6.00am
Israel Jacobs got down from his car, carried his back pack and lap top and made for the reception of Moabitex. He had signed in before everyone as usual and rode the elevator to his office on the 8th floor. He went into the gents to knot his tie into perfection (a ritual of his, since he usually left home in an early rush from Mushin to beat the Island traffic). The mirror before which he stood showed that he cut a resplendent figure in his navy blue suit, blue shirt and red striped tie. He smiled and said a quiet prayer of gratitude. It had not always been like this…
He had been born into an affluent home with relatives in the top echelon of the government but a coup had taken place. The new administration had changed economical/political laws that had augured well for his family in the past. Things had taken a turn for the worse. To make ends meet, he had dropped out of school and had become a house boy where he was treated so terribly. It had been modern day slavery. He worked every day from Mondays to Sundays without respite. His madam had also used words as whips of oppression to flay his esteem away. Thinking about it still brought tears to his eyes.
From there he had graduated to become an office assistant where lunch hour had him running from one part of Victoria Island to another buying “amala” and roasted yam for the staff of the company.Fortunately, he was from a strong Christian home and had maintained his relationship with God. It happened that after a while, he noticed that while trekking home, a feeling usually came upon him when he passed by his present company, Moabitex, a multinational real estate company. Within him, he usually heard the words, “TAKE OVER!” Initially, he thought his mind was playing tricks on him but the feeling persisted, bored into his mind with the intensity of a multitude of weevils.
He started taking ACCA courses and applied for the post of an account officer in the company. His modules were passed with the passage of time and he slowly rose up the ranks, displacing people in the process. For all that engaged him, his brilliant mind and hard working ethos could not be questioned. His ways also curtailed the excesses and nefarious activities of many in the company, such that some even had to be advised to resign and while others were summarily dismissed. Many tried to remove him through every kind of means but they could not stand before his progress. After he had passed the certification, the way he was rising struck fear in the Chief Financial officer. The man knew his seat was not safe anymore….
June 2006 12.45am
He had gotten home bone tired and had wanted to sleep when a drill of disquiet started burrowing into his soul. The uneasiness got worse and he decided to read psalm 91 on his phone and drifted off while reading. The last words that were sown into his consciousness were, “…Under His wings shall thou find refuge…”Soon, his soft snores filled the whole room…
…The herbalist bit off some kola nut, then bitter kola, added some alligator pepper and chewed for considerable minutes, all the while making incantations. The he blew the mixture in a fine spray into the air. Afterwards, he opened a large raffia box, uncovered some dusty “aso oke” and brought out an ancient bow within the folds. Holding the bow, he took a shooting stance and picked up the largest python by the tail. The snake became an arrow and he shot into the air. He performed the same rites with the other two serpents. Each one disappeared into thin air as it was shot. The old man’s leathery face creased into a toothless, gummy smile, rheumy eyes filled with the light of delight. The deed had been done. The die had been cast!
The snakes assumed their normal shapes over the territorial space of Israel’s house but for the first time in their sinister lives something was amiss. They could not seem to penetrate. There were dozens of supernatural beings hovering in the air, wings interlocked in an unbreakable chain, forming an impenetrable canopy around the home of the sleeping man. Their wings looked feathery but on contact they were sharp steel, so closely knit that even a mosquito could not penetrate. The pythons tried their damndest but the more they tried the more their skins got lacerated…
In the shack, the old man felt something was not quite right. He took his afore mentioned horn and started spouting a river of invocations. He shook in incensed frenzy, a diabolic epileptic convulsing with unabated rage until it was only the white of his eyes that was visible. The words as they left his mouth became smoky bulls that travelled at the speed of light, using supernatural GPS. However, this time there was a wall of blood around Israel’s house. They could not pass to assist the serpents of death!
The bulls tried to batter down the walls to no avail then they shifted shapes and became centaurs that started to speak to the wall of blood. Out of the wall rose another voice, a sound like that of many waters. The two engaged in a war of words using languages that existed before the existence of man. The duel got really heated and then the words crystallized into swords of steel. The clang of steely blades filled the heavens. The sword of darkness finally broke and shattered into bits like shredded papyrus. A whirlwind came out of nowhere and blew the bits and the centaurs away into realms of nothingness.
..The old man knew something had gone very wrong and there would be dire repercussions. He had realized too late that it was impossible to curse a blessed man. The force of the blessing will always neutralize any curse! It will trump any hex!
The pythons returned as arrows in wrathful fury (they had been torn up no end) and struck the two men. The conspirators fell down dead crushed by the weight of the purveyors of death. The snakes swallowed them whole and slithered back to the dark river somewhat appeased…
The CFO was declared missing and was never found again despite all the frantic efforts of family and friends. The shack caught fire and grasses covered its former site.
Israel had been acquiring the shares of Moabitex and when a new law for indigenization was passed he acquired the company. The promise God had given him had come to pass….
SURELY THERE IS NO ENCHANTMENT AGAINST JACOB, NEITHER IS THERE ANY DIVINATION AGAINST ISRAEL: PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT JACOB AND ISRAEL AND SAY “WHAT A GREAT THING HAS GOD DONE!”
This is my own modern day adaptation of the story of Balak, Balaam and the children of Israel….Numbers 22-24. (Kindly read to appreciate the story more).
©2016 Ekpo Ezechinyere
IMAGES FROM GOOGLE