The Dybbuk Sunday

The sun gave a frown, and the shadows of darkness lurked in the misty village of Mbasé. Alarmingly baffled by the sudden silence of the rustling wind, every tree in the evil forest digressed from the gossips of the dead, leaning their meddlesome ears to the ground, with shivering roots and quaky trunks, for never has evil felt so close and malevolent.

Murmurings and cries of agony could be heard echoing from the house of Akumjele, the village goldsmith who lost his only child twenty-five days after his wife was put to bed. Moremi, his wife, wailed like a wounded banshee, with eyes looking pale and sunken. Absolute despair could be seen on her wry face, and no amount of consolation could abate the pain and misery that crept through her spirit.

The more Akumjele felt the urge to console his grief-stricken wife, the more words failed him, for, like broken glass, she seemed fatally shattered and irreparably disheartened. "What have I done to deserve this ill treatment?" Why have you decided to punish me this way? No! No!! No!!! Not again," cried Moremi recounting the tales of her miserable life. Her father, Adisa, never wanted her to marry Akumjele's family and never stated why except for the shallow reason that he couldn't allow his beautiful daughter to marry a common goldsmith. Caught in the web of affection, Moremi loved Akumjele with all her heart, for never has she found true love and happiness with any man than him. She recalled the recalcitrant claims of her father concerning marrying Akumjele. "Marrying that boy will be over my dead body," Adisa always said.

For the first time since her father died, she sensed an aura of strangeness in her father, who gave up the ghost two months after constantly refusing to accept marriage rites and dowry brought by the Akumjele's family. She wished she was home the day he died to receive his blessings and last words, which were only whispered to Mobo, a drunk who lived a stone's throw from her compound. Unfortunately, Mobo died that same evening for unknown reasons. Rumors have it that he died of too much wine, while others suggested he slipped and hit his head on a pebble after taking more palm wine than necessary.

The only thing that offered a clue to his father's last words was a phrase boldly written on his bed with red ink. A similar inscription was written close to where Mobo's body was found, which read, "beware of its flight, beware of the purity of the dark." Moremi spent days trying to gain insight into the inscription, but every logic failed her. Finally, she got married to Akumjele after her father's burial, and the union was blessed with a beautiful child who died of an unnatural cause. Akumjele and Moremi mourned his death and moved on, only to have their second and third child die similarly within one month of delivery.

"It's okay! The gods gave, and they have taken. There is nothing we can do to bring Fasuaa back," said Adaku, Akumjele's grandmother, after giving Moremi a soft tap that ejected her out of the pond of reminiscence. "Mama, I can't. I just can't! How can a baby die with two eyes open? I have lost four children in 7 years; this is too much for a woman to bear," said Moremi, burying her head in her palms.

These words pierced through Adaku's spirit, and her face inadvertently shape-shifted to an alligator and back to its real state. Akin, a famous palm tapper, couldn't believe what had happened. While tapping close to the Akumjeles' family compound, he saw what he couldn't explain. "There is a mistake somewhere. This is impossible. The agreement was three, not four, or am I getting it wrong? No!.... I can't wait for dusk. I must see the Oracle at once," said Adaku as she swaggered back to her room. Locking her door, she picked a broomstick from an old broom that lay under her wooden bed, hid it under her wrapper, and went to bed.

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