My heart was filled with thoughts of events which made me head towards the only stream in my village. A retinue of two ladies, my single-mother and Alàgbà Ìjọ, the spiritual leader of my church –– an old man with heavy pale dreadlocks and scary bushy beards –– marched like soldiers behind me. We were all clothed in white –– our church uniform. Greetings of “halleluiah o”, from villagers, who had an awesome reverence for Alàgbà Ìjọ, rented the air. As we walked, we sang spiritual songs, though I did reluctantly. But the quieter I was the harder a whip, wickedly woven out of palm fronds, bit harshly into my frail flesh! I staggered bare-foot; due to some ache I had housed for many months in between my legs.

It was like an unending nightmare as Alàgbà Ìjọ started undressing me. I howled but my howling never helped me. I was stark naked at the stream, not only in the presence of my entourage but before everyone present. Alàgbà Ìjọ concurrently prayed for and scourged me, with the whip. While he did this others chorused countless “amens”.

One of the ladies suddenly started dancing, in a trance, with her eyes tightly shut!

“Eli…Eli… Jah! Jah! Jah! Jah! Jehovah!” she screamed, while she simultaneously slapped her fat thighs. “Yes, yes!” she intra-personally communicated. Silence suddenly conquered the whole arena. I ceased that moment of tranquility to run. I closed my eyes and ran – far away from the sickening rituals.

“The young witch has gone loose”, cried one of the women washing at the stream. I felt a firm grip on my wrist. As I struggled to free myself, a thunderous slap registered itself, firmly, on my face. I tasted on my lips blood, which trickled from my nostrils. As dizzy as I was, I heard loud guffaws ricocheted round the stream. My captor, a young man, who was busy feasting on my barely developed naked breasts, dragged me to the team of human beings in white clothes. From the corner of my eyes I looked at mother, who was soaked in tears.

“Oluwa O! Speak, for your servant listens”, the lady in trance silently shouted. “The Lord says that this girl is being troubled by the spirit of Incubus. Eli… Eli… Eli….” She swung her backside sideways, and smiled. “But the Lord of Hosts says He’s delivered the girl.”

She suddenly screamed, “Shout seven hallelujahs!”

Concocted hallelujahs, awfully harmonized, drove me into unconsciousness. I abruptly woke up in a familiar dark room, which reeked of unpleasant scents. I woke up because I felt his hard coarse palms rubbing against my thighs and breasts! His smelly, brownish –– ragged ––dreadlocks and beards, on my ten year-old face, itched. I jerked out of bed and screamed, as usual, “no!” As usual, his old sweaty right palm covered my trembling mouth.

“I told you no one would believe your story but you foolishly went ahead to reveal it. Who can rescue you from my hands now that the truth is turned a lie? This is the price your mother must pay for quitting her marriage and keeping you in my care. This is the only way you can be grateful to your foster father for feeding, sheltering and clothing you. Tell me, is this too much to ask?”

While he spoke he pressed himself firmly on me. I hurled cursed muffled words at him, though helpless under his heavy weight. I felt more excruciating pain in between my legs as he jerked and moaned while I went berserk and groaned!

©Immanuel Afolabi 2011