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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Love Episode 2

LOVE

Episode 2

Children would often circle around her table asking her
to give them some fruits. In spite of how hard poverty
bit on their family, she would cut some oranges in bits
and give the children. People saw that and loved her for
it. However, that was the beginning of her problem.
After some time, a few children in the street became
sick. Their parents took them to hospitals, but hospitals
could not help them; and they had to take them to
spiritual houses where those children were diagnosed as
having been bewitched. No one knew who bewitched the
children, but all accusing fingers went in the direction
of Eka. She was the one who gave the children fruits in
the street and worrisomely her beauty made her look
like a mermaid. Slowly many people began to believe the
notion that Eka was a witch. Parents made sure that
their children were not seen near her fruit table. Eka’s
parents were confronted in the street by the parents
of the sick children and warned to tell Ekaette to
remove the witchcraft she put on their children. Eka’s
parents did not believe one word of the claim that their
daughter was a witch and so defended.
While the accusations against Eka flew around, the sick
children began to die one after another, and this made
things worse for Eka and her parents. Many believed
that Ekaette was supplying the children to her coven.
The death of the children brought her fruit selling
business in her street to a sudden end as even adults
became afraid that Ekaette could also bewitch them.
So not to be idle, she began to carry her fruits in a
tray to some other streets to sell them; but not long
after, the rumours followed her to those streets and
people began to avoid buying fruits from her. When the
pressure on her parents came to a head, they invited
Eka to know if she was truly a witch. “Ekaette, I and
your mother want the truth from you. We are your
parents, don’t lie to us. Please Ekaette, are you a
witch?” “Ah! Ah! Papa! How could you think such of
me? I am not a witch!” “But Eka, the children who ate
your oranges are dying off in the street?” “Why are
the adults who bought and ate my oranges not dying? I
am not a witch! I am shocked that you and mama have
allowed the bad talk and rumours in the street to sway
you.” “Eka we have not been swayed, we only want to be
sure. Also they are saying that you are targeting little
children for now.”
Ekaette could not say another word; she could tell that
her parents were shifting amazingly to what people
were saying about her. All she could do was cry. After
some time her mother came to console her and told her
to forget the matter. Some months after the first
round of children who took ill had all died. New batch
of children in the street became sick and began to die.
As it was earlier, Ekaette was accused even though her
fruit selling business had wound up. People claimed that
she had already initiated them to her coven through the
fruits she gave to them and was only taking them out
one after another. The matter came to its climax when
Ekaette’s brothers and sisters became sick as well. Her
parents went berserk in their efforts to save their
children. They took them from white garment churches
to native doctors and to hospitals and nothing could be
done to save the children. One after another, Ekaette’s
four siblings succumbed to death. Tongues wagged in
the street that because Ekaette could not find more
children to supply to her coven, she turned on her
brothers and sisters. Her parents were mocked in the
street. When her parents could not bear the loss of
their four children, they went to Oron to make enquiries
about what actually killed their children. After days
they returned to Calabar with the conviction that
Ekaette ate her brothers and sisters and so threw her
out of the house.
That night as Ekaette ran from what she perceived to
be a snake in the uncompleted building, a car almost
ran over her. The driver of the car was a woman. She
pulled her car up by the road side and went to see the
young girl she thought she had killed. Still afraid,
Ekaette jumped to her feet and tried to continue her
run, but she felt giddy and slumped back to the ground.
The lady who had brushed her with her Hyundai Accent
flipped out and began to shout, thinking that Eka had
died. A few passers-by stopped and helped the lady
take Ekaette to the hospital. It took Eka about two
weeks to recover from the hospital. The lady who had
knocked her down was faithful to pay the hospital bills.
The lady, who went by the name Efe, was shocked by
the wounds she saw on Ekaette’s body and so asked her
about it, “What happened to you? You have ugly wounds
all over your body.” “My parents and my street branded
me a witch…” She paused as she got very emotional.
Efe waited for her to continue, “…when my brothers
and sisters died in much the same fashion as some
children on my street, my parents travelled to Oron and
came back with the conclusion that I was responsible
for their deaths as much as the other children who died
in my street. They beat me up and threw me out of the
house,” she continued. “Excuse me, do you mean
children, including your siblings, began do die
unexplainably in your street and then your parents
concluded you were behind it?” “Yes, twelve children in
all. Four out of the twelve are my siblings.”
Efe paused and didn’t press further for answers; she
sat beside her and thought deeply. From the night she
met her there was something that struck her about
Ekaette. She could not get her hands on what it was;
but she was certain about one thing, Ekaette’s beauty
was surreal, almost creepy. She could see why she was
easily branded a witch. Efe reached out and touched
Ekaette’s hair and felt its smoothness. The feel
shocked her and she asked, “What do you do to your
hair to make it look this way?” “Nothing. It has always
been this way.” “Are you telling me you were born this
way?” “Yes, I was born this way.” “Wow! Perhaps for
your beauty they branded you a witch. You are
unbelievably beautiful. Do you know that?” “Thank you.
People tell me I am beautiful, but it was not for it that
I was branded a witch. I was selling fruits on my street
when the children became sick, so people concluded that
I bewitched them through the fruits I gave them, but I
did not. God knows I did not.” She began to cry again.
“But did you give the children fruits?” “Yes, very often
they would come to me asking for fruits and I would
give them the little I could afford to give out what I
had to sell.” “But did any of the children you often
gave fruits die?” Ekaette could tell Efe was leaning
more toward the idea that she was perhaps a witch and
so did not answer her last question. She could see it in
the way she looked at her. She remembered what she
asked one of the doctors the night she was brought to
the hospital, “Is the girl a human being? She looks like
beauties from the water.” The doctor laughed and
brushed aside her....

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