Àníkẹ́’s skin glowed like the stars in the night sky and her curves were synonymous to the moon crystal. I could go on and on but simply put: she was ravishing. She was the kind of lady one would have just one intelligent conversation with and agree that there is more to the beautiful face than meets the eye.
Àníkẹ́ was the talk of the Town, she was the gist at every palm wine joint, the whispers over the ayo game and the song the kids sang during night tales. Indeed, her beauty was the one which should be preached far and wide, so it came as shock to the people of Òmú-abẹ when she decided to marry Bọ̀sípò.
Rumour had it, that Àníkẹ́ had a very sharp tongue like a red hot blade that pierces her suitors and leaves them melancholic and in pain. However, it seemed Bọsipọ had a kind of proof to this, some even referred to him being of a lineage of Èṣù Priests, hence must have somehow enchanted her–not with his good looks but with jùjú. Bọ̀sípò was a well-built man with toffee abs: sweet and hard, blessed with well-carved beards too, and a perfectly curled pink lower lip. Obviously, the people’s shock over Anike’s decision was not of his body, but over the fact that he was not from a rich family, in fact, their farm was the smallest in the village and their practices as an Èṣu worshipping clan were strange.
The Ẹ̀ṣúbùnmi clan has always been deviants in the village. They were the second of the two clans that decided to worship Èṣù as their god coupled with other counter decisions they usually make in matters that concerned the village as a whole. They had a weird culture, one of which forbade them not to use àdín an important skin and hair product in the village, especially for babies. The villagers always wondered, which kind of god would forbid something that is beneficial to a baby
All these contrasts from the rest of the village never for once bothered Anike–she was in love. She always tried to convince everyone close to her– especially her parents– that Bọsipọ was different. Truthfully, he was, he stopped worshipping Èṣù nor any god at all from age sixteen. This is the age where every male in his clan gets a portion of their small land; a part of the wholesome pact which includes other rituals that marked independence and entry into manhood.
At first, Àníkẹ́’s parents first refused her choice but after some considerations and her ultimate threat that she would one day go to the market, buy a rope meant for a cow and hang herself– naked from the Ìrókò tree at the market square, her parents complied. All the demands for the bride price were set but they had to be revisited and reduced several times as Bọsipọ struggled to meet up with them. In the end, the day of the wedding day came. Àníkẹ́ was looking like a beautiful sea goddess and Bọsipọ was looking like an extraordinary handsome stranger in folktales which every mother would warn her child not to talk to, talk less of marrying. The wedding was blissful, at least the couple was happy.
Twelves years in marriage and blessed with just one child, a female, Àníkẹ́ had become very sensitive– any woman in her stead would be. Her in-laws were already breathing down her neck and the villagers incessantly reminded her that a female child worths less than a male one, and are of no use to the household. For eleven years, she tried to conceive; even if it would turn out to be another female, she cared less. She just wanted to have another child. In all these, her husband had enjoined not to be bothered– reassuring her daily that he deeply loved her and wasn’t bothered whether she births a male or any child at all or not.
Bọ̀sípò’s Farm was about a mile from home and every evening Anike always had to bring home food. She and their daughter, Ẹwàtómi, would help out in some farm work before going home or sleep in the farm hut if it became too late to go home. Ẹwàtómi was born on the farm in one of these days. It was a day of harvest and Àníkẹ́ had adamantly decided to work with Bọsipọ on the farm. Bọ̀sípò was scared to the teeth when her water broke because there was no midwife, faraway, on the farm but Àníkẹ́ pushed through by herself.
Ẹwàtómi was ill so Àníkẹ́ dropped her at her parent’s and took the food to the farm alone. When She got close to the farm, she saw Bọ̀sípò helping a woman adjust her wrapper. Instantly, different thoughts ran through her head and she became enraged, but with a lot of energy, she suppressed her indignation and walked into the farm with a smile. Upon seeing his wife, Bọsipọ finished tying the wrapper with the speed of a bush rat that just escaped a trap and welcomed his wife. The woman greeted them with what sounded like the weird cackle of an evil bird and walked away.
That night Bọ̀sípò barely touched the food his wife brought but he made love to her like one who had eaten a mountain of fùfú as he jerked her like he was carrying her over mountains. None of them mentioned the event that occurred in the evening and when it was morning, they played like young lovers drunk on wine till they got home where they had to behave– as parents. After breakfast which they ate in the afternoon, Bọ̀sípò called his wife and told her that he would need her to stop coming to the farm every evening but only on Sunday evenings during harvest periods which was now a month away. She silently agreed like a Patridge and decided not to quiz him further.
For the next two weeks, Bọ̀sípò did not sleep at home but came home early every morning and went back that same morning. Time as a family started to reduce and coupled with her last experience at the farm, Àníkẹ́ started becoming very suspicious. The next week, Àníkẹ́ could no longer hold herself, so she decided to go to the farm to confirm her suspicion. It was a sunny Sunday, so the evening was cooler. As she trotted to the farm, a number of scenes of how she would attack her husband were playing in head If by any chance her suspicions were right.
On getting to the farm, she could see the same lady and her husband eating from a distance. Immediately, She became distraught, dizzy for a little while, a part of her mind told her: ”they are just eating, It’s not that bad” while the other was saying: “they must really be enjoying themselves, he has never mentioned this lady to you before but look at the way your husband is merrily eating her food. If you do not act you might be having yourself a junior wife or losing your husband to another woman.” For a moment, she stood, she was too weak to move nor to act any of the scenes that were playing in her head, at least, not that night. She went home, still distraught, and did not even bother to prepare supper. She made Ẹwàtómi take gaàrí, put her to bed and slept off afterwards. For the rest of the week, she decided to keep going to the farm whilst leaving her daughter with her parents, and every time she met the lady and her husband together–eating.
On Saturday, there was more, she saw the food containers were closed and it seemed they had finished the main dish and were moving on to dessert or they had decided to skip the main dish and move to the enticing dessert. She saw her husband hurriedly carrying the lady into the farm-hut like a goat on heat. This time she did not wait to watch as there was nothing more to see, she turned and went home, even, more distraught than before, as her mind kept showing her clips of a similar experience to what she had with her husband the last time she slept over in the hut. She got home pondering all night of what exactly she would do and she finally came to a dire conclusion.
The next morning, Bọ̀sípò came back late. Later than he used to but his wife wasn’t bothered as she already knew the reason for this. He told his wife he won’t be going back to the farm that day but would be making up for the time he had been away. Asides their wedding and the day Ẹwàtómi was born, this day was their best yet. They played, ate, and sang all day When it was evening, around the time Àníkẹ́ usually got to the farm, she made a request she had never made before: “Can I shave your beard?”. He was shocked at her request as this was a major part of his body she really loved, not only to view but also play with, Nevertheless, her explanation that it was looking very rough, hence irritating her convinced him and he complied.
They went out to the backyard, the evening had a beautiful view of how the sun slowly kisses the earth good night. With her husband’s head on her laps, She took a razor, which she had played with all night and she started shaving. All her trips to the farm in the week started playing in her head and in no time the conclusion she made on what to do to her husband played out.
In one hour, Anike had cowered in a corner looking at her beardless husband as her tears poured on the clots of blood on her hands and the razor in his throat. His head was still on her laps and a knife stood straight on his chest like the lady on the other corner of the room– the same lady Anike had seen multiple times on her husband’s farm. She had come to say thank you to Bọ̀sípò and also bring him a wrapped gift which she claimed he forgot on the farm.
Upon arrival, she met fresh blood coming from Bọsipọ throat like a ram slaughtered for the Eid-el Kabir festival. Àníkẹ́ chased and charged at her cursing while she ran out. Anike caught up with her and dragged her inside whilst asking a ton of questions. In fear, She started speaking like a witch confessing her wrong deeds, she explained: “My name is Àbẹ̀fẹ́ and I am a childless widow, My husband left me a plot of land which is adjacent to your husband’s. I made a deal with your husband that he would help me cultivate my land and I’d pay him with half of the harvest and also feed him every evening till harvest time. I’m here to thank him for his assistance thus far and also return this parcel which he forgot in the farm. He said it is for your wedding anniversary.”
In a flash, she mumbled through these words. On hearing these, guilt had started climbing up Àníkẹ́’s chest and the weight had already started making her heart pound very fast. Stuttering, Anike narrated the previous day event where she saw her husband carrying her to the hut, Àbẹ̀fẹ́ replied calmly like a slave begging for mercy: “If you look at my leg you’d see there is a bandage. On the farm yesterday, I was bitten by a snake but thanks to your husband he hurriedly helped get the poison out and gave me an antidote That was the reason he was carrying me to the hut– to apply the antidote”.
At this point, the weight of guilt on Àníkẹ́’s chest seemed to have moved to her throat as she could no longer speak but shed tears, she even forgot to ask about the day she saw her husband tying her wrapper, she just sat there in the corner sobbing like a child overwhelmed by different thoughts: “what would I say to Bọ̀sípò’s family? What would I tell my parents? What would I say to my dear Ẹwàtómi”.She didn’t even realize when Àbẹ̀fẹ́ sneaked out of the house.
…The next morning, Àníkẹ́ was seen dangling from the Iroko tree at the Market Square with a rope meant for a cow.
Èṣù: a Yoruba god whose English variant is Satan
Àdín: Palm Kernel Oil
Gaàrí: granulated flakes made from cassava; to be drunk or made into a paste with hot water
Jùjú: a spiritual belief system incorporating objects, such as amulets, and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa