Every horror story starts with a regular day but not this one. This one starts with a thunderstorm and the birth of a child. A squabbling little boy with hair like Samson, thick and brown with an allergy to blade. Every time a scissors was put through it he was sure to fall ill. Nnanna was no bundle of Joy for anyone. Every time I saw him run around the compound I wondered how his mother had not smothered him in his sleep or simply thrown him in a river. I know I would have, perhaps this was why Chineke kept taking my babies from my womb.
Nnanna was rushed to the hospital on Mondays, Sundays, Thursday and on days as random as ever. He spent every penny his father made from the bank and sucked at his mother’s breast till her clothes hung on her like a sack. I used to think children brought joy but not this one, he had wise eyes of an aged man and teeth like a youth. His voice was coarse and his demeanor suspicious. Whenever I came back from work I saw him interact with nobody but the cream wall washed by years of rainfall.
Last week Saturday as I sat in my balcony ready to devour a plate of Banga soup, there he was staring at me and speaking in foreign tongues. I quickly ran inside and anointed my head with a bottle of Goya oil chanting the words of Isaiah 54:17
“No weapon fashioned against me shall prosper”
When I told Pastor Bayo of Nnanna, he handed me a bag of salt to circle round my house and keep the boy away. At exactly 12:00am I was woken from my sleep by a strange noise, the noise seemed to be coming from the living room and just as I stepped out NEPA did their thing, there was a total black out.
“Blood of Jesus. Blood of Jesus.” I pleaded as I made my way to the living room with a torchlight.
“Nnanna! What are you doing here?”
“Uju said she’s cold, her pink blanket is here”
“Blood of Zechariah. I bind and cast you demon. Uju is dead! Get out of here before the Fire of God consumes you”
Immediately, he took flight as I began pursuing him. I moved to lock my front door before I saw it; the heap of the salt I had circled round my house. Someone had gathered it and poured it in front my door, goosebumps grew on my skin and I ran back to my bedroom and prayed all night till day break. The thought of this child mentioning my dead child’s name was unnerving and this time I was certain he was no human being. The next morning I fled to the prayer house and narrated my story to Pastor Bayo. He gave me a tiny bell that had a red ribbon tied on it and asked that I rang it three times every night to alert the spirits letting them know that a living person occupied my space. I did this religiously for 7 days but after then anytime I rang the bell it would make no sound. Going to Pastor Bayo became a ritual and each time I either returned with a piece of kolanut, a calabash of eggs, a keg of anointed water or a pigeon feather; all to no avail of conquering the little demon that wandered in the compound. I became sleep deprived and steadily anxious.
“This child you’re a serious Ogbanje!” I yelled one afternoon after he ran a stone across my car. He stuck out his tongue and started running. I don’t know what it was, maybe anger, desperation, exhaustion or possession but I got into my car chased after him till he fell on the ground and my tyres climbed over him. Still infuriated I reversed and heard the front tyre crush his bones.
Till this day I never thought I would be able to forgive myself but there was nothing to forgive because the next morning Nnanna was outside playing.