ỌGBÀNJẸ

ỌGBÀNJẸ

How many times have I told you not to come with this mark? Soon they are going to notice it and have you burned and your iyi ụwa buried so you won’t return.
Make sure you don’t return here with it again, when next you go home have it cleaned before returning.

I nodded my head at my mother, bowed and left, to fetch water at the stream. I plucked a few fruits from the tree where we always met and licked happily as I walked to the stream.

I was always happy after a visit with her, we played under the tree and she told me different stories about the town and its people. Nobody could see us, She was a spirit and being with her made me invisible too.

Today though she had not told me any story, because she had noticed my birth mark, which I had always been successful at hiding.
I knew I was soon going to go home, by home I mean returning to the spirit world where I come from.

A world where there were many children like me, with different marks and a stone tied with cowries on a rope around our neck. We never took it off.

I knew also that I would soon die and return to this world, and my earthly mother would cry and weep for her child and then after some months she would take in again and I would come back.

I got to the house and met her singing while turning something in the charcoal pot. I dropped the water, and rushed to play with my brothers. She called me back to help her in the kitchen but I refused. I preferred to play.

This was my sixth coming to the world, and after the seventh time. I would have to go to another family.
But I did not think, my earthly mother would bear it if I died again, only to return months later with another face. I was becoming fond of her and felt she deserved to have her own female child who would not die.

There were already rumours around the village about these consistent deaths of her female children.
So on the night I was called back to my home in the spirit world, I dropped my iyi ụwa on her chest and put her hand right beside my birth mark.

The next morning she woke up, but I didn’t. Her husband called the elders and they decided I would be burnt not buried, along with my iyi ụwa to prevent my return.

I stood under the tree with the other children and we watched as my earthly body burnt.
I could no longer return to this world…

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