The day that Adakole’s mother passed on, he came face to face with another sort of pain that man experiences in a lifetime. He was certain that there was no worse pain available in life’s variety stock than the one which comes with losing a loved one. It was the worst.
It did not even matter that he had seen it coming for quite some time before it actually happened because the middle-aged woman had been confined to the sick bed for many months. All of the time, on that bamboo bed, in that shadowy room, she had looked more and more like a dry tree on the brink of collapse with the passing of the days. It appeared as if the nameless ailment was making mockery of all the medications and care administered to her.
Pressure mounted on fourteen-year old Adakole. He wasn’t the woman’s only child but his brother, older than himself, had disappeared from the village some years before after attempting to fell the mysterious Odan tree that stood in the middle of the compound. Amali, that was the brother’s name, had been convinced that the Odan tree whose branch had fallen and killed their papa was a possessed entity.
So one night he invited fellow Christians from Akrika Pentecostal church over and with prayer and fasting the felling of the tree commenced. The tree was so huge the job could not be completed in one night and the boys had suspended the task shortly before daybreak. People who saw the tree in the morning said it had a groove running through its centre and therein were many strange things found – a black cat and a black pigeon, an earthen cooking pot, a ladle and a rafia mat.
The head of the clan was transfixed to a spot, his jaws hung open as if a heavy rock was suspended from them. He watched the half-felled tree with utter fear.
“This is a sacrilege!” his voice was scarcely above a whisper. “No one consumes a vulture and lasts a year, no one kills the ground hornbill and lives another month, whoever did this cannot last a day,” the wrinkled old man shook his head sorrowfully as he rolled out the familiar ageless consequence.
It had been few years now and Amali had not been seen ever since. So in the real sense Adakole was still the only one that mother had. But he had braced up to the realities.
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