ONYE DEBIA

My uncle pulled celestial strings that morning when he heard I was about visiting a native doctor. ‘’you should know better that this native doctors are scams’’ he yelled at me. His voice came to me as the accent of one crying in the desert asking for the path to be made right for the coming of the holy one. ‘’Brother’’! He called at me. ‘’Your problems are not too big for your God to solve. All you need is to wait on him and at his fixed time he will vindicate you from all these issues’’. I look intently at him as he demonstrated faith in his God. He looked different to me that morning. He had added weight. And he has fully urbanized in the language of the church. Those great smiles he once beamed on me were nowhere to be found. He was troubled at my decision to see a witch doctor, so distressed as though he was about to lose an only brother. He hastily wore his trousers and folds his sleeves. I wondered how sinful he perceived my intentions. I just felt caught up between the onslaught of his interpretation and my ambition to make a first class in philosophy.
He was tensed! Our family house at Etua Etiti looked wet that morning because it rained overnight. The kitchen stood some meters away from the mud house. The chicken at our compound were in great number that morning, they were all picking on the grain my grandmother threw at them. The goats soon join them at what looked like a competition. They struggle to eat from the grains thrown to them. Such occurrences were infrequent so what all the animals did that morning was to make sure they maximize the chance given to them. My uncle had registered his grievances frenziedly to me. He left that morning to the farm at Mokpornokpor. Having been made a pastor lately at a local church in the village he must be committed to the God of the Bible. And according to him, all mysteries and problems of mankind can only be unravelled and solved by God. ‘’No human or witch is capable of solving any problem’’ he once told me.
Some day’s back I told a cousin of mine I will see a native doctor because I needed to work on my project in metaphysics- a branch of philosophy for which I majored on. Perhaps the information crept out of his mouth and like wide fire the news had circulated the whole of Etua. People kept asking me while I have decided to see a native doctor. ‘’He is a very powerful man’’ said Ikenna. ‘’You must see him privately and he will solve all your problems at once. Ikenna spoke as if the Debia holds the power of life and death. Even though I wasn’t convinced, he spoke to me for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t going to meet the witch doctor to solve my problems. The philosophy I study had already done that for me I only need a solution to a project in metaphysics. Aristotle, Confucius, Descartes, Thales and Socrates had provided half the answer. But I need a native to bestir my thoughts, perhaps to inspire me beyond the formal articulations of these ancient philosophers. This time I choose to hear the native version of metaphysics; to draw from an unfamiliar well of depth. ‘’They hold the answer to most of the questions we raise in philosophy’’. The professor said: ‘’some witch doctors can teach you philosophy more than we can do here in class. You need them. Don’t be strayed by your religion or believes, open up your minds to the possibilities of eternal knowledge’’ That day in class, I looked at the professor as he spoke with passion. Divergent judgments rushed to my mind as I engage myself on serious of thoughts. He left no stone unturned. He queried deeply into the eternal mysteries of things unknown. He taught us to stay afloat and not get sunk in the pull of ‘’irrational sentimentality’’. That was actually my best day in school.
***
I heard voices. One of which sounded like incantations. I stayed glued to the footpath heading towards the sound.
The sonorous songs of the birds on the threes came to me with much candour; the crickets chirped and it added to the musical rhythm of the forest. Grasshoppers, butterflies and the mouse took their most comforting habitation as the forest was kept in constant activities from all there in. I got to the shrine of Ekugo. It was deserted! The tranquility sent a chill down my spine. That was when fear came to me in real terms. ‘’Where is the priest of Ekugo?’’ I asked myself. I walked gently, holding my note books and pen strongly, perhaps he is on an assignment. ‘’Onye di ni isu immo!’’ (Who is before the gods) a voice yelled at me coarsely. As I turned towards his direction what looked like a monster stood before me. I greeted him. ‘’Oh! You rat’’. What do you need that you brought your fitly legs to desecrate the sanity of the deity ‘’ the priest thundered at me. ‘’I am sorry wise one I… I… I …‘’ he looked at me intently. I saw what looks like fire on his eyes. His face was scary, precisely marked with inzu(white chalks),his chest bears relics of previous fortifications.
He took a deep breath, ready to pounce on me. I stepped a little backward and pulled off my shoes. That was when he calmed down. My instinct had judged the situation just as I was move to put off my shoes. That was actually my crime. I had walked into the shrine casually with my shoe-on. It was a sign of insubordination and despoliation. I apologized for my undoing. After a very long gawk at me he sat down on an animal skin. I looked at the holy place which emitted an unpleasant stench to my nostrils. There were bones of different animal offered to the gods. Palm oil, cooked yam and roasted maize littered all over the place. It rained last night and the shrine absolutely looks inhabitable. But the pries t keeps a comfort there that amazed me. The gods have no sense of hygiene .I thought!
The priest look like one in a five star hotel with no sense of irritation whatsoever ‘’so why I you here?’’ he asked. ‘’oh sorry’’ I exclaimed ‘’I am a student and I want to find out certain things about metaphysics’’. Hmmmmmm! He exclaimed and looked up. I wandered whether the source of his powers lie up the heavens. So I looked up too. Perhaps I will see the source of his powers. He threw his chaplet to the ground in consultation then he chanted incantations. His voice no longer scared me. I had developed resistance to such trepidation within a short time. He ogles at the chaplets and a terrible grimace evolved from his face; such expression spells looming danger. I took a deep breath in anticipation of kismet. His face soon become lighter and I gape at him pensively. You must offer a white cock now! ‘’what!’’ I said. ‘’You heard me’’ he said.
I am a student and I don’t rear chicken. My grandmother have many but she doesn’t have any white one. ‘’Don’t tell the gods what they already know’’ he said. Anger building from his facial expression. I looked at the priest and said ‘’ Aristotle, Confucius, Descartes, Thales and Socrates never asked for chicken before they show us the ways of living’’. They were generous with their knowledge of mysteries as they grail the natural workings of things ‘’what! ‘’ ‘’Are you mad’’? He shouted. How dare you compare the gods with your friends? ‘’ I need to tell you so that you can tell them’’ I resorted. The priest stood before me I could sense he was very surprise at my cuts. ‘’Do you know giving is much more desirable than collecting? I had thought the gods should know better’’.
‘’How come they keep demanding what they are not capable of eating?’’I said. ‘’Do they have life? Can we invest confidence in the capabilities of the deity that does not speak?’’. ‘’stop it’’ the priest shouted in anger and brought out a sword. ‘’I think you should give me the floor’’ I said. ‘’Do you think you are really who you think you are?’’ I asked the priest. His face transmuted into a fog; he was running out of patience. ‘’When the gods commune with you, do you believe in them and jettison your imagination? Are they the custodians of metaphysics?’’ ‘’Who are you?’’ The priest asked. ‘’I had told you before. I am a student of philosophy, a messenger of Aristotle, Confucius, Descartes, Thales and Socrates’’. ‘’Do you know your destination after death?’’I continued. ‘’Is there life after death?’’ You have raise to many questions, let me answer you. You rat! The witch doctor whispered. He cleared his gullet and began as I engrave all he said.
He was well grounded in the things of the spirit. He exceeded my expectation because I had provoked him. He needed to show me the stuff he is made of. He took on metaphysics like no one living or dead has ever done. I took notes like I had never done in my life before. When he discovered I had gotten sternly engrossed at his thoughts he went deeper. My professor was right. I thought. Afterwards it dawned on him that I never offered him the white cock so he clogged, gazed at me and hound me away like his dog. ‘’Any day you smoke whatever you smoke and come to the shrine I will call fire down to consume you’’ he bawl.
I ran as swiftly as I could only to find out my notebooks were not on me. So I slummed and fainted. I woke up four hours later at the village square where I shared my story. ONYE DEBIA……………………..
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