Fiction

Season of Egrets: Fiction by Ozimede Sunny Ekhalume

Image: Pixabay.com remixed by Africanwriter.com

Wuyi trekked to school with a green cardigan pulled over his uniform. He let the oversized sleeves of the cardigan drape over his palms. His teeth chattered as though they had a mind of their own – a reflex reaction of his body to the piercing cold. It was the season of harmattan, particularly harsh this morning. He clutched his school bag to his chest trying to fight off the bitter cold. The harmattan mist hung in the air blurring visibility across the horizon. Leaves on trees rustled, and clothes on lines floundered to the gust of cold dry wind. Every surface was coated with a thin film of dust. Harmattan dust that had travelled, like a swarm of locusts, hundreds of miles from the Sahara. Wuyi rubbed his chapped lips with his forefinger. They felt sore. Right before he left the house he dabbed Robb, a mentholated balm over his raw lips. He sniffled. His nose stung from the Robb which he had dabbed in his nostrils also.

By Painted Bungalow – occupied mostly by bachelors – music blared as usual through a window. The music of Fela, Lady, floated in the air. A whiff of moi-moi tickled Wuyi’s nostrils and warmed his stomach. That familiar smell of sizzling moi-moi wrapped in leaves. It was from Iya Dele’s cauldron. She sold moi-moi for a living, from the front of her house which was next to Painted Bungalow. But for this trade, her children would not be in school. Her husband had abandoned his responsibility as the family’s breadwinner. Wuyi greeted her good morning and hurried along.

Harmattan was a terrible time to be given corporal punishment. The weather aggravated the pain of being caned. Flogging stung the flesh a notch deeper, seemed to sear the bones and marrows, and gripped the inside of the stomach. Harmattan forced people to laugh and talk like the Englishman– mouth barely open, lips barely moving. If one laughed with mouth fully open, one would get a tear on the lips. If one said ooh haa! one’s lips would split.

By an empty piece of land between two houses, a flock of fowls roosted together feather to feather to keep warm. A white hen not huddled with the rest, tucked up one of her legs into her feathered underbelly and proceeded to preen herself. A rooster with ruffled yellow plumage streaked with black and red – plumage like flaming fire – spread his wings, flapped them, thrust out his breast, craned his neck high, and screeched a crow. The rooster foraged close to the hen and capered in a half circle with one wing extended down, the characteristic cockerel waltz. The hen dropped her leg and scampered away. Having asserted his dominance, the rooster strutted away flipping his head at flies flitting around his pinkish comb and wattles.

Wuyi exchanged greetings as he walked past acquaintances: parents on their way to work or the market, students on their way to school. A middle-aged woman carrying a sack of ground cassava hurried past him. The smell of fermented cassava wafted after her. Cassava sap dripped from the sack to her nape and shoulders. Flies flurried in trail of her. At the veranda of Number One, a young woman hunched over a basin filled with an assortment of clothes. The brim dripped of lather. She washed and wrung the clothes effortlessly even though a baby was latched to her back with a beige sash and a blue wrapper. She hummed a tune with a chewing stick poking from between her lips. Every now and then, she bared her teeth, brushed with the stick and spat out a frothy blob.

Across the road, white sparks of static electricity went off atop the electric pole accompanied by a crackling sound and wisps of smoke. Tongues of white flame dripped to the ground. The spark startled to flight the pigeons perching on the electric wire. Wuyi scurried far away from the area fearing the pole could catch fire. Because of the windy and dry weather, there were usually a lot of fire incidents during harmattan with houses and markets razed to ashes.

At Oranmiyan Grammar School’s field, the swathe of grass had succumbed to the weather. They had gone shrivelled and yellowish. A congregation of egrets strutted about with their thin fragile legs foraging for food – grubs, worms and insects. Harmattan was also the season of egrets. They came with the cold gale. How they managed to keep their plumage sparkling white in the dusty haze was baffling. Where and how they did their laundry would forever be a mystery to the partridge.

Somewhere after the Grammar School, just before Sabo junction, a crowd clustered around a circle. Wuyi wondered what was going on – an accident victim? A performing magician or a snake charmer? Perhaps a mountebank peddling some nostrum? It couldn’t be any of those because as he got closer, he noticed the crowd was irate. Some of the people were armed, with cudgels, whips and stones. They chattered and surged. His mind told him to walk away but he found his legs doing the opposite. He sauntered towards the crowd. Nearby, people peered from their balconies and stalls. Others strode past, they had enough troubles in their lives to deal with than to stop and watch a bunch of bums who had nothing worthwhile to do with the best part of their day. His eyes caught the back of two boys within the crowd who wore the same uniforms as his, white shirt on black shorts. His schoolmates, but he could not make out who they were. Wuyi found an opening between two teenage girls in green school uniforms and pushed through a mishmash of odours from unwashed bodies and mildewed mouths. A plump woman smothered his face with her breasts the size of a watermelon. She stank of breast milk and infant’s urine, the smell of a nursing mother. He was suffocating. He shoved. She was too heavy for him to push off. Then he got lucky, the woman shifted. Wuyi breathed hard as he filled his lungs with air. Eventually, he broke through the crowd to find a young woman sprawled on the ground. Wuyi, breathless and his throat dry looked the woman over. Her hair was dishevelled and matted with blood. Her eyes, bloodshot and desperate. They darted from one face surrounding her to the other like a caged monkey searching for an opening of escape. There she lay stripped naked. Except for a threadbare, tie-and-dye indigo wrapper shrouded around her waist. The wrapper was smeared with patches of mud and blood, and dry yellowish grass blades clung here and there. By her bosom stood perky breasts the size of an adult’s fist, ending with pointed nipples without visible areolas. Her midriff was near flat. The dip of her navel was like that of a well-formed tomato fruit. She was fair-skinned, round-faced – freckles free – with a small nose. Even in her agony, she was pretty. She sat in a reclined position her legs spreadeagle, like one who had abandoned herself to her fate. She clutched the tied edge of her wrapper struggling not to be thrown into stark nakedness. With the other free hand, she dug her fingers into the sand, clenching and unclenching her fist in it. Though she was weeping, there were no tears. It seemed her tear duct had gone dry from crying. Wuyi felt a knot tighten in his stomach. He felt something for this forlorn woman. Something more than pity, something close to love, something sexual. Soon, Wuyi was pushed aside and had to crane his neck to catch a glimpse of the events unfurling. He asked a bucktoothed man next to him what was going on. “She is a witch. She flies at night,” he replied.

A short man, with large veins sticking out of his temple, held up a cowhide whip and barked at the woman, “Confess! You are a witch.”

The woman spoke in a barely audible, weak voice revealing a set of well arranged sparkling teeth, “I’m not a witch. I’m not a witch. I don’t fly at night. I don’t drink human blood. I have never eaten human flesh.”

The short man screamed, “Liar!” and lashed at her with the whip.

She cowered and ducked, but not letting go the hand holding her wrapper. The whip made fresh blood clot marks on her arms. A surge of vicarious pain went through Wuyi’s spine. He believed her; she was too beautiful and innocent to be a witch. Someone hurled a cudgel at her. Another, a stone.

Wuyi asked the bucktoothed man, “How did you know she’s a witch? Did she kill someone?”

“She is sprouting a penis by her vagina.”

“She is what?” Wuyi asked, mouth agape, not believing he heard him right.

“I said she is sprouting a penis by her vagina.”

“Ahan” Wuyi sniggered, which turned out to be a mistake. Because he immediately felt a tear on his lower lip. He dabbed it with a finger. The cold seeped into the cut. He ran his tongue over it and tasted something metallic – blood.

The man tsked and snapped his fingers saying, “You’ll see.”

Zacchaeus –a name Wuyi had made up, apt for a man of that height –spoke again, “So what’s that thing between your thighs?” She did not reply, instead she gathered the fringes of her wrapper and tucked them between her legs which she had now pulled together. Zacchaeus seized a rod from a man close to him and poked it between her legs trying to pry them open.  The woman stiffened and held her thighs together. When he saw she was unyielding, he raised the whip high up above his head and lashed at her bare back drawing blood afresh. The crowd cheered.

One grey-haired man said, “If she’s not a witch, then let her spread her legs for all to see.”

“Don’t kill this woman. Let her alone,” the only dissenting voice in the crowd begged.

No one listened to this middle age woman in a pleated blue gown, and with spectacles of large frames on her face. The frames pressed on the bridge of her nose, quashing her nostrils. She looked like a schoolteacher on her way to work.

Then the watermelon-bosomed woman made a suggestion, “Let the men hold her down and spread her legs.” The mob found this to be a good idea. So, four hefty men pounced on her. Two held her down, while the other two pried her legs open. The woman struggled and thrashed. Her wrapper fell off throwing her into stark nakedness. The crowd went wild. As she thrashed, Wuyi caught a glimpse of her bare buttocks. A hubbub of shouts went up in the crowd, Heee! Aje! Witch! Ẹwo oko l’egbe Obo! See a penis sprouting by a vagina! That moment, someone pulled Wuyi by his ears from behind. He managed to free himself from the grip and turned. He looked, it was Landlady. She shouted “What’re you doing here? You rotten brain. You’re here ogling a nude witch when you’re supposed to be in school. Be off to school!” Wuyi squeezed through the crowd, he straightened his shirt which had been crumpled and dirtied, and scurried off.

***

Lara Taiwo, though a lady of marriageable age, was single and lived alone in one room in a “face-me-I-face-you” apartment. Young men considered her arrogant because she spurned every suitor that came her way. Men often told her if she thought she was too good for them, she would end up loving herself; end up left on the shelf to gather dust. A young man who lived in one of the rooms in the apartment had wooed her to no avail. That she snubbed him made him angry and soon turn into hatred. Yet, he secretly desired her.

At the back of the apartment where she lived was a common shower stall shared by all the residents. It was a three-wall stall. A rusty brown iron functioning as lintel beam hung across the open end which served as the entrance. Users draped towels or wrapper across the beam as curtains when they bathed. One morning while Lara was bathing, the young man who had been stalking her went peeping behind the curtain. Shameless Peeping Tom leered at Lara’s nakedness as she, with her back to the entrance, soaped herself. His face lit up, he placed one hand on his head and the other on his crotch. He stifled a moan. When she turned and faced the entrance and he peered down her pubes, he cringed and screamed at what he saw. Dazed, Shameless Peeping Tom wiped his face with his palm repeatedly, as though that would alter the weird image before him. Having recovered from the shock, he pulled down the wrapper, which Lara had hung as a curtain, and lunged at her naked soapsuds-covered body. Stunned, Lara screamed and swiftly dropped her hands, one to her bosom and the other to her pubes in a futile effort to cover her nakedness. She managed to wrap her towel around her waist, leaving her bosom to the midriff bare. That was the best she could get from the size of her towel. A struggle ensued. The man grabbed and dragged Lara out of the cubicle screaming, “Emo re!” What a freak! “Neighbours, come and see a freak.” He kept screaming, “Ewa wo oloko l’egbe obo!”Come and see She Who Sprouts a Penis by Her Vagina! Women quickly flung their wrappers around their bosoms and men slipped into their trousers and hurried out of their rooms to behold the grotesquerie. As it was the custom, female nudity in public was considered an affront on womanhood and women would always rally round one of their own in instances like this. So, despite Shameless Peeping Tom’s protest, the first set of women to converge offered Lara a wrapper to cover her bosom and midriff. Children, some of who had also gathered, were ordered back into the house. Lara stood in the middle of the crowd shivering like a drenched bat, clutching the wrapper round her wet body. Weeping, she cowered like a cornered rat. The man shouted, “Why would she not spurn men? She has been fucking herself. She doesn’t need a man. She has a fully grown prick.” He hissed and slapped his thigh. “All she needs to do is plug it inside of herself.” People that gathered were bewildered by what they had heard. Could this be true? Could a woman sprout a penis by her vagina? Was the young man hallucinating? After the crowd had heard him out, they asked Lara for her own side of the story. Lara called him a shameless man who invaded women’s privacy. What the crowd wanted an answer to was: did she possess the male device or not? She flatly denied anything of such. They prodded her to submit herself for examination. She refused. When they insisted, she started to plead, “Please, cover my shame. Let my disgrace remain in the closet. Do not humiliate me in the marketplace.” A din of murmur went up in the crowd, So it is true. Emo re! The crowd transformed into an irate mob as quickly as it took whisked egg poured into sizzling oil to change into an omelette. They stripped her naked and prised her thighs open to shouts of Emo, Emo. They labelled her a witch. What they had seen was evidential enough. Sprouting a penis beside her vagina was considered a blatant manifestation of witchcraft. What audacity! Little did they know that Lara had no power to do and undo this congenital abnormality in her anatomy; neither did she will it.

***

In the community, witches were either revered or feared. Feared and hated by good-natured people. Loved and revered by diabolic folks who consulted them for evil spiritual power. It was believed that while witches were impotent during the day, at night they transfigured into birds and eerie creatures that were near-omnipotent. The struggles of life, which were a sheer consequence of Time and Chance on humanity, were attributed to witches and their minions.  The failures and disappointments of life, the vagaries, the unfairness, the misfortunes. When life happened they blamed it on witches. And now that a witch had been caught, everyone wanted to bleed their own pint of blood. At the public square, Lara was flogged and clubbed – for daring to grow a penis like a man, for sucking the blood of innocent children, for eating human flesh, for flying at night like an owl, for ending the life of that promising man, and for preventing that childless woman from carrying to term three successive pregnancies…She was the lamb that must be sacrificed to take away the people’s misfortunes. Their anger was palpable. Like every mob action, gumption and the human milk of compassion had taken flight. For days, Lara would be dragged through the streets like a ragdoll and displayed like a freakish character in a circus show. She had become a property and a prisoner of the circus – the mob. They failed to realize that Lara, like the rest of them, was a victim, a fellow victim, of Life. She was a freak of nature. At a point, they commercialized her misfortune and made people pay to catch a glimpse of the oddity between her thighs.

People repelled and attacked what they did not understand, what they could not explain, a thing that upset their worldview, a thing that attacked the foundation of their belief, a thing that disrupted “the-evening-and-the-morning-make-one-day” – the order of things. And rather than try to understand it, they branded such phenomenon witchcraft. It was not unusual to find people with mental illnesses – who had auditory and visual hallucinations, Alzheimer’s, dementia – branded witches and lynched to death. Their condition was taken for an owning-up-to, an open manifestation of witchcraft.

***

Wuyi headed to school in a hurry, he was getting late. He stopped to buy Okin biscuit. After he had picked one from a hawker’s tray, he reached into his shorts pocket and found it empty. Confused, he turned both pockets inside out and still came up empty. His pocket had been picked in the witch-lynching crowd. He returned the biscuit and apologized profusely to the elderly woman telling her his plight. She told him he could have the biscuit, she knew how pickpockets preyed on children. Wuyi thanked her and went his way. When he got to school, the news had spread that a witch had been caught in town. Students, and equally teachers discussed and debated the matter.

At break time, Wuyi and his friends gathered over the issue. Their scandals scuffed on the concrete floor as they huddled by a corner at the corridor. Childbearing Child was there. His opinion on such matter was respected being older than any of his classmates. None of his classmates knew his exact age. He didn’t like to talk about it. But Childbearing Child had the deep voice of a boy post-puberty. His chin was rough with hair stubs, and he had a moustache. His lips were blackened from smoking. His eyes were bloodshot most of the time. Moreover, he was a father of two children; and a girl of about his age lived with him in his father’s house. A teacher had said to him one day, “You are just a child bearing children. Such a shame.” There and then the epithet “Childbearing Child” was birthed and had stuck. In an argument, Childbearing child would not hesitate to remind anyone that he was older and, a father.

Wuyi sighted Sanmi sashaying towards the group. Sanmi was one of the rascally students who took pleasure in breaking school rules. He walked with a funny gait tilting his left shoulder up and the right down, a recent form of swagger among boys. His collar flew by his scruff, his sleeves rolled above his biceps, his shirt left flying – unbuttoned and not tucked in. Beneath it was a yellow T-shirt. As he approached, Wuyi read the inscription on it; My Dad Went to London and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt. Sanmi shook hands around ending each handshake with a snap of the fingers.

“Wow! You mean this shirt is considered lousy in London?” Wuyi asked.

One boy curled his lip in a sneer, “You mean your father has been to London?”

“Yes, yes,” Sanmi said with glee.

Nobody believed him. Everyone knew his father who was never able to come up with his school fees when due. Sanmi had never resumed any term to schedule because of this.

“It’s a lie,” someone whispered.

An argument broke out between Sanmi and this skinny boy. Others would rather not join in. There was no need arguing the obvious. Wuyi liked the cleverness of the message on the shirt, whose intention was not to announce a lousy T-shirt but to declare that the buyer had been to London. If this shirt was truly from London, the buyer was definitely not Sanmi’s father. Sanmi or his father must have stolen the shirt. Wuyi broke the argument by clearing his throat, then narrated his encounter with the witch and the mob.

Childbearing Child who had also witnessed the event on his way to school added, “Mind you, she is fully a woman, a beautiful one with luscious breasts. Yet, has a penis.” As he mentioned the word breasts he rolled his eyes, winked and brought to his chest clenched fists with the forefingers wagging, a risqué pose to demonstrate mounds of female breasts and nipples. That made the boys to giggle. Someone asked Wuyi if the woman had balls also.

“I don’t know. Like I told you, I was forced to leave before I could see anything.”

“I saw everything. She doesn’t,” Childbearing Child said. “What she has is a huge penis, the size and hue of a stallion’s, dangling between her thighs almost reaching to her knees.” He pumped a clenched fist in the air while grasping the elbow with the other hand. A gesture to indicate the hugeness.

“It’s a lie.” Sanmi snapped. “It’s just a small protrusion of flesh the size of a pinkie peeking from between the folds of her hairy lips.” He raised a clenched fist with the pinkie unfolded, “Like this.”

“Shut up, stupid boy. Were you there? I saw it with my eyes.” Childbearing Child retorted.

“I was told by people who saw it,” Sanmi replied, hissing.

“They are liars. I am sure of what I’m saying.” Childbearing Child stroked the edge of his moustache. “Well, the detail does not matter. Does it? It is enough that she has a penis.”

True, True, the rest of the boys chorused.

“Maybe she was not circumcised as a child,” Sanmi said.

“What has that got to do with a woman growing a penis?” Childbearing Child asked.

“My cousin once told me that the clitoris of an uncircumcised girl-child may bud into a penis at adulthood.”

They all jeered at Sanmi. Everyone knew why a girl-child was circumcised; to prevent her from growing into an incontinent woman who hounded men for sex. Though Fada had said in church that this was a fallacy, female circumcision was genital mutilation, and atrocious. But some of Wuyi’s mates claimed to know of men who had died on top of uncircumcised women out of sheer exhaustion while trying hard to satisfy them. Uninformed, nay, stupid, men who didn’t realize there was no satisfying an uncircumcised woman. Men who had the misfortune of departing this world by the same canal through which they had arrived – a taboo. Men who rode to their graves in chariots of blazing passion.

Though there was no consensus about the size of the appendage the witch was accused of harbouring between her legs, the boys argued about the effectiveness of a small prick. Childbearing Child said size did not matter. “A prick is like raw pepper. No matter how small the fruit is, if you ate it, the spice would sting your mouth, nose, and water your eyes,” he said. He put his hands in his shorts pocket as he spoke, using them furtively to repack his penis beneath the shorts as though the discussion reminded him he had one. “A prick is a prick as long as it can bristle to attention. Even a dwarfed prick would puncture the thickest hymen. Isn’t it? It would implant life in a fertile womb. Isn’t it?” Some boys nodded in unison.

“Size matters o,” Sanmi said.

“Shut up, kid. What do you know? You know nothing. Childishness plagues you. I’m a father of two. I know these things.”

Sanmi took umbrage. “Don’t insult me. That you have a live-in girl and children do not make you an authority on sex. Some of us may have had more sex than you, if you care to know.” Sanmi hissed and bolted off.

Wuyi asked Childbearing Child, “What if that was the way she was born? The way she was created by God? That does not make her a witch?”

Hisses went up in the group. Someone said, “Stupid.”

Childbearing Child said, “Leave him, boys. An unintelligent question still deserves an answer.” He turned to Wuyi, “Check the Holy Book. God created male and female in separate bodies. Not male and female in the same body.”

“But we learned about hermaphrodites in biology,” Wuyi said undeterred.

Giggles went up.

Childbearing Child replied, “Not in human beings. We are not earthworms. It is an abomination.”

“Is the ‘female penis’ really utilitarian? Most likely a redundant appendage,” Wuyi said.

“Hmmm, you undermine the power of this tool,” Childbearing Child said as he tapped his groin. “It is functional anywhere it is found except in eunuchs.”

“And also in Catholic priests,” a boy added.

They all burst out laughing except for Wuyi. He found it distasteful, like any other joke against his faith. Wuyi hissed and asked the boy to shut up.

The bell pealed announcing end of break time. The group broke up chattering and arguing as they shuffled back to their classes.

***

The harmattan had not abated. Along the road on his way to school this morning, Wuyi shivered. He heard, from behind an approaching vehicle – the drone of its engine, and the crunch of its tyres on the surface of the dusty gritty road. It got louder as the vehicle moved closer. Once it caught up with him, it threw a gust of cold wind and dust mercilessly at him and then zoomed past. Wuyi squinted and shuddered, raising his hand to his nose to shield it from the dust. Then the noise faded away as the vehicle, a red Citroen, receded into the horizon trailed by a gale of brown dust.

Wuyi found Lara lying by the dumpsite – the proposed site for Ife City stadium, a project that had been abandoned by successive regimes for years. The threadbare indigo wrapper covered her from bosom to ankle, now torn in places exposing her bare skin beneath. She lay hunched up in a foetal position and still as though dead. The only evidence she was still alive was that her right leg twitched. Passers-by peered and moved on as if she was a discarded sack of weevil-infested beans. One of them, a middle-aged man in a dashiki, hissed and spat on her. A woman in thread-plaited hair tsked thrice, waved her hand above her head from the front to the back thrice, snapping her fingers as she did so – a gesture for warding off evil happenstance. She hissed, puckered her lips and moved on.

Wuyi’s legs were heavy; he didn’t feel like walking away. But he had to, for fear he might be labelled the husband or a sympathizer of a witch. Either of the two carried dire consequences.

***

By the end of the following week, Lara had died and her body had begun to swell. Her skin had become pallid. A horde of flies buzzed around the corpse. Some perched by her nose, flitting in and out of her nostrils. Some crawled on her wide-open lifeless eyeballs. Others swarmed around her nipples and navel. Death had taken her away, She Who Sprouts a Penis by Her Vagina. Death, the ultimate leveller, had taken her away to where her enemies could no longer torture her. Her agony was over. Wuyi was relieved in a way.

By a swathe of grass nearby, a skewer of egrets foraged. They distanced themselves from the corpse at the dumpsite, as though they did not want their immaculate plumage soiled by the heinous crime scene. Suddenly, as if responding to a call audible only to them, the egrets, in a choreographic manoeuvre, taxied and took to the air. They flew like weightless feathers. Their twiggy legs stretched behind them and their wings spread like a paper kite. They ascended until they merged with and became one with the smoky skies.

***

At Mass on Sunday, during the sermon, Fada– who had just resumed from his annual leave abroad – was livid as he spoke against this atrocity committed by the people, some of them his parishioners. Fada tightened his grip on the slanted top of the lectern with both hands. Beads of sweat formed on his brow despite the cold. His face blanched from the reflection of fluorescent lamps hanging from the high ceiling. The light made his velvety green chasuble shimmer. The middle was embroidered with a golden motif from the neckline down to the hemline. Fada said no man had the right to take another man’s life, not even the life of a witch – assuming she was truly a witch. Didn’t Jesus Christ enjoin us to love our enemies? And that included witches. Wuyi heard the murmur of God forbid from across the pew. Fada requested the people involved in this shedding of innocent blood to repent and ask God for forgiveness. A murmur of Innocent blood? went up. Many of the parishioners dismissed his sermon as sheer ranting. Did he know how diabolic witches were? Especially African witches? Maybe they didn’t have witches in Canada. Perhaps, the witches in Canada were the so-called white witches, some of who were not evil but rather used their psychic power to benefit humanity by inventing the airplane, vodka and condoms. If he had been dealt with before by an evil, black African witch, he would not stand there to judge them for killing a hissing fire-spitting serpent under their bed.

After the Dismissal, Wuyi scrambled up his seat and squeezed through the row of people still seated.  At the isle, he genuflected, made a Sign of the Cross and headed for the porch. He made it on time to hear Fada’s cook say to some parishioners who had gathered to discuss the sermon, “It is not Fada’s fault. He has never been stricken by a witch before with bloody diarrhoea or swollen testicular torsion. Otherwise, he would know that witches deserved to be killed seven times over.” He hissed. “Uhumm. We are talking about voodoo witches here.” His listeners nodded in agreement. He licked off the froth of spittle that had gathered by both sides of his mouth.  He said Fada had sermonized as though witches woke up in the morning to a breakfast of rashers of bacon, sunny-side up eggs and chips, washed down with black coffee and fresh fruit juice. Like he, Fada, did. Didn’t Fada know that black witches fed on human flesh and blood of infants? The cook had called – in Yoruba – the sunny-side up eggs, undercooked eggs. He had called the bacon pig meat, in a despicable way a Muslim would refer to it, something haram, with his face scrunched up.

The cook was the envy of parishioners seeing that he ate from the priests’ table. He partook in every exotic food they ate except when it was pork. He could not bring himself to eat the flesh of that repugnant animal. No matter how garnished and disguised the Whiteman presented it – bacon or ham – pig meat was still pig meat. He had seen a sounder of swine at the local cemetery exhume a corpse and devour the rotting flesh in a frenzy.

The cook looked at his wristwatch, said it was time to serve Fada his breakfast, and hurried off. The rest of the group dispersed ambling into the morning harmattan haze.

 

END

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Image: Pixabay.com remixed by Africanwriter.com

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