POSTED 12/01/2018 11:28:48
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“Don’t touch him till we are certain what just happened. This man is dead and is supposed to remain that way. This has never happened; no one guilty has drank from the calabash lived to tell the tale. Why is your case different? Did you stage what just happened too?” He asked Ndubisi who was gently rubbing his left eyes and as such didn’t reply the dibia.
“Bia, I’m talking to you young man!” Okemmiri yelled.
“I don’t know what you are talking about. I didn’t stage anything” he responded still not focused.
“Then how is it possible you are still in the land of the living?”
“I have been offered a second chance at life by the gods”
“How do you mean offered a second chance at life? Why would a person like you be offered that?” Okemmiri inquired now running out of patience.
“It is clear to me I don’t deserve to be here; I’m the least person that merits a second shot at life but here we are. What do you want me to do?”
“Well, you can start by telling us how you cheated death?” Okemmiri asked impolitely.
After a deep breath Ndubisi began narrating his romance with death. “After I drank from the calabash, I lost control of my body and something took over; like I was possessed by a spirit. I felt my mouth moving, making speeches but can’t remember a single word I said. Moments after, I began having various waves of unspeakable measures of pain in my stomach. It felt like someone was pulling my intestines and when I couldn’t take the hurting no more I fell sideways hitting my head against the cold ground while a warm substance streamed out my open mouth. I began sinking into unconsciousness, feeling very cold, relaxed, no need to struggle any further for air, no cause for alarm, no pain of any kind, totally at peace. Everything grew dark around the edges until there was only blackness.
Then I felt something coming right out of my body like someone slowly pulling a plant out of the wet earth till I was out of myself, feeling weightless, floating in vertical position with my arms outstretched and my head resting on my left shoulder in the air like a feather been toss by a soft wind. Most of my senses were now hundred times better; I could see everyone and hear everything. It was like being born to a brand new world, not like an infant but as a knowledgeable, and understanding being. I looked down at myself and immediately knew I was dead. I looked around to discover that I was not being mourned by anyone instead my death was celebrated. I felt pained. I went over to Ego, wanting to alert her and apologize for all the wrong I had caused her but my hands passed through her like I was merely a shadow or the reflection of sun light. Baffled, I took a look at my palm, it was translucent; I could dimly see through it. I screamed her name but she also couldn’t hear me.
Pulled by a strange force, I found myself in a small boat with a strange ferryman in front. I couldn’t see his face; he never turned back or said anything. The boat was moving gently as the ferryman was paddling gracefully. The river stretched to as far as the eyes can see on all sides; no trees or plants besides or beneath it. It had no life in it, no insects or birds flying or singing, no fishes or any other form of life beneath. It was really quiet and eerie. There seem to be no current or breeze blowing as I felt none. It was obvious I was crossing over to the land of the dead but I seemed not to be bothered by it. It felt like returning home to my family after a long journey.
Next, I went through a past-life review. Important events of my life were played in fast flashes right in front of me. I didn’t quite understand the significance of all the events that were shown to me, but I’m sure they were of some importance. I saw when I was just given birth to; I could feel the joy and happiness my parents felt just holding me in their hands. I saw the day I told my father I wasn’t interested in running the family business; I experienced the hurt and disappointment it caused him. I relived the moment I accidently killed the wrestling champion of Umudibia; I was filled with remorse and self-reproach wishing I could go back and just let things slide. I also lived over the pleasant moments I spent with Ego; it brought me great pleasure and filled my heart with joy which wearied away when I remembered I was never setting my eyes on her again, will never experience her uncommon love again. I knew this was already enough punishment.
The review came to an end when we got to the other side of the dead river. Suddenly I was aware of being in the most beautiful garden I have ever seen. The whole landscape was carpeted with grass so vivid, clear and green that it defies description. There was grove of large, luxuriant trees, composed of the same clear material that seemed to make up everything. Time no longer mattered, it was of no importance. Time as we know it a span of our life was a mere grain on the shore of Otammiri. Then with a sudden burst of joy, I realized that this was my real home! Back on the land of the living I had been a visitor, a misfit, an outcast and a homesick stranger.
Beyond the first trees I saw some people, playing and dancing to the celestial music that filled everywhere. As soon as they saw me, four of the dancers left the game and joyfully walked over to greet me. As they approached, I noticed two were men and the rest women. They were dressed in the most beautiful attire I have seen; it was beyond words. Their bodies seemed almost weightless, and the grace and beauty of their easy movement was fascinating to watch. The magnificence not only thrilled me but filled me with awe. The men were my grandfather and the leader of my former robbery gang; while the women were my mother and her mother. They were all in their prime; looking beautiful, young and full of life. None of them were in the form I saw them last. My grandfather who was old and ill the last time I saw him was now much younger than myself.
My grandfather announced pleasantly, “You are welcome to the land of the dead. Like you. We once lived in the land of the living till we came here. Everything over here is pure. The elements don’t mix or break down as they do over there. That’s why things don’t get dirty, or wear out and why everything looks so bright and new. From here we watch over and guide the affairs of the living. Ensuring the will of the gods is carried out in the lives of those still in the land of the living. We make thing down there play out as they should or in other words according to destiny”.
Gradually his words were fading as I lost in mentation thinking about how I was going to apologize to Nnanna once I met him.
“You are late! He is no longer here! He has gone back! We all go back after a while to continue learning and reap the rewards of our previous life” he said. I was taking aback to discover he could read my thoughts; which means nothing is a secret here. “You need not worry, you can still ask for his forgiveness. Who do you think Ego is pregnant with?” he asked politely. My mother stepped in smiling and said “Son, it is not yet time for you to be with us. You don’t have enough knowledge to be here. You must return to continue learning…”
This was the last thing I heard her say before noticing that the landscape was gradually becoming familiar. Observing the new environment, it became obvious I had been there before. I was back at the evil forest, lying back down in the same shallow grave where I found Ego and murdered her husband. Nnanna was standing over the grave with a familiar gun raised up high, about to strike me with it and a frenzied look in his eyes. Frightened to the bone, I began imploring, begging for my life, asking for forgiveness and promising to turn a new leaf. At first, all my pleadings fell on deaf ears but after some moments it seemed my beseeching got to him. He paused, brought down the gun, leaned closer with his face very close to mine and eyes staring into my soul he said “I’m coming for you!”
After the awful encounter with Nnanna, I recalled being pulled through a really dark hole. It was another terrible experience, one filled with unspeakable pain and atrocities. While in this strangely dark hole, all I could see were dead people from my past who had inflicted me with pain or said something to me that had hurt me in one way or another. They were all laughing, screaming, calling me names and rendering verbal abuses on me. I begged and begged that I be allowed to return back to where I was welcomed, instead the noise, wicked laughers, abuses and screaming all intensified. When I thought I could take it no more; my father appeared from amidst the terrifying crowd, looking pale and in rags laughing with the rest. When it seemed he has had his fill with a booming voice he said “I told you to take over the family business but you refused bluntly. See where and how you ended; a common thief bringing shame upon our family name. Get out from my sight, worthless son!” he said and pushed me into the bright light at the end of the tunnel for me to open my eyes and found myself back here” he concluded.
Everyone including Ego was dismayed and aghast by the story the former dead man just shared with them that none of them spoke. It sent chills down their spine; they were all silent with most pondering upon what they just heard.
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