Boarding Tales ~ Episode XIII (Yewande’s Story)

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It was an assignment that had been given to me by the woman of the stream; Iya Stream as the students calls her. A woman all the students talked about but that few people had ever seen. I had met her early one morning while I walked back to the school through the usual foot path. It was a meeting I would never forget.

Here is how it happened……

 

I was walking down the length of the rock that fenced the hostel blocks when a rustling in the surrounding bush startled me. Someone walked out making my heart skip a beat. I looked at the person and was relieved to see it was a woman. A beautiful dark skinned woman who seemed to be about my mother’s age. She was dressed in a brown aso oke wrapper tied above the waist with a matching gele on her head. She carried a broken pot in her hands. I thought that was odd but proceeded to greet her genuflecting as I said e kaaro ma.

“Follow me” she said without acknowledging my greetings.

She turned towards the road that led to the stream and I followed her. I wanted to tell her I couldn’t follow her but somehow I found myself obeying her.

When we got to the stream she placed the broken pot in her arms on the floor and proceeded to remove her head tie.

She removed the wrapper, gele and her coral beads and was left with her underwear, a spaghetti strapped undergarment with pockets- the type worn by old grandmothers; the one they called agbeko.

 I thought it strange that a woman as young as her would wear such and watched on as she dipped her hands into the pockets and brought out all sorts of things – money, cowry shells, a straw sponge and black soap, pieces of dried grass and a black nylon which had a piece of white cloth tied to the mouth. My heart was beating very fast in fear as I watched her and I started praying earnestly that some students would come to the stream.

“Nobody will come to the stream until I’m done.” she said. Her voice made me jump in fright. How did she know what I was thinking? I thought immediately sweating profusely.

“Could this be Iya stream?” I wondered.

“No it can’t be.” I answered myself.

 Iya Stream was supposed to be old. That was the stories that went around the school.

“I’m the one you all call Iya Stream.” she said breaking into my thoughts. She was still busy arranging the items she brought out of her agbeko on the grass beside the stream.

“How do you know what I’m thinking?” I asked my dread showing in my voice.

“How do you know when you are hungry?” She asked looking directly at me.

I didn’t answer and something about the way she looked at me told me I wasn’t supposed to answer just as she wasn’t supposed to answer the question I asked her.

“Come close” she said picking a calabash floating over the surface of the stream.

I was surprised to see the calabash especially as I hadn’t noticed it when we got there. Could that have appeared out of nowhere? I wondered. I immediately told myself that it must have been that I simply didn’t notice the calabash and that it wasn’t possible for something to appear all on its own.

“It wasn’t here when we got here.”

“Ma, what did you say?”

“Child, what did you hear?”

“You said something wasn’t here when we got here ma.”

“Yes, you were wondering if the calabash was here before we got here and I replied you that it wasn’t.”

I wanted to ask how it got there if it wasn’t there when we got to the stream but before I could speak she said;

“Don’t ask questions whose answers you wouldn’t understand.”

“Come here, take that sponge and soap” she said pointing to an out cropping beside her feet

“Take it and wash my back with it.”

“Ma?” I asked

“Child, do what you heard.” She snapped.

My heart still thumping wildly I picked the sponge and began to wash her back.

“You know I’ve been watching you for a while now, you are a very disobedient child. You are young yet very wayward.”

My heart beat went out of control at her words,

“Is she going to eat me?”

“Was she going to punish me for my waywardness?”

“Am I going to be sacrificed to some god?”  The thoughts ran wild in my head.

“No, I won’t harm you.” “Iye doesn’t harm anyone unless she has to.” She said once again reminding me she could read or hear my thoughts.

“I won’t harm you; the reason you are here is because I have a job for you. You are the perfect one for the job, there was someone doing it before now but she was part of the students that graduated to the senior school a few weeks back. Since she refused to pass on the job to someone else, I had to choose the person myself. I chose you.”

Ma, what assignment?

“Patience.” “You will know that soon.”

I continued to wash her back in silence and after a few minutes she collected the sponge and rinsed her body. I thought it odd that the only part of her body that was washed was her back and wondered if that was the assignment I would have to do.

“Oh my God”, I gasped inwardly. “Will I have to do this every morning?” I thought to myself

She burst into laughter and this time I knew her laughter was as a result of my thoughts.

“Of course washing my back isn’t the assignment I intend to give you.”

She tied her aso oke on the wet underwear, wore her beads and tied her gele. She picked the black nylon bag that had a white cloth tied around it. “Take this and keep very well. There are wheat grains inside it, once a week, spread those grains around the back of the female hostel.”

“Ma, what if they see me spreading the grains and what are the grains for?”

“No one will see you spreading them.” “As to what they are for, you would know that the first day you do it. You would understand in the still of the night. Take now and go back to your hostel.” she said pressing it into my hands.

She stepped into the water and disappeared into the mangrove trees that ran alongside the stream.

*****

As she said I would the  first day I spread the grains was the day I knew what spreading it meant and also the day I understood why we hear wailing and howling of a strange animal from time to time. The noise had woken me from sleep like everyone else. It was a sound that had always terrified me up until that night. It had been a while since we heard the sounds and at that moment I realised she had been right when she said one of the seniors that passed out used to do it for her.

The whole dormitory came awake in minutes. Chants of “Jesus” and “blood of Jesus” renting the air. Before that day, I had always joined in the chant even though I never believed that Jesus would listen to me, I believed my sins were too much for that to happen.

The noise was worse than ever that night; the wailing went on for close to two hours and after a while students huddled close to one another. The Muslims chanted in Arabic while the Christians too screamed Jesus. I lay on my bed unmoving wondering if I had spread more than I should and made a mental note to spread less the next time.

This was the assignment I was now to hand over to Bosola. Every month; I would go to the stream and collect fresh supplies of the grain. I would always think of asking her what it was that made the howling and if it was meant to scare us since it never seemed to harm anyone. But every time I opened my mouth to ask, she would place a finger on her lips and tell me not to ask the question on my mind. The assignment was another reason I was glad to be expelled.

*****

She was the one who told me I would be expelled before we even heard the news from Mr Adisa, she had appeared in my dreams during our siesta and told me to take any sweet thing from my cupboard, clasp it in my hands for a few minutes and give it to Bosola. I hadn’t been surprised that she mentioned Bosola’s name. I would have chosen her too as my successor if Iye had asked me. I had done like she said. Bosola didn’t know what she had on her hands yet I thought watching her sleep.

*****

The morning after Bosola’s first experience of the howling Wolf/Dog, I called her to my bunk to tell her about the mandate I had passed to her. It was a Sunday and I hadn’t gone to the school fellowship, Bosola didn’t go too and I realised that was one other thing that made her perfect for Iye’s Job. Although it wasn’t like the school’s fellowship would have gotten rid of whatever spirits it was that possessed her. The orthodox priest that presided was a member of the village’s Egungun festival planning committee. Iye had told me that.

She sat down on my bed and I proceeded to tell her about how I met Iye and the job she would do for her. Her response was surprising and yet unsurprising.

“I know already” she said. Iye and I spoke this morning in my dreams.”

“You did?” I asked incredulously

“Yes we did.” She said giving me a look of disgust before she stood up and left.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. G
    May 20, 2013 @ 06:18:49

    Shey na to turn the whole girls’ hostel to witches now, eh? Okay….

    Reply

  2. olabisi
    May 20, 2013 @ 06:33:42

    Bosola Iyemoja

    Reply

  3. monebi modupe
    May 20, 2013 @ 06:47:10

    Meeeeen,,dis one na ghenghen…fear don dey catch me sef..toyin????

    Reply

  4. thirdpart365
    May 20, 2013 @ 08:40:13

    A good read for a good morning. Iye in her mind now, na bosslady.

    Reply

  5. Dennis Agyeman
    May 20, 2013 @ 09:09:43

    Hmm….Be careful Toyin before u get enchanted. Making us frightened.

    Reply

  6. amaeze
    May 20, 2013 @ 10:40:47

    So we wait till next Monday. I’m really enjoying this.

    Reply

  7. oscarpoems
    May 20, 2013 @ 14:36:07

    So I have to wait for a whole week!!! I am loving this more with each episode. God bless you Toyin, you started my day on a fine note

    Reply

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