A woman walks the darkest village footpaths heading to the heart of the market Square – going to see mamalawoh as a Christian was not what she ever imagined herself indulging in or ever wanted. She was a staunch Christian and didn’t want anyone in her congregation to know that she went to any other consultations for her predicament. The powers of darkness had nothing to do with a child of God, daughter of Zion and a renowned CWA Christian – but her child was sick- very very sick… she needed an option because science, medicine and prayers had not yielded so far and the condition had visibly deteriorated.
It had taken her 6 years to finally bear a child in her late forties, after pleading with anything that had ears to hid to her plea… She was desperate – she slept at the alter in a pool of her tears and caressed the pews in a pitiful sight that even the most Piet of people would feel desperate for an instant miracle. No matter her effort to go unnoticed in the church for lingering hours after the service was over a few keen members remember her and will tell you the most devout Christian was this lady with a heart of pure cotton wool and hands that could sooth any misery in the church except her own… Which she wore the bravest face against.
Her answers to questions about the condition by other brethren’s was –
“the good lord in his own time will make everything beautiful again” or
“we are well and getting better by his grace” or the shortest one on days when her faith was tested to the brink – “his grace is sufficient”– there was never a time when she showed weakness in the face of her troubles – never until this day that took her legs to this path, shamelessly turning her back to God and her face from the light – her mind was made she was heading deeper and deeper into the abyss – the abyss of the mamalowoh for answers.
She delved deeper in the mat tents and palm fonts of the market sheds, dissapearing deeper into the darkness – the smell of rubbish at the back of the butchers abattoir – the stench of animal blood the number of cows which had been slaughtered and killed for their skin and their meat… hung thick in the air like a sacrifice of life reminding the earth of its own destruction.
This time of the night gave way for the earth to soaked the blood at the slaughter house, to cool and emit hot vaporised blood scented air that covered the market like a tainted invisible blanket at night time… She walked_ overhearing whispers of the men who hid in the corners of dark sheds planning their activities for the night… Lovers who could not afford a place for intimacy or hiding their disgraceful actions from the world used the venue as a rendezvous location to carry out the most bizarre of actions – she minded her business, rushing to her destination before dawn caught her like a masquerade, her pain and fear of losing the most precious thing she had, shoehorned her further into the darkness … without fear, dread or anything but the paramount uncertainty that was but certain to end in death and loss.
The woman’s steps quickened… She was running… rushing and making her way behind the guava trees and up the little mounded entrance into the herbalist’s shrine… the closer she got, the more she could see – a whole yard with people hoarded in corners on mats all over the veranda of the main hut and on the nearby lawn… most of them asleep, some awake and nursing the sicker or feeble looking ones. The Mamalawoh had a reputation for healing and bringing back the worse cases to good health… A few people have died under her treatment, but most people have come out telling tales of her incredible gift to heal and communicate clearly beyond this realm – with the spirits.
The mamalawoh’s prowess in all things dark, very dark and mystical was very evident from her surroundings, if it wasn’t hanging it was suspended, on the walls or the floor or in the air, you could smell darkness and depth in magic put together, a kind of eerie feeling which left you shivering with uncertainty … The woman was ushered to sit in front of a burning calabash and the mamalawoh chanted ramifications with her name mentioned a couple of times and the rest of the times just a plain hum – weird and dark…
More like humming and nothing else… Just humming for hours it felt like forever, but the mamalawoh continued, It made the woman dizzy and she felt very sleepy. Then the voice shook her body back to reality.
“You are here because you feel I can save your child’s life … From where I stand this is a challenging task and one that will require you to take a journey… I need you to go back and think of the consequences of the journey you are about to take. It could have no return consequences and the destination is non-specific – I cannot tell you where exactly you are going to, but you need to be aware that every decision you make now and after you go on the journey is solely yours and yours alone.
The woman in her desperation stooped, lower her head in her lap – her voice trembling with pain and worry then she ventured with a shaky voice
“what do I need to do and when… My child is very ill and the doctors say there is no hope… I have heard of you and your prowess in getting things done beyond the ordinary… I have only one child.. A child I got in my ripe old age… A friend, a partner… When the sun rises it rises on my child’s face when it sets it sets in her sleep… Her birth was easy and smooth, her cry was loud and sharp – nothing was out of the ordinary… Her life has been like a dream… I strife with her I’d go hungry for her I’d change my life for her into anything just to make her well again” she struggled to suppress the sob rising like a fiery boil in her throat
“Help me, I know how dark this can be I have been warned, I have been told countless tales of the things you have done to make people have miracles… Help me mama… Help me”
With no scintilla of concern the mama laughed.. Her laughter echoed across the smoke dark ceiling of her hut. The reason for her laughter unknown but it sent shrilly spasms down the woman’s spine… She bent over afraid to lift her head to face the final decision – so she stayed in that position bent forward and over dreading what the mama’s face would look like
The mamalawoh whispered… “Beyond a place where neither men nor mortals can see lives a person who can be of help, you need one favour from me and that I intercede on your behalf for you to meet them… The worrying part is that you cannot meet them in mortal form, I will need to sap the life out of you and your daughter and send you on the journey with her soul… Whatever is done to you in that place beyond here will be done to her it is irreversible will bring her back to life but may cost you something way more than I can tell” she paused and looked at the smoky ceiling as the pupils of her eyes sped away to give a full white stare – she stayed that way for a while and then the pupils were back in place like they had never left – then in a stern cold cold voice she said to the woman
“Keep every valuable thing you have, go back home treasure it for a while longer and when you found peace in your decision to continue, bring your daughter here and we can commence the work… Now you may leave before the first cock crows…
“Never mention our encounter to anyone until you have made a decision. You may leave now and do not take same route like you came.”
With that said the humming started again and the chanting followed all else muttered and undecipherable …
She lifted her head to a look at the mamalawoh through the smoky room – so thick all she could see was a pair of sharp white eyes staring up the roof with no pupil in sight again _ like a warg she had gone into a deep trance and the atmosphere demanded solemnity…The woman stood up and walked out to the direction of the market taking the sideways passage leading to the main high-street… her feelings dead – she wasn’t herself her heart was racing – racing so fast in tandem with the minutes of life left inside the body of her child – running minutes seconds and hours – time was slipping away from her, dawn was eminent, shrouded in death!!
The remainder of the night was very disturbing, her mind was restless and her body listless…she lay there tossing and turning, sleep had eloped with her sense of rest …there could be nothing worth more than her child’s life …There was no decision here …she wanted no options over her child’s wellness and wellbeing – she was going ahead with anything the mamalawoh wanted her to do full stop.
The woman barely shot her eyes to a restless sleep when her phone rang…It was the doctor saying, “You need to come in and see your child… The condition is not looking good… I suggest you try other avenues I know you originally said you are a practicing Christian, but there is culture and Christianity. It is part of the world we live in, so I suggest you seek other endeavors and help just in-case… I have seen situations turn around for some people when medicine had declared them inept in every way medically possible, and your child’s case to me is an uncanny one – I suggest you try tradition”
This was the last push the woman wanted… She knew she had to agree to all that the mamalawoh was suggesting so she packed her house, sorted her things, chatted to family members and neighbours but did her best not to mention the purpose of her trip… She simply stated she will be away for a couple of days and the neighbours to keep an eye on her home – knowing fully well that the real reason for her trip was a disgrace to what she stood in her community and what she believed in, but all that now didn’t matter, she had signed a contract with darkness – if that’s all it took to get her child back even for a day she was going to give it her last shot!
The woman picked up her child from the hospital and hired a taxi straight to the mamalawoh’s shrine; she made sure it was a taxi driver who didn’t recognise her… She made sure to raise the windscreen so that no one will recognize her and no one else would board the taxi, so she paid for the driver’s full service… As the taxi sped past her neighbourhood, she clung to the frail body of her child humming a prayer as tears streamed down her face… she wasn’t sure why she was praying, but the psalms kept coming out one after another – she was heading into darkness with God’s promise on her lips.
The driver looked at the mirror a couple of times but knew well enough not to ask any questions… The image of the child next to her said it all… So the taxi driver whispered… “Ashia madam… E go better… Sorry, so sorry…” the woman managed a thank you and dropped her eyes to hide her pain and tears and mainly to stare at her child and held onto hope… Hope was all she had left.
The soothe in the section of the shrine she was given was so thick she could feel it in the back of her throat as she tried to breathe and worried if it was safe for her child who struggled with breathing for days – but the child lay on the mat and seemed to have drifted into sleep – the medicine in the air reeked of all kinds of leaves and spices and the single window so tiny looked like a tunnel… And yes there was light in the tunnel a tiny stream of light that came through – shy like it was afraid or unsure of the condition and the outcome… Simply mimicking the atmosphere around it, like life was uncertain of saying hold onto me.
The woman sat and waited for their turn… She could see people – ill and frail, strong and upright go in and out of the consultation hut, so she sat outside and prayed – her tears had dried her heart had stopped flickering – her body and mind had accepted the present situation though uncertain of the outcome, she was almost at peace with her choice to see the mamalawoh, she tied her head scarf to cover her forehead and pretty much disguise her to anyone who may recognise her. She could barely believe the number of people she had already recognised from where she sat – people had problems, everyone had a secret that couldn’t be seen at Sunday mass.
Her child lay on a mat while she contemplated ringing someone… Could it be her pastor? Her family or friends but then she realise she didn’t want anyone knowing where she was… So she let the idea tail… then she felt the weight of her Bible in her bag but hesitated to read any verse… Her mind torn between right and dark – she didn’t, she couldn’t, she knew darkness and light couldn’t be In same place and she was already serving darkness for being where she was – she wasn’t disappointed in herself, but she was aware of what she had done/was doing – and who she had wronged for being where she was.
Her turn finally came and the ritual lasted over an hour, she was bathed and cladded in smoke and spice… She had to sit in all the ritual in the place of her child and couldn’t tell what was put on her or what wasn’t; she had to live the moment like the chasm between her baby and the land beyond… She was so inundated by all the medicine that when she was handed the one to drink she could barely open her mouth – her body was trembling and she was cold, she was naked except the sackcloth the mamalawoh had asked her aids to drape her in… After drinking she felt even woozier… and tried to refocus on the mamalawoh’s voice as she said husky and clear…
“This is it… You made the choice – in your hand I put your child’s life, as you fall into this deep sleep you will travel, you will go to the world beyond and exchange what you are holding in your hand for your child’s life… Tell THEM you have brought this in return for your child’s middle and surname… That’s the name recognised by the ancestors… They will ask you what time frame you need and all you have to say is “I brought you what is better than what you are hanging onto, take and forget, take and let go, what you are holding onto is the string that holds the life of a lineage almost ended – you do not need to end it, we plead with you for options other than what you are holding onto- we plead for rejection- we plead for life in the yonder world – till, as and when a lineage is fulfilled’
The mamalawoh continued
“On your way back you will be helped by many tempted by many and asked to stay by people you have loved at some point in your life, your timing is important make sure that you find your way back to the light… If and only if you return and place your hand with what they will give you in exchange of the totem on your child, will this present condition be reversed…”
The words reversed drowned her into a dark dark tunnel and she woke up to find herself in a wild Amazonian looking forest with little or no light streaming through the leaves matted above her head… She was cold on the muddy earth she laid, so when she opened her eyes wider – it took her a while to adjust to the fact that she had transitioned… Immediately she started looking for any sign or lead to the place of her child’s destiny… She stood up and Walked towards the river banks… She just kept walking… It was lonely lonely and dark – cold too… Her pace was unsure and uneven she didn’t feel alone yet she was alone… Very lonely journey she had taken…
Half of what the mamalawoh hand mentioned she would see on her way back didn’t prepare her for what she had gone through. She had managed to swap the totem with the three men around the burning black river, she had never seen fire and water thrive together like she had seen along that river, and on their acceptance of the exchange she had walked on top of the river – burning with fire and felt nothing, not even a sting of the burn.
They had taken the totem and she barely saw any of their faces, she just heard voices and saw the three figures floating like shadows across the banks … she had fulfilled her mission and her return was all that mattered, everyone who spoke to her or asked her for help or wanted to help her didn’t get any attention from her – she made sure not to give eye contact or physical contact or inviting anyone close because she had been warned – in that land beyond everything you see is not what it is at face value.
The woman walked very fast towards the light – she was unsure how far the light was from her, but she could see the light bright and warm and calling, unlike everything around her that was cold and dark – she walked – she heard voices, she passed by other people also busy coming or going she was unsure to where and why, but just like her a lot of them were soul swapped for one reason or another – everyone looking for a solution in the life beyond or mainly crossing over to the place of their final rest.
Just when she could tell she was getting close to the light she heard someone coughing really close by, it was just a cough but it was familiar, it caught her attention but she struggled not to look or pay any attention, she had to get back to the light – her child needed her … her pace piqued and she kept her gaze on her toes when the voice hit her like a thousand sharp knives through her chest touching her heart…
“Mother- mother – I am so sorry – I couldn’t wait I tried I tried but I just couldn’t wait, forgive me mother forgive me, thank you for everything mother – I have seen how much pain my sickness put you through and the things you went out of your way to do just to keep me alive, but God the creator has the final say – we are just humans and he our creator – he has called me to rest now, I feel better, the pain is all gone I feel better mother – though sad but, believe me, this is where you would want me to be – I am healed, I am whole again, I am well mother. Go home, you will never be lonely – turn to God and he will console and keep you and send you company, you will see, go home mother – go home …”
The woman couldn’t control her tears and her pain as her body slumped at the sight of her beautiful child covered in the wrapper she had put her in at the shrine staring back at her – looking picture perfect – she didn’t look sick or frail – she was well – but If she was here then she was dead, her mission to this place was fruitless, the reality was painful – she had burnt her bridge with God for this …she had gone to the abyss and back just to lose her child …she fell on her knees and cried, the totem she had in exchange falling out of her palms onto the cold earth, she cried and reached her hand out to touch her child but realised they were standing opposite each other but separated by a silhouette of thin translucent foggy hazy mirror like ornament- that was the CHASM – she couldn’t reach her child – she couldn’t – her heart was broken, she lifted her head to her child walking away with other people to the same direction, she turned around and managed a smile to her mother and a goodbye wave – the pain was so strong she screamed and blacked out !!
When the woman awoke she realised what had happened – God had given her an opportunity to make an informed decision of her predicament – she had been to the mamalawoh and nothing could take her off the course she had put herself in but God – he had showed her HE was the ultimate and no one else had the power to reverse anything about life. She sat up on her bed picked up her bible and turned on the only verse that knocked the door of her heart that morning after such a powerful vision _ she started reading
26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
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