Irinus Mbuwir Alias Satz...

This very day, more than two decades ago, i was involved in an incidence that still haunts me today. It was a cold Saturday evening. A furious storm was trying to strangle a cluster of trees surrounding our compound. Tremendous and deafening sounds were pouring from the sky unto the helpless creatures below. Long and serpentine flashes of lightning continuously drew frightfully across the dark sky.

It was going to rain again seriously, i thought, and thanked God that our house, however modest it looked, always resisted all these rains. My father was said to have roofed it with corrugated iron sheets of German origin, as soon as he began courting my mother who incidentally had then just won the Miss Dzekwa beauty contest. Other hectic men, i was told had put up a rigid an determined competition, but their grass-roofed houses, called 'mbang mbangs' were no match to my father's triumphant villa, sitting confidently on the hill top around the Mamfe compound in the heart of Wanto-oh Ndzen quarters.

As these thoughts of admiration rushed through my mind, i turned to take a look at my father. Coincidentally, he too was turning his glance towards me, as he threw hot grains of well-roasted fresh corn into his mouth. Each time i caught glances with him, he did not seem to appreciate it and would always say something bad or send me on some improvised errand. This time around, little did he know he was sending me to a near catastrophe.

"Why are you your eyes and looking at me like that?", he questioned. "by the way, before it starts raining, rush quickly to Yaa of Nkor's house and collect the concoction she prepared for me"

"Who is yaa of Nkor, and where is her house", i asked, rather confused.

My father explained that a very powerful witch hunter and herbalist called Yaa Ngaangaa just migrated from Nkor into Nkar and was living at Taadui compound, about half a kilometre from our home. Said he had explained to her all that i was undergoing in the hands of witches and she had first promised to send something later that evening for me to drink before going to sleep.

I took a worn out bicycle tyre i owned (called 'kaar') and began to roll it as i rushed to Yaa Ngaangaa's residence. As i stooped to enter her one-room house, a terrible and final flash of lightening illuminated the sky, stripping the nimbus clouds of all patience, and very heavy drops of rain began to pound on the worn-out roof of the herbalist’s house.

"Yaa, i greet you", i began.

"sriit droowwnn", she said, without looking at me, and i guessed intelligently that she wanted to say 'sit down'.

Her voice was clearly frightful to listen to, and immediately i was seized by a vastly growing grip of fear. Who was this woman? Was i safe here? I had not even seen her face yet.

As i stood pondering over these questions, she suddenly stood up for the first time, snatched a chair as if it was held to the ground by some invisible hand, and told held it out to me. With trembling hands, i took it. She quickly moved to the door and closed the lower section of it, leaving the room almost dark. For the first time i looked straight into her face. God! Was this a demon or a human being? She looked like an ancient mask. Scary marks filled her whole face and her eyes were clearly those that would give anyone a severe nightmare.

As if this was not enough, she held a long knife in one hand, and the knife kept moving forward and backwards, as if someone was shaking her hand without her consent. She seemed to be smiling. I concluded that i was dead. What would i do? She would kill me. And she seemed to be smiling. She said something again, and i could not decipher in which language that was. All i thought of now was how to get out of here alive. My father had sold me!

She repeated what she said, this time succeeding to emit some horrible pattern of sounds with anger clearly distinguishable in her voice as she doubtlessly thought i was ignoring her unintelligible order. I was not going to die so easily. She was closer to the door than me, but..

As i calculated in total fear, she suddenly went even closer to the door and tried to get something from behind it. I now concluded she wanted to lock the door completely and then take her time in killing me. This was clearly time to act or to die. Without thinking, i rushed to her, held her two arms, flung her violently round and succeeded to replace her at the door position. I saw her stagger in total horror and crash into the fire with a loud scream.

After one desperate but very powerful kick at the door, the weak hinges gave way as the door crashed outside in the rain. With lightning speed i ran towards our compound faster than anyone ever did, not oblivious to painful sounds coming from the 'witch' behind me. I did not go to our compound. Only one person was in my mind. The only one in whose arms i was always safe-my grandmother at Kibai compound.

As i entered Yaya Vero's kitichen almost out of breath, she gathered me off my feet and started treating me to some warm fanning.

"Is it the beast of Anton again trying to slaughter my son?", she asked referring to my father, who was already notorious for always chasing me past the village square for various reasons. Each time the chase began, I would run as fast as possible towards Kibai, where only my grand mum’s safe arms could protect me from merciless flogging.

I was still too shocked to talk. I began to cry. My Yaa just rocked me like a baby and gave me a hot piece of roasted ‘new’ yam. It was long before i came over the fright and went to sleep behind this darling saviour of a grandmother.

I was jilted to awareness early in the morning by my father's authoritative voice, seeming to explain something strange to my grandmother.

"He attempted to kill Yaa Ngaangaa", i heard him say to Yaa, hiding a long whip behind him.

"How???? Liars you all are. Tell that woman that my son does not attack normal people, talk less of old hags of herbalists suffering from Parkinson's..", she vomited back in my defense.

“I assure you", my father continued. "The woman said he entered her house and she asked him if she would eat banana. She took a knife to cut out a few bananas for him. He did not even answer, but suddenly seized her hands, threw her into the fire side, kicked her door off the hinges and fled like she has never seen in all her life. It looks like Satz has worsened the woman's 'shaking' disease".

It began to dawn on me for the first time that i had misinterpreted the old poor woman. Oh God, pity! That woman actually intended to give me bananas. The two-and-fro movement of her hands that frightened me was then surely due to the Parkinson’s disease she was suffering from. She had actually gone close to the door perhaps because the bunch of bananas was hidden behind it.

Now i knew i was dead for real. If i did not do something, my father would kill me when Yaa was a bit distracted. I had to find a way of rushing out of the house again before he knew i was awake. I had to surprise them both.

As my father took a seat, obviously waiting for an opportunity to get hold of me, i suddenly shot out of the bed like a rocket. Before he could react, i swiftly flung open Yaa's door and fled faster than i did from Taadui the previous night.

"Have you seen what he is capable of? Did i not warn you.....?", i heard my father's faint voice addressing my shocked Yaa as i scuttled away.

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