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Praise songs echoed from Otunba Coker’s mansion as different prayer warriors began to cast and bind every demon that could have taken residence in Teniola’s body. Teniola was found walking aimlessly in Ogbomosho. When her mother saw her at the hospital, she bursted into hot tears. Teniola looked so emaciated, her supple skin has shrunken, her big eyes that earned her the pet name Bambi from school has sunken, her smooth lips were dry with bruises. There were wounds around her ribs, knees and her waist. Her hair has been shaved completely so the doctors could treat the wounds on her head. Teniola looked like Smeagol, a character from Lord of the rings.

Taiwo took in the overly decorated sitting room of the Cokers, years ago when he was a hungry desperate fresh graduate of Business administration he had prayed to have a place like the Cokers to call his own. Now the idea of such humongous wealth with no peace of mind has left a dull taste in his mouth and an uneasy feeling in his heart. He has considered tendering his resignation letter to Otunba but every time his guts failed him. Lately, he is contemplating traveling out of the country and disappearing without a trace.

The prayer warriors from Yeye’s church raised another praise song. He looked through the window at them in disgust. They were like clowns at a circus, Yeye in the middle in her most sombre outfit – a cream boubou with overly decorated sleeves- murmured to the song and raised her hands high in the air in exaggerated worship. Otunba who had no time for such is making endless calls in his bedroom, he explicitly stated he wanted to be left alone.

In the evening when the last of those who came to pray had left. Taiwo was summoned into Otunba’s room. Otunba was sprawled on the bed in a polo shirt and Jean trouser.

He stirred when Taiwo announced his presence.

‘Taiwo, you and I are going somewhere and we may not return till late in the night.’ Otunba waited for what he just said to sink in before adding ‘It’s about Teniola, all those noise and clapping are not going to solve anything. The doctor told me she’s fine but I know better even Yeye knows all is not well. I am just frustrated, Nnamani advised me to dump the political ambition I am nursing but Gbadamosi is already entering different places for me. How would he feel if I let him down now?’ He sighed deeply before continuing ‘Only me going from pillar to post. Different issues and wahala every time. What if I hold a post eventually? Don’t you think things would get worse? I am tired. I am tired. I don’t even know why all these is happening now.’

Taiwo wisely kept quiet. Otunba heaved himself from the bed and picked his phones from the cabinet. His clothes hung loosely on his body, he had lost so much weight.

The driver needed no directions, he packed the car under a tree and jumped out immediately to help them carry Teniola inside Baba Iyabo’s house. Teniola weighed little and his helping hand was shooed away by impatient Yeye. He was asked to wait in the car instead.

Baba Iyabo’s house looked like a normal house. A normal house in a remote town with cemented floors, wall painted cream and a yellow light bulb. Outdated calendars decorated his walls and two old well worn chairs with a centre table were the only furniture in the room. Otunba went into one of the rooms and Yeye looked around suspiciously, she fussed over Teniola and murmured about bed bugs lurking in the chair Teniola sat.

Taiwo stood cautiously by the door. Baba Iyabo came outside few minutes later with Otunba. He was a good looking man who should be in his 50s or 60s. He wore a cap made of sanyan on his head with a white garment favoured by muslim men. The jalabia.

Enle o Iya wa. E kaale‘ he smiled at Yeye who grimaced and continued to fuse over Teniola. He looked puzzled at Taiwo’s presence but Otunba assured him Taiwo is someone close to the family. Baba Iyabo placed the tray he was holding on the floor and shifted the white substance on it. It looked like sand to Taiwo. Baba Iyabo began to scribble – lines that mean nothing to the bare eyes staring at it- then the scribbling became furious that Baba Iyabo eventually exclaimed ‘ha!’

‘Ba’Yabo kilosele? What did you see?’ Otunba asked. Baba Iyabo ignored him and continued to scribble on the tray occasionally sighing and shaking his head in pity. Then the scribbling stopped.

‘Bayo, where were you and your wife when your daughter embarked on that trip?’ Baba Iyabo asked. ‘Trip? She did not go anywhere she was kidnapped on her way to school. Otunba answered.

‘That wasn’t my question. Where were you and your wife?’ Baba Iyabo asked again. Otunba stammered about some things not meant to be said. Baba Iyabo stared at Yeye next and she said she traveled.

‘Mmmmmmm, oda. Bayo, did you know your daughter threaded the fragile line connecting the living and the dead?’

‘Yeh!’ Yeye’s scream pierced the night. ‘Ssshhhhhh’ Baba Iyabo raised a hand to his lips and continued ‘She was meant to be food to the god of money but somehow her eleda resisted. However, with what she has seen, eaten and maybe drank….hmmmm’

‘Go on Ba’yabo’ Otunba’s forehead was already shinning with sweat. ‘I am afraid your daughter can never be fully normal again.’

Temi bami ooooo. Modaran oooo.’ Yeye yelped again like a wounded dog. No one stopped her this time, she began to whimper and shiver as she touched Teniola all over.

‘Wo, Otunba. She is half human half spirit. Half in our world and half in their’s. Her life cannot amount to anything meaningful. Her soul has been fiddled with too much that it shattered into pieces. We can only try and snatch some of it back but not all of it. That’s the only solution before you ask’ Baba Iyabo covered the tray and stared at them all.

Otunba held his head in his hands and nodded as Baba Iyabo told him what to do. It was simple. Prepare a meal every Tuesday and distribute it to beggars in the market at exactly 2pm for that is when spirits come out to play. If they were lucky Teniola may regain a bit of herself which was lost but not everything. They left Baba Iyabo’s house that evening in silence, only Yeye’s sniffs and coughs broke the silence from time to time.

Chisom ran out of the bathroom half naked, her bathrobe was thrusted into her hands at the door by her cousin Kosi who came to spend the weekend. One of the twins was nowhere to be found. Faith raised the alarm when she couldn’t find Jasmine after leaving them in the living room where they were watching cartoon.

Chisom checked under the cars, beneath shrubs in the garden screaming Jasmine’s name.

‘Where is my daughter! ‘ She asked Faith and sunk her teeth into Faith’s flesh before she could answer. The whole house was thrown into a panic as Garba, Samuel, Maxwell, the gateman, gardener all joined in the search for Jasmine. Kosi held Jamal and rocked him softly when he began to cry. Chisom was pulling her hair and cursing when someone shouted from the backyard. They all rushed there and saw Garba bending and holding what was unmistakably a toddler in his arms. His whole body was wet and he was shaking as he met their stares. The gardener who was also wet stood with him with his head bent.

Chisom pushed through those who stood infront of her and raced towards Garba. She snatched Jasmine and shook her. It was too late.

Jasmine was dead.

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