THE CHILDREN OF SERPENT - EPISODE 3

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Poster source:  moofyme.com Ude looked stupefied and exclaimed, “One from my loins invite...



Poster source: moofyme.com



Ude looked stupefied and exclaimed, “One from my loins invited that monster!” He continued, “Aziza, check again; I doubt that any of my sons would do such a thing. My first son is as pious as a Reverend father and the younger has a good heart. Even if any of them can do bad things behind my back, it is not such a hideous act!” “Ude what the gods have shown me, I have revealed to you. Make sure that the serpent is not disturbed, if it is disturbed, it shall strike with unforgiving rage. The serpent is the sort of an evil spirit I have not encountered before. Be warned!” “Aziza, I will assure you only one thing, the serpent shall be driven from my house this day and it shall be gone with whoever invited it”. “Ude, this is not a matter to be treated with anger, it calls for wisdom”. Ude had no time for Aziza’s call for caution; he was determined to use every means possible to sack the serpent and to find out which of his sons invited it into his house.


When he got home he called his wife and two sons to a meeting and told them what Aziza said. His wife and two sons were shocked to hear that he went to a native doctor. Ngbechi fired words in anger at her husband, “Ude where did you say you went to? Tell me Ude! So you went to Aziza, the first son of Satan to make an inquiry about the serpent, a messenger of Satan. Now he has told you just what Satan wants you to hear. He has told you to leave the serpent alone so that we all will become the children of serpent like the rest of them. Let me tell you, I Ngbechi is well able to pray that serpent away from this house; and I will do it, starting from tonight!” “Ngbechi I have not said we will let the serpent make our house its abode, what I want to know is which of my sons invited the serpent into my house. If the two of you do not answer me right now, I am going to do the unthinkable!” “Papa, we did not invite any serpent into your house.”

“Shut up Ugonna! Speak for yourself! I want precise answers from the both of you. Which of you went to the devil in search of wealth or protection and perhaps made a promise in the process of his quest?” When Ude mentioned ‘promise’, Ugonna recalled the oath he swore before the tree man the night Nigerian soldiers were going to kill him. He became visibly shaken as his thoughts strayed to the things the tree man might not have told him. Again he began to reconsider who might have ‘he who dwells in the sun’ been. His father took notice of the look of fear and thoughtfulness on his face and asked, “Ugonna is there something you have remembered? You look scared”. “No, I have remembered nothing, I am only wondering about how a serpent of this type made our family its target”, he lied. He didn’t know how to bring himself to tell his parents and brother what happened that night in 1967. “Papa as for me I can swear on my life that I made no covenant or offered any sacrifice to the devil for anything. So I am at loss like everyone else about how the serpent came into our family.” “What I am certain of is that either Aziza lied to me or one of you is lying to me; and I am going to find out who is lying in a few days’ time”.

After the family meeting Ngbechi who didn’t like her husband seeking divination with medicine men, decided she would call a band of prayer warriors to stage a vigil around the Oha tree for a night and cut it down. When she was done with making her plans she informed her husband about it. On the appointed night the band of prayer warriors came with holy water, holy cross, holy oil, holy candle and every other holy religious relic they could possible find. It was quite some prayer they staged in Ude’s compound; they began to pray by 12:00 midnight till 4:00 am in the morning. When they were done, their leader took an axe and hacked down the Oha tree. After the tree fell down the team of prayer warriors and the members of Ude’s household celebrated it with great joy and believed that they had heard the last of the serpent. They were encouraged by the fact that the serpent didn’t show up during their prayers. About 4:30 am the prayer warriors left; Ude and his family members went into their house to rest briefly before the full dawn of the day. While Ude and his two sons slept soundly, Ngbechi snapped out of sleep with shouts of pain. Her two legs were swollen to the size of earthen pots and there were living objects moving under her skin. Once again Ngbechi’s shouts drew their neighbours to their house. When Ude and his sons ran out of their house to get Ngbechi to a hospital, they saw the Oha tree which was cut down earlier that morning standing in its place. When Ude saw the Oha standing as though it had not been cut down that morning, he yelled in fear. His shout sent more people running into his compound to know the calamity which had befallen Ude’s household. 

At the hospital Ude was informed that his wife would be operated on to remove the objects which were moving under the skin of her two swollen legs. Ude didn’t mind what had to be done to save his wife, he just wanted it done. When the doctors cut into Ngbechi’s swollen legs, a swarm of angry black baby snakes filled out of the incisions made on her legs and attacked the doctors and Ngbechi. The doctors fled at the sight of the violent baby snakes hissing and baring their fangs, leaving Ngbechi at their mercy. With no one else to attack, the snakes turned their anger on Ngbechi and began to bite her all over. Ude and his sons were forced to run into the theater to help Ngbechi. When they met her, there were more than fifty snakes angrily sinking their fangs into every spot on her skin. She fought bravely, using her bare hands to knock them away. Whatever Ude and his two sons could find in the theater, they used to attack and crush the baby serpents. By the time they were done, Ngbechi went into seizure and began to vomit blood. Doctors had to be called in again to administer anti- snake venom to her. Though Ngbechi was saved from the attack of the serpents, she never came round to being herself after that attack. There were nights she couldn’t sleep because snakes were chasing after. There were also times she would be heard screaming in the day time because she had seen the giant serpent coming to swallow her; at other times she would lie down for hours not breathing at all, giving the impression had died. After her experience of breathless hours of sleep, Ngbechi would wake up to narrate bloodcurdling encounters in what she called the snake kingdom. Though Ude went as far as Ogoni and Ikom in search of potent traditional medicine to help save his wife from the attack of the serpent, he found none. There were days Ude wished his wife had died the day those baby serpents attacked her in the hospital, instead of the horrors she lived through every day.

As his mother’s ailment continued, Ugonna began to go to places and shrines he never thought he could go to in his life. At each shrine or spiritual house he went to, he was told that the serpent in his father’s house had come because of him. Bit by bit, Ugonna began to understand that the night the tree man saved him; he was actually deceived into making an evil covenant with the devil. What hurt him most about the covenant was not just that he made it, but that he brought all his unborn children into it; and his immediate family members were also caught in the ripples of it. Having seen how the serpent callously attacked his mother, he decided he would leave the village and go to the city to find a means to wriggle out of the oath he took in the name of him who dwells in the sun. However before he left for the city, a little shock awaited him. Ude intensified his efforts to have the serpent sacked from his house. His efforts took him back to Ogoni where he found a man who assured him he could help sack the serpent and its menace from his house. 


STORY CONTINUES…

This story was written by:

UZOMA UJOR

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: THE CHILDREN OF SERPENT - EPISODE 3
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