BOND V “Dadi mi” Taiwo cried, “inu n run mi”. Tears rolled down from her face and the mat on which she lay was wet. Kehinde’s been ill for two weeks and Adejumoke knew that Taiwo’d soon fall in the malady. “What’s wrong with my life? I told you to watch over your sister just for me to get some herbs, now you’re sweating like a sun-mated farmer. What’s wrong with you? Where’s your father?” Mama Adigun would soon come to say that she saw Adejumoke’s husband going to farm. She’d guess that he’s gone to get some herbs or meet his friends for help. But Taiwo didn’t answer her mother. She’s rubbing her stomach with one hand and itching her body all over with the other hand, wriggling. She’s not going to say any word. She couldn’t if she tried. Then Mama Adigun came in suddenly. “Oh you’re back! I heard her cry of stomach ache so I…” “Iya Adigun, if I’d offended the mothers can’t they be motherly lenient to forgive? Can’t they demand sacrifice?” “Don’t speak that way, it’s the season.” “Season of revenge or torture? Abi beeko?” “Enough! Get aporo and let’s mix it with lime juice first.” Mama Adigun looked beside her. Taiwo lay on the mat in the big room and followed Adejumoke with her eyes into an inner room. There, Kehinde’s lain on a cloth-heaped-mat. She’d been dead-like, getting thinner as sun worked and rested. She’d complained of stomach ache and that’s all. Mama Adigun then looked at Taiwo and shakes her head in pity. She began to think. She knew that’s not all: If it’s not an attack or revenge then it’s a curse or consequence of evil that’s come to plague the family. Other women around have been very careful. The woman’s blind, her husband, paralysed. A very loving child got lost. Now her eyes are opened just for her to see her twins die slowly. The good man’s become restless. He’d not permit her to meet the elders or mothers for help. Does he think he’d repulse the gods for long? I only pity this woman… Adejumoke made Taiwo drink some potion and rubbed a shear-butter made cream on the girl. Then she thanked Mama Adigun. “Mama Adigun! What’s it? I’ve been talking to you since” “You’re talking to me. I have given her…” “Given her what?” “Oh I … nothing! I have been…” Adejumoke looked into her neighbour’s eyes. Tears soon dropped from them. That made her cried too. Both women became friends not because one pitied the other. Both of them were like sisters in Bejide. Mama Adigun’s buried five husbands. Each of them died three months after marrying her. The last one was a very powerful and boastful babalawo in Aramade. People feared him but they still warned him not to jump into a bottomless pit. He did and died. Since then, Mama Adigun has become a victim of mouths and eyes. She’s a mystery herself. She has a body carved like Iyemoja. And she’s drowned when she’s five years old. Till now no one knows how she survived the wrath of Iyemoja who flood-raced the village and harvested seven girls of which only one returned. Her first husband said he loved her for her humility and good heart. Well, the grave’s always humble, patient and welcoming. The second one married her for her dimples- he couldn’t be persuaded to consult oracles first. Even when his father did on his behalf and warned him he’s stubborn. Talabi then died the same way. The other husband’s death was his eyes fixed on a gap-toothed sonsy. That’s how Adigun died. He loved her and called her his mother. She loved him too, to his death. He died the same way. She married another rich Adigun who said he’s a comforter. His death was her smile that bewitched his heart and deafened his ears. She lived with him in Aramoni for three months. After he’s gone the same way others did, his family didn’t even let the woman perform any of the rites of a widow. She’s booted out the following day, with nothing. He also called her his sweet mother because he missed his long-dead mother. Aromoni’s reprimanded for such denial of their kind and the woman’d become so rich that she’d always forgive her people. The women gathered without any town-crier’s call and marched to Abejide’s palace who begged them not to go to Aramoni. Women in Aramoni also marched. “Ikun n jogede, o n redi. Ebiti’s not to be destroyed for the death of a foolish hare,” they ranted round. They all knew Larape’s story. She’s said to have been married to Iyemoja’s son when she took her to the depth of the river of Bejide. She’s said to have married Olokun of Bejide and Iyemoja junous acts will cause her misery for life because Olokun’s helpless in Iyemoja’s anger. Some said she’s cursed. Some said she’s raped by Iroko. Others said she fell from her mother’s back. People mock her by calling her Adigun’s mother. Adiguns told their friends that she’s good at making them play with and suck her bosom. People said her lubricity endeared her to the gods and the rich men. And it may be true that all the Babalawo that she met for help only neck her and know her either as a price or gratitude for sacrifices and potions that’d not reach the cloud. She’s a devourer! Now, though her body often calls, though her mouth opens and though she salivates, no one will feed her with any morsel or loaf. She’d nothing to swallow anymore. She’s relieved when another pariah returned to Bejide. Adejumoke at times would call her aburo and she called her egbon. They smiled together and cried together. It’s still raining. “Do gods delight in our miseries” Adejumoke asked. “No, they’re just sometimes manacled and helpless.” “Why do men then still hope in them?” “Because men believe gods won’t rest until their votaries get help.” “My husband thinks the gods are creations of men. I believe there are gods and spirits; some are evil. I just don’t know what a parent watches one child torments another and sits calmly.” “Or why life and luck are made tough for some and soft for others. But you know hope is the reason why I’ve not committed suicide. Egbon, Olodumare wa loke. The twins will live!” “The rain portends fear and terror in this hyena world of ours.” “Well may be a King will visit our world. But that which rages doesn’t always rent and kill. And even the tender can be tyrants. Most times the fearsome are so forged by the fearful themselves.” It is raining with intermittent storming thunder. It will rain for hours. Taiwo had slept at this time but the women weren’t unworried.