Ama didn’t understand why her mother was so panicky this night. Couldn’t comprehend why they were hurtling down the highway at 11pm at night.
She was scared but didn’t say anything. What could she say in response? After all, she was only eight years old. Deep down she wondered if she could reason with her mother, but she knew that the fear that drove her was primal in nature. In her defence, the only crime she seemed to have committed was to have a friend called Andy. An imaginary friend.
Andy had always been in the picture for as long as she could remember. As the only child of a single mother, her mother Miss Arewah initially found it cute that her daughter had a vivid imagination that engrossed her most of the time. It was expected that she would outgrow this trait. Over the years this indulgence gave way to wariness, irritation and then most recently, fear. Ama had tried to keep the fact that she still spoke to her imaginary friend all the time from her mother but she was caught talking to Andy this evening and the subject matter had frightened her mother so much that she made one quick phone call and 15 minutes later, they were out of the compound like the very Devil was on their heels.
She could still remember her mother’s frantic conversation as she stuffed things into her bag.
“Hello Jimoke! Ha, it’s me Mama Ama. What I talked to you about has manifested again. I didn’t want to believe you and your Prophet, but I caught my daughter talking about things that she ordinarily shouldn’t be talking about. I believe she is possessed.” At this point she burst into uncontrollable tears while Ama watched in stupefaction, her eight-year-old mind a jumble of emotions that she couldn’t still quantify and all she could think was…
…Andy is my friend.
And even now as she stared out into the pitch darkness, occasionally illuminated by flashes in the distant thunderclouds, she found herself repeating it over and over again like a mantra.
…Andy is my friend.
…Andy is my friend.
A few minutes later, they arrived at a structure in the middle of a field that may be best described as a zinc roof supported by an assortment of plywood for walls. From within came the sound of hollering with an intermittent high-pitched wailing that set Ama’s nerves on edge.
“THE SPIRIT IS MOOOVING!” A voice yelled from within the structure, and for the umpteenth time she wondered where her friend Andy went. She hadn’t seen a hide of her friend since her mum had caught her talking to Andy and no matter how hard she concentrated and wished Andy to be here, he simply refused to reappear.
Jimoke walked towards them and hugged her mother while staring at Ama as if she was something tainted.
“I have spoken to the Prophet, luckily for us, tonight is his deliverance session but be prepared to stay here all night.”
“Jimoke am ready o, anything to save my daughter.”
But I’m right here mother! She thought with chagrin.
She didn’t want to go inside this building. It filled her with such an overpowering sense of foreboding that her legs began to quake but she knew that if she showed any form of resistance, her mom would be more than willing to drag her kicking and screaming into the structure and, as if on cue, her mother took her hand and half-dragged her inside.
The temple was dimly lit on the inside and Ama felt the skin on her scalp prickle as she saw an assortment of people dancing and gyrating as they praised God, intoxicated by the tempo of the chants but it felt otherworldly to her. She wondered where the Prophet was that her mother was dragging her like a lamb to the slaughter. She turned around hoping for a glimpse of Andy but ever since the fiasco, Andy had chosen to remain invisible and the prospect of not seeing her again began to frighten Ama.
She looked up to her mother and into her eyes as though to will her on a subconscious level to leave this scary place. Her mother smiled back and squeezed her hand as if she was trying to reassure herself more so than her daughter, and it sent chills up Ama’s spine. Her mother watched expectantly at the dim door from where the Prophet was expected to emerge. Suddenly the tempo of the music increased in intensity and the women were gyrating so hard that she wondered if they planned on snapping their waists in two or the men that jumped so high like they wanted to reach for the ceiling. She wished Andy was here. Andy would have found this hilarious. She cast another furtive glance around hoping that her imaginary friend was back but before she could dwell any further on that, the music stopped abruptly, only punctuated by people yelling “Hallelujah!” and “Praise the Lord!”.
She turned to the altar and the prophet was suddenly there, resplendent in his white robe with his gold sash across his waist, his tall dark frame exuded authority and power. He spread his arms wide and people began to fall to their knees, praying and weeping. She almost stumbled to the ground as her mother dragged her to the ground with her, eyes shut tight, already weeping and praying for the soul of her daughter.
“Brethren, we are here today because of the hold of the Devil over our lives.” The Prophet said in a baritone voice. “These demons are limiting us financially, stagnating our academics and frustrating our martial desires. To them I say not so long as this Prophet lives! Even now as I speak, I still hear them whispering, there is even one here that I can sense that has a death grip on a little girl here today, but they will all come out today by the FIRE OF THE HOLY GHOST!”.
“Amen!” her mother screamed loudly with the rest of the church, holding Ama’s hand so tightly that she reflexively screamed. The Prophet went into the crowd and started ministering. Ama fervently wished the man would never come in her direction, she wished her mother would just take her home. She closed her eyes and when she opened them again, the Prophet was standing right in front of her.
He smiled at her but Ama found his smile anything but comforting. It felt like a predator was smiling down at her.
He turned to her mother and spoke with a sad voice. “Your daughter is being tormented by an evil spirit and, even now, I can see that it has gotten a fast hold on her in its her demonic claws.”. Her mother’s eyes suddenly widened like dinner plates and she started rebuking the said evil spirit.
Wait could he see Andy? Andy, can he see you? Andy? Andy?
Her pleas were only met with stony silence.
She listened dully as the Prophet enjoined the choir to sing warfare songs while he took this child afflicted with a powerful demon to his inner sanctum where he would exorcise this evil spirit.
Her mother wanted to follow but the Prophet refused and replied in that silky baritone voice that she should join the congregation to pray. The earnest prayer of a travailing mother was very powerful. Ama felt powerless to the forces at play as she watched her mother fall to her knees and pray earnestly while the Prophet dragged her to the inner recesses of the church that looked like the jaws of the beast waiting to snap shut on her.
They came to a small room that was empty apart from some candles on the floor and a stained mirror hanging on the wall. The Prophet whirled her around and looked into her eyes.
“Child, I know you are afraid but the evil force inside you needs to be cast out. Do you understand?” Ama thought the safest thing to do was to cooperate so she nodded her head. He seemed pleased with her response because he pulled out a small towel.
“I need you to tie this around your mouth. This handkerchief was blessed by the angel Gabriel in Israel and is very powerful in preventing evil spirits from inhabiting another body. Now kneel in front of me and tie it around your face.
Ama didn’t want to kneel down and most definitely did not want to tie the pungent smelling cloth round her face but she did kneel down and was suddenly startled by something rising in the Prophet’s robes that reminded her of these nature shows where a snake would rear up his head before preparing to strike. Did he have a snake down there?
Take a good look at what you are seeing, darling.
Ama nearly fell back in shock at the voice that suddenly bloomed in her head.
Yes, darling who else will I be?
Where have you been and how come I can’t see you and you are talking in my head instead?
Because I am imaginary, and I can do whatever the hell I want. Now where was I before you interrupted me? Oh yes, we were talking about what was rising in your dear friend’s robes. That, my dear, is called a penis and he is a few moments from sticking it inside of you.
A what now?
For Christ sakes! I forget how young and impressionable you are. Ok, let’s keep it simple; that man is a bad man and he is going put you in a world of pain if you don’t do exactly as I say.
But you left me all alone. I was so scared.
I know. Your mother kind of pissed me off. Now let’s get this show on the road, we don’t have time and I need you to do exactly as I say.
Prophet Golden’s hands quivered as he thought of the soft young flesh in front of him. So young and so delicious. His member was already rock-hard just thinking about it. He put his hand on her chin to raise her eyes to his and he didn’t like what he saw. He saw hyperawareness and a cunning intelligence behind those eyes and he dimly wondered if she could be really possessed but before he could fully dwell on that thought, her right hand shot out and grabbed his scrotum and he suddenly felt a supernova of pain.
“On your knees, you dumb fool?” he heard her say, and through the pain nearly obscuring his vision, he saw she was smiling. He wanted to hit her with rage but suddenly the pain quadrupled, and he found himself on his knees hyperventilating and sweating and, worst of all, helpless.
“Do I also have your attention now?”
The Prophet nodded with full vigour.
“Now we are going to go back, and you will tell everyone that I have been fully healed and then you and I will forget about this incident. However, if you put your shriveled little dick in any child again, and trust me, I will most definitely know…I will come back while you sleep and chop your pretty little balls off. Are we clear?”
He nodded animatedly, his mind frantically trying to understand what lay behind this little child’s eyes that filled him with bone-numbing terror.
Ama stared at her friend Andy who suddenly appeared beside her and she felt warm and safe as she took Ama’s hand.
I am so proud of you. You stepped up major. Ama could swear that she saw a twinkle in her eyes as Andy spoke in her head again.
Come, we are going to do so many great things together.
Written by ITUA PETER