11th Installment of Obeash

Days went by, the storms came and lightening lit up the sky, dark clouds hung over the village as the rains drenched the volcanic soil. Henry remembered Akosua saying that Chango was the cause of such violent storms. He stood outside his hut and looked up at the grey skies.

“Chango, why?” He screamed. Akosua was standing under a banana tree and laughed as the boy screamed at the heavens. There was mud everywhere and sometimes the roof of the hut leaked causing the mud floor to be damp. He had not seen much of Akosua. She had stayed in the jungle and had not come out for days. One day he was standing outside his hut, the boy and the girl who had led him to the top of the hill to look down on Akosua and Adofo called out his name.

“Henry,” They hid behind a tree trunk. The boy beckoned

“What do you want?” Henry asked.

“Shhhhh,” the boy said putting his index finger on his lips, “It’s a secret follow us,” He turned and walked into the jungle. Henry followed.

They came upon Akosua. She sat in the middle of a grove of trees. Big green leaves hung to the ground, the mud was dry where she sat as birds rested on her shoulder. Other animals moved around her as if drawn to her, Henry and the kids got as close as they could. Her mouth moved but no words came out, she looked up at a whirlpool of leaves that hovered over her head, the leaves spun faster as if caught in a miniature tornado. Butterflies fluttered around her, their tropical colours bright in the sunlight. Henry felt something brush against his leg and he gasped. Akosua looked in his direction the whirlpool of leaves falling into her dreadlocks, the boy and the girl turned and ran,

“You can come out Henry,” she said, he hesitated, how did she know it was him? He was hidden in the thick bushes. He stepped out of the bushes, the animals all looked at him and he became apprehensive and stopped,

“Come on they will not hurt you,” she said, stretching her arm out, he walked by a cougar, the big black cat snarled showing two perfect rows of teeth that could rip a man into shreds. Its yellow eyes followed Henry’s every movement, he stopped, his heart racing, sweat poured down his face,

“Come on he is just curious,” Akosua said, Henry tentatively walked by the animal he felt its tongue slid across his leg as he went by,

“Hi,” Akosua said smiling, Henry stood next to her using his hand to block the sun from his eyes,

“Are you a real witch?” he asked, Akosua smiled

“Am not a witch, am an Obeah Woman,” she said, Henry looked at her puzzled, he had heard from his father about the witchcraft that the slaves practiced on the plantations. His father said it was devilish practices and said that some of the slaves practiced cannibalism,

“What’s the difference?” he asked as a robin came to rest on his shoulder,

“A witch cast spells and practice black magic. Me, I take care of my tribe, I heal the sick, feed the hungry and intercede with the Loas on behalf of my people,” she said Henry stared at her, she looked around,

“All the stories you heard from the slave owners are false. Not all of us practice black magic. The plantation owners tried to get us to give up our beliefs, but we secretly practiced our religion. We were forced to be part of your spiritual beliefs, but most of us practiced both using your saints to replace our own spirits.” She said,

“What is you religion called?” Henry asked. Butterflies circled over their heads. Akosua was distracted by them for a second.

“Some of us practice Vodron. My supreme being is Yemaya, the Obeah Goddess. We practice both on this island, true freedom. Henry giggled as a butterfly landed on the back of his neck. It flew away and he turned back to Akosua.

“My father says its black magic.” He said, Akosua rolled her eyes,

“That is an excuse used by plantation owners to punish anyone who wanted to keep the old beliefs alive. Like your beliefs, there is good and evil, so it is with ours. The main difference is that our beliefs have more than one Loa or God.” She stopped talking looked around then back to Henry.

“Come stand here with me,” she said taking Henry’s hand. They stood in the middle of the grove where there were no trees. She spread her arms out and closed her eyes. Henry did the same, and slowly, he felt the flutter of wings tickle his entire body as hundreds of the colourful creatures covered him. At first he was afraid and opened his eyes,

“Don’t look just relax and close your eyes,” Akosua said Henry complied and after a couple of minutes he felt light headed,

“Open your eyes” She said, Henry slowly opened his eyes and found that he was looking down on the jungle. His heart raced up, and he felt like he was going to faint, but controlled himself. The green leaves glittered in the tropical sun, pigeons, parrots, humming birds and feathered creatures of all kinds floated next to him. At first he felt numb, and then he screamed, as he slowly began to move forward the wings of the butterflies flapping to the rhythm of his heartbeat

“Ohhhh,” he screamed as Akosua glided up alongside him,

“Isn’t this fun?” she screamed as the wind captured her voice right after she uttered the words. They picked up speed, the trees rushed by below him as they flew over the village,

“Am flying Am flying!” he screamed waving to kids on the beach, they screamed back running and jumping.

They flew over the beach and out to the ocean. The emerald water rushed by, dolphins jumped, some doing flips, whales blew water from their spouts; red snappers glittered crimson just below the surface. The wind whistled by his ears and tears rolled down his face. Goose bumps popped out all over him, causing his skin to feel like it had tightened up. Akosua came up next to him and motioned for him to turn around. He was amazed at how small the island looked from the air. They glided over the island going through clouds, floating by flocks of birds. They went to the other side and out to sea again. Akosua pulled up next to him and pointed in the distance. There was the silhouette of an island against the ocean. Henry struggled to see it against the glare of the sun. The closer they got, the darker the sky became. The emerald ocean became grey, and schools of sharks swam menacingly in the murky water. Crows hovered over the mountain peak at the centre of the island; buzzards attacked the carcass of a dead animal on the black sand beach. Akosua stopped and stared at the island,

“Jumbie Island!” Akosua screamed above the howling wind. The buzzards lined up facing them as if creating a battle formation,

“Lets go back,” she said the butterflies fluttered their wings and Henry was turned around and they glided back to the blue ocean and sunshine.

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