The Obeah man is greatly feared in Jamaica. He wields power in a daunting kind of way. A certain mystery and power looms over him, so much that people pull their children to the side whenever he walks down the street. People of the community do not mix with his wife and children, for fear of being involved with Obeah themselves, and customers flocked to his compound in the wee hours of dawn or very late at night seeking their own spells. He can be heard at times by his neighbors chanting or speaking in different languages, and there are times when he is possessed his eyes turn blood red. He often calls out to Joseph, his main messenger, a being no one but him has ever seen, and when Joseph arrives he blows his rum and commands him to go and remove the flesh from Birdie, clean, clean, clean! Birdie is the shoe makers wife or widow I should say, who owes him for works done, but when he goes to collect his money from her, she hides and send out to him a bottle of Jamaican white rum. He stands and look for moments on, while the child holding the rum anticipates what he will say, he shakes his head and with furious eyes calmly say, “Birdie, I will give you one more day“. The day has passed as he patiently waits for Birdie to come and bring to him his pay, but as night falls and the evening cools, he has made up his mind, Birdie shall not live to see another day!
He sat and think, and think and think, what, what shall he do? To let Birdie get away with cheating him, no, no, this he cannot do. His father taught him his art, this craft, from the moment he could crawl, and told him in his fourteenth year,“Son, learn well, because with this work, you will never suffer at all” His father was a mighty man, an Obeah man and a Bishop too, when he held his bible up to the Sun and chanted each and every psalm, there was nothing he could not do. He healed the sick, and helped the poor, and brought back Miss Millie’s runaway husband too, and helped the Mayor get off the case from the Chinese girl, who he got pregnant, mother who had sued. The Mighty One, as his father was called was loved by everyone, but there were few who hated him and secretly plotted for his destruction. One evening the Mighty One was going home from Church where he shouted out a sermon which could be heard by everyone, and as he passed the rum bar by the side of the road, Irma the bar maid called him in to have just one. It was late, around twelve, he thought hard but not long, that he really should get home, but the sermon was heavy and had parched his throat and even a dog when he done bark deserved a bone.
He clutched his bible under his arm, walked in and hailed them all, he even joined them in a song and preached like he was Paul. As Irma served him his bottled brew, he laughed,talked and joked, he never thought that this same brew would later make him cough and choke. He joked and sang many songs, while he drank with them till he was drunk, he knew not that a plot was set because he trusted everyone. How sinful can we humans get to plan to kill someone, but on this sad night and without a fight the Mighty One had stumbled on such a plight. He stumbled to get up from his stool, his lips was black and blue, his tongue was numb, his lips were numb he could not feel his drool. They all looked on and stopped the songs but he knew something was wrong. He gripped the bar and straightened up and grabbed the glass from where he had drunk, held it high above his head because he knew he was dead, there was no coming back from this. The bar was silent as he spoke, and as he spoke on blood he choked and said “anuh me alone dead, is de whole ah you!”, then he held his bible in his hand and chanted out Psalm 109, blood running down his lips his body weakened, not a sound could be heard from all those folks, as he wheezed out words of power into the open air, time stood still for a little while, then he squinted at them all and smiled, then collapsed and died. The Mighty One was dead!
Now looking back at his fathers death, the Obeah man remembered Birdie’s ungrateful act, “Sending me, a bottle of rum?… My father’s mistake I will never make, yuh cyann offer me, Rum, cheese or cake, Birdie, you made a great, mistake! The hour was now, the hour of three, and he stripped himself naked then went to pee, in the special container he had made for Birdie. In it he had the hair from Birdie’s head, and other items he had collected. In the dark of night he chanted his psalms and words of power on them he called. “Orion’s head, Orion’s peak, Orion hand’s Orion’s feet!, It is you tonight I seek, One Birdie Millicent Wilson despises you, yet she owes you, she even speaks badly about you! to you I give this pound of flesh, which you will collect upon Birdie’s death”!. Then he closes the box, sprinkles it with rum and sets it on fire, and watch it burn while he chants again, “Ashes to Ashes dust to dust, when next you come into the world Birdie you will learn not to trust, from Orion you trust and did not pay, into darkness you will go and stay, for you Birdie, there will be no tomorrow, you will not live another”.
Birdie woke up at three in the morning, her whole body was scratching her again. “Lord” she said, “I only hope this Obeah man don’t try me yuh nuh, But I nuh fraid ah him, mi owe him yes, but him can wait, but look pon the likes of him?, Birdie kissed her teeth while she scratched her side and remembered in her day, when she was young, sexy and pretty too, and all the men in the neighborhood did what she commanded them to do. Old age is rough, and life gets a little tough when you no longer can do the things you could do. She missed her friends, they all were dead even her husband too, but him she did not miss at all, and when he died she did not bawl, for evil and wicked was he. Little did he even know that although she was his wife she was his foe and to kill him she did what she had to do and as he died he held her arms, while she smiled and thought “If only you knew“.
Birdie lit a cigarette, puffed and held her breath, feeling young at age sixty two, she thought of all her deeds, puffed away and sneezed three times, one, two, three! After she sneezed her whole body shook, because as she sneezed her chest squeezed and she felt like she couldn’t breathe, the cigarette she chucked as she sat up, frightened as can be, but she calmed down and she held her chest while she began to pray!….she prayed and prayed, and prayed and prayed as her mind strayed to a time so far away. A time when she was called Irma, who had planned along with her husband to kill the Mighty One. Smithy was there Fred was there , Pee Wee and Tom too, Bull was there and Errol, not to mention Betty Sue, It was Betty sue who distracted the Mighty One as Irma’s husband slipped the poison in his drink in front of the whole crew. They were all in on it, but paid for it, with their lives because they all died one by one, which made Irma change her name, close the bar and a new life she began. She knew not that the Obeah man was the son of the Mighty One, so she went to him, and works for her he did, not knowing she was the cause of his father’s demise. His works for her was sound and true, but the Mighty One stood by his son remembering the brew that Irma poured that fateful night, this old hag, this whore, this shrew! He stood quietly behind his son squinted his eyes, and looked on which was all he could do, because the time had come for Birdie to join her ancestors too.
Birdie fell to her knees and prayed and prayed, until she knew not what to say, could she be dying right here right now, no one to hear her scream, she clutched her chest and held her breast and tried her best to scream. Fire from her cigarette, which she had chucked began to burn the rug, Birdie cried out to God to save her life, “let met breathe! put out the light, put out the light!” but on that night Birdie lost the fight, for her life, as the flesh from her body burned she cried, the Mighty One stood aside and looked on and sighed, he floated off within the air, he would meet Birdie on the other side.
Every coin has two side!
Ọ̀rọ̀ tó máa di akàn, bí ẹja ni í kọ́kọ́ ńrí. /
What will turn out well, often do start out as unfavorable. Yoruba Proverb!
[Things may get worse before they get better; don’t give up.]