Eno was in a fix. The holy water Prophet Methuselah had given her to sprinkle around the house had proven either too weak to fight the devil or totally impotent.
“Lord, why me? Why has the devil decided to plant his seeds in my household?”
Frimpomaa, her neighbor and friend who looked even sadder than Eno took a deep breath and sighed…
“My sister, the last time the devil tried playing such tricks on me, I fought him with his own poison. That’s how to go about it these days, you know. And so I did just that! I tell you, that juju man is the best in this area. He gave me instant results. You must go to him quickly before the evil enters your last daughter too. Leave that good for nothing prophet alone.”
“That will mean all three of them! No, I won’t be able to handle that! Oh how I wish my husband was here to support me. Kwabena, why did you have to die and leave me to swallow such bitter medicine?”
A few minutes later, when both ladies had settled down considerably, in walked a young man of about 24 years, dressed sharply in white slacks, and a matching white shirt. He was tall and skinny and carried a bright pink backpack. The moment Eno set eyes on him she started to lament.
“God She is at it again!”
The young man whispered to himself and greeted his wailing mother and her rather angry looking friend.
“Today of all days, young man, why do you decide to come in and remind me of my pain? Why do you have to even walk in here wearing that? Reminding me yet again what the devil is busily working out in my life.”
The young man laughed softly and cleared his throat.
“Mother, how many times do you want me to explain to you that this is exactly what I want to be and the devil has no hand in it? Nobody forced me into this. It was my personal choice to become a nurse!”
Eno jumped up suddenly and started pacing.
“Oh no, he has mentioned it again! Oh gods of my native land! My ancestors! Why are you slumbering in your graves while my enemies take control of my son’s brain?”
The young was man was shifitng his balance from one foot the other, clearly getting uncomfortable.
“Mom, I am not mad!”
His mother rushed towards him and stopped abruptly directly in front of him, looking him straight in the eye.
“Oh, but you are, because I don’t understand you and your choice!”
She looked ready to cry, her lips quivering and eyes darting from the house, to the young man to Frimpomaa.
“Why couldn’t you become doctor? Why a nurse? Why do you choose to be a woman? Is it because I had a daughter before and after you?”
She settled both hands on her hips and sighed.
“No! That is not the reason. It is the work of my enemies! If it were not so, my firstborn will not be off on…what do they call it?”
She turned to Frimpomaa as if asking for help
“Aha! Peacekeeping! My daughter will not be off keeping peace in some war-torn faraway land while her mates are exactly where they should be, in their husband’s homes, making babies! She’s out there balancing guns in those hands that should be knitting sweaters for my grandchildren! So I know, my enemies, I know you are seriously after me. But you will not get hold of my last child! No, she will have a nice gentleman, who surely will not be a nurse, come ask for her hand in marriage. Yes, you won’t have it all, devil…you won’t have it all!”
The young man, who could not stand any more of the drama, picked up his bag and left.
“Eno, this is a sign of darker things to come! Tomorrow morning, be prepared, I will go with you to the man I talked to you about. This will surely come to an end!”
Some months and several visits to the jujuman later, the last born, Gifty was on the porch with the young man, Anthony, who was a nurse.
“Tony, it has been 3 weeks since mother left to the village and I have not heard a word from her. I’m beginning to get worried”
The young man tried to hide his amusement.
“Worried? My dear, she said she was going to consult the gods and her ancestors, right? Only God knows exactly where she is right now. And if she is there because of my being a nurse or our elder sister being an army officer, then it might take a while”
“I wonder what will happen when she comes back to find out what I’ve decided to do to raise money for medical school.”
Gifty added with a downcast look on her face.
“Haha, Great! Now you are going to have mother thinking the devil switched our souls! Your idea is brilliant. If I had time on my hands like you have, I would have done the same thing to raise money for myself too. Just be careful because you know you’ll be virtually the only female out there.”
They walked back into the house laughing and ready for dinner.
Meanwhile, somewhere in some war-torn faraway land, the first daughter, Agnes, who was off keeping peace had just finished reading a letter from her nurse brother Anthony and Gifty her Kid sister.
“Mother started going crazy when I turned down the seventh and last suitor that came knocking on our door and broke the news that I had joined the military and was going off to camp in a week. She cried and begged me to rethink my decision. She called in her prophet to pray, she sprinkled holy water on my pillow and did all she could to stop me but here I am.”
The peace keeping daughter was talking to one of the guys who was lying next to her. She and the rest of the troops were all in a tent, resting their tired limbs…it was evening, and peace had almost been restored so the region was quite calm.
The first daughter continued.
“A couple of years later, my brother borrowed money from me, got forms from a nursing school, had me help him fill them, and got enrolled in nursing school. For about two weeks my mother made herself believe we were pulling a practical joke on her. Then after she realized it wasn’t a joke, she got the prophet to come live at home with us for about three days for thorough cleansing of our home and souls. Eventually, she begged my brother to move out so she wouldn’t go mad and I also moved out soon after. Now I have news that my sister is up to something that I’m sure mother will suffer cardiac arrest from when she finds out, and I’m not exaggerating.”
By then, the tent was quiet. The men were all asleep.
First daughter straightened up in her sleeping bag and went off to sleep too.
Also, in the village where the gods and ancestors were being consulted, Eno was on her way back home.
“Who did you say you are gain?”
She had wrapped her head tightly with a red scarf, a sign that all was not well with her.
The middle-aged man, dressed in a caramel colored shirt and khaki trousers replied, looking up above his glasses that was resting on the tip of his big nose.
“I’m the head teacher”
“And what did you just tell me?”
Eno asked again.
“I said I’m glad you’ve decided to go home now. You’ve been here too long, and that fetish priest is just draining you of your money. I have heard why you are here and I just want to tell you that there is nothing spiritual at work. It’s perfectly normal for a man to be a nurse and a woman a soldier.”
The wrinkles on Eno’s face deepened.
“I will go, but know that I have eyes watching you. I know now that you’re one of my enemies. My stay here is hindering your works isn’t it? I am going so don’t worry, just beware.”
With that, she walked off towards the main road, carrying her luggage.
After a long journey back to the city from the village where the jujuman was being consulted, Eno walked out of the lorry station to the roadside and hailed a taxi. The taxi stopped and she got in.
It took a while for Gifty to realise she had picked up her own mother after she had taken a closer look in her rear mirror. She turned sharply.
“Mother! You’re finally back!”
Eno, looked up into her lastborn’s eyes, clutched her chest and collapsed onto the seat.
Gifty’s body shook with sobs as she sped to the nearest hospital.
Mother was barely moving. She was barely breathing.
After two weeks she was discharged. The doctors had said she had had a mild heart attack. She was in bed and had refused to talk to any of her children who had all gathered in the sitting room, with the pastor who had arrived that morning on Eno’s demand. He was younger than all the others and had just recovered from a fit of laughter after the children had filled him in on exactly what the problem with their mother was. In between all that, Agnes couldn’t keep her eyes off him. He wore no ring either, she had noted.
He exclaimed, trying to hold back more laughter.
“Your mother sure has serious enemies at work in her backyard”
The sound of their laughter got to Eno in her bed. She rolled her eyes up to the ceiling and whispered,
“The Devil is a liar!”