Dial Episode 37 is on the menu…
The silence was absolutely profound.
Okomfo Basabasa was staring at Nana Bosomba, and I was also staring at the Wowo man. Fact was, nobody else could see that wicked apple-chewing man except the two of us, and so they were barely able to comprehend how the men lashing me ended up basically lashing themselves.
Most of them were staring at me as if I were some sort of apparition. Evidently, the all-powerful Okomfo Basabasa had never been made so fragile and vulnerable in their sight.
However, as the fetish priest took a step toward that shimmering image of Nana Bosomba, cowering and absolutely agitated, almost bending double in obeisance, it became evident that he was seeing something else no one else could see.
I noticed that the image of the Fetish Priest of Wowo had firmed somewhat. It had become more solid, and no longer hazy and wobbly. I saw that he appeared to be standing inside a forest that looked uncannily familiar, and then a moment later it dawned on me…
Nana Bosomba was standing in the cocoa trees that separated the house of the witch from the river!
His face was as cold as I had ever seen it. He was leaning against a cocoa tree, holding his walking-stick in his right hand. Nana Bosomba suddenly lifted his left hand, forefinger pointing straight, and then he made circular movements with his forefinger.
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Immediately the leather strap with their cruel metallic spikes shot up in the air and coiled viciously around Okomfo Basabasa’s neck tightly. The Fetish Priest of Etwe-Pe-Koti groaned and fell to his knees, one hand clutching at his neck as the strap dug in deeper, the other raised in supplication toward Nana Bosomba.
“Bosomba Nana, Bosomba Nana, don’t kill me, don’t kill me!” he groaned with a mixture of pain and fear. “Why’re are you doing this, Nana? Have I crossed you? Have I touched you? Why?”
Tied to the tree trunk, I cackled madly with glee as I watched the man’s agony.
“Aboa bi ba!” I said, and I couldn’t recall the last time I had been so happy about another man’s suffering. “Aboa like you!”
Almost all the people in the shade of the veranda were on their feet, including King Obiba and Abena Adobea.
“You don’t touch the body of that boy!” Nana Bosomba said harshly. “If he broke your customs, you can do whatever you want to him, but don’t you dare touch his body! I put a curse on him, and you have no audacity to touch a body I have cursed!”
“Oh, Bosomba Nana, I didn’t know, I didn’t know!” Okomfo Basabasa groaned in anguish. “Forgive me! Please forgive me!”
For a moment, Nana Bosomba’s eyes glared, and then he shook his fingers in an anti-clockwise manner, and the strap unwound from around the neck of Okomfo Basabasa.
The man fell down, choking as rivulets of blood seeped out of the holes created in his neck from the metallic spikes. I grinned furiously from ear-to-ear, and then I looked at the image of Nana Bosomba, but he was no longer there.
The vision had vanished.
People stared at Okomfo Basabasa as he struggled to his face, and when he looked at my grinning face, a look of sheer murderous fury cut across his face. With a deep curse, he pulled out a sharp knife from somewhere within the folds of his raffia skirt and approached me.
“Go ahead, cut me up basabasa Okomfo Basabasa!” I said, grinning even broader.
“Your mother!” he hissed furiously, and for one wild moment I suddenly felt he was going to actually cut me up with the knife, so incensed was he. However, he just slashed at the cords binding me, and a moment later I stood free.
“Nana Basabasa!” King Obiba said angrily. “What’s the meaning of this? Are you letting that man go after he insulted my wife-to-be, our future Queen?”
Okomfo Basabasa approached the king and bowed low.
“No, Your Majesty, no!” he said as he put his knife back in its scabbard and mopped the blood around his neck with a piece of white cloth. “That man is a cursed man! I just saw a vision of a superior priest who has placed the curse of death on this man! If we harm his body, great calamity will befall us!”
“So we can’t do anything to him?” Abena Adobea asked, her lovely face now filled with great fury. “He goes scot free?”
“No, my dearest Royal Princess,” Okomfo Basabasa said with a sly, wicked smile. “We can’t harm his body, but we can do whatever we want with him, including imprison him in the dungeons if he refuses to atone for what he did!”
“Atonement then!” the king roared, and this was greeted by a wild scream from the people around; they were finding their voices again after the scare that Nana Bosomba had put in them.
“He shall be made to slaughter a sheep to appease you!” Okomfo Basabasa told the princess.
“No!” Abena Adobea screamed. “I want him to be imprisoned in the dungeons for a week to teach him some lesson!”
Okomfo Basabasa shook his head.
“No, my Princess, we can’t do that, unfortunately!” he said tightly.
“And why not?” Abena Adobea screamed. “We have other people in the dungeons!”
“They are our subjects, my Princess,” the fetish priest said. “This man is a stranger, alas. First we charge him to pay atonement, and if he refuses, then we can send him to the dungeons! The priest who has put a curse on him is called Bosomba. He knows our customs, and so we can’t do anything but go by the customs, otherwise Bosomba Nana can curse our village.”
The Royal Princess’ body shook with rage as she glared at my face, her face made even more beautiful in her anger.
“So, he pays for only one sheep? Only two hundred cedis?” she asked in a bitter tone.
A sly smile played around the lips of the fetish priest.
“Ahh, my Princess, that is where our custom becomes sweet!” he said with a cold glint in his eyes. “You’re the one he offended, and he must pay atonement! How many sheep do you think might appease the sacrilege he caused?”
The lady’s eyes narrowed.
“I don’t understand, Okomfo,” she said carefully. “Are you speaking in tongues now?”
The fetish priest smiled gently at her.
“You see, atonement must always be the blood of a sheep,” he said with a knowing look. “But, the harsher the crime, the more blood we need! If the crime is against a royal, like in this case, we normally ask the royal how many sheep would appease the crime!”
A slow wicked smile played around the sensuous lips of Abena Adobea as she finally got the meaning of what the wicked Fetish Priest was saying.
“And if he fails to pay for the atonement, we can then send him to the dungeons?” she asked softly.
Okomfo Basabasa nodded, the wicked glint in his eyes increasing.
“That is our custom, my Princess.”
The Royal Princess came down slowly, her eyes now filled with wicked happiness as she walked slowly toward me.
Wearing a loose dress sewn from the same local print cloth as the King, her feet encased in ahenemma slippers, beads around her hair, ankles and wrists, that daughter of Maame Ntiriwaa cut a most glorious figure as she walked toward me.
Her dress accentuated her incredible curves, her smooth dark skin that glinted as if tiny diamond particles lay under her skin. As heaven was my witness, she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my entire life.
Without a doubt, under different circumstances, she might have been a true candidate on the Dial List.
However, as I watched her approaching with that wicked pompous smile on her face, a girl so besotted with power that she had allowed her own mother to be treated so callously, I had nothing but absolute contempt and sheer fury for her.
This girl was responsible for the torture I had gone through. Every rotten vegetable that had been thrown at me had been her fault. Every dirty stinking water that had poured on me was her fault.
If it hadn’t been for the intervention of Nana Bosomba, I would have been on the ground by now with my back shattered and gouged badly from those horrible metal spikes.
What I felt for her was almost close to hatred.
She stopped in front of me, her vicious eyes boring into me.
“Fall down on your face, you dirty old man, and lick my foot, and I’ll let you go free!” she said coldly.
“Lick your dirty foot?” I asked, horrified. “Who the heck do you think you are?”
She slapped me across the face then, so hard that my head shook on my neck, and I felt my ears ringing.
“Lie down on the ground and lick my foot otherwise you’ll spend twenty days in the dungeons!” she screamed.
“Even if I spend the rest of my fucki*g life in a grave I’ll never fall down on the ground in front of you, you damn ugly bit*h!” I hissed furiously at her, and for the very first time in my life I almost hit a woman!
She filled me with such passionate fury, that beautiful daughter of a witch!
That one stung her!
Oh, it stung her badly!
“Ugly? Did you call me ugly?” she hissed, and then she hit me again, and again, and again, until Okomfo Basabasa grabbed her from behind and pulled her back.
“No, no, my Princess, no!” the fetish priest cried. “We can’t touch his body, that’s what the Bosomba Nana said! Please, name your atonement price, please!”
Abena Adobea struggled furiously, trying to free herself and attack me again.
My face smarted from her strikes, and I even felt a gush of blood on my upper lip where her fist had opened a split.
She pointed at me furiously.
“I’ll take twenty sheep!” she shouted, pointing a finger at me. “He will pay for the price of twenty sheep, otherwise send him to the dungeons!”
There was a collective gasp from all the people!
They were stunned!
Everybody looked at me then, and I saw the satisfied glint in the wicked eyes of the fetish priest, and the smug look on the face of King Obiba.
For a moment, I was confused, and then slowly it dawned on me!
Twenty sheep at two hundred cedis added up to four thousand cedis! They were shocked because, to them, that was a fortune!
They thought I just possibly couldn’t afford four thousand cedis!
Yao Biko, the richest dude in Africa, and most parts of the world?
Me, the HNIC – Head Nig*er In Chief – who bought a pair of slippers for twenty thousand cedis just to wear from my bedroom to the bathroom and back?
Excuse me, please, people of Etwe-Pe whatever!
I looked at the satisfied face of the princess and the royals, to the stunned faces of the crowd around me.
Okomfo Basabasa approached me slowly, his wicked eyes gloating.
“Four thousand cedis, stranger!” he spat out spitefully. “Twenty sheep! You’re going to rot in the dungeons!”
Abena Adobea, panting with fury, took a step toward me.
“My offer stands, old man!” she said. “On your face and lick my foot, or to the dungeons!”
The foolishness of it all and the ironic implications hit me, and I couldn’t stop myself as the laughter bubbled inside me and spilled richly out of my throat.
And, still laughing, I reached into the pocket of my shorts and pulled out my wallet. I had stuffed it with about five thousand cedis.
My eyes met the eyes of Princess Abena Adobea as I walked toward her, snapped the cover flap of the wallet open, and then I dug out the money, and threw it at her feet!
There they were…fresh, crimpling, shiny and absolutely magnificent fifty-cedi bills, lying in a bunch at her feet!
A pin dropping at that moment would have sounded like a bomb!
There was stunned shock and absolute disbelief all around.
Abena Adobea looked at the money at her feet, and then her eyes moved slowly to meet mine.
For a moment her face was stripped of all that haughtiness, and she looked just like a young, innocent, beautiful girl.
“I added some few cedis, Abena,” I said with all the contempt I could muster. “Buy yourself some goats too!”
Her lips quivered, and I saw a shaft of pain and confusion mirrored on her face.
I looked at her disdainfully, and then I turned away from her.
They were standing like statues, gripped in moment of pathetic shock. To them, the sight of that money was like the skies had opened and they had seen the faces of angels up there.
The crowd parted for me with almost comical reverence, and I walked out of the palace of Etwe-Pe-Kote.
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