“Wake up! You have slept enough. Because when things
get out of hand now, they will say I did not do my duties
well.” The sound of Arike’s clap over her sleeping
husband was as unwelcoming as the cries of a thousand
mosquitoes on a hot night. He stirred awake. Arike
stormed out of the room in a mad dash and rushed
into the compound, loosed her iro and flapped it around
her. Then she re-tied it and resumed her shout. It was
her turn to sleep in Akande’s room. She was with him
last night when the whole village turned upside down.
“I do not need a woman to tell me what to do. Why
can’t you just keep your mouth shut? Are you the only
crazy woman in Ojulari? Were we not here when it
happened?” Her husband, a man in his early sixties
asked as he stepped out of his room. He plucked his
agbada from the wall where he had hung it last night
and reached into its pocket for his chewing stick. He
nodded at Sade, his second wife who knelt to greet him
before stepping into the compound. Iya Agba sat on a
small apoti in the veranda, with a detached expression
on her face.
“Yes, I agree I am crazy. See, your mates are outside
looking for solution while you snored in your sleep. I
did you a huge favour by waking you up. I shall not
spend another night in this village if nothing is done
about what happened last night.” Arike raised her voice
higher, waking their neighbours. Sade stood beside Iya
Agba, the first wife, who continued to watch the drama
quietly. She knew better than to contribute whenever
Arike was talking.
The coldness in Ojulari was not unaccounted for
as the village was fenced by huge mountains and
encircled by tall trees. Houses were tightly packed as
most of their land space had been swallowed by the
mountains and river. Farming activities were carried
out at the edge of the village, far from the houses where
fewer mountains were. Mud houses and thatched roofs
were the only clues that suggested that people lived in
the village. One had to only take a few steps before
reaching the next mud house and thatched roof.
Akande walked up to one of the groups of men who
stood in clusters, while their wives eavesdropped behind
closed doors. Children had been forbidden from going
out. All the other women had not waited for the first
cock crow before they pushed their men out of bed.
The only difference was that, none of them was as
dramatic as Arike. They wanted them to go to the King
and ask about what happened the previous night.
Eventually, Iyalode and seven elders were delegated to
go to the king to seek for solution.
Though it was a ritual to go fetch water by the
women very early in the morning, today, none ventured
out. The resultant fear from last night still had a strong
hold on them all. Except for Arike.
“Iyale mi, will you not go to the river?” Arike asked
Sade. It was the duty of the last wife to fetch water for
the first wife.
“I will go later in the day when things have calmed
down.” Sade replied. Her voice was low, just like her height.
“I want to go but I cannot go alone. Funlola is ill if
not, she would have followed me.” Arike complained.
Sade turned to go back into her room, but noticed that
her godo was empty. She sighed, then grabbed her water
pot and followed Arike out of the compound. They went
to Olasunbo’s house and met his two wives outside.
“We are going to the river.” Arike announced.
Iyabo quickly answered. “We are not going. I think
it is safe to stay indoors. I might even decide not to go
to the market today.” Iyabo had a small stall in the
market where she sold vegetables. She reached under
the bench and withdrew a big basket containing green
leaves. She used the ropes from a brown sack to bind
the vegetables into their various prices then, arranged
them on the rough ground.
Arike decided to sit with them. She reached under
her, gathered her iro between her thighs and spread her
knees wide, opening and closing themat intervals. Sade
leaned against the walls of the old mud house which
complimented her brown colour.
Aduke sprinkled water on the dusty ground and
started sweeping. Dry leaves were scattered all over the
“Hmm, may our eyes not behold evil.” Arike said,
calling the attention of the other women to herself.
“Abi o, ase.” The women chorused and continued
with their chores except for Sade who had opted to
watch them work.
“While we are looking for what to kill, may we not
find what will kill us.” Arike prayed again.
The women chorused ase again.
“And what happened yesterday night, may we not witness it again.” At last, she had their undivided
attention. She stood up and headed in the direction of
the river.
Iyabo pushed her basket under the bench while
Aduke threw her broom on the ground. They both ran
inside to fetch their water pots and hurried after Arike.
Sade picked her water pot from the ground and joined
“Ah, that incidence, it is like swallowing akara that
has no salt, you chew it and keep quiet.” Sade was
always edging away from troubled waters.
“Enh? Chew what? I know I will spit it out and even
insult the person that fried the salt-less akara.” Arike
had no trouble saying it the way she saw it.
“Who would have guessed that what happened
yesterday was as a result of Oluweri’s anger. We have
offended her and she is angry, so angry that she almost
pulled our roofs from our houses yesterday. If not that
she changed her mind and pitied us, we all would have
been food for the gods by now.” Iyabo, Olasunbo’s first
wife explained. The two sides of her cheeks were
designed with straight tribal marks reaching from the
corners of her lips to the lower part of her ears, giving
her a cartoonish look. Her hips moved rhythmically as
she balanced her water pot against her big waist.
Aduke chuckled, “I will not say you are lying. How
dare I? You that plan and make decisions for the river
goddess herself, how can you not be right?” The other
women laughed. By now, they were already close to
the river.
“What is so funny now? Do you need a seer to tell
you that she is angry? What happened yesterday, has it
ever happened before?” Iyabo queried.
“No, but we should not assume the worst. Would
you like to witness Oluweri’s anger? Let us hope it had
something to do with the weather or something else.”
Sade tried to convince others as well as herself.
“Weather! Have you ever seen that kind of weather?”
Arike placed her hands on her tiny waist and pushed
her chest out, almost droppi
ng the empty water pot on
her head.
“No.” Sade calmly answered, transferring her water
pot from under one arm to the other.
“Toh!” Arike had a penchant for proving her co-wife
“Say whatever you want. All I know is that, what
happened last night was not a joke. And I suspect it is
not unconnected with the river goddess. That is what I
think.” Aduke had to say her piece.
“Eh, stop this play please, we are only stone throws
away from the river and you are talking about the river
goddess like you are discussing the price of locust beans
in the market. I pity you.” Sade reasoned.
“May my mouth not put me in trouble.” Aduke said
and the others chorused after her as they got to the
river. Water cascaded from the cliff, pouring and running
down the rock. The water flowed further, forming an
endless stream of water. The air around the river was
refreshing, enveloping everyone around with its
coolness. There was a misty cloud, making it seem like
rain was drizzling from the sky. Smaller rocks sat regally
in themiddle of the river, where the river goddess usually
sat. The women lined up to greet her, as was custom
before fetching the water.
“Owner of our land, husbands and children, protector of the weak, we have come again to fetch
from your river that never runs dry. Bless us with it, we
plead.” They chorused and waited for water to trickle
from inside the hut. That was the sign they needed before
they could fetch water from the river.
They looked at the surroundings of the hut but
everywhere was dry. They repeated the chant again but
still, there was no sign.
“This is strange.” Iyabo said.
“And I still have to go to the market and we cannot
fetch if she does not allow us.” Arike was getting
“Let us look around.” Sade suggested, already
moving away from the women.
“Enh? Around where? You want to see the goddess?”
Arike screeched.
“I am going back home. I think I still have some
water at home.” Aduke was already turning back to
the village.
“You want to look for the river goddess after what
happened yesterday? Are you tired of living? I do not
even know why we came here today.” Arike said and
went to join Aduke.
“Wait, it was your idea to come to the river. Now
you are afraid? We will not go far. We should not be so
foolish as to come to the river, not fetch water and start
crying of thirst when we get home. How can we come
this far and not fetch water?” Sade tried again.
Iyabo was not sure if she wanted to stay or not. She
hugged her pot tighter as though an invisible arm
wanted to snatch it from her. She then moved a little
bit towards Aduke and Arike.
“Okay, we will not go far. Just look around.” Arike grudgingly agreed.
They travelled about the river, climbing rocks and

stepping on lush grasses.



“I wonder how far she could have gone. She rarely
leaves the river.” Iyabo said.
The river goddesswas always in her shrine or sitting
on the rocks in the river with her back turned to the
people. Finding the hut empty was bewildering. Arike
moved further towards the deep part of the river beside
the rocks. She heard a low sound and turned around.
She saw someone but it was not the river goddess.
Four smaller rocks surrounded a tiny bundle. The
image was not clear enough so she peered closer. It
was naked and on its neck was an oversized crystal
bead necklace. Arike’s huge eyes bulged out in fear.
“Yehhhhhhh! Abomination.” She screamed as loud
as she could.
The other women rushed towards her. Aduke and
Iyabo immediately scuttled back, tripping on each other
when they saw the baby.
“Wait, let us at least look properly. The day we see
evil is the day it stops existing.” Sade called them back.
She stood with Arike while the other women hid behind
The baby girl gave them a quizzical look and smiled
at the four panicked women. Iyabo grabbed her breasts
in fear and amazement as the other women threw their
water pots away and ran. None of them waited to see
what would happen next. It was sure that this was no
ordinary baby. The little girl splattered water on herself
in glee as she watched the four women run in different
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