The Voice of a Serial Killer
Kufere helplessly watched as Ukoyo abducted the newly born twins, spewed in vernix, and squashed them headfirst into an earthen clay pot.
My name is Edikan, and my twin sister is Bella, the 14th generation of the Ekaete Edim lineage. If not for the heroics of Kufere Ubong and Mary. S. (Obonawan Okoyong) in 1845, we wouldn't be alive today, retelling this story.
Kufere Ubong's Diary — 24th December 1845
The warmth of the early morning sunshine gladdened Emilia. She spread the rafia mat outside and basked in solar pleasantness, her wrapper parted for her breasts and belly to fully partake.
I lay beside her, admiring my wife's smooth rounded protrusion and delicate brown skin, looking affectionately into her limpid eyes and gently stroking her plaited hair. After the anguish of a nine-year wait, finally, she was almost due for motherhood.
I reveled in the utopia of cradling my unborn child in my arms— a parallel virtual reality until the drums. They sounded afar but drew closer until distinct. Five main beats, a pause, and four fast repeatedly signified the birth of the devil child, the omen of a foreboding maternal love. Tragically, it meant the loss of a twin in Creek town.
Before long, the bare-chested and bare-footed dancers were in full glare, jingling their tiny anklet bells and wailing. Marauding through the streets to announce the evil curse and apprehend the carrier.
The pick was easy. Mama Ekaete Edim received care at Inyang Ete's Herbal hut. The traditional doctor treated the pregnant with ofiok idem: an ointment of utazi, banana spined leaves, ground snail shells, and snake oil. They were applied to ease labour and facilitate childbirth. But, it so happened. Inyang Ete rejected her three days later, summoning Papa Ekaete Edim to take back his wife under the gods' curse. Rumours were she carried the devil child in her womb.
Ukoyo, the killer of twin children, had heard and set out to destroy the babies. Therefore, I had to warn Mama Ekaete to escape this impending peril.
There was no time to waste; She needed a headstart on the chase and a 12 km canoe-ferry through the muddy creek waters. Far across to Odukpani, the neighbouring village, where safety awaited. Ukoyo wouldn't spare the twins should he find them.
“Ufan, dakadada, sun ofong doku fok.” I asked Emilia into the house and told her I'd be gone for a few hours.
"Kufere, Kupene, mma fiop." She replied that I should not delay my return, and her love for me was more robust than goat horns. I kissed her forehead and left.
I couldn't disclose my mission to Emilia; she would be fearful for my life. The gods had decreed the death of twins and anyone who stood in the way of the Messenger. Ukoyo had the backing of the rural native council of elders, bearing the official mantra —The Messenger of Death. At Ukoyo's command, defilement received its punishment. He was unhesitant to spill blood.
I pushed through the swampy mangrove, skipped over some small flat rocks to avoid the wetness of the shallow creek, and arrived at the Ekaete's mud hut. It was strangely quiet; the fish market was closed, the concrete slabs cleaned. No trade had taken place in days. But, I clapped at the entrance and went in.
"Mama, Mme cum efurewo." Mama Ekaete ignored my greeting, her eyes cast on the ceiling. She lay still on the cold, damp ground in a pool of blood. Flies buzzed about her nakedness, delighted scavengers on a carcass. Papa Ekaete sat beside her propped against the wall, mournful, babbling curses on his ancestors for his sorrow.
I peered through the faint darkness at the surprise; another sat unostentatiously, the white woman from Okoyong. Keeper of the Native Court, revered for her fight against witchcraft and abolishing heathen customs. Atop, two babies, bathed in birth fluid, squirmed on her dome-shaped skirt and long-waisted bodice. I felt a sense of relief at the twins but was shocked and nauseous at the corpse.
Then Papa coughed, and my attention shifted back to the mission. Since Mama Edim had departed, I figured Papa to flee with the twins. But the clock was ticking, and time was running out. My heart fluttered. I could hear the drums approaching, becoming louder.
"Papa, you must leave at once! Ukoyo is on his way for the twins,” I said nervously, "he'll be here any minute.” Papa Ekaete continued his soliloquy without looking up, tormented by a cycle of hallucinations.
I cast a hopeful glance at Mary, the oyibo, the custodian of the twins. She concurred, "He's right, Papa. Let's go; there's no second to waste." I heaved a sigh of relief; the white woman was on my side. Papa didn't respond to either of us.
I walked to Papa and shook him, but it was no use. He remained in his dementia, lost in the harrowing grief of his wife’s demise. So, I went over and helped Mary up instead. We both knew Papa couldn't make it in his state. That meant one of us had to escape with the twins.
Finally, we cast the die. We agreed I look after the Edims while she made the run. After that, it was up to Mary to take the babies away, across the creek to safety. But I was doubtful she could succeed because of a difficult journey, paddling through crocodile-infested waters, and finding food and timely medical care for the newborns.
Yet, I searched her eyes for strength and encountered a sparkle. She stared back resolutely, unblinking blue eyes, and spun around. Then, I was confident she would protect the twins at any cost.
"Take care of Papa; I must leave now!" cried Mary.
Just then, Ukoyo burst into the hut with his cohorts, clutching an earthen clay pot…