WHAT IF IT WERE YOU? | Stories by Ima Udott

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I wanted to prepare breakfast on Monday morning, but I realized the condiments for the meal I intended to make weren't complete. Therefore, I decided to get them at Mama B's shop.

The shop was a few miles from my house, so it didn't take me much time before I got there. But on getting there, I saw something that got me worried.

I met Mama B screaming at one old woman. She asked the woman to leave her shop, threatening to push her out if she persisted.

I assumed the old woman to be an octogenarian because her head was filled with gray hairs and she looked very feeble, even with the walking stick in her right hand which she used for support while she walked.

When Mama B saw me, she quickly turned to me and told me to talk to the old woman to leave her shop.

"Tell her to go o before she will carry my shop to her meeting and render me useless," she then turned to the woman and pushed her carelessly,

"Mma go now. Which kind wahala be dis? I don't want to sell anything to you, I don't want your money. Is it by force? Get out of my shop before I call my children to throw you out. It's too early to start my sales with a bad luck like you!" She said.

It saddened me when I saw tears coming out of the old woman's eyes. She slowly walked out of Mama B's shop with a five hundred naira note in her hand.

Another lady who walked past the old woman to Mama B's shop hissed at her and hastened her steps as though she passed by a demon. I wanted to know why she was given such bad treatment.

After I bought what I needed, I asked Mama B about the old woman's crime. "You mean to tell me that you don't know what that woman is?" Mama B asked me, surprised.

"No," I replied

"That means you're not from this village, because everyone knows that she is a witch," the lady who hissed at the old woman chipped in. She was done buying whatever she needed but had to join us in the conversation even when she was uninvited.

"How did you know?" I asked

"She had eight children," began Mama B, "Four of them died mysteriously. Out of the four left, three are outside the country and doing perfectly fine, but the last one, a young beautiful lady who is in Lagos has been going through a lot.

Imagine, she got married and stayed for five years without conceiving. When she finally got pregnant, she had a miscarriage. She stayed again for so many years without getting pregnant. She then decided to consult a prophet.

The prophet told her that her mother, that old witch was responsible for all the death in her family. She had been a witch since when they were little children. She was the one who killed her husband.

She killed her four children. She couldn't kill the other three because they were outside the country, therefore, she channeled her wickedness to her because she was the only one around.

She carried her womb to her witchcraft kingdom so that she could not bear a child. She even planned to kill her if by mistake she got pregnant.

So, the lady came to the village after the revelation by the prophet and beat up her mother. I wish she was able to beat her to death because she's too heartless.

After beating her, she disgraced her to the whole village by exposing what she is. She then warned her sternly never to visit her again in Lagos, else she'd kill her.

She told her siblings in the diaspora about the revelation and they all stopped sending money to the woman. Even here, most shop owners who know what she does have stopped selling to her. She wanders every day to far places where her story is not known before she's able to buy something.

I pray that very soon, her story will get to them and they'll stop selling for her so that she'd die of hunger. Imagine her having the effrontery to come to my shop and begging me to sell garri for her that she's too weak to walk to the faraway shop.

God forbid that I should sell any of my things to a witch before she'd carry my shop and me to her kingdom," Mama B concluded.

"If she's a witch, why didn't she kill all her children when they were young and still stayed with her? Why did she take care of all eight of them? Why did she breastfeed them and groomed them till they all grew up and had things done?

I believe she put them through good schools before they were able to work outside the country. Why didn't she restrict them from going to school?" I asked.

"Maybe by then her witchcraft didn't develop. See, that woman is evil. If not for one of her son-in-laws who I heard sends her money even when his wife had tried to stop him without succeeding, she would have been dead by now," the other woman said.

"All the while the prophet didn't tell her the revelation yet, did you know she was a witch?" I asked

"No o. In fact, she used to be my friend. She used to come to my shop and gist with me. Everyone in the village respected her because her children used to send her so much money. She used to come to my shop and buy a lot of things. But thank God for the revelation," Mama B replied.

"I believe she was still a witch even before she was exposed, so, why didn't she carry you and your shop to her kingdom then? Why didn't your shop fold up?" I asked.

"See, I'm done selling for you, come and go abeg. Stop asking me senseless questions. If you like, go and help her, when she kills you, I'll attend your burial and even eat your burial rice," Mama B said and walked back into her shop.

I walked home with so many questions in my head. I had seen a similar incident some weeks back. A girl of about twelve years of age was chased out of a shop because she went to buy something.

She looked very tattered, hungry, and thin. When asked, the shop owner said she was a witch. Her parents disowned her when they found out that she was a witch.

She roamed the streets, was despised by men and women, and chased away by her peers whenever she went to play with them. Uncompleted buildings became her home, the dustbins, her shopping mall and mosquitoes, her friends.

I felt very troubled when I saw it. For the old woman, even if she was a witch, was that the best way to treat her? For the fact that she took care of her children from infant, couldn't they help her?

I believe that what one believes works for him/her. If you believe that someone is capable of harming you, you have opened your doors to fear already, so you might be harmed, as you believed.

What if you're even feeling insecure because of the wrong person? What if you're accusing the person wrongly? Even if you feel you're right, why not be good to the victim and not take judgment into your hands?

Sometimes, we are our witches. Have you searched yourself if your past deeds aren't working against your present yet you go around and blame the wrong people?

I know there are going to be controversial comments, your opinion matters, but please search yourself too because someday, you'll grow old too.

Meanwhile, I'll be launching my latest book, "UNCOVERED" tomorrow by 5 pm. You can't afford to miss it because there will be lots of surprises for you. It's going to be very different from the previous ones!

So, by 5 pm tomorrow, follow up Ima Udott (Page), get a seat before it's occupied, and anticipate the surprises.

#YourFavouriteStoryTeller ✍️✍️

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