Money won’t make you happy… but everybody wants to find out for themselves ~Zig Ziglar
“But at the cost of what?” I’d asked skeptically, on our way to see the much talked about witch doctor. “Money can’t buy happiness.”
“At the cost of everything I have now, jare,” he’d replied in irritation. “Look Raymond, it’s only stupid people that say money can’t buy happiness. Me, I say give me money and you’ll see that I’ll be happy.”
I had mentally shaken my head in disagreement, too unconfident to argue openly that he was wrong. He knew I’d been too poor for so long to say anything in favor of waiting for God to change the tide.
My doubts about our quest increased the moment we reached Baba’s lair. The dank burrow was impressive, with its several statutes – some short, some tall, – lining the walls and the floors. Baba himself came out of a hidden cave just as soon as I was about to leave in fear.
He was a decrepit old man -the Baba. His face, ashen; his walk, bent; and his white beard, scraggly-looking. When Baba sat down on the soot covered rug in the center of our gathering, Badmus and I too sat down. When he began to chant and hysterically fling his cowry beads on the earth, calling on Orunmila, Oya, Sango and all the ancient gods of Yoruba Land, goose bumps saturated my flesh and I found myself praying that I wouldn’t be struck dead for my insolence: Me, a mere mortal, visiting spirits in their nest.
Badmus smiled at me and my fear abated slightly, replaced by a feeling of luck. Yes, I did feel lucky, and I was almost sure nothing would stop us from getting what we came for. At least, those were my thoughts until the old man’s voice interrupted me, causing my flesh to narrow out to prickly pins, enough to prod Badmus who sat beside me in avid concentration.
“My pikins, all the gods…dem sleep now. Na Oloko, the male god, na him remain.”
“Okay,” I replied slowly, wondering quietly to myself why he had to announce this.
He nodded. “Oloko the male-god …na real funny god. Hin wan’ sometin special for wetin he wan do for una.”
Badmus shifted forward, his face earnest. “Baba, we are ready,” and his look said he was more than prepared, even if it meant sacrificing his own mother.
I was curious to know what we would be asked to forfeit. I didn’t have any mother to give up as I had lost her when I was an infant. Sacrificing my father wasn’t applicable as he died last year. I wasn’t doing too well in the love department so I had no girlfriend or wife I could give up. Neither did I have any children.
Baba laughed. His mirth reminded me of my colleague, Rasaki. We currently served as Gatemen for my Boss, chief Kadoka. Unlike me, Rasaki had no formal education and he made a daily habit of taunting me about my status in life: an OND degree holder working as a Gateman.
“I’m ready, Baba,” Badmus replied boldly, and I was amazed at my friend’s fearless stance. But then, he had always been the brave one-the typical Man’s man who carried himself like he was lord over all. Yet, for all his hauteur, he suffered for lack of a good job since graduating three years ago. And with the lack of a good job came the lack of money. Lately, he had developed an ugly mouth odor, stemming from his daily use of chewing stick in lieu of toothpaste and toothbrush.
“Your fren’, nko?” Baba asked Badmus as he pointed at me. “Hin ready?”
I hesitated, afraid to voice my thoughts lest Oloko strike me in anger.
“It depends, Baba,” I responded quietly.
Baba nodded, understanding that I needed to know the conditions under which Oloko would make Badmus and I rich.
“Oloko say make I tell you say, hin go bless you wit’ money. Plenty plenty money, profided….” He paused, leaving Badmus and I curious.
“Provided what, Baba? Badmus asked.
“Profided you gif him una man’ood,” he finished, that same mocking smile on his face. Once again I remembered Rasaki, even as that nothing-good-could-come-out-of- this feeling came over me.
I sat back, too stupefied for words.
“Oloko say hin wan man’ood,” the old man repeated. “Una male organ. Your boi-boi.”
“Manhood? But we were expecting…” Badmus’ voice trailed.
Scratching his head in confusion, Badmus continued, “I thought he would ask for the souls of virgins, or maybe something more serious…like sacrificing members of our family, or maybe sleeping in the cemetery for three days.”
The old man laughed again. “My pikins, I tell you before, Oloko, na one kin’ funny god. Na so so man hin like. He no even like woman at all.”
Badmus’ eyes seemed to grow bigger, their size too large for containment in their sockets, while I tried to make sense of what Baba was saying.
“And hin like you,” Baba finished, a lewd spark in his eyes as he directed his gaze on Badmus.
“What? Is this a joke?”
“No be joke o, my pikin. Oloko like you and your frien’. Hin ready to give plenty plenty money but only you give man’ood.”
“Can we come back when the rest of the gods are awake? Maybe they’ll be more reasonable with their demands,” I found myself saying.
Baba shook his head. “Oloko don take over this case. No other god fit touch this case now as hin don take interest.”
Badmus suddenly stood up. I stood up too, trying hard to hold back the giggles that had seized me ever since Baba had declared Oloko as a homosexual spirit that was very much interested in our sex organs.
“Wetin? You no want the money again?” Baba called after us.
“Not at the cost of our manhood,” I heard Badmus mutter after a long hiss.
It wasn’t until I reached my face-you-face-me apartment in Ojuelegba that I released the laughter that had built up in me. I settled on my bare mattress, realizing that I’d still be laughing when I saw Badmus the next day. After all, I’d finally found the proof that money wasn’t what he had hyped it all up to be…especially if one couldn’t sacrifice everything for it, most importantly what we had now: Our God-given manhood.
I turned over on the mattress and fell asleep.
Liked what you read? Then, subscribe with your email for free to recieve new updates.
*Image from Yementoday.com