The witch doctor was wrong about many things, but he got one thing right. “There is another man that is stopping Beatrice from loving her husband,” he sang in an irritating cadence and stomped his foot, his lions’-teeth-ankle-bracelet making a jingle.
You are probably wondering how we got to the witch doctor. Turns out, Winnie and Sheila’s gossip was true. Mama Linda had in fact contacted one, and he had demanded a chicken tooth, a red cat, and an elephant’s eyebrow so he could begin the good work of healing Beatrice, and guess who Mama Linda gave the task of finding these things?
I was not the sharpest tool in the shed but I knew those things were non-existent, I also knew Beatrice would face the full wrath of Mama Linda if I did not acquire them. It was not easy but I found a stray cat and went ahead to smear red mud all over its grey fur. After that, I knocked a tooth out of one of Njoro’s goats and plucked out some of my pubic hair for the elephant’s eyebrow.
In hindsight, I think the hair on my head could have done the trick. But sometimes the gods conspire to make fools of us for a laugh. I presented the gifts to Mama Linda, she raised an eyebrow but received them either way. I packed water, ugali, and arrow roots on the side of Njoro’s bicycle and wished them journey mercies.
I had not gone two steps before Mama Linda called me. “I have just had a vision,” she rolled her eyes so that we only saw the whites of her eyeballs. “God has told me that Katana must accompany us,” she added. And there I was joining their entourage. If the witch doctor asked where the gifts had been sourced I knew I would be in charge of the explanation. “The hair was from my private parts,” I could already hear myself blurting out.
The ten-kilometer journey to his lair was long and tiring. Mama Linda and Njoro rode on the bicycle, while Beatrice and I walked behind silently. “You children are young, besides, you need to put muscles on those bones,” Mama Linda chirped on top of Njoros bicycle while chewing arrowroot.
The hair and tooth were wrapped in a piece of clothing, leaving the cat which was in a mood. It kept tossing and turning to the point where half the red mud had fallen from its fur and my arms were full of scratches from its claws.
Just when I thought the journey would never end, we finally got to the doorstep of the witch doctor and he immediately blew his horn and began dancing. “Today is not a normal day when I’m visited by men on foot. Today is an abnormal day. I have been visited by a man on two wheels, a man of status,” he barked and blew his horn again as Njoro leaned his bicycle on the wall and we entered his cave-like house.
It was dark inside and our eyes took a while to adjust to the jars, animal skins, and all sorts of eerie paraphernalia that dotted the house as Mama Linda presented the witch doctor with the gifts. He inspected the cat, which was completely grey at this point, and went ahead to inspect the tooth, then, he sniffed on the hair and immediately sneezed.
“These are fake!” he barked after a long while. “How dare you try to trick a great healer like me? A curse upon you and your house,” he added. “A curse upon you and your wives,” he continued.
Mama Linda whispered something to Njoro, who whispered something to the witch doctor and they stepped outside. When they came back in the witch doctor was jovial and ready to begin. This would go on to be a great debate in Churo village with some people claiming that Njoro had given him money, others claimed it was maize flour, yet others insisted that he had been promised a ride behind Njoro’s bicycle.
Whatever the motivation it made him start mixing his portions, in between blowing his horn and stomping his foot. His lions’-teeth-ankle-bracelet making a jingle. “You have a loving first wife,” he sang irritatingly. “But there is someone else that is keeping your second wife from loving you,” he added, paused, and pointed at me. “A sacrifice of blood must be done,” he barked. I began standing to escape but my knees had grown weak.