Cleansing Beatrice

Katana On Trial: Episode 13

Read episode 12 here and episode 1 here.

Beatrice had become somewhat of a celebrity in Churo village, everybody was talking about her. “A woman drinking alcohol?” My father Mateo rattled. “Abomination!” he exhaled before inhaling mucus deeply in-between puffs of his horseman cigarette. “She must submerge herself in Lake Baringo for a week to cleanse herself from the curse.” He spat the words out together with the phlegm that was sitting in his mouth.

My mother Sara poked at the fire. “Perhaps Njoro shouldn’t keep alcohol in a house with naive teenagers,” she murmured. “Mama Katana did you say something?” my father asked. “Nothing,” my mother said. “Katana, I don’t want you to hang around that house longer than you need to. After you are done with work come back home immediately,” he inhaled and spat another phlegm. “I will not have you cursed by association,” he added.

While it was whispers and gossip in our homestead, it was a full-blown circus in Njoro’s house. There was a big crowd outside his house chanting with banana leaves. It was known that evil spirits could not stand the smell of bananas. Sounds of song, prayer, and people talking in tongues erupted inside the house. I squeezed my way in to find the entire church there with Beatrice on her knees, in the center, half-naked, covered in ash, I almost couldn’t recognize her.

“Enkai, have we wronged you so that you have let evil possess one of our own?” Mama Linda broke into prayer while holding her bible. “What are you saying Nyasaye?” she held her ear and made as if listening to something. “Mulungu, you are saying that the man of the house needs to spend more time with his first wife?” she continued. “You are saying he needs to listen to every word she says? My husband, Njoro is a good man, a God-fearing man and he will do as you say.”

“Abibibi-shantiriba-bashi, you are saying that the man of the house should not sleep with the demon-possessed wife for a year? Abibibi-shantiriba-bashi. What are we but your humble servants, who obey your every command.” Mama Linda said then fell silent for a long time as if contemplating something before yelling again. “Abibibi-shantiriba-bashi. You are saying the man of the house must slaughter a goat for his first wife so that the blood can cleanse the evil spirits?” she added as the church choir broke into song.

The sun was going down after the circus died down and Njoro called me to help him slaughter one of the goats. This would later become a heated debate in Churo village and the drinking dens of Kabarnet town. Some people said that the goat was slaughtered to cleanse Beatrice of her evil spirits while others insisted that it was an easy way for Mama Linda to feed her greedy appetite for goat meat.

We would later wash Beatrice with the goat blood, which mixed with the ash to create an ungodly paste. After we were done Njoro told her to go and bathe but Mama Linda Stopped him. Insisting that she had to live with the paste for at least 3 days and 3 nights so that she could be reborn free of evil spirits.

After this, I thought the shenanigans would finally come to an end and we would resume our normal lives. I was ready to wash the Posho Pubs gunias, sweep the roof, and warm Njoro’s bicycle seat every minute of my day than helplessly watch Beatrice suffer. But the shenanigans had just begun if Sheila’s and Winnie’s gossip about Mama Linda consulting a witch doctor who wanted a red cat, a chicken’s tooth, and an elephant’s eyebrow were to be believed.

Read episode 14 here.


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