THE EYE OF ONYINO (eye that rarely blinks)

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Now look at how it happened I wanted to avoid telling you guys but dam, I ended up telling it now. Before twentieth August 2017 which would be my birthday my brother asked me how I was gonna celebrate my birthday. Well I just brushed it off because am not use to celebrating birthdays. In fact, celebrating birthdays was not my thing because I don’t see it as big deal, may be because I have some feelings I need to resolve within my pity soul. Chidozie, who was just three years ahead of me kept persuading me all the time.

On Monday 14th of August, inside my room I propped against a wall closer to my window listening to the buzz from the street. I was just a residence in an Estate called Ngozika Estate in Awka Anambra state Nigeria. Well for those of you who don’t know, I live with my brother at Number 10 at Road 2 in the estate. The street was somehow busy with people going forth and back for their business, some were coming back from a concert or church activities or whatever.

I over had one talking about how African deities behave. It was a lady’s voice. She said that some are meant to protect, while some are meant to teach you a lesson for your misdeeds. I then overhead another voice; a lady’s voice again, talking about how they were being tormented by a god of a popular shrine called Onyino. The two ladies seem to be walking together.

Onyino was a popular shrine in eastern Nigeria that was known for free giving, in expectation of a return. Woe-be tide such a one who couldn’t fulfil a promise. The god will keep chasing and tormenting such a one till it was time to kill.

‘‘Onyino nearly finished us last month’’, the second voice said.

‘‘Why?’’ the first voice inquired.

‘‘My brother went to the shrine to seek for business prosperity last three years. The priest told him that it was one of the easiest things Onyino has been doing for his people. Some has been living their life the way they want because of Onyino’s benevolence. The priest even went ahead to warn him that though Onyino may lavish with beneficence and wealth, the gods are no merciful gods when it comes to unfulfilled promise; no matter how difficult the promise was. He will keep tormenting you with all styles and pattern till you fulfil your promise.’’

The two ladies came to a halt right far the road in front of my bedroom window were I was peeping through with the curtain half raised. I can hear them well though. It looked as if something had pierced the shoe of one of the ladies and she stood there with the shoe doing something on the sole, that made me opportune to hear more, if not they would have passed by.

At the sudden moment I was intensed and captured by the seeming horrific conversation which I know I shouldn’t. I have had many stories of African voodoo gods tormenting one who had failed to keep its promise. Its fund of sending its dark magic inform of whatever he liked to its unworldly enemies.

It’s also not a new event where people take oath on fetish alters and it’s bound to kill whoever lies to it. So it has been tormenting and killing. I know all these frequently told stories but why must this one reach out into the innermost heart of my fears. Then again I became more away of the quiet house. I began to notice my bedroom was so cold and quiet and on top of it, I was new to my brother’s house. Oops I was even alone.

The evening was fast, giving way to night, though it was still 9:20 AM. The sounds of all those crawling night creatures; the insects, they were buzzing and creaking in all sides in the open landscape of the house, though not yet too much. Lights were not shinning outside because all of the front house bulb were turned off in the morning to save the prepaid power energy unless I was to do that later. The house hallway was somehow dark because we also turn those off to save the energy. But all these weren’t on my mind till I felt a sudden rush of cold that flowed through my spine. From my window I looked out into the landscape covered with bushy flowers with their silhouette cast around the hidden corners of the ground by the illuminating half-moon light.

Then it hit my mind. Have I locked the main door, since I wasn’t in the sitting room to noticed when any form will come in? But I shrugged it off my mind. Nothing will happen because it has never been experienced not even in my street; be it burglar theft.

‘My brother agreed to the oath of the dead’ the second lady’s voice continued

At this time, I completely propped myself against the wall near the window, which made me to hear only their voices rather than seeing them clearly. My brother’s fence is a low fence made with guarders though.

‘The priest then performed some ritual sacrifices. He told my brother to kneel down. He brought a calabash covered with a lid and tied around with a white cloth. He hovered it round the head of my brother and told him that the eyes of the gods closed up in this calabash will protect him, watch him and see to him till he achieve what he has asked the gods of Onyino. The priest went further to warn my brother that the eyes of the gods will over watch him unless he fulfils the promise between him and the underworld’

Over watch him, woow. That’s even outstanding for me. It’s even better for the gods to over watch me, in that way more blessings will be accrued to me. This was what hit my mind at that instant. The other lady she was talking to even testified on that, or may be both of us don’t understand what it means for the gods to over watch you.

‘Then he set my brother free, if that was freedom’ The lady continued. ‘after some days my brother began to see some brake through. His business started booming and he stated doing more investment more than he ever did before. I myself felt the sudden change because he helped set up a restaurant business for me and with his help I was able to rent a new apartment for my husband and my two kids. Under three months my brother built a nice and richly furnished bungalow’

‘by the way what was actually the agreement’.

Yes, that was actually what I have waited for her to say before the first voice asked so. Could it be that his brother was meant to bring any one of his family later for ritual offering to the gods cause that’s one of the usual prescription by the gods during money ritual, unless that was not a money ritual or may be the gods has demanded a different stuff other than the normal ones we know in west Africa money ritual scheme. But come to think of it, what I have heard so far about Onyino gods’ benevolences does not constitute human sacrifice for money ritual, or may be, that particular story has not been within my reach.

‘Up till now, my brother has not even disclosed what was the agreement. He said he was not allowed to speak out the agreement. In fact, I think the issue might be complicated. I also believe it had made my brother to develop mental illness.

‘But how did you come to know all these’ the first lady asked.

‘Well on Friday 11th August I went to my brother’s place to see him and know how he was fairing because it has been two weeks I last saw him. My brother wasn’t the kind that waits infinity before giving me a call and even coming to my place. When I entered his apartment, behold everywhere looked dead to me and unkempt and creepy. The whole lawn where littered and looks like what has not been cleaned for years. My brother’s house was unlocked which was not his thing. But before I entered the main living room I saw something like a strange form through the small glasses created on the upper part of the wooden door. It looked; in fact, I can’t even comprehend or explain the form. Should I say it looked like a weird eye; unhuman, with very big white ball and with red dash lines in place of the pupils in the centre. Though I could see the eye but all around it was filled with darkness ‘cause I can’t see the head holding such contorted eye. Very bulging and as if eager to dash on me. But what made me think that my eyes were playing me was when I blinked my own eyes; should I say it disappeared. Something I don’t believe was a shock and fear flowed through my veins.   I felt again it might be my brother’s kids. But my brother has no kid yet and it doesn’t look like a child’s eye. I thought again it would be his fiancée. But my brother’s fiancée as I have known has travelled and may come back around next month. Another side of me told me it was my brother he wanted to play, having seen I was close. Even upon that it didn’t remove the fears. I plunge in though; on reaching that very main door I leaned forward and peered through the glasses if at all I can see what my other self has assumed was my brother playing me. Tony, I softly called, but no answer. Yes; I expected no answer because I believe he might be far inside if my mind was the one deluding me. I gently dropped my hands on the door knob, still in disbelieve of the suspense and tension that overwhelmed me. I opened the door and lead my already dead carcasses inside, holding my step behind the door. Tony!… Tony!…I called again but know answer.

Please are you there or do you want to play pranks with me. But suddenly I had a short series of screeching sound and then a soft muffle down the hall way attached to the main living room. And that made me to call out the name of my brother the fourth time. No answer, no further screeching except the muffles that comes ones in a while. I set up my journey into the deep wonderland. I said if my brother was joking I must see to it. Upon passing the kitchen I noticed the door was open, something came to my mind to come back and go in. Then I adhered to the thought. upon entering the kitchen, behold I couldn’t take what I saw.’

’And what have you seen’ the First voice asked.

’The Kitchen’

’And what’s with the kitchen’ She asked again.

This time I became more away of my immediate surroundings, more aware of the kitchen in my brother’s house, even more aware of my room.

’Everything was turned upside down’ The second lady’s voice began again. ‘the bench, the cupboard, the dining tables everything, plates scattered all around, even the cooking stoves nearly made itself on the marble floor except the side chair it had propped against. Waters littered all around. I was dumfounded. What is happening. Why should my brother have kept this mess?  Then I heard the muffle sound again. From the left corner adjacent to the kitchen door. A long table which has fallen by its side was demarcating whatever that made that noise and me. Was it linked to what I have seen before, what could that be, well I have made up my mind with my already trembling heart I must see whatever was behind there. With mixed feelings, I threw slowly forward. I reached the fallen table behold!’

’And what?’ the first voice was so inquisitive to know.

But the first unknown lady was not the only mind that was really eager to know. I looked back. My door was still intact. I glanced all around the house, yes I think am still safe even though my brother was not yet home. I checked my time it was now 10: 30 PM, the time my brother has never been so late from home.

’It was it, what I was thinking, looking so odd, curled up at the corner and was as if was ducking behind the table, preventing himself to be seen from something. He had looked as if life was sucked out of him. Very thin and pale that you can even see through his dying skin. Checks fused inside the jaw bone that one may confuse it with the jaw bones. Very tattered and dirty like he had been on it for weeks. He was heavily shivering, like one who has been immersed in bathtub full of ice. He was giving me this intense look, like I was the one hunting him for days. I too was feeling like one who is being hunted, having seen the eye and now my only brother so devastated and life about to leave him. …..The eye…..; that was what managed to come out of his mouth when I asked what was the matter. …..The eye….it’s everywhere……it want to close the door…..it wants to peep through….Help; Help me Amaka. And so many other words he was moaning. As I was about to come and hold his hand, the door suddenly locked by itself. I was dead. Really dead. Then I knew my eyes might not be playing me. I looked back to see something but none, even though the kitchen door was somehow beautifully perforated at some places. ……its right there behind those doors…behind those openings. Its staring…..please tell him not to protect me any more….Amaka!…Help me!…..Amaka!! scouring himself against the wall as if he would burst right through the wall and met a safer place at the other side. But I didn’t see anything except at the main door when I felt I saw something. It was at this time I ran out for help. It was the neighbours that help me arranged him to a hospital.’

’Oh I pity him, so he was now in the hospital’ first female voice asked.

’Yes my dear’

’So was he now getting better’

’I don’t know what to say here, because I think we have to go and resolve what he has done with Onyino gods before talking about that. If he hadn’t open up a little to tell us about his engagement with the gods. I wouldn’t be telling you that my brother had gone to Onyino to seek for prosperity and success for his business. I was busy all day with relatives trying to resolve this issue which we have to do fast. It seems like it’s getting worse. On 13th being yesterday. He never allowed me to close the door to his wards. He said if I close the door, it will peep at him from behind the door. When I gave him food, he began to stare at the food. Can you see it….. Then I asked him what. The eye….its pasted all over…All over what?  I asked. All over the food…they are all over; staring at me….they rarely blink…..can you see them at that television…..please can you off the tele….Help me please… They are monitoring me…can you tell them to stop protecting me. All these and many more was what he was lamenting. He rarely sleeps.  He complains and at times he would take off from his bed, running through the hallway shouting. Sometimes too I feel as though someone was watching me. From my house window. It looks as whatever was tormenting my brother has fused its self into my own world. If not that my brothers friend told us that we have to hasten up and find how to appease the gods of Onyino because it would come down to us one by one. He said that Onyino does not spare its enemies. Onyino knows how to torment its enemies with furious and angry forms of its watching eye. It will keep tormenting till he had gotten hold of your soul and make you beg to be killed when you are fed up of life. Even my kids, they…. ’

That was the last statement till they pass by and went far into the street while Amaka’s voice echoed and disappeared into thin air in agony like one who desperately needs to come out from the hell with blazing fire that never quench. I knew; that may be the last time I will here such. Though I was pitying the lady and her brother, I was gripped by fears that I had never experienced in my brother’s house. I cover the glass window, covered the curtain and rushed to my bed. By the way why hasn’t my brother come in by this time. keeping late times was not his thing. Has something gone wrong. No don’t go there I shuck my head in disbelieve. By the way why must those ladies give it a halt right in front of my yard at this time. I later found out that they even sat down at a flower pavement right in front of the house while the so called lady whom I believe to be the Amaka was tending to her shoe. What was the major twitching side of her story was the eye that rarely blink.

Suddenly it happened. A sudden muscle spasm went all over my body like an electric shock. I suddenly developed a nervous stomach. Preoccupied by what had given my door handle a quick turn. I immediately sat startled on my bed. For sure; I knew my brother’ s car wasn’t such a supersonic noiseless one. He even knows how to start calling from the hallway down to my room. I nearly died that moment because am not a kind that may survive the intense shock that will hit my heart if it happened to be what has been on my mind; what the pitied lady had met on her brother’s house. I can’t imagine myself to have such disgusting experience. I know I have been one hell of a fragile one when it comes to fear, especially when I was alone.

Chidozie! I called, Chidozie! But everywhere seemed like no one has by-passed my brother’s little gate without my awareness. At least I knew I was the only one with the key to the main door, not even my brother. Therefore, nobody can get in without me unlocking the main door from inside. But I have to go look through the peep hole check whether the story of the lady is not yet playing around my little brain. Slowly I tiptoed to my room door with anticipation of what I couldn’t grab in my mind. Heart pounding and my brain wanting to explode from shock. I raised the flat steel that covered the large peep hole. I peered in……but……. nothing.

Chidozie!..no answer, even though I knew for Sure it’s not my brother. Then It came to my mind, leave the flat steel cover hanging aside so I will know when someone came close or passed; if that would ease the tension. I did; and slowly went straight to my bed, backing the door with once in a while head twist to the door. I was to lie on my back and watch what was only existing in my head. Just two centimetres to slowly lay my hands on my bed.

Another sound; a sharp chuckling one like that and then a hum. The beats of my heart intensified. As I eagerly turned around, I couldn’t explain how it happened; the Peep hole; The hole was no longer seeing through. It was blocked; but not by the flat steel. That gave me another wriggling pain in the stomach. I don’t know whether to go close or to dash behind my word rope.  But who would check on it if not me.

Who would assure my soul that its nothing both a black out hallway if not me. With my pounding heart and a confused brain chemistry I stepped forward. My eyes firmly fixed on the shadowy blocked peep hole. I didn’t even go inches when my confused twitching brain came around a little to signal me that it was a white stuff with a black spot in the middle, all behind the hole. Before I could reason further…..It blinked.

I jumped myself into my word rope covering myself with some of my clothing which was right at the extreme wall behind my bed opposite the door. From there I still could see it. It blinked again and then again…..It was watching me.

’Open the door you freaking junk’ he laughed behind the door. Knocking at the door and at the same time laughing as if he was about to die from it.

With all disappointment and a revived spirit, I set forth to the door to unleash all my anger. Chidozie my brother was standing at the door laughing funnily at me while I was standing at the opened door angry, furious, mesmerized, astonished and name it.

My brother stood at my opened room door mesmerised too. He couldn’t believe I could be such a freak even inside my room. But I guessed he may be wondering what had put fear in me in such that I was trembling when I saw his eye horribly fixed through the peep hole of the door some minutes ago. After some conversation I was able to find out that his car was spoilt and I was the one who thought I locked the main entrance door while I didn’t.

’Well it’s my surprise… It’s just that I was happy. Very happy this night…that’s why I did that’

You see…. that was why that young man wanted to kill me. Because he was very happy. But I notice something; my brother was not the kind that used to being this kind happy that he stooped so low to do that kind of prank. And what should have caused that.

’Then why this level of happiness’

’’Yap guess what’’ still with remnant of laughter from what have previously happened.

’’Yes?’’

’’You ‘re going on a birthday trip; with me’’

’’I don’t understand’’

’’Well, I booked a place where you can celebrate your birthday with me and friends. It’s nice place, just a new life style of celebration. People in town are following the method. It’s a new style in town’’

Like I told you guys before, am not a fan of birthday celebration. And here was my brother making an offer; should I go? But we have forgotten one thing, where could this be, that my brother has called a new life style in town.

’’where, Chidozie’’ I asked him.

’’It was an ancient ruined site’’

’’A ruined site!!’’

’’No no no, don’t get it wrong. It’s a nice place. It’s now even a tourist centre….no it’s not yet a tourist centre but pretty soon it will be, because people are constantly trooping in to have a glimpse of how wonderful the old place is and have fun as well. It’s an ancient ruined site in the heart of Igbo Ukwu town in this Anambra state of our very Nigeria. It’s big. It’s believed to be an old temple for…’’

’’the gods of Onyino?’’ I snapped Immediately.

‘‘What! are you kidding…. like, up till now you don’t know where the shrine of Onyino was located…. This ancient site is in the heart of Igbo Ukwu town while Onyino shrine is far away in another town’’

Very good it was not what I think, but after much persuasion and explanation, I agreed with him. After all what is life on earth if not spiced up with tones of happiness and merriments. We first agreed we will go and see the place before I grant him his wish, in that way I will see the ruined place. I can also access whether it’s fit to hold my birthday party which is on every 20th August. I don’t think I would invite my precious friends in a place I haven’t checked its neatness, not to mention when this one is called an ancient ruined site.

On 15th of August being the next day we set forth to the land of the ancient ruins. It was in Igbo Ukwu town like my brother has said. A town in Anambra state of Nigerian. The town was known as one of the area that embodied great traditional bronze sculptural art which is generally termed Igbo Ukwu Bronze art. But for the ancient ruined site I haven’t heard of that one.

When we got their it was quite a beautiful site, though it looked like it has stood there for thousands of years. It was an ancient building fused and mounted on top of a cave such that it blended with the cave. It was right between a scanty forest with a wide path through which people can comfortably get to it. But what made it much catchier was the sculptures. Just like Igbo Ukwu Bronze arts; the area where scattered with different carvings both wood and bronze. Some have appearances that depicts horror of the underworld.

Most of the sculptures have appearance of little human, distorted in different way or the other. Some with exaggerated head and palms even bigger than their own body. Some have slithering like root as legs. While some ghostly and ugly face that a pregnant woman wouldn’t dare the face of her child to take after them. Each of these hundreds of caricatured sculptures where mounted on a dead wooded staffs that was claimed to have lasted for thousands of years without termite work. Some though resemble the Igbo Ukwu bronze art work I have seen in my art class.

All assumed this red and white paintings. Some claimed the paintings does not wear and has not been repainted since the discovery. Few very tall trees had made a web of branches in and out of the ruined site. The remnants of the building where made with clay sand with white chalks inscribed as if there was a mad man at work.

But one funny but captivating stuff I notice was that all the sculptures where made with very big eyes, except that their eyes were human and doesn’t resemble the one in that lady’s life. It was a big cold, quiet and odourless area. Birds where many though, whistling and jumping from one tree to other. But indeed it was a busy area. People seems to be enjoying the premises. Some group had gathered in one or two patches doing something like ceremony or celebration.

I noticed one thing again, one of the caves was entirely different from the others and that was the only place I could see monkeys dashing in and out. I was transfixed to the beauty of the magic of being the only cave that harbours monkeys. The entrance to the cave was housed that you can only enter by first entering the building, which was also the major entrance leading to the cold and quiet hall way by the left to the inner part of the building.  As I was being drawn close to this cave my brother summoned me to follow the correct way. He began to tell me little he knew about the area.

’’That cave by you left is prohibited so follow the right’’

’’Why’’ I asked.

’’I don’t know but some locals said it’s a ritual chamber’’

’’Ritual!’’

‘‘Yes! You sounding as if there had been something wrong with you…. even yesterday I did noticed that; you went overboard with fears.’’

But yet I haven’t told him because it’s not necessary, after all it would somehow make me look more childish

‘‘Not that something is wrong…. but how it sounds’’

‘‘Yap it sounds none other than a place they engage with the spirits…. with the underworld; one local told me last time I came that one can seek for purity, beneficence, and wealth inside the cave. But whoever enters the prohibited cave has to take whatever omen met by such a one’’

‘‘Like what promise’’

‘‘Ken let’s forget those myths, lord knows I don’t believe in those fetish stuff; but you gotta keep it for them…. Just one of those crab stories’’

Then we toured almost the whole premises, including caves, sacred trees, the water falls behind the caves, the major shrines and many others. At a point I was no longer with my brother. Being a little lady lover guy; I was sure when he made away with one of the black tourist girl. Flexing his life at the moment while me being an art lover was in a pool of mesmerisation for what I have been seeing so far. At a point I was in trilled to the extent that I vowed to reach all extremes of the ancient place, even the ones said to be prohibited. In deed it was a gallery of different art form. I was feeling like one who was thrown into a museum mixed with horror and evil and beauty. The combination of every quantification of the environment is what gave it the charm, glamour and appeal.

As I raised my head, rotating and gazing around the works of white chalks on the cave walls, it suddenly dawned on me that I had entered the dead zone. Something prompted me to look around my spot. It was it; definitely; the danger zone. I had gone into some meters into the cave because I looked back, illuminating light was some far at the end of the entrance. But how I entered the prohibited cave was what I couldn’t recall. I guess It was because I was carried away. I looked back again at the far lighted entrance, it was not yet too far; I looked front; at what still lies ahead of me, it was inquiring, captivating and luring as made possible by many many art works spread out into the unknown far end of the tunnel. Then it hit my mind; what my brother had said earlier, the myth of the forbidden cave; though he spoke a little of it, but at that time it meant a thousandth for me.

Guess what the main problem was, I was now alone; not even with my brother Chidozie. Guess it was because it’s a forbidden area, and I also felt that no one saw me when I was carried away into the cave. I wanted to go back, upon remembering what my brother said ‘.. but you gotta keep it for them….’. I didn’t even make two step going back out of the cave when the devil came; it hit me, with the spirit of wanting to explore more. With the spirit of discovery. Yes, after all, my brother had believed it’s Just one of those crab stories.

Behold; I turned back, looked forward and surged ahead. Ahead into the den of the underworld. Tension began to rise, my heart began to pound, sweat began to make its way out from my forehead in a cold quiet cave. I even can hear my steps in my heart as I plunged forward. Very aware of my heart beat and even heat radiating from my brain activity. The sculptures in that particular part of the cave was not like the ones I have seen other areas of the ruined site. Their eyes were even way bigger than others as if the designer was making a funny caricature out of them.

Mice wriggling in and out across past me. What could have brought mice in there. The more I go deeper the colder and quieter it becomes. The more the noise from outside fades away. The darker it becomes, thanks to the fire stands attached in one or two places at the walls. Right in front of me was a head of a stag still well preserved with its antlers. It was tied to what seemed like rope hanging from above. It looked like it had dried up like stock fish but no decay no smell. I gently went past it.

I peered into the far darker distance I noticed there were more tie-up above; heads and other stuff. There were more artefacts far ahead, most of which I barely was seeing due to distance. Woow; the cave was so long and narrow. Suddenly; I had it; a screech. But this one was coming in a regular periodic manner.

Right in front of me, but right above. I draw closer, it was the same kind of a tie up. A big head of an owl with its bulging eye open and transfixed to me. It was a dead head though, but still look like it had dried up for thousands of years, just like the stag’s head. It happened that the rope was revolving around its central point of attachment, very long and closer to nearly touching a 7 feet tall person.

It was attached to two metal hook pinned to the cave. The friction of the two metals was what was making the screeching noise. I was fascinated by how the rope was revolving at regular repeating pattern, with the big owl head attached at the end. Nothing was pushing it and it doesn’t in any way look like it’s momentum will dampen after a while.

Right in front of me I saw something that has broken the laws of physics; because there were no external forces perpetuating the rotation which otherwise might be spiritual forces. I found my self-drawn nearer to enter the axis of rotation. Immediately I entered the circle I felt a shock, as if I have been transfigured. I shrugged it off, nothing much.  I let myself to count the number of revolution as it hovers around my head. I counted, till I got seven counts, yet I let myself to exceed that.

At a point I could no longer hold my fears. I felt like someone or some persons are watching me. May be it was the monkeys because I no longer see them since I have been in that particular cave. Then I turned back and began to leave. At least within me, I still felt I have not broken the laws of the locals ‘cause I have not gone far at all. The main entrance to the cave is not farfetched so I still felt like I haven’t started yet. I guess the reason while they labelled the cave forbidden was still far inside, but I quitted. As I was leaving, it felt like whoever was watching me was following me. The more I race up my steps the more I felt it’s racing up too. Then I took off.

Continue… with THE EYE OF ONYINO 2

Written By Aneke Francis
SuBScRiBe BeLoW..



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