Ibukun clenched tight to the super-crumbled hundred naira note in his fist. That’s the last legal tender he has at hand or anywhere. The economy is really in bad shape. Market is not moving and he desperately needs money fast for his kids are resuming school this September. They’d barely survived August and only Jah knows what October will be hurling at them – that’s if they manage to survive this month.
He held tight to the paper currency and headed straight to Baba – his revered and trusted diviner. As he walks to hid dibia’s shrine, he ruminates on his life trend and that of everyone around him. No one is having it easy. Maybe not everyone but majority of Nigerians are just like him – working, hungry, angry and broke.
Recently, he has become a frequent caller at Baba’s shrine. In the past, he used to be a regular at his church. He pays his tithe regularly and was even considered a role model for other members of his church. But the horrible economy has made an unbeliever out of him. He has fervently prayed but the heavenly God has refused to grant his request.
He’s seeing Baba to re-clarify the message the heavy bearded man had relayed to him three days ago. The priest had said the future is bright and he’s beginning to doubt the gods’ forecast – barely two days after calling out to them.
When he got close to Baba’s shrine, he bought two wraps of groundnut for twenty naira in order to convert the only money on him to smaller denominations. He must give Baba a token before he can relay the messages from the divinities to him. In this precarious time, he needs such message to give him hope to withstand the torments brought about by the change in government.
After collecting his balance from the groundnut seller, he inspected the wrapped groundnut and tried to guess the number of leguminous grains in the transparent polythene wraps. Maybe twenty seven – maybe less. Everything seems to have change, albeit negatively.
When Ibukun arrives at Baba’s shrine, the old man could perceive the stench of his frustration a mile away. He wonders what version of the truth or lie he would have to tell this desperate child before he finally falls into full scale depression. In his heart of heart, he knows it is a matter of time before things finally fall apart.
When Ibukun came in sight, the old man welcomed him well by pushing a picnic stool for him to sit. Ibukun sat and brought out a crumbled ten naira note from the innermost corner of his breast pocket. Even Google Map could not have guess the location he had hidden the money
Baba receives the money from him. The currency looks like a paper that had survived severe bombings in Borno or traffic gridlock along Badagry express road. The level of rioting gator and criss-crossed lines on the polymer note looks like a child who was given tribal marks by his wicked step mother.
Baba held long to the money without even knowing that he had not brought out the divination pebbles. That is the first time he will be receiving money today. He wonders how one would expect the gods to speak long on such meagre credit. Even MTN cannot afford such cheap call rate, talk less of the gods that communicate from afar in the sky.
He reluctantly brought out the divination pebbles and commenced the work he was paid for. When he slammed the pebbles on the divination board, the oracle demands a mature she-goat along with seven virgin pigeons to be sacrificed along with twenty-one corn meal.
Seeing this, Baba heaves a heavy sigh. It’s almost six months since he last had a taste of meat. Even the economy had gotten to him
“What did the gods say?” Ibukun anxiously asked. Baba wonders what to tell him this time. He can’t afford to lose this customer. The gods too are hungry. This man can barely feed his family, how then can he feed the ancient gods.
“The gods said the future is bright. The change will come soon,” Baba lied. Inside him, Ibukun doubted the message of the oracle. Even Baba was beginning to distrust the veracity of the message he delivers too. For this, he refused to talk more.
“The gods must fast until the living can afford their meal”, Baba thought in his mind as he reads the doubt on Ibukun’s face. If the gods and their early ambassadors refuse to change their ways; soon, the truth will become a scarce commodity. And then, hope will be the next in line. And everything would fall apart.