I was only five years old and we had just moved into that neighbourhood. My father worked at the hospital, which required us to move a lot. The hospital, which was run by a church, had a habit of transferring its hospital staff to a new station every after about six years. That’s how we happened to find ourself in that town and in that neighbourhood. Under normal circumstances, we were supposed to live in the hospital compound. The hospital actually had a compound for its staff. However, we were told it was full. We had no choice but to seek accommodation in town.
My family was composed of my dad, mum, younger sister and I. My younger sister was three and had just started school before we were forced to move. My mum was a teacher in the private sector and my dad as you already know, was medical personnel.
It was difficult for us to have accommodation. However, my dad was advised to seek the help of a housing agent. While our belongings were packed at the hospital store room, we had to wait another two weeks before we could get a call from the agent. He asked my dad to see him in his office the following day. He said he had been able to secure for us a good apartment for a family our size. My dad was very pleased and promised to see him the next day without fail. The next day, my dad took me along in his car to see the agent. We got to his office some thirty minutes later and this conversation followed.
“Good Day, Sir and welcome.” The agent said.
“Good Day, young man. How are you?”
“I am fine, Sir.”
“So, any luck yet? Have you been able to get an apartment for me like you promised you would?” My dad asked.
“Yes, Sir. I have. A nice apartment. I hope you will love it.”
“I hope so too. But why did you say that?” My dad asked, bewildered.
“The neighbourhood, Sir. I am not a very big fan of that neighbourhood. In fact, I am not crazy about that neighbourhood at all.” The agent said, sweating.
“Why? What is wrong with the neighbourhood?’ My dad asked.
“It is said that witches and wizards inhabit the neighbourhood. Terrible things have been happening in that neighbourhood. In fact, a lot of terrible stories have been coming from that part of town.”
My dad was a devout Christian. As much as he believed evil spirits exist, he also believed strongly in the holy spirit. Stories of ghosts and evil spirits didn’t scare him. He believed nothing under the sky can harm him as long as his faith and trust in God was unshaken.
“Tell me some of the stories of that neighbourhood you have heard about.” My dad said.
“Are you sure you really want to hear?” The agent asked.
“I do. Please tell me. I am, a busy man and I don’t have time to waste. Go on with your stories about painted devils.” My dad was getting impatient.
“Sir, the stories are real. These stories are not about painted devils. They are real. For example, the mother of the lady who owns the apartment I am getting for you was said to be a witch. She has died, anyway. However, rumour has it that, the landlady was her favourite child. She therefore passed on all her witchcraft to her before dying. It is rumoured that she killed her husband, that is the father of the landlady.” The agent narrated.
My dad didn’t seem to be scared by the stories. In addition to his strong and unwavering believe in God, my dad was also a very stubborn man. He was also very adventurous, a trait I had unfortunately acquired.
“The father of the landlady; was he rich?” My dad asked the agent.
“Very rich, Sir. Very, very rich.” The agent said.
“That explains it.” My dad said, laughing. “Whenever a rich man dies, people always accuse his poor and innocent wife. That is Africa. I don’t believe any of your stories. Let’s talk about the rents, terms and conditions and when I am moving in.”
“Ok, Sir. If you say so. I just said I should tell you what I need to tell you, so that you don’t say I hid anything from you in the future.” The agent said.
“Alright, thank you. Now let’s get to the real business of the day.” My dad had really become impatient now.
“The apartment costs 50,000 a month. You have to pay one-year rents upfront.”
“Ok, what else?”
“There are just two apartments in that particular building. Yours is at the right-hand corner. The landlady also lives in the compound. Her own apartment is directly opposite yours. However, there is a huge space separating the two buildings. You can move in as soon as you are able to pay the money.” The agent explained.
“That will be tomorrow. I will pay tomorrow, clean the house and moving in the day after. Now take this.” My dad said, handing him the agency fees.
“Thank you, Sir. Thank you very much. I appreciate.”
“That’s alright, young man. Now any other ghost stories?” My dad asked with a smile on his face.
“None whatsoever, Sir.” The agent said. I suspected in his mind, he said, “You will find out for yourself.”
My dad asked me to get into the car and we drove off. As we drove home, he warned me not to tell my mum anything about the agent’s stories. He made me to expressly promise him I wouldn’t. I did promise I wouldn’t and I had no intentions of not keeping my promise. My dad was not the kind of person whose promise you would break in any circumstance. He was a great disciplinarian but very caring and loving.
My dad hadn’t believed anything he was told by the agent. To him it was an old wives’ tale. To him it was stories men told each other when they were drinking at their ogogoro joints. However, as young as I was, I believed the agent and I was very angry at my dad for making me promise not to say anything to my mum.
I believed the agent because I had experienced some strange things in our former station. I couldn’t tell if they were real or not but they were very vivid and explicit. One day, while I was at the back of the house, I had seen witches, carrying little babies on their backs, dancing. They disappeared as soon as they realized I had seen them. At night I was always seeing a black head always looking and blinking at me. I also once had a hallucination where some wizards were trying to kill me and my dad was begging them not. Suddenly my dad was dragged away and as they attempted to strike me; my three years old younger sister appeared in the form of an angel. With a halo around her head and saved me.
I had never told anyone any of these devilries. As young as I was, I kept them in my mind. I decided that as we moved into the new house, if my father didn’t want to take any precautions, I would. For the sake of my mum and younger sister.
To Be Continued… . . .
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