“Congratulations! you are now homeowners”
The couple sitting at the desk hugged each other as Tobenna spoke to them. He had just closed on another mortgage, and he was having the best month all year.
“Thank you so much Mr. Onwuhara!” the wife said, “We couldn’t have done this without you.”
“It was my pleasure”, he replied, with a grin on his face.
“God bless you my brother!” the husband said as he and his wife left the office.
Tobenna Onwuhara was one of the rising stars at Bank of USA. Business was booming, and they were practically giving mortgages away. Whether people were really qualified or not was not their main concern. They made far more off selling the mortgage backed securities on the secondary market. As he was starting to prepare for his next appointment, he heard a knock at the door. One of the clerks came then into his office.
“One of your previous clients is here to see you” she said.
“Tell her to come in”, Tobenna replied.
In walked a light skin woman holding the hand of a young child.
Tobenna rose up and exclaimed “My sister! How you dey?” while reaching out his right hand for her to shake.
The woman gave him a mean look and asked him “So now all of a sudden I’m your sister?”
He paused and remembered why the woman was angry.
“Mrs. Kalu, I’m so sorry that I couldn’t help you keep your house. You know I did all I could…”
“Mechionu (Shut up)!!! You are a liar!” Mrs. Kalu continued, ” The only reason I’m here now is because you stopped picking up my calls and returning my emails.”
Tobenna attempted to say something but was cut off again before he could utter any more words.
“Ever since the untimely death of my husband, you knew full well how hard it’s been for me and my son. You assured me that everything was going to be ok when I fell a little behind on my payments, and that you would do everything you could to help me explore my options. But I can see that it was all a lie. You probably made more money by the bank seizing my house than by letting me keep it. I can’t prove it yet, but I know what your bank did against me was fraudulent.”
How’d she guess? Tobenna thought to himself. He replied:
“Well unfortunately madam, there’s not much I can do for you now. Again, I’m very sorry”, Tobenna said to her, “Now if you don’t mind, I have an appointment that’s about to walk in the door any second now…”
The woman looked at him, raised two fingers in his directions and shouted: “Onwuhara! Amadioha magbukwa gi! (Onwuhara! Amadioha will punish you!”)
Tobenna started to laugh at her. “Old woman. Where do you think we are? In the village? Those things don’t work over here.”
She gave him another piercing stare, grabbed the hand of her son and briskly walked out the door. Although Tobenna had laughed at her when she had cursed him, there was something about her statement that had sent chills down his spine. Growing up in Nigeria, he had been told stories of how Amadioha had terrorized wrong doers in the days before the coming of the white man, but had all but disappeared in modern days. On occasions, one would still hear accounts of a white ram with flaming red eyes appearing before some calamity was unleashed on someone accused of wrongdoing, but those were simply stories right? Anyways, he figured, he was in America now, and as they say, juju no cross wata.
A few weeks had passed and Tobenna had completely forgotten about the entire account. He was sitting home on a very Thursday night getting some work done on his computer when all of a sudden it began to rain. That’s funny, Tobenna thought to himself, he didn’t remember seeing rain in the forecast.
He recalled that he had left his car windows down and immediately rushed out to wind them up. As soon as he got outside, the rains became a lot heavier, and thunder and lightning followed. Tobenna wound up his windows and rushed inside…now dripping wet.
All of a sudden, the sky was totally lit up by a flash of lightning and the power in Tobenna’s house was out. He cursed as he tried to remember where he had placed his flashlight. He found his flashlight on top of the fridge, and began to walk to the basement, where the fuse box was. As he walked to the staircase, he peered out of a window and noticed that his was actually the only house on the block that had actually lost power.
He went down the stairs and turned the power back on. Walking up the stairs, he started to smell smoke and immediately ran to the direction it was coming from. He entered his home office and observed that the lightning had not only destroyed his surge protector but also had totally fried his laptop, which had valuable files that he had been working on for the last several weeks. Tobenna shouted some four letter words as he tried boot up the machine in vain.
But before he knew it, thunder filled the air and plunged him in darkness again. Frustrated, Tobenna went down the stairs to turn the fuse box and discovered that the power was not coming back either.
Today was not his day, Tobenna thought to himself and made his way to his bedroom. He threw himself on the bed and closed his eyes. As he lay in bed calculating how long it would take to catch back up with the weeks of work he had lost, he began to hear a thumping sound downstairs.
His fiancee was still away on a business trip, and his mistress wasn’t supposed to come over until tomorrow. Fearing the worst, Tobenna grabbed the gun he had stored under the bed, and loaded it with ammunition. He didn’t think anyone would actually try to commit a robbery during a thunderstorm, but crazier things had happened.
As he headed down the stairs, Tobenna had his back against the wall, and shouted “Whose there?” No response. He kept going down the stairs, inching closer to where the sound was emanating from. “I’m armed!” He shouted as he tried his best to sound tough, but this was the first time he had ever even pulled out the gun since he purchased it and he never anticipated that he might actually have to use it.
By the time Tobnenna got to the bottom of the stairs, his heartbeat was so intense that he could barely differentiate between it and the sounds. Holding the gun firmly with both hands, he turned the corner and was confronted with a red light in a sea of darkness. The source of the sound was revealed to be…his stereo.
Relieved, he started to laugh as he walked closer to the stereo and heard the sounds of intense drumming coming from them. Tobenna recognized the album, Sun Ra Live at Montreux, track 6, his favorite one from that CD. He hadn’t listened to that album in years! As he walked closer, the drumming not only got louder, but more intensified. His amusement turned to more confusion as it dawned on him that the stereo was on despite everything else being turned off.
He hit the power button to no avail. Was he going mad? He started hitting the button harder, and then finally reached behind and unplugged the machine. To his amazement, it was still on! And now the drumming was even more intense than earlier on. When he tried to turn the volume down, it actually got louder. In fact, it was so loud, it was starting to hurt his ears. All of a sudden, he heard a deep thunderous voice speaking over the track that said to him:
“Perhaps you’re wondering if this is a nightmare and if you will wake up soon. But I want to let you know that only one of those answers is yes.”
Tobenna froze in his tracks. He actually would have preferred dealing with robbers than whatever was happening now. Holding his gun up, he turned around and shouted:
“I don’t know who or what you are or how you’re doing this, but in the name of Jesus, I banish you from this place!”
To his amazement, the music stopped. Tobenna was relieved and surprised that it actually worked. All of a sudden the voice thundered:
“What do you think this is, a Nollywood movie?”
Immediately he rushed for the front door and was shocked…quite literally as soon as his hand touched the knob.
“You think you can escape so easily?”, the voice said.
“Who are you?”, Tobenna screamed as he was still cringing from the jolt that he received.
“To those who are innocent, I am their defender and avenger. And to the guilty, I am judge, jury and executioner.”
Tobenna’s stomach dropped as he figured out whose voice he was hearing.
As Tobenna spoke that ominous name, there was a flash of lightning outside. Could this really be Amadioha? The god of thunder and lightning that he had heard so many stories about in his youth?
“But this can’t be! You only exist in the village! And its only old people that speak about you!” Tobenna shouted. To any bystander, it would have appeared as though he had gone mad.
“I get around”Amadioha replied.
“Oh really? Where have you been as the born agains destroyed your shrines and as all the politicians have been chopping our money?”
“Why should I care? Your ancestors used to revere me, but as soon as the oyibo man came with his tricks and gadgets, they began to forget about me. So I forgot about you too. While you have been praying to your imported gods to no avail, I have been silently transforming into something brand new. Any recent stories you’ve heard have only been my shadow, my previous forms. Today, your entire lives depend on electricity…which I have mastery over. I no longer have any need for those old shrines. My presence can be felt in any electrical device on this planet. I am actually more powerful and deadly than I have ever been”
Amadioha began laughing. Tobenna had enough. Without thinking of how much it would cost to replace it, he lunged towards his stereo set and threw it to the ground. As he kicked his sub woofers, the laughter began to fade away. He was relieved.
Suddenly Tobenna’s flat screen plasma television came on. On the screen was the image of a white ram with bulging red eyes…in high definition.
Tobenna screamed: “What did I do to deserve this?”
In surround sound, the white ram answered: “You wronged one of my daughters. And now you will pay the price.”
Tobenna immediately recalled what he had done to Mrs. Kalu.
“Ok look. I’m sorry for what I did to her. I promise that I will call her first thing tomorrow and see what I can do to find good accommodations for her and her son.”
The ram did not look amused. “No need to worry. I’ve already found a new place for her” , he said.
Tobenna was confused. “What do you mean?”
The ram replied “Yours. Its not like you’re gonna need it after I’m done with you.”
Tobenna screamed: “Over my dead body!”
The ram smiled and said “Be careful what you wish for.”
Tobenna attempted to fire his gun at the screen, but for some reason, it wouldn’t fire. He suddenly felt a jolt of electricity in the hand that he was holding the gun, and dropped it to the ground. Frustrated, he picked it up and threw it at the screen, shattering it in many pieces. Immediately, he ran back upstairs and went to seek refuge in his bathroom.
As soon as he got inside, he locked the door. There were no electronic devices plugged in here, and he felt this was perhaps the safest place that he could be in the entire house. This whole ordeal was extremely traumatic, and he needed to clear his head and figure out his next move. He removed his clothing and hopped into his shower.
“Thank god for my gas water heating.” Tobenna thought to himself as the warm water poured on him. What was he going to do? Calling the police was out of the question, and anyone else he called would recommend that he be placed in an asylum. The only solution would be an escape.
As he has been pondering, the water temperature had begun to rise, without Tobenna turning the knob. It suddenly became so hot that it started to burn his skin. He reached to turn down the heat, but the water only continued to getting hotter. In his attempt to shut the water off, he nearly slipped and fell in the tub. Luckily, he jumped out of the shower before it became scalding. Tobenna realized that if he wanted to stay alive, he would have to leave his house.
He immediately got dressed and began to survey how he would escape. Tobenna had always seen on T.V how people would climb out of a window using knotted bed sheet, maybe it would work for him. He began to knot his bed sheets together, and then tied it at the base of his bed. He opened his window and threw the line out. Despite the pouring rain outside, he felt this was a safer alternative than trying to deal with Amadioha.
Tobenna stepped down on the roof area, and began to lower himself down the line. About a quarter way down, the line broke and he tumbled the rest of the way down. The wet grass broke his fall, but he felt that it also broke his tail bone. Stumbling up, he limped to his SUV and got inside. Safe at last….
He didn’t know where he was gonna drive to…all he knew was that he had to get as far away from his house as possible. He turned on the radio to calm his nerves as he entered the highway. “The next song is by special request, and is dedicated to Tobe Onwuhara”, the DJ announced.
Tobenna wondered who had dedicated the song to him. “Turn out the lights” by Teddy Pendergrass began to play. It must have been his mistress, Sheila. He could pay her a surprise visit until he would figure out his next move.
To his amazement, his headlights went out and he was thrown into pitch blackness. Tobenna began to hear the same drumming he had heard in his house, accompanied by a deep voice laughing. The last thing he remembered was Amadioha saying “I have the power to give life and to take life, and for you I will do both”, before he veered off the road and slammed into a large tree…
…The ambulance arrived and luckily, the paramedics were able to remove his body from the wreckage. “He’s still breathing!”, shouted one of the female EMTs. They loaded Tobenna’s body in the back, and began to speed towards the hospital. He was hooked up to a machine that monitored his heart rate. After a few minutes, it began to get weaker, before suddenly flat lining.
The male EMT brought out the defibrillator machine, and shouted “clear” before applying it to Tobenna’s chest. After the 3rd time, his heart beat returned….
…”Well the good news is that your son is speaking again Mrs. O”, Tobenna’s lawyer was doing his best to console his mother over the phone. “And since you left, his recovery has been progressing too, although the large black mark on his forehead doesn’t seem to be healing at all. Yesterday, we did have a close call though. His ex-fiancée and another woman, his former mistress I would assume, attempted to throw hot grits on him before one of the security guards who was an avid Al Green fan, stopped them before they entered the room.”
“And the bad?” Tobenna’s mother asked the lawyer.
The lawyer sighed before saying: “Well, for one, the bank is gonna settle the lawsuit against them for all of the illegal foreclosures they had done. In doing so, they are also throwing your son and all of the other employees that played major roles in the fraud under the bus, and seizing the property they acquired through bank financing.”
“Yes, he is losing his house. And ironically, one of his former clients says she is gonna purchase it with the settlement money she’s gonna receive.”
“Well can I at least talk to him? “
“Well yes, you can, but there’s a minor dilemma…”
“Well since he regained full consciousness, he hasn’t been acting sane. He twitches sporadically, and when he speaks, all he’s been doing is raving like a madman, and repeating a strange word over and over again. Madam who is or what is an Amadioha?”
There was silence on the phone.
“To those who are innocent, I am their defender and avenger. And to the guilty, I am judge, jury and executioner.” – Amadioha