The Book of Oleander - Episode 1 (Archive)
He had the same dream again.
He was falling into a great black hole. This time he saw a figure, standing at the mouth……he had been pushed in.
As he descended into the darkness, he felt a piercing, sinister stare from the figure standing above; it didn't feel human.
A pungent acidic stench soon filled his nose.
Then he woke up, "No! NO!!” Timi was panting and quaking violently, drenched in sweat.
“Oh my God!!”
03:26?? Again?? I can't keep having this dream! Why?! What's happening??! It's getting too recurrent! What do I do?? Pray? No, what would that solve? It’s just a dream…..it’s just another nightmare Timi. It may not mean anything.
Maybe that movie triggered this.........yes it must have been the movie. Or could it be stress? No, I think it’s the movie. No more horror movies for now.
Looking again at the clock in his bedroom, he thought aloud, “Well, I don’t resume work until next week…I’ll just sleep till around 10am, after all, I slept late.”
Years ago, Timi took a bold step in leaving his hometown, in search for a better life. His mother had a farm in Agulesi, down south and far away from Lagos. He never knew his father. He had lived and farmed in Agulesi with his mother who solely raised him. The profit from her farm crops which she sold at the market, was just enough to sustain herself and her only child. It was through her farming that she toiled to see Timi complete his education, up to the university. She knew he was special.
Having no one in Lagos, Timi had been very nomadic. In spite of his excellent university credential, he had several odd jobs to his name since the inception of his relocation. He had known hardship all his life, thus the difficult life he met with in this city was not too new to him.
Timi was a good soul, and he had worked hard in his days. Time and chance happened to him, and things got better.
A lady walked out of an office hallway, “Olakunle Timi Henson?”
“That would be me". A tall, handsome, young man walked down from the reception, towards the lady, who suddenly appeared fascinated by his looks as she laid eyes on him.
“Uhh the boss is in an important meeting as we speak. He asked me to hand this letter to you."
“Oh. Okay, that's fine. Thank you. I uhh really would have liked to thank him in person. It’s a reference letter for a job I just got. Out of the blues I was told to get one; I didn't expect such a quick response from the boss.”
“Really? You must be in his good books I’ll say. And congratulations on the new job. Where? If you don’t mind my asking.”
The secretary was already mesmerized by his charm. He smiled as he noticed, “It's just one company here in Lagos.” Quickly changing the topic, he asked the secretary, “Are you new here?”
Hmmm she’s pretty though.
“Yes sir” she said, with a chuckle.
“I see, because you don’t look familiar...Anyway, I’ve got to dash. Thanks again........??"
“Fortune” she quickly said, with a coy smile, realizing he meant to ask for her name.
Nice. Thanks Fortune. Please tell him I'll call his phone. You take care."
“You’re welcome, bye sir!”
As Timi stepped out of his former place of work, he began to walk towards the entrance of the busy street to get on a taxi, then something completely strange happened. He saw an old-looking woman on the opposite direction of his path; she seemed agile, yet slightly bent over.
The woman suddenly halted the moment she laid eyes on him, as if she saw something. She stood about twelve feet away, having a bemused look on her face; she began looking at him with squinted eyes, tilting her head.
Timi slowed down his pace, glanced behind himself to check if the old lady was looking at someone else. Upon seeing no one, he began to feel uneasy.
She took some steps closer, looked intently at him, and then her face lit up; she suddenly exclaimed on top of her voice.
“Ahhhhhhhh! Mogbe! My eyes have seen the gods! *ENI TO TOBI JU! Kini mo se ti mo fi ri iru anfani yi gba?! E mi??? E mi???!! Ah! I bows down before you!”
She prostrated, quickly got up again, and started dancing.
Looking embarrassed Timi quickly responded to her, thinking she wanted money, “Ah mama??! Kosi owo oh!"
"Ahhh kini mo se ti mo fi ri iru anfani yi gba?! Heehhhh! Good homen! E shall be weh with me!"
"Mama abeg I no too sabi Yoruba like that o."
The old lady kept on in her jubilation.
"Mama abeg stop now! What are you doing that for??! You want money?? Oya wait first."
Timi cast quick glances at every direction to see if anyone noticed the scene. None yet.
The old lady kept on with her parade.
"Mama stop it! You're embarrassing me!!" He quickly handed her a 200 naira bill, but she didn't even notice.
Ignoring his bewilderment, the old lady began dancing all the more, circling around him, **"Ahhh jagun jagun nla, alabowatopeye! Ahhhh!"
Her voice became embarrassingly shrill; Timi, now irritated, began to get worried, although he maintained a calm demeanor, “Mama I said I do not understand Yoruba! Please keep your voice down! If you don't want money then what do you want??!" She ignored him still.
Timi started walking away from her, but she continued right behind him, dancing and repeating her words.
Still walking behind him, she said, “Oh you ignorah you! How you have not know?!”
At this point, fear gradually began to take hold of Timi. Strangely, he perceived a faint, yet thick, dark presence hovering around, one so heavy in the air that it almost felt tangible.
There was something disturbingly familiar about this presence.
Timi stopped and turned around to face the old lady, with an intention to tell her off the final time. As he faced her, she quickly grabbed his right palm, looked into it and said, "Eyon pataki," he jerked his hand away. Having a curious look on her face, she quickly came closer and grabbed his palm again.
“Ahhh see. You are mark two days after born" showing him his palm, but he couldn't see anything.
"Ibeji! Ibeji!" She said, meaning twins, as she smiled with much excitement. "Is him that are mark, ibeji die", looking at his palm, “Is not you before.”
Somewhat confused, he retorted, “Ibeji what??" Now certain that she was one of those fake spiritualists that prey on unsuspecting people, he angrily told her, "Look! Woman! If you talk to me or harass me again, I will have you arrested!"
All of a sudden, her demeanor changed abruptly; her face darkened and became without expression, then her voice deepened, “Olakunle Timi Kehinde Henson, how could it be that you know nothing about your days under the sun?”
Upon hearing his full name, together with the shocking contrast in her spoken English, Timi was overcome with great fear and shock. He staggered backwards, almost stumbling over a stone, with his legs shaking.
Jesus! Kehinde?!?!?! How??! I don't understand!
It was quite strange that people kept passing, yet oblivious to what was happening.
Seeing that she now had his full attention, she continued, “A mark was shifted to your lineage, and you should consider that a rare privilege. At a certain time under the sun, upon the passing of a great one, another rightful soul is selected and offered up to be inhabited by the great deity. That soul is YOU. You have a name that you were never told of, a name that you will be called on that great day of destiny."
Heavily stuttering, Timi managed to find words, “God forbid!!! You are very wrong, I am not the one you talk about at all! God forbid!!”
“Hahahaha! Listen to me carefully. The very night you turn 30, you will clock maturity and be ready for the rite of passage. Great one, you cannot hide or run from it! Run to the shores of the west or to the deserts of the east you will never find peace until you submit to what you were born to be! It will find you! You cannot escape from your destiny! It is meant to be!!!”
At the mention of those words, Timi took to his heels, still hearing her laughter and chants in the background. He ran so fast, without looking back, pushing everything and everyone in his way. He ran with all his might until his feet could no longer carry him further.
"God! God!!!!! Mama! I need to see mama!" With his trembling hands he reaches for his phone.
"Hello?? Hello??!! Mama??! MAMA!......Ehn? What??! Who is this?! I can't hear you! Where is mama?? What?!?! Hello?? Hello??!! Godddddddd!"
*"Great One. What have I done to receive this privilege?"
**"Our great warrior, our great protector"