“That’s true, it actually happened to Dede,” Grandma replied.
“The witch?” Jalal asked.
“Jalal! Don’t call her a witch.” Mummy glared at him.
“But you and Grandma said she was a witch and she’s responsible for Zaara’s disability,” Jalal protested.
“Yes, but you aren’t supposed to say it out loud like that for everyone to hear,” Grandma said.
“Why? Will she come and attack us?” Bash looked around fearfully as if expecting a coven of witches to suddenly fly in on their broomsticks.
“Ayorkor, now you see why I didn’t want you to tell the children about this your spiritual hocus-pocus? Now Jalal or Bash will probably end up asking your Auntie why she stole Zaara’s legs, what are you going to do then?” Daddy asked.
“She stole my legs?” I asked in bewilderment.
Growing up, I’d heard mutterings about this Auntie Dede and how she was a bad woman who wished evil on me. These mutterings were conversations between Mummy and Grandma, when she’d come to visit. Though I knew she was supposed to be very bad and jealous, I never knew what exactly she’d done to warrant such a reputation till now.
“No she didn’t steal your legs. Nobody stole your legs or any part of your body Zaara. Your disability was due to the Meningitis you had as a baby and that is that.” Daddy fixed Mummy and Grandma a challenging look, daring them to refute his words.
“Well I know what I know Sulley! And I saw that woman in my dreams for the first year of Zaara’s life and if you want to believe that it was just coincidental then that is your prerogative,” Mummy retorted.
“You saw her because every night before going to sleep you took out her picture and spent 20 minutes praying for every bone in her body to broken as she had broken Zaara’s legs, why wouldn’t you dream about her!” Daddy threw his hands up in exasperation.
“Did her legs get broken?” I asked.
“Well the last time I saw her she looked perfectly fit to me, neither a cracked rib nor a bruise in sight,” Daddy said.
“Oh you just wait and see. We’re winning the spiritual battle and very soon it’ll be manifested in the flesh,” Grandma said. “These days she can’t stay long around me, because the power of the Holy Ghost just burns her whenever we’re in the same room. Whenever there’s a family meeting which I am present at, she always finds an excuse to slip out early.”
“But if you know she’s a witch and she has caused harm to many including Zaara, why don’t you confront her and arrest her or something?” Bash asked.
“Yeah answer that Mummy!” Daddy looked at Mummy with a smug expression, thinking there was no way out of this hole she had put herself in.
“Oh we are confronting and fighting her spiritually and she knows we know what she has done,” Mummy replied.
“But—” Daddy started.
“Okay, okay let us not fight over this. Sulley, your family has just come down, at least have a week of peace before you start fighting with your wife,” said Grandma. “Aah Nii has brought the drinks.”
Nii walked in carrying a tray with the bottles of soft drinks, a bunch of straws and an opener. After the first sip of the muscatella, Jalal and I agreed it tasted a bit like Dr. Pepper. Bash wanted to try it so I allowed her to sip from my straw. Nii sat on the edge of the centre table and struck up a conversation with us, asking us how we’re finding Accra, whether we missed our friends etc… He was very nice and friendly and didn’t talk down to us. Daddy told Nii that Jalal would be joining him at Whitfield Boys Secondary School in September. Jalal was overjoyed on learning he and Nii would be in the same school and proceeded to ask Nii all about the school.
“Zaara, Grandma was telling me about this church where they heal sick people, why don’t we go there and see what God will do,” Mummy said. “Wouldn’t it be just great if you could throw away those crutches?”
“How?” I asked.
“Oh nothing to be afraid of, we’ll just go there and the pastor will lay hands on you and say a prayer,” Grandma explained.
“We’ll go in a couple of weeks, lets take the trip to the north first,” Mummy said.
“Oh when are you going?” Grandma asked.
“We’ll leave on Tuesday morning, very early so we can reach Tamale before it gets dark,” Daddy replied. “The plan is to spend the night at Abdel’s house and set off to Srengui the following day; and that is another two-hour drive to Sambu where we take a canoe across River Daka to reach Srengui.”
“I am looking forward to the boat ride,” Bash said.
“Yeah, it’ll be fun…” I piped in.
“Well Sulley, you have no idea how I pray for good health for your family everyday,” Grandma said, “even listening to you talk about the journey is exhausting and I can’t imagine having to make a trip there ever so often for funerals should your family members start dropping dead. May they continue to enjoy good health and long life.”
Daddy pulled a face and stood up. “Thanks, I think.”
Mummy took the cue and also stood up saying, “Its time to go, we have unpacking to do and we’ll come and visit Grandma tomorrow morning.”
“It’ll have to be after noon, that’s when I get back from church.”
“Oh okay. What time does church start?” Mummy asked.
“8:00 a.m.” Grandma replied.
“Wow! That’s four hours of church, Grandma don’t you get bored?” I asked.
“No, it is always a joy to be in the House of the Lord,” she replied with an air of sanctimony.
“Okay, we’ll come after lunch then, around 2:00 p.m. Children, shall we?” Mummy came over to help me stand up and gain my balance on the crutches before walking ahead to open the door. The darned dog still hadn’t moved from the pathway and we had to walk around it again!
We said our goodbyes to Grandma and Nii Tackie, got into the car and drove away.
Farida Nana Efua Bedwei (1979-) was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and spent most of her childhood in Dominica, Grenada and the U.K. before the family moved to Ghana when she was nine.
She got Cerebral Palsy when she was 10 days old, and was home schooled by her mother until she was 12 years old when she entered mainstream school for the first time. To the surprise of all, she excelled and has risen to become one of the top software engineers in Ghana.
Definition of a miracle is her first novel.