The next instalment of U Murder U (Suicide) below – Chapter 5
Conference Room, Large Book Shop in Oxford Street, London
“Mrs Lewis, there are nearly two hundred people in the conference room waiting for you, are you ready?” The book shop’s posh divisional manager asked, interrupting Anna’s soliloquy. He studied the attractive woman, whose head was bent; dark, luxurious curls framed her tanned, pretty face. She opened her eyes and looked at him and he felt his breath catch at the back of his throat as he stared at her un-matching eyes. One eye was greenish brown and the other a bright greenish blue, he was unsure if they were real or lensed and even though he had read that she had heterochromia iridum (mis-matched eyes), seeing them in the flesh took his breath away.
Anna Lee Lewis nodded then opened the gold locket which hung from a chain around her neck. She looked at the picture of her late mother enclosed and smiled. “I’m ready,” she said, pushed her curly hair to one side and walked to the conference room with firm, confident steps.
“First of all, I want to thank you all for coming today and I also want to say, no matter what you’ve read or heard about me, unlike the little boy in that movie – I don’t see dead people,” Anna told her audience.
Some people in the room laughed, others stared openly at her, not sure what to expect.
“My name is Anna Lee Lewis, I was born and raised in Chicago, I co-founded the charity Talk To Someone, known more commonly as TTS, four years ago with my husband. We work closely with counsellors, psychiatrists, doctors and other healthcare workers all over the world,” she paused and looked around the room at her audience. It was usually at this point she was able to judge potential reactions and work out what she would say and how she would phrase what she would say – from the look of expectation (or lack of it) on the faces of her audience. “I co-founded Talk To Someone with my husband shortly after I read about a sixteen year old girl who was bullied because she went on a date with a classmate’s cousin who already had a girlfriend. The persistent bullying instigated by the girlfriend was so severe and brutal and when she couldn’t bear the pain it caused her anymore she somehow managed to get hold of one of her grandfather’s handguns, shot herself in the head and died. This happened in a town in Connecticut in America. The girl’s name was Tammy and she was a beautiful girl who had her whole life in front of her but, unbeknown to her parents, she was in so much pain she felt that she couldn’t continue with her life. I never knew Tammy when she was alive, I never met her parents when she was alive. I knew nothing about her until she died. Then something happened . . .”
“What?” Someone asked.
“What happened?” Another person asked.
“What happened was Tammy started talking to me in my dreams two days after she died,” Anna said.
“What?” A number of people gasped, some shivered and others continued to stare openly at her.
“But, you just said you don’t see dead people,” a man said.
“I don’t see dead people, I hear dead people. And, Tammy wasn’t the first dead person to talk to me.” Anna replied.
Department of History & Cultural International Studies,
University of London
Several students rushed into the DHCIS building. They weren’t late but they wanted to get a place to sit and hoped that the lecture theatre wouldn’t be packed. The last time this lecture was held so many students turned up for it and due to a lack of space several students were turned away on the day.
The lecture theatre was packed. The striking lecturer, Dr Peter Durojaiye Lewis smiled to himself as he set his papers down. He thanked his assistant and took the remote control from him. His dark eyes twinkled as he looked at the students; some he had never seen before, and he realised that word had spread about the shocking nature of this lecture. He pressed a button on the remote control. A picture of a dead baby boy appeared. The baby had a cut on the side of his face, a mark inflicted by a native doctor after his death. The picture was thirty years old but still had the power to shock people. The students in the lecture theatre gasped.
“As I’ve said in the past, there are many cultures in the world where superstitious beliefs rule peoples’ minds and actions. This picture was taken in South America. The family of this child believed that the child was a reincarnated child, a child who had been born many times and died many times. A child sent by evil spirits to bring misfortune to the family because of a family curse or something that someone in the child’s family had done wrong.”
“Is that similar to what people in Nigeria call Abiku?” Jumoke Daniels asked.
“What do you know about Abikus, Jumoke?” Dr Lewis asked her.
“My mother is Nigerian and she used to say that they were children who died early, I think she said before they were teenagers and that their mother would get pregnant again and give birth to them again and the cycle would repeat itself. It was sort of a bad omen if this happened in a family as people associated it with witchy-witchy, a curse or plain evilness.”
Dr Lewis smiled, “Witchy-witchy, I haven’t heard that phrase in a long time. Your mother was right Jumoke, Abiku is a Yoruba word. For those of you who don’t know, the Yoruba people are located mainly in the south western region of Nigeria, a country located in West Africa. Abiku literally means one predestined to death, it is actually derived from two words, abi – something that possesses and iku – death. Some say that Abiku refers to the spirits of children who die before they reach puberty. In Igbo language these children are referred to as Ogbanje – children who come and go. They are in and out of peoples’ lives causing pain and misfortune, they deliberately die and then come back only to die again. Some people believed that the family was plagued by evil spirits or Iyi-uwa. These evil spirits were strategically placed and served as a portal, which allowed these children to come and go.”
“How often did these children come and go?” A male student asked, his pen poised, ready to write the answer down.
“As often as they were allowed to,” Dr Lewis answered.
“Who allowed them to come and go?” The male student promptly asked.
“It wasn’t so much as who allowed them to come and go as how people stopped them from coming and going. As you can see in this picture, the child has a mark on his face. It was believed that when the child died, if a visible mark was made on the child, the child would not be able to leave the world of the dead and return to the world of the living. Some parents were so stigmatised and traumatised by events that they went as far as mutilating their dead child to stop them coming back again.” He pressed the button on the remote several times and each time allowed a few moments of digestion for each of the pictures on the screen to tell their own story. Silence and gasps were the only sounds heard. After the tenth picture he looked at the students and waited for their questions.
“I don’t understand. Why would marking or mutilating the child stop the child from coming back?” Jordan, a third year Sociology student asked.
“It was believed that only unmarked children, children with no markings on their skin, could be reborn. I don’t have all the answers but I have read that in several cultures it is said that children can only be born if they are unmarked.”
“Are these markings the same as birthmarks?” Ken, a medical student asked, his stethoscope hanging proudly.
“No, birthmarks are skin discolorations, which at times can be linked to melanin issues or other pigmentation issues. The markings I’m talking about are physical indents in the skin.”
“Are they linked to disabilities?” Jumoke asked.
“No,” Dr Lewis quickly answered. He had ventured on that road before and did not want to go along it now as it had taken nearly two hours of intense discussions to extrapolate himself from the questions and counter-questions that had arisen the last time. He had somewhere he needed to be in less than an hour. “Research has shown that birth-disabilities have nothing to do with these markings, a child born with Down’s syndrome or some other genetic disorder has nothing to do with Abikus.”
“So a marked child can never be reborn?” A female student asked.
“No, some children have been born with a mark on their skin which was identical to the mark given to the dead baby that preceded them.”
“What?” The female student whispered.
“Watch this,” he said in answer to her whispered question and the questions he saw on faces looking at him. He pressed the button on the remote and a short film played on the screen. It showed several children of various heritages with their faces blacked out but all having various marks on a part of their bodies which their parents said that they were not only born with but which had been inflicted on an older dead sibling of the child. One mother, clutching a photo of her dead baby in her hand, said that her new baby smiles just like her dead baby used to smile. Another said that her toddler always sits in a corner of the kitchen and plays with invisible friends – talking to them and sharing his food with them – just like his brother, now dead, did before him.
Dr Lewis waited for the final clip then nodded for his assistant to turn the lights back on. “The reason I find this topic interesting is because my father was said to be an Abiku and, as the child of an Abiku, superstition, which I don’t believe, says that I have access to the world of the dead, a world that not everyone has access to.”
“What?” Jordan said.
Dr Lewis removed the cufflink from his left shirt sleeve, rolled it up and revealed a mark on his forearm. “My mother said I was born with this mark on my arm. My father has a similar mark. One of his names is Durojaiye, which literally means ‘stay to enjoy life’ in Yoruba and is also my middle name. My mother miscarried three pregnancies and had three stillbirths before I was born. She said because my father was an Abiku, the evil spirits didn’t want him to have a child because that child would know their secrets and reveal them to the world.”
“Dr Lewis, are you saying that you’re the child of an Abiku?”
“I’m saying that my middle name depicts certain things, this mark on my arm also suggests that what they depict might be true but I’m not a superstitious person.” He decided to end his lecture by playing with their minds. “My names were given to me; I didn’t choose them. Am I the child of an Abiku also known as an Ogbanje? I don’t know. I want you to do some research and tell me what you think. Let me know your findings based on what I’ve told you. For those of you who are actually taking my course I want a two-page report by Friday the thirteenth, ladies and gentlemen. And on that note, I need to get to a bookshop in Oxford Street so I don’t end up with some spousal-inflicted-marks, before our next class,” he joked.
Some of the students laughed others stared at him, unsure if he really was what he had just implied he might be.
Ebook copies of GLL Publishing books available from Amazon, Smashwords etc or via – www.gllpublishing.com
Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1
Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 2
Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets
Blood Borne Connections
U Murder U (Suicide)
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