Ikeme could utter not a word or say a thing. He couldn’t make a run for it either, knowing he was with a ghost; he could only watch. The man brought out a skull, making him shift back. He was terrified, seeing the mud-covered cavity—it was the first time seeing it so close. “Wh-what…?” Ikeme swallowed hard as his voice failed him.
“This is what is remaining of me,” Njete said.
Ikeme’s legs were trembling, making him unable to stand. His companion saw this, asking him to sit on the ground, as he refused, stating the truth was all he wanted to hear.
Ikeme nodded. “I need the truth, he went further to say—nothing but the truth!”
Njete agreed, taking his place on the ground. “I want to tell you a story,” the elderly man’s solemn voice made Ikeme sit. As eager as he was, he couldn’t wait to know why his son was dragged into this, and the mystery behind the man’s death. “How did you die? Did my grandfather kill you? Why has my son Amadi got to do with this? Is vengeance really what you seek?” Ikeme was questioning with no pause, angering the man a bit.
“Are you going to hear my story or not?”
Ikeme brought his legs up a bit, and cupped his knees. Njete went further to tell him that his grandfather, Emejona, was his best friend back in the days.
“Back in the days?” Ikeme found it hard believing.
“Your grandfather and me were best of friends…”
Many years ago—
“Emejona, I cannot give you what you ask for. This is the only thing left of my late father.”
“But I am not asking you to give me the land free of charge. I am going to buy it.”
“Still I cannot sell it to you.”
“But why? I thought you were my friend?” Emejona was heartbroken to see his friend was adamant about the land. The land his friend had inherited from his father was one of the biggest in Ukabi. He wanted it for his business. He was to add it to the many farms he had possession of, and employ more workers who’d work there. If only his best friend would understand how desperate he wanted the land. “Njete…”
“Emejona, my word is final. I cannot sell this land to you. Period!”
“Your grandfather insisted that my father’s land be sold to him. He couldn’t stop pestering me, even further threatening me to the extent of saying he was going to get ahold of the papers by any means. I didn’t know what had gotten over him, but I knew it wasn’t my best friend standing there.”
“Your grandfather’s obsession for my late father’s land drove him to committing a grave sin.”
Ikeme knew where this was headed. “Pa Jona killed you—”
A faint smile rested on his lips. “Yes.”
Ikeme’s heart was shattered. He had always thought his grandfather—Pa Jona, as he called him—died a good man. He remembered the many praises that were showered on the day he died; people calling him all manners of good names—names if they knew he didn’t deserve, wouldn’t be mentioned or even be given to him. Pa Jona was a murderer and he died one. Ikeme’s heart was throbbing with the pain he felt. He didn’t know if to be a man or to let out the tears that wanted to flow. “So Pa Jona did all that?”
Njete nodded. “I had confronted him that day when he had threatened my wife. I was angered by it, so I wanted to face him. But instead I found my death.”
Ikeme found all this strange. Pa Jona wouldn’t have done all that. He was too good that not anyone would believe he was capable of killing. Ikeme felt so sorry for the crime his grandfather had committed. He wished there was anything he could do… anything to turn back the hands of time.
“You’re pained,” Njete observed. “Don’t be.” he stood up.
Ikeme looked at him, smiled faintly, and asked, “But you said the soul of the one haunted before, meaning you were saying then that you were reincarnated and my son…”
“I only said that to induce fear.”
Ikeme went further to ask, “But why did my son have to be brought into this? He did nothing.”
Njete made him remember…
“Son, you are not to tell anyone about this. Grandpa and I will join you soon.”
Ikeme could remember now the bloodstained cloth. His father had convinced him that it was nothing. Although he was little, he could see clearly that a body was lowered into the ground.
“How did you know all this? How did you know I was there when my grandfather and father buried you?”
The man chuckled. “Though my body may be rendered useless, my spirit still lives.”
Ikeme wept. He remembered his grandfather holding him close. He had asked him to promise him that he would never say a word about what he had seen to anyone—and being grandpa’s beloved—he did.
“Now you see why your son suffers for the sin he knows not—” Njete disappeared with his final words.
Amadi was found dead two weeks later with his face disfigured. No one knew what killed him. All they knew was that he was gone and they’d finally be able to live at peace.
“Finally! Now we can rest—”
Ikeme was heartbroken to know the people’s reactions.
Left with no option, having lost his wife and kid, he decided to put an end to the pain—and join them—in the world beyond.