/a:-bi:-ku:/

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When I first ventured into this world, I was greeted with copious amounts of love. The vessel which brought me into this realm, my ‘mother,' cried tears of joy when I arrived, grateful to finally receive a gift from her fruitless womb. She cradled me, held me close to her bosom as she caressed my face lovingly.

"What a beautiful child," she said, looking down on me with tender, devoted eyes. The name first given to me, Kikelomo, meant ‘a child is to be pampered.' And truly, that is what they did. The first year of my first life, I was treated like royalty; it was obvious that the family I was born into was affluent. Despite being the first child, I was surrounded by love. Relatives came from all over to see me, the so-called ‘miracle child.' The mother and father had tried for a child for many, many years before I had arrived. I was fed, dressed in the best linens, and looked after with ample care. It did not stop me from dying not more than a year later. After all, it was fate; my sole duty to carry out in this world.

After my first death, my family mourned me deeply, from afar. There was a small ceremony held by my extended family. It was forbidden for the parents of a child to be present at the funeral; an abomination, if you will. It was a tragedy after all, for a child so young to suffer such a premature and unforeseen demise. The mother wept for weeks after; even the father could not console her. Eventually, the period of grieving passed, and they started to try again for another child, hoping this one would bring the joy that was so dearly needed to the family. Not long after they conceived me for the second time; however, this remained unknown to them.

Abiku, the ephemeral entity, the spirit which comes and goes like the moon wanes and waxes, aptly translates to ‘born to die.' That is my fate. Destined to depart this life only to return time and time again. After my earthly demise, I returned to the realm from which I came; ‘the region beyond,' I often call it. Upon returning home, I was greeted with praises from my spirit-comrades. I had brought back all the pain from my short-spent life on earth; the money my parents had spent on me, even the mother had shed for me. It was highly valued in this world, my true place of abode. I waited patiently until I was summoned to return to my family, ready to release another reign of terror on my unsuspecting family.

"Ah! Kikelomo!" the mother cried out after the midwife placed me in her arms for the second time. The father had told her she was still grieving, that she clung dearly to the death of her first child. Although, I could tell that she knew; it was evident in the way she looked into my eyes, as if searching for my soul in them. This time I was named Durojaiye, meaning ‘wait and enjoy life.' It was not much of a name, as it was a request; they silently begged me to stay in this realm, to not leave them bereaved once again. Of course, this was a futile request. I was ordained to return to my spirit realm. Although this time, I spent a considerable amount in this world.

When I had stayed about five years on this earth, I had died in my sleep. The mother came into my room that morning, as she usually did to tell me breakfast was ready. She walked over to wake me up, but when I gave no response, she started to shake me violently. She screamed my name over and over again, but all her actions were in vain. She started to cry and hunched over my lifeless body, before calling out for the father who joined her shortly after. Thus, the cycle began; I would be brought into this world only to leave in a matter of time.

I came back for the third time, now the mother cried bitter tears. Even the father gave a cry of pain when he saw me. They had started to realize that I was linked to a different power. No matter how hard they tried, my death was imminent. They tried naming me a miscellany of names in their attempt to keep me alive; Kokumo (It does/will not die again); Ajeigbe (no expense is wasted on you); Ajitoni (It wakes up today, therefore we wish it many happy returns). They all were futile attempts to alter the fate that was given to me, the one already written in the stars. I respawned frequently as time went on, dying a new death every single time. Over time, I started to stay in their world a little longer, but never growing older than about twelve years old.

My family started to grow weary each time I returned; they were much older now, streaks of grey hair growing from their hair and lines starting to appear on their faces. Once, when I chose to live to about eight years old, I was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs. They tried, in vain, to restore my health; paid for the most expensive treatments, pleaded with the best surgeons, but nothing could be done. It had dawned on them that this was a matter concerning a much more occult power, so they had decided to deal with it in that manner. They had taken me to a Babalawo; a witch doctor. He was a useless man; ignorant to believe that his little tricks could defy kismet. Yet, I chose to humor him. For a while, it seemed like I was making a miraculous recovery. My parents were ecstatic, thinking I would finally remain in this world with them. It was only right for me to die a sudden, painful death. This time, when I passed away, my parents directed their grievances toward the man who had promised them that I would stay.

"You stupid man! Where is my child?! Where is the child you were meant to save?!" the mother said as she stormed his shrine the day after, tears and anger clouding her eyes. He too, expressed his confusion; after all, he thought himself to be cunning, more powerful than the mystic force that bound us spirits to the region beyond.

After that, the parents seemed indifferent to whether I chose to live or die. The mother stopped crying when I died, knowing that I would still return to continue my torment on them. Eventually, that indifference turned into resentment; the names they gave me no longer pleaded with me to remain but let me know that I was no longer cared for in this world. Oku, meaning ‘the dead or deceased'; Aja (a common dog); Tepontan (no longer feared, respected, and cherished).

"Why do you continue to taunt us?" the father asked me one night as we sat together in the living room. He lit up his cigarette calmly before raising it to his lips. He did not even bother to look at me as he talked, but if he did, I am sure it would have been one of pure disgust and hatred. "You are an evil, relentless spirit". The following morning, I woke up to find scars on my face. My once flawless face was now marred.

When I returned to the region beyond, I was not greeted with the usual adulation I got from my peers. An abiku's power was in their beauty, now that I had lost that, I had lost the respect of my fellow spirits. I was shunned by them, cast away from this realm forever. I returned this time, knowing that I was no longer destined to return. The parents still resented me, but when they started to see that I was here to stay, they started to accept me. They even had another child after me, Abeke, ‘we begged for her to pamper her.' Today, I am twenty-five years old, still residing in this earthly realm. I am pregnant with a child of my own, though I am not sure what the child will be named. All I know is that they will be a testament to my extended life on earth; of how fate may not be written so indelibly in the stars.

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Abigail Haworth · ago
Wow! Awesome adaptation of mythology