Someone splashes cold water on your face. You open your eyes again. You are still sitting in the dirt and tied to the small tree. Your father is kneeling on your right a few yards away. Once in a while, he cast a nervous glance your way. You know exactly what he thinks of you.
You don’t know exactly what to make of the man pacing back and forth in front of you. He is the one who poured water on you. He is huge, bald, and probably the darkest of men you have ever seen. For a second, just a second, you wonder how it would feel to bear him sons. You quickly push the thought away from your mind. It is not appropriate to have naughty thoughts for a man of God who is trying to save you.
The man of God walks slowly towards the tree, the one you are tied on with loose rope, and plucks a small twig. His huge and once white garment drag dirt in his wake. He is barefooted; you are on his holy shrine after all. You can smell his unwashed body from three feet away.
“I command you to tell me, who you are!” The holy man barks in your ear.
“It’s me Naledi,” you tell him for the third time.
The man shakes his head and walks towards your father. You can hear him whispering in your father’s ears. “The demon possessing your daughter is very powerful. I need permission to use my special technique to exorcise it.”
Your father consents. The dark man returns with fury in his eyes and the small twig in hand. The situation is getting ridiculous.
“Who are you?” He bellows again. Before you can answer he hit your face with the twig. A tingle of pain rips through your face and you can feel a couple of teardrops roll down your cheek. “Why have you taken possession of this young woman’s body?”
You don’t answer. Either way, you were going to get hit again in the face. You look at your father with a plea on your face. He looks more scared than you. The man in the huge garment is in control now.
“Tell me demon who are you?” He is louder now. “I know you are hiding in her. You are the one who is causing her to refuse to get married.”
You preferred to finish your diploma in education before you are married off to someone you don’t know. You know it’s not a demon but you. You know what he will say next; the demon is responsible for you quitting church. You know the demon was the church bishop who wanted you to be his third wife. Besides, you have always found comfort and peace in the way of your ancestors than the white dead man hung in the church.
Naledi has been telling people she is a lesbian. You are Naledi! You are Naledi, right? Or maybe you are the demon. Who are you? You don’t know. A slap on the cheek brings you back from your thoughts. You glance in your father’s direction to see his face beaming with expectation. He will probably give the man of God a hen for his service in getting rid of you or the demon in you, you can’t tell the difference yet.
“I think it’s working!” Your father said from the other side of the shrine.
“Yes, it is, but we have to know who it is before we send it to the gates of hell where the other dead souls are!” the holy man says, “I will ask you again, who are you?”
Matthew K Chikono is a short story writer and editor from Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe. He has published a short story collection entitled Dreams of Paradise. He has also compiled and edited a collection of short stories by Zimbabwean writers titled The Rules of the City. Currently, he is co-editing Prima Anthology; Prose and Poetry from Africa.