Jolena was winnowing sorghum on the free area behind her house when her son came looking for her. A woman had just arrived carrying a basket of unknown items.
She stopped winnowing and went straight to the house to meet her visitor who, she was slightly amused to find, was a withered grown woman with a clubby nose and an almost bending back. The lady introduced herself as Yuanita and said she had trevelled several miles to arrive at that home.
As usual, after greetings, Jolena retreated to her kitchen to bring some sweet potatoes and porridge.
“Oh thank you so much, but I won’t be eating anything,” objected Yuanita when Jolena returned with the food. She was visibly high with emotions. “I am in great pain and need your husband’s help.”
“Pain? What sort of pain?” asked Jolena, placing the items on the table.
“I have a bleeding womb that has lasted more than five years, and I’ve been directed to your husband by someone he treated many years ago. Look, I carried along some money to pay, um… fifty thousand shillings, if you two won’t mind.”
Jolena did not know how to best respond to the situation. Her husband had died almost seven years ago, and now here was a woman who needed his help. She hesitated a moment, sighed deeply and then replied, “I’m sorry… my husband… my husband is dead… it’s been nearly seven years now.” Yuanita sank back into the sofa in great despair. It was as if all her faith of living had rested upon the shoulders of Jolena’s deceased husband. “But don’t be worried,” continued Jolena, “I will help you.”
Her face lit up with hope all of a sudden. “Will you?” she asked as a confirmation.
“Yes, I will,” reaffirmed Jolena. “I’ll be right back.” She then made as if to leave, but the woman stopped her. “Wait, take this,” she said and handed her the basket. “It is a chicken I carried a long. I guessed it might be important for the occasion.”
“Which occasion? Um… No, Yuanita; I don’t operate like my late husband. Keep it,” Jelena objected. But the woman insisted that she take it, and so she had no choice but to take the chicken to her chicken coop.
If she were a witch like her late husband, she would need the bird in performing her crafts. But she had never practised witchcraft nor herbalism before. Neither did he teach her his work gimmicks. And though she did not know whether her surmises would work, she really needed the woman’s free money for her son’s schooling.
She went straight to her vegetable garden. There was one green she felt tempted to try. Locals had often used the leaves of the black-eyed pea to treat a similar condition in goats. So she plucked a few leaves and pounded with a stone, then mixed the paste with ashes and tied the product in a small polythene bag. Customs demanded that for a medicine to be effective, the patient should not know its content.
She took the mixture to Yuanita. “This should indicate some changes in you within a month,” she explained confidently, handing it to her. “Dry it in the sun and stir a teaspoon of it in a glass of warm water every day to take after your meals.” Yuanita nodded, then paid her dues with a lot of gratitude and left.
A year later, Jolena was weeding her small vegetable garden beside the house when her son beckoned her to the house. She went in and, to her consternation, found Yuanita, looking stronger, healthier and younger than she had appeared last, and carrying a baby in her arms. She smiled at Jolena benevolently and handed her a basket of gifts she had carried along to show her appreciation. She also offered to give her Sh500,000 if she would reveal the ingredients of her medicine.
(C) 2022 Lamittan Minsah, All rights reserved.
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