Baba Esan has a knack for storytelling. His folklores are always filled with prehistoric African inventions; the Africans war with some Hades zombies, rather than how the tortoise got a broken shell. He once told me how an Orisha possessed jinn to perform a Caesarean section on itself during a war. However, his story on Orisha Igun did not only give me goosebumps but kept me wondering on this mystical recounter who has heard the unheard and seen the unseen.

I met Baba Tunde Esan in my third year during a university fieldwork through an uncle who worked as a lab technician at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital. Bro Ilesanmi had told me that he, Baba Esan, was an elderly man who would not mind any youngster’s company, so I began to frequent his house right beside a rock that looked like it would soon crush the square bungalow surrounded with thickets. I had offered to clear the thickets, and he had jocularly refused me, opining that young men these days would not do things for free. And when I persisted, he dissuaded me saying I would not know how to use his cutlass since he had no mower. And he was right.

He hardly leaves this house too for he is either reading a book or two in his cluttered library filled with several antiquities ranging from books, sculpture works, and a stuffed cat, or taking a walk in his backyard where he reared some poultry. On his rocky cane chair, he would sit, sometimes reading, and some other times, fast asleep.
“Baba, your library, one day, would soon be robbed,” I would say to wake him.
“No sane person would rob an old man like me with dusty old books. Besides, I was thinking and not sleeping,” he always said in defense, even when I knew he had been sleeping from his ruddy eyes.

Some days, I would see the forty-something man making him meals and sometimes doing his pedicures. The two would giggle, and say a lot of inaudible things, unperturbed with my presence. “Meet Oye. Oye meet Femi.” That was the briefest introduction he gave the first time I saw him. Oye was massaging Baba’s back, and the pudgy man only said hello and he continued tending to the soft-wrinkled skin of Baba. The only time I had the longest conversation with Oye was in the kitchen, close to the sink side while he was washing the colanders and some ajase pots he had used to prepare Amala and Gbegiri. Oye was a fair man with broad shoulders and had a rotund cheek that contorted on his face when he smiled. He was a reticent man too, but this day, he talked.
“You are really fond of Tunde’s stories,” he said in a monotone, rinsing off his soapy hands.
“Oh yes. His stories help a lot in my narrative essays, and saved my ass in history once.”
“Oh, what school?” he asked, pausing and putting his left hand on his waist, with a face that looked eager for a reply.
“Olabisi Onabanjo, I’m studying English and Literary studies, I am in my third year,” stressing the word “third” with the eye that meant penultimate, and already frustrated with school works.
“That’s good,” he replied.
“I met baba through an uncle, when I told him of a borrowed course, History, that I found difficult,” I added, even without being asked.
“Then he must have told you the Orisha Igun story,” he said chuckling. “Ask him to tell you, if he hasn’t. It’s one of his best stories.”

In my 2-years of knowing Baba, he had never for once mentioned Orisha Igun. Perhaps I had always brought him assignments that needed regimented answers, and never for once asked him anything besides academics, even when I knew he was always willing to talk on any subject. I returned to the rectangular bungalow two months after, which was the longest I had stayed away from his house.
“Ogbeni, I thought old men had begun to stink you,” he said bursting into some hysterical laughter when he saw me open the door to his study.
“This is just a jealousy of my youth, Baba,” I said, and we both laughed till our bellies ached.
“Well, jealous? Ha! I’m enjoying the same things as you, except swift movement. Orisha oke gives me strength,” he said motioning that I bring him a plastic yellow cup on the mahogany wooden table covered with a silk cloth. “So, what brings you to me now? I don’t have any money. And tell your lecturers that it is an old man’s brain you always pick.”
“Tell me about Orisha Igun. I have come to hear a story or anything you may have on it,” I retorted.

The truth was, I had been away for three weeks at Olumo rock for a departmental excursion, another school project from the Department of Theatre Arts, coupled with other school projects. There, we went around the hills, with some top formation rock, like the shape of a sleeping woman. At the back of the rock, inhabits the Igun women. We had met an old priestess there. Then, I remembered the reticent Uncle Oye’s suggestion. Baba paused, almost choking from the content in the yellow cup. He surveyed the room, perhaps wondering at the audacity.


There is no time too late to start one’s life, as all it takes is grit, the resolution to break one’s dogma, and most importantly the blessings of the Divine, then the courage to rewrite one’s fate. These were the thoughts of Akinola, an opsimath who defiantly found love in his sixties. He was a medical doctor and a Christian, who once believed stories like Hezekiah’s wall prayer on his death bed added some years to his life. While he knew stories like that were surreal, it was an inerrant tenet of his faith, even when Akinola found the reality of it impracticable when it came to his health, and at the face of love.

He had lived through two loveless marriages. The first wife had described him as a cold-man-at-heart who only responded to her financial needs and was absent-minded with the emotional ones. She was a good woman, who was ready to fight for him, protect him until death took her in a ghastly motor accident on Niger Bridge. Their 18-seater bus had rammed underneath one of those long-chain cement vehicles, and nobody survived. The other, Ewa, an Ijebu woman, who was married to him by her mother to keep him company after the demise of his first wife, found the solace of love in the hands of his driver, who satisfied her both sexually and emotionally. They soon eloped to an unknown location. Ewa unashamedly sent her sister to Akinola to apologise and also to help retrieve her jewelry box.

All he ever longed for was to one day close his eyes in death, after being diagnosed with heart disease. But when he found love again, at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, in the male ward, on one of his health attacks, all he ever wanted was to live again; live long, and enjoy it with the man brought to him by providence. This new love pursuit spurred Akinola to drop his black leather bible and run to the priestess of Igun, the goddess of longevity to grant him more years, just like Hezekiah did on his deathbed, to enjoy the definition and the expression of love he had always denied since science has no remedy for regeneration.

The rock of Olumo was warm aside from the deafening thunderbolts the day he came. He had been marshalled inside a cave, led by a bald ingénue who was in a skin-tight Ankara jumpsuit, with embroidery made of cowries at the neckline. And around her smooth neck was a shining pendant having the shape of an eye. After a while of sitting on a chair hued from rock, a sibyl accompanied by two tall bald ladies, in a procession-like manner, entered into the cave accompanied with some smoke that made his vision blurry to see the entirety of these figures. Her movement was accompanied by the smokes, and with a clearer look, Akinola saw that her feet were some inch elevated from the ground as she was suspended on air, but moved at will, using the staff on her left hand as her gear to control the wheels of the smoke. These terrified Akinola, even her voice that quaked like the clapping from a Middle East thunderstorm, and the two accompanying ladies whose only job was to give some enchanting stares. “The gods have seen your plight and have heard your silent cry of longevity and love. But your destiny needs a 7-day rewrite, and only you can sojourn to the land of “redirection” where Eleri-Ipin sits and molds heads, handpicks destiny, and Orisha Igun adds to years,” she echoed.

Without asking if Akinola was ready for the journey to the lands of the moon and stars where Eleri-Ipin was, she hit the staff on a rock right beside Akinola, and a humid wind came right underneath his feet, and swept him up high into a bottomless hole encircled with glistening stones and mythical drums, and ushered him into some land of Bleating Rams, a suspended land underneath the abode of all the orishas, where humans pick their character before being thrown into their awaiting mothers’ wombs. The usual activities in this strange place have an earthly similitude, except for the otherworldly that rode on Rams that bleats like car engines and stopped once their rider alighted. So, like a busy Lagos Street, it was normal to see a swam of rams cluttered in traffic as they had no wings, except for the ram of Eleri-Ipin, whose vehicular creature both had giant wings and shining metallic wheels instead of hoofs like the rest. Akinola was told by a creature, who had a small rectangular head with a trimly cut whitish Mohawk in a brass suit, that this Special Ram was a gift from Orisha Igun, who saw Eleri-Ipin’s impartial rulership in the suspended world.

On the third day, he got to the bank of a glassy sea and needed a carrier to the other side. While waiting on the bank, he saw some people, majority of which looked like humans, jumped into the transparent sea, only to see them again on the backs of mermaids. Everyone that jumped came back floating with colourful mermaids. He thought, back at home, these were scary creatures. But one thing he noticed was that he had no fear to do certain things as he normally would. So, he jumped and landed on the soft tail of a mermaid who sang and told him beautiful things about the world he was in. The journey to Orisha Igun’s abode was turbulent. Men of Hades had risen, with sicknesses and deaths to deter seekers. While the supposedly powerful mermaid wiggled its fish tails for safety, it begged Akinola to scoop the glassy waters to quench Hades fiery darts. The tussle lasted till the fifth day before they came to safety.

“Everything you see and experience here is to test your resiliency, and build you up for the new life you would receive as a seeker,” the mermaid told him before it went its way, and its song could be heard afar till it faded in his ears but not his heart.
Although he had begun to grow weary, he was only re-energized when he caught sight of a pinnacle and several pointers with seeker’s instructions who had come to the abode of Orisha Igun. The goddess of longevity rococo abode can only be reached through a thousand steps, which was the only route for the mortals, while the immortals route had no step. A thousand steps were a way to test the resilience of the longevity seekers. While the steps were not only tiring to climb, they were so greasy, which he later learnt were the quilts of the world, and the more people became callous and inhumane, the messier and difficult the thousand steps might become for seekers.

He arrived on the fifth day, and it was a meeting day with Olodumare and all the gods and heavenly creatures who had flown in on their white horses to the realm of bright stars where Orisha Oke sat. Although there was no demarcation of night nor day, he had known the date and time from the mobile that show no signal, he had brought along that constantly made screeching sounds whenever he was around the other worlds. When Orisha Igun finally arrived, two of his towering 8-foot humanoids took him on both hands and presented him to the goddess whose presence smelt citrus. It didn’t speak a word to the mundane but a rusty voice from a fat-bellied being behind her commanded him to kneel and ask his request with a not-given password. His mind flashed back to some movies he had seen about the terrible wrath given to people who had failed a similar quest, and for the very first time since he found love, he again feared for the life he came to save.

Then, he remembered the words of the singing mermaid. He looked up and saw the goddess smile, and right above the rocky throne, he saw some large prints of

Orisha Igun nje gbo, nje to. Orisha Igun nje gbo,nje ye.
The goddess of longevity, let me grow old. The goddess of longevity, let me survive.

And when the rusty voice came again, he said those words even as they were inaudibly and clunky in his mouth. Within a flash, the humid wind blew him again to the route he came from and he landed on a makeshift bed in the cave. Everything felt blank like someone in a surgery room, and all they could hear were the faint incessant beeps from the engine tracking their breath. He only regained his consciousness with a touch from Sehinde, his heartthrob who had accompanied him to seek the goddess of longevity. The two smiled, as Akinola squeezed Sehinde’s fist, raised it under the breath of his nostrils, and sniffed it. “Orisha Igun nje Gbo, nje to, Orisha nje gbo, nje ye,” he said and giggled feeling anew.


I sighed deeply after Orisha Igun’s story. I looked at Oye, who had quietly walked in while Baba Esan was narrating the tale without a pause except for his frequent cough of thick phlegm. I perceived this was not just one of Baba’s prehistoric stories or a conjecture, but one he had experienced. I did not need to bother him. I just stared knowing that he was the seeker who found a late soul mate.