Chukwu mo! Your air is the whitest version of white. Your voice is the softest version of soft. Your face no mortal or immortal has seen. Chukwu, I speak in my name and those of these two other Chi. We are back from our earthly sojourn with the souls you placed in our care. There they are, as they should be, standing like leafless, branchless trees, their palms opened and facing up to you, o Chukwu. I escorted this coconut-head with big-for-nothing eyes. Afọnụ, with beards like dreadlocks, was escorted by Agụ. Afọ ukwu, his stomach as big as the very globe and legs as thin as a cockroach, was escorted by Odum. They have come for judgment, and we have come for reassignment.
“Was it not a few seconds ago that these people left here?” Chukwu asked.
That’s correct, nnem. The oldest amongst them was earthly aged twenty-five, and the youngest, nineteen.
“And how did they detach from their earthly clothes?”
Laziness nibbled their hearts away. Their pulmonary veins and arteries hung on strands of pink tissue, the remnants of their hearts. See how red these children’s hands are. Look at their feet, Chukwu. The blood on their hands leaks down, pools at their feet, drowns their feet, their knees, and still climbs.
Chukwu mo! These ones gathered in the bush, on Eke day, smoking their destinies away. At noon, their keke-rider informant called; a grey Highlander just drove past him, heading to Nanka junction. The driver of the highlander was in an orange T-shirt, and the grey-haired man in the backseat wore a deep blue suit and a patterned shirt. These ones flung their cigarettes. We said don’t go. But it’s easier, to sell sunlight and air to sunlight and air than to get these ones to align. Odum even knocked down Cockroach-legs’ gun three times. And three times, Cockroach-legs picked his gun up. In fact, the third time, Coconut-head almost slapped him for being so clumsy. Agụ pushed Dreads-beards. He fell. He stood and dusted his legs. He asked what was going on. Cockroach-legs said it was the ganja. Coconut-head said if their questions earned them a dog’s head, what would they do with its jaw? Cockroach-legs said they’ll add the jaw to Dreads-beards face. They laughed. They laughed, Chukwu! Who laughs inside fire except for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
These ones entered their stolen blue Highlander and drove to Nanka junction, lying in wait to steal a grey Highlander. Chukwu, is there any sense in that? No. For if they had any sense, they would not be here now.
When the grey Highlander approached Nanka junction, we saw its occupant. In fact, we saw his ndi nche. His car was a breath above the ground. Spirits carried his car! The grey-haired man in the back seat was, even in human’s fleeting sight, not a full human being. He’s half-spirit half-human, literally speaking. We screamed more than we have ever screamed at these ones to leave this man be. But when the dog hears the whistle of death, it goes deaf to everything else.
Chukwu, at this point, I shut my eyes. But how will I explain to you that I did not see what happened? So, I opened my eyes.
The grey Highlander slowed down on Nanka junction’s pothole, and next thing, the blue Highlander blocked them. These ones jumped down, except Cockroach-legs. They wanted the car; not minding if the occupants of the car perished, they opened fire. Chukwu, is there any sense in that? No. But if these ones had any sense, they would not be here now.
Spirits covered the car like a trampoline. The bullets only grazed the car and in the air it went. This is not a bulletproof car! Yet, these ones did not have the sense to stop shooting. The grey-haired man screamed at the driver to keep moving. The agile driver reversed the car. Cockroach-legs blocked him from behind. The driver took the right turn. These ones aimed for the tires this time. Yet the driver sped. The passenger’s window and its side mirror crashed. The driver screamed, and next thing, his sleeve was red-orange. Yet the driver sped. Angry, Global-stomach-cockroach-legs shot his pump-action at the grey-haired man’s door. The steel flesh of the car peeled a chunk fat enough to accommodate a stress ball. The bullet burst the fuel tank. And even with leaking fuel and the possibility of explosion, did these ones stop shooting? No. What’s the sense of destroying a car you want to sell? Anyway, if these ones had any sense, they would not be here now.
Luckily for the victims, the turn they took was a breath away from the police station. Shooting stopped. Chasing stopped. Running stopped.
Chukwu a! This grey-haired man, no, no, let me address him properly, Dibia katara ahụ, was headed to his village to greet the spirits and deities and ancestors. But these ones terminated his journey. Therefore, he terminated their lives. Since they stopped him from going to offer goats and hens, he offered their heads instead: Ụmụazi pụtalụ n’ụzọ na-agba chi fa egbe. E jilụ go m isi fa chọrọ unu aja. Chụ fa! Onye ọ sọrọ, ya buru!
On Afọ day, in answer to the dibia’s supplication, the spirits and deities and ancestors carried their pails and came for heads and blood. One by one, these ones dropped like flies that inhaled insecticide.
Chukwu eeh! We are back from our earthly sojourn, and we have brought back the souls you placed in our care. There they are, as they should be, standing like leafless, branchless trees, their palms opened and facing up to your face, o Chukwu. They have come for judgment, and we have come for reassignment.
Kasimma is from Igboland (obodo ndị dike). She’s the author of All Shades of Iberibe. Her short stories, essays, poems, and scripts appear/are forthcoming in Guernica, Solarpunk, LitHub, New Orleans Review, Meet Cute, Mangoprism, The Saltbush Review, The Forge, Afreecan Read, Native Skin, Writers Digest, and other online journals and print anthologies. Kasimma is an alumnus of Chimamanda Adichie’s creative writing workshop, Wole Soyinka Foundation writers’ residency, and others across four continents. You can read more of her pieces at https://kasimma.com/read-online/