THE ELEPHANT WOMAN
I couldn’t believe my ears. I hoped very strongly that I didn’t hear my uncle correctly. But I did. He was very explicit. I hoped and prayed that she hadn’t seen her skin. That would mean very big trouble for me. She would lose her trust in me and might tend to hate me now for disrupting the normal occurrence of her life and leaving her with no option than to marry me. She had always seen me as her hero. However, all that would change immediately she discovered that our whole life had been a trick. I was very miserable. My uncle was puzzled by my reaction but attributed it to my sufferings in jail. He said goodbye to me and left.
Back in my cell, I could think of nothing else but Iris. I would die quite literally if she were to leave me. There was no way I could leave without her. We already had children and that complicated the whole thing. I thought of sending for her and confessing the whole thing and make her understand. But she was not an ordinary human. Her understanding might be different. I cursed aloud.
The next day, I was taken to court in a huge Black Maria. My case was the first to be called. I pleaded guilty in order not to waste everyone’s time and also to have a lighter sentence. I was sentenced to five years imprisonment. I cupped my face in my hands and sobbed quietly. However, I was grateful to God that it was just five years. It could have been worse. While I was being escorted out of the courtroom, I saw a beautiful lady outside the court, smiling. I couldn’t believe it. It was Iris. She had come to see me. I pleaded with the two prison guards to let me talk to her. They were so dumbfounded by her beauty that they didn’t refuse. I took her behind the car and gave her a very long and tight hug.
“I missed you, darling. So, very much. How have you been?” She asked.
“God has been with me. It’s hard, very hard but what can I do?”
“I heard the judge gave you five years.” She said in tears.
“Yes, dear wife. But do not worry. Before you know it, it will be over.” I assured her.
“We miss you. Since you left, things have not been the same. I have been working hard to cater for our kids. Why didn’t you tell me you had money at the bush hut?” She asked.
“I am sorry, that money was saved for rainy days. I would have definitely told you, but you know how abruptly I was torn apart from your arms.” I explained.
“It’s alright, dear husband.” She said. “Be strong for both of us and for your kids. I will be going back to the village today. Be a good boy and may blessings follow you.”
“Thank you. Be a good girl, too. Any man who worries you, just remind them who your husband is.” I said, smiling.
“Don’t worry yourself. No one can dare. Who doesn’t know you?”
The guards had started to be impatient, so I had to say a hurried good bye. We hugged again and I was taken back to the dreadful prison van.
I was back in prison now to officially begin my day one as a prisoner. I was no longer awaiting trial. I was now officially a prisoner; a convict. That night, after lights out, I slept and saw Iris in my dream. In the dream, she was standing in front of the kitchen, her skin in her hands and she was shouting and accusing me. She was threatening to leave me. I went on my knees and begged like a child. I told her to forgive me and not to leave me but she refused to listen. Suddenly, she put on the skin and became an elephant. I screamed and woke up. I was so thankful it was a dream and hoped it was not a sign of things to come.
The next night, I dreamed again. It was such a scary dream. I was in the elephant kingdom and I was in their court. I was being tried for stealing Iris’ skin. They said she was their king’s favourite wife and I was going to pay a dear price for marrying her. I was sentenced to death. I begged Iris to come and save me but she turned her back on me. As I was being taken away to be killed, I woke up. I was very scared and prayed to God to take care of my family. I was worried and wished I could have a way to visit my home and make sure everything was ok.
My father had once told me of men who could visit their homes while they were away on a journey. They could transform themselves into a bat or a butterfly and fly to their homes to see whether their wives were cheating on them. I wish I could have that kind of witchcraft. I could have flown back to the village to have a glimpse of my family. It would be an unspeakable joy for me if I could see my family again.
I had also read a book about a three-headed demon who was being imprisoned in an underground cell. He had no way of escaping because he had been bound by a dark and powerful magic. However, he could divide himself into three and one part of him, through the help of some dark incantations and utterings would leave the dark and miserable cell and visit the outside world. In that way, he was able to make his enemies pay for their crimes while he was still in prison. At that moment, I wished I was that demon. However, I was not. I was just a normal human being with some limited spiritual powers. Even my disappearing magic had stopped working for reasons I could not tell.
It had been four months now and I had not had a single visit from Iris. I had also not had any from my uncle. I was all alone and there was no way I could find out what was happening. My greatest fear was that she had found her skin and ran away. I quickly pushed that thought from my mind. I could not afford to be miserable. I needed a clear and lucid mind so that I could seek a solution. I sought the help of my friend in prison. He told me I should look for a means to write a letter to the village. There was no telephone network in the village.
Haven decided to write a letter, I felt a bit of peace with myself and went to sleep. In the morning, I was told I had a visitor. I went out immediately to see who it was. I badly wanted it to be Iris. I was however, disappointed when I found out it was just my uncle. He wanted to see me urgently.
“I came to see you because something strange has happened.”
“What is it, uncle?” I asked, impatiently. “Hope my family is ok?”
“Your children, yes. But your wife, no.”
“What is wrong with her? Please tell me.”
“Your wife was seen cleaning and oiling a very strange object. When she finished cleaning and oiling it. She started doing a strange and crazy dance. She was laughing hysterically and refuse to talk or attend to anyone not even her children. All day, she was by the side of the object, guarding it jealously and would not eat or sleep. We are all very worried.” My uncle explained.
I immediately felt a sick feeling in my stomach. I felt my world crumbling before my eyes. My head was spinning and my eyes became blurred. I felt energy and life force draining away from me. I summoned my last energy and asked my uncle.
“This strange object she was cleaning, how did it look like.” I asked, dreading the response.
“An elephant skin.” He said.
TO BE CONTINUED…