Ordinarily, I wouldn’t consult on a day like this, a special day that took me months to prepare for. The preparations didn’t just take time but money too.
Sacrifices were made, rituals and propitiations also not left out. The yearly meeting of all chief priests if the earth, and this year, I, IfaLabos, the Chief priest of this land, am the host.
I had just given the last orders to the women pounding yam when IfaTayo, my most devoted acolyte ran to me to give me the news, I had a very important guest. He had to be important for IfaTayo to even suggest I consult… I wasted no time, I summoned my guest, the priests would be arriving in an hour.
My guest was indeed an important man. Very much so…but he looked up to me with pleading eyes and I knew I couldn’t refuse him.
“What brings you to eleri ipin?” I asked him as I gathered the supplication cowries and handed them to him. He was lost…so I told him.
“Take some money, wrap with that and tell IFA what brings you here…”
He did as I said, he wrapped some money and whispered earnestly, he was fast.
“Here priest” he said as he dropped the cowries and his money into my divination tray. Dollars! Notes of hundred dollar bills! I couldn’t say how much, but I knew it wasn’t a bill.
“Ah ah, IFA must help this one”
“Ifa jingini jingini, IFA mogboro man…”
My voice rose and rose as I sang my favorite song… I gathered the cowries and got to business.
“Ifa o gbo…eleri ipin, ma fi ni pere, ma fire pebi, ma fololo fohun, no ba seri gan ni o la han wa!” I threw the cowries and waited humming my favorite song under my breadth and thinking of the dollar bills…what if there were five of them?
My brows creased as I read the cowries…again, I repeated the action. I looked at my guest, for who and what he was, I saw that he was too calm, too calm.
“Haba! Kilode?” I couldn’t help myself. My guest was momentarily startled, he didn’t expect my outburst. I narrowed my eyes at him. He was no longer at ease!
“IfaLabos, you can help me.” He pleaded earnestly, looking at me with eyes that belied his status.
“But I can’t” I shot at him and he blanched noticeably. “You brought this upon yourself…” I told him, already saying goodbye to the bills…
I couldn’t possibly take them now, IFA wouldn’t let me. For the man seated before me was one of the reasons I bought ‘iru oka' for eight thousand Naira! An outrageous sum. They told me dollar was high. I bought ‘ifun opolo' for N2500! Dollar was high!
“You caused it” I shouted at him, transferring the aggression meant for iya ‘leku leja' to him.
“Please help me” he pleaded and I almost did not hear.
“Olori oko, do what must be done, save your people and save your self” I looked away and bent to retrieve the dollar bills…curiosity got me and I counted the bills, his head was in his hands…5 bills! My mind raced… I could buy Five Alive for the priests o. I dropped the money and turned to him.
“Go” I said
“Ifa said you have neglected leprosy to combat ringworm” I told him, he looked bewildered.
“O fi ete sile, oun pa lapalapa”
“Do what you have to do, IFA is by your side” my voice was calm
He sighed audibly and rose…looked at me, nodded and left. His robe embracing his slim frame. I gathered my dollar bills and summoned IFAtayo…my guests were arriving.