Saturday 17 September 2011

Childhood: Ghosts and ghouls of my past

Seed thoughts of evil

I had an impressionable young mind, ripe and fertile for imagination and the imagining of things that take fear to another level.

I alluded to this in Childhood: Shocked into adolescence the two paragraphs appear below and I’ll continue from there.

I had a very terrifying experience when I returned home after 4 months down South when my aunt and our houseboy were chatting about appearances of evil and to the mind of an impressionable 10-year old there was fertile land for imaginations that could produce untold realities.

That night as my parents entertained guests, our kitchen was detached from the main building and as I went to place the dishes out at the washing area, I saw what I believed to be the devil and my life changed completely from then on, I knew fear, I knew terror, I found out that having my parents present did not save me from what my imagination could conjure for my seeing.

Ghouls and ghosts

In my first term at secondary school as a boarder, I arrived late enough to take the top bed of a bunk bed, the chap below lived to regret it, that, I wrote about in Childhood: Atòólé.

However, there was a bigger problem, we slept in pitch-darkness and the experience I had at home after a while followed me to school, my sleep interrupted one night and as I opened my eyes, I thought I saw something white fall from the high ceiling to the floor and that set me off.

I recited Psalm 23 out loud incessantly until I fell asleep out of exhaustion; it was a nuisance to others because it meant no one else could have sound sleep.

There were times I woke up and I thought I could hear things being dragged across the floor, all sorts of remedies were tried to no avail though bunking with others did seem to help, the nocturnal enuresis was intolerable.

Dark jungles of the unspeakable

I ended up with all sorts of nicknames from holy ghost to pastor, it was the latter that stuck. When the term break came, I was sent home and my parents were told I could not return to the boarding house until they had sorted the problem out.

This time between my aunt and grand-parents every kind of animist remedy was tried, baths in the strangest places, potions of suspect concoctions, an amulet belt and chewing razor blades – a story for another blog.

It was a deep dark world of all sorts of trials by anyone and everyone not to talk of the different incisions with things rubbed in on the chest, on the scalp, on my cheeks – all because a seed thought was planted in the mind of a child with a very vivid imagination.

The power of the mind

Now, one can reflect and wonder if the best thing to do was to tell better stories of triumphalism to wipe out those thoughts rather than what we all went through – the problem was my mind, my imagination and the grip it had on my reality.

There is very little you can do externally to arrest that and for all they everyone tried, the answer could have been a lot easier if we had a religion that was not steeped in superstition and fear but one that espoused a bold all-conquering Jesus.

I returned to the boarding house for the second-half of the second term, not as fearful but the mattress needing sunrays every few days.

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