The Sour End Of The Mermaid's Blessing
From rags to riches and from riches to rags
In the African village of Abate, there lived a man called Ega. He was tall, dark in complexion, brave and the most handsome man in the village. Despite his natural endowment, he was a very lazy man.
He was not married because no woman would want a lazy fool for a husband. For this cause, he was despised by all and sundry.
On a cool evening at sunset, he decided to go down to the village stream to have his bath. The people of Abate were forbidden to go to the stream at sunset because evil spirits assembled there at that hour and unleashed terror on anyone around.
But in this case, the stream was calm. Ega wearily dipped himself in the cool refreshing water and started bathing.
When he was done and was about pulling himself out of the water to get his clothes at the stream bank, suddenly, a lady emerged from the water.
He was startled but was brave enough to hold himself and have a curious look. She was naked waist-up with long curly hair and a beautiful face. As Ega starred in wonder, she wadded towards him and spoke in a sweet musical voice.
“What are you doing in my stream at this hour young man?” she said. “Are you not aware that this stream is a danger zone at this time?” she stressed.
“I-I-I-Just ca-came to ha-have my bath,” Ega stammered out. “If you want to kill me, you can because I’m useless to myself, a poor man, and a nobody in my village,” he said boldly.
“Oh! You’re such a handsome and brave man to deserve such an end” she melodiously replied.
“Thanks for your compliment lady of the stream. For you’ve decided to show mercy to a wretched man like me” said Ega with a sigh of relief.
“You can call me Princess Prita the mermaid,” she said in an attempt to introduce herself.
“I’ve heard of your miseries though, you’re the architect of your misfortune. But due to our contact, I’ll bestow on you riches that know no bounds” she promised.
Ega was happy and thanked the mermaid immensely.
“But if these riches must be sustained, you must never tell anyone the source of your wealth” she warned.
“Ah! That one is no problem at all, I’m a keeper of secrets” Ega boasted.
“Take this” the mermaid handed him a silver coin. “When you get home, put it in a box and see what happens at sunrise,” she said.
Ega held the coin in his palm like a precious jewel when suddenly, the face of the mermaid changed and became dreadful.
“NOW GO!” she thundered, “OR YOU’LL REGRET THE DAY YOU WERE BORN!” as she spoke thus, she transformed to a great serpent ready to make a nice meal out of him.
Ega took to his heels, leaving his clothes behind as he ran like a naked mad man for his life.
When he got home, he did as the mermaid instructed. The next morning, he made a dash to the box that he had locked the silver coin the previous night and threw it open.
What he saw was better imagined than described. The box was filled with the money of different denominations both locally and internationally. Ega couldn’t contain his joy as he was now a rich man after the miserable years of suffering.
He immediately set up a plan for the construction of a grand duplex for his residence. Everyone in the village was stunned with surprise. They all wondered where such a poor and lazy man could amass such wealth within a very short period of time.
When he was questioned, he would say that a friend handed over his business to him as a gift. Due to the fact that the villagers were illiterates, they never questioned him of the kind and nature of the business.
In a short period of time, the duplex was completed. So magnificent was it, with exotic furniture and fittings. His social class had risen beyond the expectation of his contemporaries.
He donated huge sums of money to the village council and those that mocked him in the past were to dumb or frightened at the very sight of him.
Ega decided that it was time to get married. He had a low perception of the girls in his village, so he went to a distant and more developed land in search of his bride.
After a long search, he found a pretty and well-educated lady called Samila from Machoshi town several miles away from Abate village. She was the daughter of a trader.
She was a spectacle in Abate village for she was very pretty. Her beauty made her contemporaries jealous, causing them to rumor that she was a witch.
Ega and Samila loved each other dearly. He made sure that she got all that she wanted. She wore the most expensive clothes, jewelry, and perfume. Samila was very happy to be the wife of a wealthy man though he was uneducated.
A year had scarcely passed when Samila developed a sudden curiosity to know how her husband acquired such vast estate. This curiosity was based on the fact that he never did any form of business or work but went out each day to just enjoy and merry.
On a particular evening when they both had their supper, she inquired lovingly “Honey, how did you get rich and what kind of business are you involved in?” Samila enquired. “Woman! What kind of question is that?” Ega angrily replied. “What does it matter to you as long as a provide all that your heart desires.”
“I know, but as your wife and as an educated person, I need to…” before Samila could finish, she was rudely interrupted by her husband. “What’s wrong with you! Errh! Listen woman you’re high! I mean you’re high on foolishness and as long as I’m concerned, I’ll not disclose the source of my wealth” Ega said with finality as he stood up and left the house.
When he was out, Samila decided to embark on a thorough search of the house to see if there was any skeleton in the cupboard. She searched and searched, just as she was about to give up, she noticed a hidden door at a very far corner.
She pondered as she tried the handle of the door. When she discovered that it was not locked, she threw the door open. It seemed that Ega had forgotten to lock the door.
Samila held her breath and stepped inside. Behold! An amazing discovery began to unfold before her. There was a big box pumping money of different denominations causing the room to overflowing.
Samila was too surprised to speak and to infirm to move. She closed the door as though nothing had happened and decided to wait for her husband’s return.
When Ega returned late that night, she was fast asleep; so he took off his clothes and joined her on the bed. At around 3.am, Samila woke up to find her husband sleeping next to her.
For a moment she starred at his snoring face as the mystery she had uncovered flowered in her mind. Samila shook Ega softly in an attempt to wake him. He turned and faced his sleepy eyes at her and drowsily asked her what the matter was.
She raised her voice and said to him “Please my husband, can you explain the mystery of the money-pumping-box in that secret room of yours?”
Immediately Ega heard “Money-pumping-box”, sleep varnished from his eyes and he quickly sprung out of the bed and cast a fiery suspecting eye on Samila. “Wait-wait, so-so-you-you know” stammered the exasperated Ega as he bit his fingernails hard. “There is nothing to hide now, so can you tell me who’s behind this magic money” Samila queried.
“Hmm! Well, I’ll tell you the truth to clear your doubts. It’s a mermaid’s blessing that I-I…” Before he could conclude Samila violently interrupted “I don’t care if it’s the devil's blessing but all I know is that, if the repercussion comes, NA YOU GO TAKE YOUR HEAD CARRY AM O!” she concluded in pidgin English. When she had spoken thus, she lay back on the bed spreading the bed cloth over herself and going back to sleep.
Ega sat back on the bed and thought of what to do. He feared that the exposure of his secret will cause the mermaid to magically revoke her wealth.
A thought to kill his wife came to his mind, but he brushed it aside because he loved her so much. He continued to worry and think until sleep came and put an end to all his thoughts.
When it was dawn, Ega woke up in regret to have ever told his wife the secret. So he strictly warned her not to tell any third party and she agreed and promised not to do so.
Life went on normally and within the next month, Samila was pregnant. The couple could not withhold their joy as they quickly began to buy baby things and made necessary preparation for fatherhood and motherhood.
Things seemed to fall in place but in the third month of Samila’s pregnancy, she had a strange dream. She saw a mermaid with a small dagger giving her a hot pursuit.
She ran until she stumbled and fell. The mermaid got to where she was in no time and plunged the knife into her stomach. Samila screamed in pain as she woke up to realize that she was bleeding - she just had a miscarriage.
Ega tried to console her for the loss, but she was inconsolable. She kept crying and repeating this phrase “The mermaid that blessed my husband, took my baby.”
Ega tried to stop her from speaking thus but to no avail. Soon enough, the cry attracted passersby as they came in to see what was wrong. When they heard what she said in between her sobs, they all shouted in horror-the secret was out.
Ega was enraged like a mad bull as he dashed into a room and came out with a double-barrel gun. The moment Samila and the onlookers saw this, they all took to their heels as he shot amiss.
In a fit of remorse and the fear of tragedy, Ega shot himself with the double-barrel gun. The gunshot was heard by the onlookers and Samila that were now outside. Before anyone could go in to see what happened, the magnificent mansion collapsed on the dead body of Ega, forming a permanent grave.
No one was allowed to exhume his body from the debris for it was a taboo for the people of Abate to touch the dead body of anyone who had committed suicide.
And so it was folks, Ega died a miserable death and was buried in a shameful way at the hand of the sore blessing of the mermaid.