It was said that Malisa’s grandmother, Irene, was a witch and that she dealt with majic that was treacherous and unnatural. Irene would gather in secret sessions with other men and women with similar dealings in her small hut, behind her home. It was rumored that she would summon bad luck and creatures to swallow souls of anyone she deemed a threat to her or her family. The majic of many was born in those secret sessions. Majic from all of Africa. Not that majic in Africa is dark or evil, no. Not all majic was bad, but Irene only wanted it as dark and as black as the space between stars. During these sessions, the majic they conjured would emit an odor of burnt wood, decay, putrefaction and they would say, “it rots in there…”
The remembrance long past, but it lasts and lasts.
The church itself was made of stone, that was laid, between them was cement. I recall the smell of Frankincense and Myrrh and Ms. Ana’s dewy floral perfume as she rocked in her seat before the service began. As a twelve-year-old, I felt helpless and uneasy being that this was my very first funeral. For comfort, I invited Malisa, my best friend, to lay her head on my shoulder. Ms. Ana, Malisa’s mother, slid her eyes close, humming the tune that the congregation sung at the time. “How great though art…” they sung, their voices rising and falling throughout the hymn. The funeral began without mourners want or permission. The catholic priest, Father Mitchell, came down the aisle first dressed in his robes. Malisa’s mother stood up, but her knees buckled, and her forehead beaded with sweat. Mr. Ben, Malisa’s father, along with his brothers emerged from the back of the church to accompany the dark blue coffin that entombed their beloved mother. All five men surrounded the casket, walking solemnly alongside it with their hands at their sides.
I was moved to emotion when I saw
how this event affected my best friend. Malisa was usually the brave one
between us, my protector at school when anyone would trouble me. She would
defend me better than I could myself. So, I vowed to be there for her and
attend the funeral to support her. She was my very best friend. I was brave for
her now. Unfortunately, she had not had a relationship with her grandmother.
It was said that Ms. Ana was not favored
by Irene. Malisa’s grandmother was very vocal about her distaste when Ms. Ana
and Mr. Ben first made known that they were in a relationship. She worked hard
to sway the union in other directions. When that did not work, she used
unconventional customs in order to divide the two lovers. When Malisa’s oldest
sibling, Castiano, was born he was tormented in his crib nightly, up until the
age of five. His parents took him to doctors to find out what was making him cry
with violent fits from the day he was born. Even the doctors did not know why.
They said he was having night terrors. Then her second to eldest sibling, Arthur
was born, but he was blind and deaf. The third child was born, Leslie who was a
bright and beautiful addition to the family. As she became older, they noticed
that her hair began to fall out on her head, brows and even eyelashes. Ms. Ana
was convinced that her children was all cursed by Irene. She was so convinced,
after she gave birth to Malisa, she had not shown Irene the child or allowed
anyone to touch or take photos of the child. This saved her though, because she
had no ailments or defects.
As the years passed, Mr. Ben was
still close to his mother and she was also able to manipulate his emotions and
actions. Ana and Ben’s relationship suffered from infidelities and abuse. Irene
would spin stories and give a driven purpose to Ben to put Ana in her place.
She even whispered lies into her sons ears and passed off deceptions to cause
conflict between the couple. The children also suffered from these quarrels and
Now, we are witness to Irene’s
funeral. There were many mourners, some bawling, distressed and saddened. Ms.
Ana eyes were wide and frantic as they opened the casket so that mourners can
view the deceased. Viewers lined up, perhaps to see if the death was credible
being that many believed her a mighty and powerful woman in her possession of
majic, black majic. Other family members and mourners crossed themselves as
they got in front of Irene and then quickly moved on, back to their seats while
whispering to other mourners. Finally, Ms. Ana looked at us beside her, held Malisa’s
face and kissed her forehead which was still wet from holy water. Then she
whispered to us, “we will go to view the body, it cannot hurt you now. Don’t be
afraid. She cannot hurt you now.” I was afraid…I have never met Irene before,
especially when she was alive.
On the way down the aisle, we
walked holding hands to comfort each other. Malisa was not crying but she was deeply
saddened. Ms. Ana was steady with her footsteps towards Ms. Irene’s casket,
where her body laid. She looked like she was sleeping, I thought. Her loosely curled
silver-gray hair was shiny and styled with ringlets around her caramel colored
face. To me, she seemed like she was alive, but just sleeping in her royal
purple dress with frills. Her hands were clasped in front of her, with her
fingers mingled together. Irene’s lips were the color of a blushing pink and
her eyelashes curled. We all sighed…not sure why, but Ana said, “I’m relieved.
Rest in peace.” Then she made the sign of the cross and she quickly left to go
back to our pew. Malisa and I running to catch up behind her. As soon as the
funeral was over, the burial site was ready and waiting to accept her. The
undertaker ensuring that the casket was lowered to its destination.
All family and friends followed to
the home of Ana and Ben to mourn the deceased. Her children thanked guests for
attending and bringing food and comfort. All the little children and teens our
age gathered and played scrabble and card games. Some of the teens Malisa knew
as her cousins. She never met her cousins before. Because her mother believed
that Irene was a witch that cursed her and her family, her children was not allowed
to meet and play with her cousins. Until today. Ana said to us in the car on
the way home, that any majic that Irene placed on others would cease after she was
buried. Hearing that, Malisa and I just looked at each other.
The remembrance long past, but it
lasts and lasts.
Later that evening, Ms. Ana drove me home. Malisa stayed behind because she was not feeling well. I was curious and asked Ms. Ana, “Why were you afraid at the funeral?” She smiled, then she was serious immediately after. “You do not understand. Irene…Ms. Irene, never liked me. She did some terrifying things to me and my family for years. I was afraid of her. Now, well, she has passed on and we are blessed to have probably, better luck.” I replied, “Oh, okay.” Looking back, I didn’t understand at that time, what she meant. But what happened next terrified me to my core. When I looked at Ms. Ana as she drove, behind her head was the head of a familiar smoky figure, wearing a semblance of a royal purple dress with frills. The figure had an icy smile that was clear as the day bright. Chills ran through my body, I looked away immediately shaken. Ms. Ana had not noticed a thing. She continued driving. I dared to look again, behind Ms. Ana’s head where I saw the specter. It was still there this time; the figure became more solid the longer I looked until I could see the bulging eyes with irises pitch black and the facial features as though Irene was coming more alive before me. The curls and ringlets about her head, the blushing pink lipstick against gnarled lips, with browned teeth revealed. I closed my eyes and squeezed them so tight tears rose up and gathered at the corners of them. “What is wrong, Laura?” Asked Ms. Ana. I never opened my eyes to look.