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Chapter 60: We can never fully understand the gods…

The review came to an end when we got to the other side of the dead river. Suddenly I was aware of being in the most beautiful garden I have ever seen. The whole landscape was carpeted with grass so vivid, clear and green that it defies description. There was a grove of large, luxuriant trees, composed of the same clear material that seemed to make up everything. Time no longer mattered, it was of no importance. Time as we know it a span of our life was a mere grain on the shore of Otammiri. Then with a sudden burst of joy, I realized that this was my real home! Back on the land of the living, I had been a visitor, a misfit, an outcast and a homesick stranger.

Beyond the first trees, I saw some people, playing and dancing to the celestial music that filled everywhere. As soon as they saw me, four of the dancers left the game and joyfully walked over to greet me. As they approached, I noticed two were men and the rest women. They were dressed in the most beautiful attire I have seen; it was beyond words.

Their bodies seemed almost weightless, and the grace and beauty of their easy movement were fascinating to watch. The magnificence not only thrilled me but filled me with awe. The men were my grandfather and the leader of my former robbery gang; while the women were my mother and her mother. They were all in their prime; looking beautiful, young and full of life. None of them were in the form I saw them last. My grandfather who was old and ill the last time I saw him was now much younger than myself.

My grandfather announced pleasantly, "You are welcome to the land of the dead. Like you. We once lived in the land of the living till we came here. Everything over here is pure. The elements don't mix or break down as they do over there. That's why things don't get dirty or wear out and why everything looks so bright and new. From here we watch over and guide the affairs of the living. Ensuring the will of the gods is carried out in the lives of those still in the land of the living. We make thing down there play out as they should or in other words according to destiny".

Gradually his words were fading as I lost in mentation thinking about how I was going to apologize to Nnanna once I met him.

"You are late! He is no longer here! He has gone back! We all go back after a while to continue learning and reap the rewards of our previous life" he said. I was taken aback to discover he could read my thoughts; which means nothing is a secret here. "You need not worry, you can still ask for his forgiveness. Who do you think Ego is pregnant with?" he asked politely. My mother stepped in smiling and said "Son, it is not yet time for you to be with us.

You don't have enough knowledge to be here. You must return to continue learning…"

This was the last thing I heard her say before noticing that the landscape was gradually becoming familiar. Observing the new environment, it became obvious I had been there before. I was back at the evil forest, lying back down in the same shallow grave where I found Ego and murdered her husband. Nnanna was standing over the grave with a familiar gun raised up high, about to strike me with it and a frenzied look in his eyes. Frightened to the bone, I began imploring, begging for my life, asking for forgiveness and promising to turn a new leaf. At first, all my pleadings fell on deaf ears but after some moments it seemed my beseeching got to him. He paused, brought down the gun, leaned closer with his face very close to mine and eyes staring into my soul he said "I'm coming for you!"

After the awful encounter with Nnanna, I recalled being pulled through a really dark hole. It was another terrible experience, one filled with unspeakable pain and atrocities. While in this strangely dark hole, all I could see were dead people from my past who had inflicted me with pain or said something to me that had hurt me in one way or another.

They were all laughing, screaming, calling me names and rendering verbal abuses on me. I begged and begged that I be allowed to return back to where I was welcomed, instead of the noise, wicked laughers, abuses and screaming all intensified. When I thought I could take it no more; my father appeared from amidst the terrifying crowd, looking pale and in rags laughing with the rest. When it seemed he has had his fill with a booming voice he said "I told you to take over the family business but you refused bluntly. See where and how you ended; a common thief bringing shame upon our family name. Get out from my sight, worthless son!" he said and pushed me into the bright light at the end of the tunnel for me to open my eyes and found myself back here" he concluded.

Everyone including Ego was dismayed and aghast by the story the formerly dead man just shared with them that none of them spoke. It sent chills down their spine; they were all silent with most pondering upon what they just heard.

Ndubisi who has been rubbing his eyes all of a sudden began screaming "My eyes! I can no longer see! Ego I can't see!" He said rubbing his eyes furiously, pleading for Okemmiri to do something but he simply pulled back saying "We can never fully understand the gods…"

"Well, my son, you see there is no way you can catch that bird and become rich. That was the answer my own father provided me that Saturday morning when I asked him the same question you asked not long ago. But I'm going to tell you something different; you are surely free to try! You might get lucky!"

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