Amos Tutuola – I became an Aggressor for Ghosts
The very day that I completed three years in this town, the “flash-eyed mother” got a letter and warrant about me from the town that I escaped to her.
But when the mother received the letter she was very annoyed and replied with passion that—“I am ready for war or for any consequence.” Then both parties arranged the day that they would meet on their battle-field for seven days to come at that time. But before the day arrived “flash-eyed mother” had sent for all the soldiers of “Wraith-Island” who were uncountable in number and also sent for the following wonderful and curious creatures:—“Spirit of prey” who is fighting with the flood of light of his single eyes, “Invisible and invincible Pawn” who fought and won the “Red-creatures” in the “Red-town” for the Palm-Wine Drinker” when he was living in the “Red-town”, and all the fearful and harmful prominent creatures as:— White long creatures, Hungry creatures, Shapeless-creatures, and also the “Palm wine tapster”, who is living in the Deads’ town, (13th town) before the day came. When the day arrived “flash-eyed mother” gave a wonderful short gun to every one of the heads of her body, then to the other creatures, after that to all the short ghosts and me as well, and she took the biggest gun for herself and also gave a sword to every one of us in addition.
After this the whole of us were going to the battlefield, so she was following us as a commander. It was this day I first saw her stand up and walk away from the same place that I met her since the three years I came there, and it was this day I noticed that over four thousand more heads were still hid under her body and all were exceedingly glad when they were exposed to the fresh air since the last century when the “Secret Society of Ghosts” celebrated last. So as the whole of us were marching hastily to the battle-field that morning because we had kept later, all these heads were making various fearful noises with louder voices along the way, even the rest of us could not hear any other creatures’ voices except their own which nearly made us become deaf.
Before we reached the field the other party had reached there before us. But immediately we reached there we started to shoot guns at the enemies and using the swords, and they were also shooting us. As this fight was so serious nobody could eat, sleep or rest for three days and nights. But when we were hiding in a hiding-place at night or at any time from the enemies all these heads would not stop making noises until the enemies would suspect us and then start to shoot us to death. And as it was a powerful war, so, through the noises of these heads all the hero-ghosts who were fighting the enemies with us were killed and also many of the heads were cut away from their mother’s body with swords, except their mother who was fighting on fiercely with her big gun until the “Invisible and Invincible Pawn” who had disappeared for a little while came and killed some of the enemies until the rest escaped to their town. After that he woke up all the hero-ghosts with all the short ghosts who has been killed by the enemies. But to my surprise as all these heads had been cut down to the ground all were still crying to their mother. Of course, the “Invisible and Invincible Pawn” replaced them back on their mother’s body, and this means the 13th town won the victory.
After we won the war the whole of us were gladly marching to the town. But as the “Invisible and Invincible Pawn” woke up all the dead soldiers and replaced their heads which were cut off by the enemies to their necks and as my own was cut off as well, so he mistakenly put a ghost’s head on my neck instead of mine. But as every ghost is talkative, so this head was always making various noises both day and night and also smelling badly. Whether I was talking or not it would be talking out the words which I did not mean in my mind and was telling out all my secret aims which I was planning in mind whether to escape from there to another town or to start to find the way to my home town as usual. All these secret thoughts were speaking out by this inferior head whenever I stood before “flash-eyed mother” and also telling lies against me every time that I am abusing her because I did not understand the language of the short ghosts. At the same time that I discovered that it was not my own head which was mistakenly put on my neck, so I reported the matter to the mother, but she simply replied—“Every head is a head and there is no head which is not suitable for any creature.” So I was carrying the earthly body with the head of a ghost about until the “faithful mother”, the inhabitant of the “white-tree”, who is faithful to all creatures came and settled the misunderstandings between the two parties when she heard information that there was a war between them, but it was very late before she heard about this war. Having settled the misunderstanding for them I begged her respectfully to replace my own head back on my neck instead of this one which belongs to a ghost. So she agreed and interchanged it for my original head at once, if not I should be still carrying the head of a ghost about throughout my life time. But at the same time she had settled the misunderstanding for both parties (12th town and 13th town) then she went back to her “white-tree” with the “faithful-hand” who accompanied her as a guard and she inspected the “guard of honour” which was specially arranged for her by the “flash-eyed mother” before she went away.
It was this day I knew that this “flash-eyed mother” is the mother of the “Invisible and invincible Pawn” who is the ruler of all the animal creatures and non-living creatures which he could command to become alive in all bushes of curious creatures, and it was also this day he washed his mother who warmed the water with which to wash her body with the flash fire of her eyes as the water was too cold for her. Having washed his mother he went back to his bush which is near the “Red-town” which had been ruined long ago when the “Palm-Wine Drinker” was living there with the “Red-creatures”.
After the war was over all the short ghosts and I continued our usual work as hunters. At this time I was illtreated by all these short ghosts with the “flash-eyed mother” and also all the heads of her body as I was the aggressor of the war which ruined some of them and their opponents as well. So by that my mind was not at rest to live there any longer except to continue to look for a way to my home town which I had left for about eighteen years, as I was remembering my mother at this time always. But as I was at that time near to become a full ghost and did not care for any ghost again, because I had seen many of their secrets except the “Secret Society of Ghosts” which is celebrating or performing every century, so whenever I was following the short ghosts to the bush in which we were killing the animals, I would go farther than them.