Mama Kasali took to the advice of her mother-in-law to sought the counsel of an old seer, who was capable of foretelling her son’s future. Although, Mama Kasali had nursed initial reservations for such traditional performance, with the insistence of the older woman, she had to decide finally. She considered that such a harmless ritual would make no meaning in revealing what her barely ten years old son’s ending would be. If the man said something evil, she’d reject it by her spirits, but if the seer predicted something positive, then her spirit would claim it.

As she sat wishfully on the mat opposite the old heavily bearded man, she wondered why she had to believe this old man anyway, when her husband – who the mother-in-law claimed to have also brought here years ago, of whom much glorious future was foreseen, was yet to amount to anything real in life.

But that could not have been said in her resistance against going, otherwise it would spur an unhealthy conflict in her matrimonial home, and might even send her back to her family house – a house where she used to say anything she felt at any time. That was impossible now, at least the elders say, when in Rome, it was only expected to act like a roman.

Her mother-in-law had refused to follow her here as it was part of the ritual for only the mother of the child to come along.

“Spread the boys’ palms” The old man requested. Rokibah spread the boy’s palms reluctantly. The old man rubbed some black charcoal on one of his palms and then poured white powder on his other arm. He clasped the boy’s hands and instructed the mother to hold the hands together, while he carried on with other parts of the ritual.

The man drew two circles at a distance, one with a white chalk, the other – very close to the first –was drawn with a black chalk. He stood behind the circles and instructed the mother to release the boy’s hands.

“Once you do this,” the man said, “a cockroach would come out from his hands. If the cockroach gets into this white circle, then you can be sure his future is great. If it walks into this black circle, then you should throw him into the Ogunpa river, for he wouldn’t amount to anything in life with that.”

Asides the fearful doubt that engulfed her mind when she heard that a cockroach – which had not been physically kept there – would emerge from her son’s palms, she also feared that if the cockroach indeed came out, she would have to believe the man’s prediction.

“Release his hands.” The man instructed.

Rokibah released the boy’s fists unsteadily. She had not prepared for the ordeal.

Out came the shiny creature, with enormous wings – which for some reasons it refused to engage. It headed straight towards the circles and gave a drastic turn towards the black. Rokibah refused to be seized by the instant surprise that a real cockroach actually came forth. She and her son watched with wide open eyes as the winged creature kept heading towards the black circle.

Before it entered into the circle, Kasali had quickly pounced on the cockroach and redirected it into the white circle.

Rokibah stood there, transfixed with the highest fear and surprise in her life, while the old man did nothing but watch. The cockroach wiggled it’s little skin, pretended to now head in the direction of the white circle, but made a U turn half way and headed straight back for the black.

A furious Kasali picked the little insect and dropped it himself in the centre of the white circle. It wiggled again and attempted making its way back to its previous destination, but Kasali quickly crushed it dead inside the white circle.
With the insect now certified dead, both mother and son turned their gazes towards the old man who was now tugging at his beards in utter observation. They expected nothing more than their life’s scolding. They had ruined the twelfth law of the traditional gods and were inevitably in for trouble.

“You see young woman.” The seer said slowly, “By the hands of your son, the cockroach landed in the white circle. This is what many mothers don’t understand. They are always curious about knowing what the future holds for their wards. But in this short drama is the greatest truth of all. HIS FUTURE IS IN HIS OWN VERY HANDS, and by it, he has made it right.” With that explanation, the man was done.

Feeling extremely relieved, both mother and son, began their journey back home happily.


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