Dejak and Omolo had never seen eye to eye on anything, until today. They spent their entire childhood fighting each other over one thing or another. Dejak was the practical joker, he once had a friend play dead outside Omolo’s hut, smeared him in red ochre to look like he had bled from a spearing. Omolo in turn retaliated by spiking Dejak’s porridge with stinging nettle. Needless to say, that was an uncomfortable 2 weeks that only aggravated the childhood feud.

“Omolo!” Dejak called out from outside Omolo’s hut. There was no response, but he could hear the sound of movement on Omolo’s spring bed.

“Omolo!” Dejak called out again.

A sound of a bolt loosening and a yawning door soon followed, revealing Omolo in his briefs bare-chested.

“What Dejak? What do you want now?”

“This isn’t a beauty pageant Omolo, put some clothes on, we have an emergency.”

“What emergency? Everything’s always an emergency with you. An emergency to humiliate me! What is it now Dejak?” Omolo hissed.

Dejak grabbed Omolo by the arm, his foot set into the newly planted flower bed outside his hut. A cold sensation of the dew-laden grass made his feet tingle from the cold. Omolo shook him off, the goosebumps were now spreading to his arms and chest. He dashed back into the house and grabbed a t-shirt and slapped on a pair of jeans and some Maasai sandals.

“Omolo!” for crying out loud! Dejak called out again exasperated. “Quickly!”

Omolo slithered out his door banging it behind him, sending the corrugated iron sheets into a frenzied song. The rust had eaten into most of it, it was a miracle his house never leaked with every passing storm.

Omolo walked about 2 metres to where Dejak stood.

“What now brother?” Omolo hissed.

Dejak pointed right through the maize field toward their favourite mango tree. His large biceps and pectoral muscles tingled from the cold that seemed to run up and down his body as he pointed.

“I can’t see anything Dejak!” Omolo barked.

Dejak’s arm was still raised, pointing. Omolo caught a glimpse of something in the distance and started to inch forward to see if his eyes were deceiving him. As he inched further, Dejak grabbed Omolo’s arm and whispered, “Don’t fall for it brother, that is what it does, it steals your soul and lures you into its lair to devour you.”

Omolo shuddered and stared at his brother, “is that what…”

“Yes” Dejak butted in, “she has returned – the woman of the tree.”

Dejak and Omolo were only 12 and 10 years old respectively when their mother passed. She had been brutally beaten and raped. Her eyes gouged out and some said whoever had committed the crime ate her eyes, they said it was a way to ensure that the perpetrator did so to avoid anyone finding out who they were.

That year Akello, their mother passed on, it was suspected that it was her sister, Ayodi. Ayodi was unable to bear children and was believed to be cursed. Ayodi was jealous of her sister Akello, who not only bore children but had two handsome sons. A sure guarantee that her bloodline and name would be carried on. Ayodi was cast out from her marital home at 25 years old, after almost a decade of marriage.

After her husband returned her home for her ‘failure’ to bear children, no man in the village wanted to seek her hand in marriage for fear of passing on the curse to them. Ayodi was banished to a secluded section of land a stone throw from her sister’s home, where she built a home. But from time to time she would poise herself on this mango tree calling out the ancestors and chanting incantations.

What started off as simple prayer and dedication to Nyasaye, the god of the ancestors. It was soon deemed an act of war against the community. For every raining season, Ayodi would pray more fervently and people in the village would die mysteriously. It was attributed to her. Ayodi had disappeared almost 5 years and had made an abrupt return.

No one had died for those five years, now there were concerns that Akello’s sons were next on Ayodi’s prayer list of doom.