Abiku (A Tale of a Dying Child)

A child born to die
Children who have secret plans to die
A child conceived but never lived
One who is born to die
Predestined to die

As joyful as it is to have a child
They bring untold hardship and pain
Born with an expiry tag
Monster known by the Yoruba
Abiku, that which possess death

A spirit causing death to children
Known as spirits but comes in flesh
A spirit taking the place of a foetus
Pregnant women lived in fear
Fear gripped their heart and their bones, trembled

The spirit, too much and competitive to find a host
Seeing a host, they give a toast
Needle and white stones to fashion their clothes
Spotting a pregnant woman, their search vanishes
Seeing a new abode, their joy flourishes

Starve the foetus and take charge of the womb
Poor women, in untold agony
Bringing them to life so many times
In the same sex, previous looks and complexion
Repeating the pain all over again

A fleshy-child-spirit transforming into adult
Going for the secret Abiku meeting
And back to the breast of the innocent mother
Do they have an iota of sympathy?
Not even considering the painful day of delivery.

The scars on the body to castigate the spirit
Defaced children to deter them from going back
Easily known by their names
Taking delight in pleading names
Known by their sicknesses

A pain to the mother
The most pleasurable moment is seeing the stream of tears
Her tears is their happiness
The tears of a mother, valuable in the spirit of Abiku
Oh, innocent mothers!

The more she cries, the happier they become
Sometimes, she stands to never shed a drop
Courageous mom with no tears to spite the spirit
Money spent on them enriches their purse
It would have been better if they weren’t born

Their lives are always short
Taken in times of their joy
The thunder of death struck to bring them back to where they belong
Deriving tears from parents
Are the parents the greatest sinners?

Why did they take refuge in trees and dark places?
Female circumcision for prevention
Prevention is better than cure, they say
Despite all pain, Abikus find their prey
Pledges made to their mates in the spirit world

At the expiration of their time, they reunite
After days of constant fever and convulsion
They give up the physical attachment
And back to their spirit world
And finally leave the mortal body in the evil forest

Scientifically proven as sickle cell
Do they really exist?
Or the ignorance of our fathers
Here comes the thin line between traditional beliefs and medicine
Bringing the conflict between tradition and science.

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