One night many years ago, my friend Nne ran to my house in a fright. Her eyes were wide and crazed and she was flailing her hands wildly in the air, struggling to speak. When she could eventually get the words out, she said Vivtoria had just confessed that she's a witch.
I looked suspiciously at Nne. Victoria, the super sluggish quiet adolescent they had at home to help with chores? Really? But Nne told me how Victoria confessed to being responsible for all the mishaps that had recently befallen the family.
How uncle Tony lost his job; they asked me to bring his socks. How Aunty Ada lost the second pregnancy; they asked me to bring the first baby's dress. How you have written JAMB several times without passing; they asked me to bring your biro.
On and on it went. Victoria talked about how "they" had used little things to wreck a person's life. Things that would never be missed, like a biro or a sock! I went cold all over because I knew of the series of unfortunate incidents that had been happening in my friend's home. Her elder brother mysteriously lost his job. Soon after, wifey lost a pregnancy, his other sister lost her job the next month too. Nne who's very sound failed JAMB yet again. There was barely any laughter, or food to eat at home and the family was miserable all round. And now Victoria had just claimed responsibility. This was after Nne decided that enough was enough and embarked on some days of prayers and dry fasting.
When my sister had her first baby and I immediately swooped in to take care of him, her client advised her to pamper me and give me anything I wanted. You see, she had just seen fire in the hands of her own maid and had sworn she would never have a maid or a nanny again. Aunty Ego, the posh Ikoyi resident who believed that "spiritual things" were only for the poor and unenlightened had another think coming when her 9 month old suddenly started to lose all her hair, when the full head of hair became suddenly bald, when the child stopped eating and started to look like a lizard (the mother's words) and then a baby who had already started to stand and walk suddenly could not even crawl, when no hospital seemed to know what was wrong and Aunty Ego, out of fear and desperation succumbed to having pastors pray for her, it was then the culprit was revealed. Yes you guessed right; the maid! After she was accosted and confessed, she was sent packing and baby soon regained her normal self.
Now read this exempt from a mail one of our regular blog readers sent me this morning: "A week before xmas, my cousin's wife came to visit, went back to my aunt to tell her the state of my health, then my aunt started praying and said i have to send my house help away. I thought it was a joke till the girl opened her mouth after prayers one day and said she is in a witch cult. Omg... I was so scared. I sent her back the next day and truly i started getting better. Almost a size10 back now. I see those things in movies and thought they exaggerate till i experienced it. I became a shadow of myself. No one could recognise me. The most painful part is that I liked the girl so much, don't treat her as a maid, i even subscribe dstv cos of her for that matter."
Guys, one can get security gadgets to fortify their homes, nanny-cams to monitor the physical activities of the domestic staff and all of that. But what happens when some activities are not physical...?
While I'm trying to keep this post lighthearted, the reality is that this is a real issue, a real threat to some people's lives, an experience real people encounter on a daily. I've got three smallies I love just like mine and we've got maids/nannies, so naturally sometimes I wonder. Where references, background checks and agencies can only guarantee so much, does a mother rely on her instincts, the person's aura or simply just pray that this person has a "good heart"? Just how do you know that the person in whose hands you're placing your littles ones is who they really claim to be?