The Oddity

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Who sleeps at night and lets out moans instead of snores, waking up with a soaked pantie as though I had romped with a man all night? That’s me. I moved to the UK from Nigeria three months ago, and this started two months into that, in a place where I have no one to talk to about it, leaving me constantly consumed with paranoia that took up permanent residence in my psyche. In my job, I take care of mentally challenged people. I see the stigmatisation. I administer their medication. I do not wish any of it on myself, so I dare not bring my problem up with my GP. The Internet offered little help at first, but soon I stumbled on Nairaland and found a deluge of stories that were exactly like mine. They call it ọkọ ọ̀run or ‘spirit husband’.

So in those early hours of last week Thursday, when I drove a pocket knife I had hidden under my pillow into the side of my assailant, for me I had finally slain my ọkọ ọ̀run. But here, the lady investigator sitting across from me says that I have actually killed a Martin King, a white British father, with three children and a ‘wife’, and that I’m schizophrenic—as in mad. The more I try to tell her that what I killed is not even human, that it was my spiritual husband whom I was defending myself from, the more she repeats that I have schizophrenia and need a mental health assessment.

‘… So that we can prove to the judge that you did not purposely kill that innocent man, who happens to be your husband who you have been married to for ten years now with three kids, which you keep denying, and instead saying that this man is some spiritual husband of yours, conjured by some witchcraft nonsense. We believe all these are as a result of your schizophrenia, and we want to help you get better. Do you understand, Oumo?’

I hold her gaze, wondering how a black woman like her has become so white that even her tongue is bleached with one of the thickest British accent I’ve ever heard.

‘You ran away from your home two years ago, and your husband found you after these two years, tried to get you to come home and remember him, but instead, you killed him, your husband. Do you understand that?’

My scalp starts to itch, so I place my handcuffed hands on the table, lean my head down, and give it a good scratch. Raising my head again, I let out a long sigh. ‘I won’t lie to you, ma’am, I did not hear half of what you just said, to be honest. My apologies.’ I finish with a wide smile.

‘For fuck’s sake, Oumo!’ She says with a long sigh, pinching her nose bridge. She adjusts her beige turtleneck sweater, sits upright, and gives me the stop fucking with me look. She raises an eyebrow, ‘You need to cooperate with us, answer our questions rightfully and truthfully, and drop all this spiritual husband nonsense. Tell us where you have been for two years now. We know you are mentally ill, but we need you to answer our questions so we can help you. Unless you want to rot in a jail, or worse, in a hardcore psychiatric home, in a straitjacket if you keep shouting and not agreeing to talk. You need to plead guilty, and you will get the help you need. After all, it was self-defence, right? That’s the only way we can be able to get you into a very good care institution that will help you heal. Do you understand me?’

‘I am telling you my truth, ma’am,’ I wear a straight face. ‘I did not kill an innocent man, who you all keep fucking saying is my husband or whatever. I killed my spiritual husband conjured by witchcraft. That dead body is just a decoy. He is doing all this so I can suffer for not accepting him. I’m new in this country. I did not run away from any home for two years now, madam. What other truth do you want me to say, ehn? You want me to happily accept that I am mad when I am not? I am having a conversation with you. Would a mad person be able to do that? You lots are imposing a reality that I know nothing of and want me to just accept that. How, please?!’ My voice was loud and harsh, heavy with frustration.

The lady leaned forward and held my gaze, placing her clasped palms before her. ‘You stabbed your husband twenty times. You removed his two eyeballs, cut out his stomach and mutilated his throat… I can’t even continue You have committed such a horrific act. Do you think this is a fucking joke?’

I sigh. This must confuse anyone, I know. But, you see, these people don’t understand spirituality, juju, or witchcraft. They will just attribute everything to mental illness, but I know I am very okay. They keep saying this man I killed is my husband. Husband ke? I’ve told them more times than I can count he’s not my husband and I have never met him in my life. I have explained how this ọkọ ọ̀run thing works. Mine came in forms, sometimes human, other times in forms even the wildest nightmares could not boast of. He believed we were married in the spiritual world, and so he would come to claim me and all sorts of rubbish. I even told them about my mother and how she used to jump from one juju place to the other, showing that as a possible avenue where this calamitous fate had befallen me. But did they believe me? No, they will rather believe what the ọkọ ọ̀run wants them to, that the body he came in this time was my husband and all the rubbish they’ve trying to make me accept and admit. I mean, how can anyone be married for three years with three children without knowing, especially in a place where they’ve only spent three months? They say I ran away, and they’ve been looking for me for two years. Is it me that is crazy or them?

Well, it’s not them I blame. I have read so much about spiritual husbands on Nairaland, but I doubt there’s any as creative as mine. How genius a stroke for him to only show up when I set foot into this white man’s land, knowing I would not get any kind of spiritual intervention here. Now look at my life, at the kind of welcome pack I have been dealt in a strange country. All in the quest for a better life, I sold off everything I’ve ever worked for and brought my two legs here. Shouldn’t I have jejely stayed back home in Naija? Is being overworked and underpaid not much better than being labelled a mad woman?

Anyway. If they won’t listen to me, perhaps you might. Let me tell you how it all started, so you can see that I am not mad, and these people are just hypnotised or something.


‘Is there an Oumouloula Aideini—?’

‘Omolola Adeniyi, present!’ I stood up to interrupt the tall, tanned man before he massacred what was left of my name. It was never hard for them to call all these tongue-twisting French or Russian names of popular people, but our African own, despite their straightforward spellings, were always a problem. I followed the man to a small room with a ‘Meeting Room’ sign on the door. He opened the door, entered, and beckoned for me to do the same. I entered to see a white lady with long, burgundy-colored hair seated. A blank lanyard circled her neck, holding her ID card in place against her burgundy turtleneck sweater, but I didn’t have time to make out the name before her tanned partner sat next to her and dropped his folders on the table, making a loud bang. With my attention called back to him, he gestured for me to take a seat opposite them.

‘So, Ms. Ou—’ It was the lady.

‘O-m-o-l-o-l-a,’ I corrected with a smile.

‘Oumololaa… ah, I see! My apologies. I gotta tune that accent a bit, innit, hahaha!’

Her laugh showed little effort to hide its exaggeration, soon infecting her colleague whose laugh was even faker than hers. Not knowing how to respond, I looked at them with an unsure smile, then I looked down and adjusted in my chair. One thing I had learned since getting to the UK was that your cheeks would burn a lot of fat from the number of facial contortions you had to feign most times, simply because, half the time, you couldn’t understand what they were saying or laughing about.

‘Anyways,’ the lady continued. ‘My name is Elise. I am the Director of People, and this is my colleague, Martin. He is my Human Resource assistant.’

I smiled at her, then turned to him so he could take his own share of it, too. ‘Nice to meet you both,’ I said.

‘Same here,’ Martin replied, his eyes wearing a glint as bright as his reddened skin.

‘So,’ it was Elise again. ‘You have applied for the role of a support worker on a full-time, 35-hour weekly contract. Is that right?’

I nodded in agreement.

‘Okay, great, great. So I’m just going to run you through a few details about what the role entails, the kind of people you will be dealing with, your duties, what and what you cannot do till you have your training, and so on, basically. Good?’ She asked with a thumbs up and a raised eyebrow.

‘Yes, please, go on.’ I said, gesturing with my hand.

‘Okay, great! So you will be working in a residential setting. The one we picked for you is close to your address. I personally checked. It’s like twenty minutes by bus, eight by car, yeah?’

I nodded.

‘So this home has three service users, and you will be dealing with challenging behaviors of different sorts. Further details on challenging behaviors are in the book given to you earlier. These won’t happen every time; they might probably never happen, but there’s possibility of being attacked, kicked, slapped, smacked, bitten, scratched, and various other sorts, as well as situations of smearing of feces and feces being thrown at you. Sometimes you might experience the service user even eating their feces, and/or forcing themselves to urinate and drinking it, being spat at, umm…’

She gave a short pause as she opened her files, flipping through before continuing to explain behaviors I would experience on the job. Her accent was thick, which made her speech seem jumbled up. I eventually zoned out for a bit, thinking about my life and what the need to japa from Nigeria had led me to. I didn’t exactly have it great back home, but I did have a good job as a bank manager. My salary wasn’t all that, especially compared to the rate I would be earning here, but at least it was prestigious. I always heard about how whatever qualifications you had went out of the window when you enter the UK, and how one would have to start with care or support work. I thought people were just exaggerating. Apparently not. Nevertheless, I was still grateful for the opportunity. At least I’d be earning much more than I did as a bank manager back home, just that it would involve other people’s feces. The thought made me want to throw up.

‘…some of these people have learning disabilities, which leads them to exhibit challenging behaviors due to not being able to communicate well. They can become frustrated from all these, which is why we are there to support and help them. Like I said, these behaviors are not an everyday situation. Some come more often than others, and some others not at all. They have their care plans, which you’ll go through when you resume to be able to read their risk assessments, triggers, how to control them, and all of that sort. You just need to understand that no two days can be the same in support work, yeah?’

I nodded.

‘Yeah!’ Elise finished with two thumbs up.

Martin passed on a pen and a bulk of papers to me. ‘Just to get an idea of your understanding of some of the concepts in the healthcare system, you’ll answer in your understanding these questions. No pressure. Just answer with what you think they mean, and we will score you afterwards. We will help you in any places where you didn’t enter the right answer. This is just to understand how much you know and help you build on that. No pressure, haha,’ he laughed a bit. ‘So you just get on with it. We will step out to let you do your work and we will be back in a jiffy, yeah?’

‘Yes, got it.’ I said with a smile, nodding.

They both got up and left the room. I scanned through the questions and saw that I had a pretty good idea of them. A few minutes later, I was done. Elise and Martin came back. They said I did well in answering the questions, but they went through some more details on them. By the end of the session, all I could think of were responsibilities I wasn’t sure I wanted, tied to a pay way more than I earned back home.


I kept playing back the interview in my mind as I held my phone before me, consulting Google Maps in search of the bus stop where I was to take my bus home. Lowery Road, the map said. The bus stop was right at a bend. The bus was arriving in one minute, according to the map. Lucky me! I was barely settled under the shelter when a double-decker bus came hurtling along on the opposite lane. I consulted the map again as it whisked past. Oh, damn! I was on the wrong side again!

This had been one of the hardest things for me since arriving in this country. Even with Google Maps, it was always confusing and stressful. My commonest mistake was identifying what side of the road to stand on, as there were always two posts opposite each other at every bus stop. There was also the possibility of a bus not showing up, scattering all plans and making me panic so much that even if it passed by, I would become partially blind or too tensed up to stop it. Let’s not get into how I’d sprint to catch a bus that arrived at the stop before the due time, or how many times a bus would pass me by while I was looking for the stop to catch it.

Thankfully, I was going home this time, so I could just cross over to the other side of the road and wait for the next one without panicking too much. It took thirty minutes, but the next bus soon showed up and I was on my way. Buildings, cars, and people rushed past in the window, but all I could think of was the interview, the gift and the curse of it with the pay and the responsibilities I had to take to get the pay. I had so many bills piled up. I needed to start making money immediately, or else I would be out on the streets. The interviewers had said they would let me know how I did in a couple of days. If I was successful, I’d start my induction immediately.

My phone started to ring, jolting me from my thoughts. The bus stopped to pick up passengers and I realized I had gotten to my bus stop. Thank God for the phone call. That’s how I would have found myself another mile from home before realizing it. I didn’t recognize the phone number, but I picked the call anyway as I alighted from the bus.


‘Hiyya. Is this Oumoulolaa Aydeneyi?’ A lady asked through the phone.

I roll my eyes. ‘Yes, this is she.’

‘Oh, great. This is Rach from QualiCare. I just wanted to inform you that you passed the interview, and we can now go on with the next steps of your employment.


Okay, this should be it. Number 12, Phillips Road.

I heaved, breathless and exhausted from the hill I had to climb to my destination. I rang the bell, and after a few minutes, a short, chubby lady with pale skin opened the door. She was probably the whitest white person I had ever soon, almost as though she had no blood running within. She was wearing a fleece jacket with the company’s name tag on it. She had her brunette hair tied up in a bun, and she looked clean. She gave me a wide smile and gestured for me to come in.

‘Hiyya, you must be Oumo… sorry, I can’t pronounce it. I’m not good with names.’ she said.

‘Haha, that’s fine. Just call me Omo,’ I replied as I pushed past her into the building.

‘Oumo. Okay, that’s fine. I will get it with time, don’t worry, haha,’ she said with an exaggerated laugh.

I broadened my smile to reciprocate.

‘Anyway, welcome to Phillips Road, and my name is Caitlyn. I am the manager of this home. I’m sure the office already told you this is a residential home: two males and a female. It’s a pretty calm environment, don’t worry. I know it’s your first experience in the UK and all.’

I was straining my ear as she had quite a thick accent, but I was able to grasp what she said seconds after she finished a sentence.

‘I will take you around now, show you the service users’ rooms, the main lounge, laundry room, kitchen, patio, medication room, da da da, and yeah…’ she gestured around the area and turned to me with a smile and two thumbs up.

I smiled back and gave her a thumbs-up in return.

‘Alrighty, let’s go then.’ She said as we made our way into the fort lounge, which was a few steps from the entrance. ‘The service users went out for a drink, but they should be back in a moment. After the tour, I will get you started on their care plans, and we will move from there.’

Many minutes later, the tour was over, and I was seated in the main lounge with a cup of tea, reading through one of the service user’s care plan folder when I heard the doorbell. Caitlyn was upstairs, so I got up to unlock the door. Standing upfront was a white lady with blonde hair, who I recognized to be one of the service users from the pictures I had been shown. She had glasses on with her hair let down, strands flying everywhere. She had a pink puffer coat on, black leggings, and a cast on one leg with boots on.

‘Hello,’ I said to the lady as she entered the house and removed her coat.

She simply nodded, muttered, ‘You alright,’ and went to the main lounge.

‘That’s Zoe. She doesn’t talk to anyone.’

I turned around to see a petite black lady standing by the door. She had long braids, the same kind of fleece jacket Caitlyn had on, and her ID badge around her neck. She stretched her hand for a shake, and I took it.

‘You must be the new staff. Welcome. My name is Grace, also a staff here,’ she said.

‘It’s nice to meet you, Grace,’ I smiled back at her.

‘Same here. As she made her way into the lounge, she added, ‘The others are coming. Just wait here, so you can meet them, yeah?’

A moment later, a chubby man came into view, escorted by a young lady who was holding a clear bag filled with cutlery. She had the same fleece jacket on. I saw her trying to coax the man to walk to the property, but instead, he was shouting, moaning, and stomping his feet, refusing to move further. He was the service user whose care plan I’d been reading when the doorbell tolled. The lady was still coaxing him when another male staff joined, trying to assist the situation. While that was happening, a tall white male was walking towards the entrance, staff fleece on. He stopped for a bit to wait for someone or something. It was at this point that I saw a figure and was suddenly overcome by this strong feeling of déjà vu, so strong that my legs felt faint, and I had to hold on tight to the wall I was standing by.

Everything around this figure faded away. It was as though I was seeing him through two different eyes in two different realities. In this present reality, he was a magnificent man, with the features of a human although he looked too perfect to be one. I felt myself being happy and drawn to him. The urge to go to him was strong, but I managed to control myself. I broke my eyes off him, and all the beauty in and around him immediately collapsed. From the side of my eyes, he was the same figure I had seen earlier, but this time, he had a grotesque appearance—a normal body on the upper half, but a long horn on his head. I looked down, and the other half of him was that of a goat. It was a satyr. These two creatures in one, evoking opposite emotions in me, all in a matter of seconds. As they approached, everything became stronger, excitement and animated fear. And closer they came with their hands stretched. My heart was beating fast, and I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. I wanted to say something, to shout, but it was as though I had swallowed my tongue.

‘Oi, move out of the way man!’

‘Wha—’ my voice was raspy.

They were now standing right in front of me, saying something that I couldn’t hear, and my vision was starting to blur out.

‘Hey, hey!’

Someone was shouting and shaking me. It was only then that I snapped out of my trance. My legs gave out as I went down on my knees. I turned around to see Grace, looking worried. I looked to my front slowly, scared of seeing them again, but instead, I saw the three staff from earlier, as well as the chubby man who had now calmed down and was just looking at me. Right in front of me, was a short white man with a hunched back who I recognized to be the last service user, wearing a face cap and a winter jacket. He looked at me, confused, stretching out his hand to help me up, as another male staff hurried to join him.

‘You alright, mate?’ The short man asked.

I nodded, dusting off my clothes, trying to get my composure back. ‘Yes, I’m fine, thank you. I think I’m just a bit dehydrated and tired. I’m fine.’

I’m not sure if anyone believed my explanation, but we all made our way inside the home.

That was a month ago. It was the first time he appeared to me, and it has been hell since then. I would see this man, sometimes as a human or satyr, everywhere I went. Whatever form he took, I always recognized him. I had nightmares about him from the stroke of midnight every Thursday. On the bus home, most times, he would suddenly appear to be sitting next to me, sometimes even trying to touch me. Whenever I reacted and shouted at him, he would disappear. The problem was, I was the only one who could see him, so, of course, I would seem like a mad person to the people around. It was while I was looking everywhere for answers that I stumbled on Nairaland and the many similar tales there.

One time, I finished grocery shopping, and on coming out of the store, he was just outside there, standing, waiting for me. I acted as though I didn’t see him, and started walking in the opposite direction, only for him to start calling out to me.

‘Omo. Omo, wait up. You have to stop running away from me,’ he shouted.

The way I was brisk-walking and looking over my shoulders, I knew I would seem like a mad woman to anyone looking.

‘Just wait. I love you, Omo. Come back home. I miss you. Your children miss you. Stop running away, please!’ The man said to me, chasing up and almost on to me. He did everything to sound human—a very deluded human—and he even created some kids we have together in his head.

Just wow!

At a parking lot where I couldn’t see anyone, I stopped and turned around to face him, wearing my fear and irritation on my face. ‘Stop following me, demon, stop acting human, or like we have this past life together. I am a child of God, and I bind and cast you. Go back to whoever sent you and leave me alone, demon! If you come close to me with that fake body of yours, ehn, I will kill you! I’m not scared of you o!’

He just stood there as I threatened pointedly at him in the parking lot, not moving further to follow me, wearing a look of bewilderment on his borrowed human face.

I rolled my eyes and turned, hoping that he didn’t see beyond my claim at the potent fear that was roiling within me. ‘Fake! Evil spirit’ I muttered to myself, looking around to see if he heard, only to find a dozen people looking at me. This business of appearing mad to strangers had happened too many times that it didn’t bother me much anymore anyway. He must have been there among the people, but I made my way to the bus stop and didn’t look back again.

He continued showing up everywhere, every day. My manager had begun to complain. My colleagues were getting worried too, warning me to try and sort out my problem before it got me into trouble. I contemplated reaching out to my family—especially my mom, so she could tell her people to back off me if this was her doing—to find a solution for this. But for some reason, I killed the idea in my head.

I was here by myself. People back in Nigeria could do little to help me here. And since God was not answering my prayer, perhaps it was up to me to destroy this thing and get my life back together. So I planned. He showed himself to me every day, but he only came into my room on Thursday mornings. No matter how hard I tried not to sleep, I always end up dosing off. And in my dreams, he would be there, touching my body, doing things to me, but by the time I woke up, I could tell that he had been there physically.

I made sure to pick up some sexy lingerie from Victoria’s Secret. I had a bath and adorned myself with a sensual fragrance. Then I sat down and did a marathon of coffee drinking from 7:00 pm until around 11:00 pm. Staring out of the window, everywhere was dead quiet, with cars parked left and right. There were only cats roaming around, and the occasional bus tearing into the night’s stillness. At the stroke of midnight, I pulled down the blinds, climbed into bed, and waited.

The coffee disappointed itself because the next thing I knew, I was lying on clouds and this man was there, talking to me.

‘You smell so good. You look even better. Seems like you’re finally letting me in. I never knew this day would come.’ The face he had on wore a childish grin.

‘Well, I’ve missed you since last Thursday,’ I smiled.

‘But we’ve seen every day since then and you didn’t say,’ he raised a brow.

‘That’s because it’s only this I miss. I don’t like it when you make me look mad in front of people.’

He moved closer until our bodies touched. He was wearing a sincere look. ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t help that. We have been searching for two years now. We’ve been worried sick; the kids, your dad, and siblings, everyone. It was the new job you applied for that informed the police when your description matched the images we sent out. I came down to see you myself, but you kept acting like you didn’t know me. But that’s fine, okay? I don’t want to think about that. We can have that discussion later, but first, we’re here now, and I’ve really missed you too.’

I was confused, so I shrugged off his last sentence and said, ‘But how did it take you that long to find me?’

‘Babe, you’ve completely changed everything. I mean, how did you go from being a white woman to being black? That nearly fooled me. And now you have a new house, a new job, a new identity. You didn’t even take any of your documents with you. But well, you’re still Omolola.’

I stared at him as he blabbed away, until I couldn’t hold it anymore and suddenly busted out laughing. ‘Wow, wow, wow! What a performance!’ I clapped. ‘Ah ahn. I have read many tales of people having ọkọ ọ̀run, but I must say you are one of a kind; a Gen Z spiritual husband.’

He pulled away and held my gaze, his mouth agape.

‘But that’s enough now,’ I say, wiping a fake tear from my eye. ‘I have seen your true form, remember? Your horns and goat legs. Stop acting nice and creating this reality in your head like we had some life together. You’re not even human. If you want to kill me, take me away, or whatever. Just stop pretending already.’

He huffed and growled.

‘I. Am. Not. Scared. Of. You.’ That was probably the first time ever that I meant that, and it felt good. Yet, a part of me wondered why I wasn’t scared of this creature when he was so close and could kill me on the spot.

‘Omo, stop this now,’ he shouted. ‘What is this fucked up shit you are saying? Do you think this is a joke?’

‘Okay, I’m sorry,’ I found myself saying. ‘Can I get a hug?’

Confusion slipped onto his face, but it slipped off again just as quickly. Then he wore a grin, ‘Oh, you’ll get more than that.’ His clothes disappeared, and the sexiest chiselled man stared back at me.

I couldn’t understand how I suddenly became overwhelmed with wanton desire. I moaned as he came onto me, tracing an electric finger up my neck and finding my lips. Then the desire began to boil, and an easiness set in. This must be when I remembered why I was there, as I groped beneath the clouds I was laying on, finding the chilly coldness of the weapon I had hidden beneath my pillow. He lowered his body onto mine and was going to replace his fingers on my lips with his when I struck.

‘Fuck! Wha—!’ He grunted, a potent fear creeping into his eyes, spilling into and engulfing his face. He gasped and grunted as he pulled out my knife-gripping hand from where I had drilled into his side.

I woke up just then; must have been the warmness of the blood squirting all over me. He was there just as he had been in the dream, naked, weak and subdued. I doubt any warrior who ever conquered an enemy could have felt as victorious as I did, standing over the ọkọ ọ̀run that had tormented my life every single day for the last month. One stroke wasn’t enough. I bent down and stabbed away.


So would you say I was evil? Or mad? That’s up to you. Left to me, I was merely defending myself, in a country that does not understand how spiritual juju works. Can you believe that even after the whole ordeal, he’s still been appearing to me, only he doesn’t change faces anymore? He’s now permanently wearing the one I killed him in, the one these people claim is lying in some mortuary. He comes covered in blood, with no eyes, and missing some fingers. It’s a torment I’m fine with, because he can only appear, he can no longer feed me with stories that he has somehow placed in these people’s heads—I made sure to remove that tongue. I know he’s just giving me time to feel a little sense of victory, but very soon, he’ll take on another form and start his pursuit again. I don’t want to think about that because I don’t know where I would be, and whether I would be able to defend myself and dehumanize any form he takes on, like I did this one. Until one of us gets tired and gives up this silly act, I guess.

So why don’t you tell me: do you think I am mad?

‘Oumo,’ the lady investigator asks. ‘With all these explanations I have given you, will you plead guilty or not guilty?’

‘Not guilty,’ I bare my teeth at her.

Aishat Adesanya

Aishat Adesanya

Aishat Adesanya is a 20-year-old Yoruba hijabi who started drawing at the age of nine years. She later discovered her love for writing and published her first story at age 17. She is an avid reader and aspires to use her art and unique African culture to make a positive impact on the world. Her writing has been featured in Hearth Magazine and Schuylkill Valley Journal and is forthcoming in Witsprouts‘ Love Grows Stronger in Death anthology