When Elvira burst her big toe in her yard one Friday afternoon she knew it was not a good sign. Fridays were not good days because on those days soukouyans could ‘hear’ what you were thinking, malfehtehs plot their evil plans, loogawoos planned their weekend sojourns and la diabless targeted their next victims. Additionally jumbies normally left the refuge of the woods to haunt people and their homes.
Knowing this Elvira made a sign of the cross, spat to the four corners of the earth and gathered three handful of dirt which she threw behind her back before entering her house.
When Elvira examined her toe she realized the skin had completely fallen off and the red flesh was clearly visible. Cursing under her breath she washed the toe completely, threw MB Powder over it and tied it securely with a white piece of cloth.
The toe continued to throb and Elvira resorted to drinking two Phensic before heading to bed.
And that night she had the first of a series of strange dreams. In it she was walking through a forest of bwa dyab and the branches were all trying to get her. She ran and ran. Then she noticed a little old man running after her. She could see it was a man but somehow she could not see his features. It was as if some parts of him were invisible or hidden behind a thick fog.
The more she ran, the more the old man kept gaining on her and finally he caught up with her, grabbed her foot and slammed her toe against a rock.
he pain was excruciating and Elvira woke up clutching at her toe and to her surprise the white cloth tying it was gone and so was the MB powder. Only the bright red flesh showed, as if she had never done anything it to it.
She stumbled out of bed, searching for the piece of cloth but it was nowhere to be found. Greatly puzzled, she added more MB Powder to the toe, got a fresh piece of cloth, bound it firmly and returned to bed.
She was just about to fall asleep when she heard the whisper, “Elvira, Elvira.” Twice. No more. The whisper came from the window above her head and she was about to respond but held back because she knew that when you hear your name called out twice in the night, it has to be a jumbie or something out of this world.
And then Elvira suddenly felt cold and goose bumps appeared all over her body. She shivered and drew the sheet closer. Then she felt as if she was bound my some invisible force. She tried to move but she could not. She tried to scream but no words came out of her mouth. She remained motionless on her bed in that state for a couple minutes until the odd feeling slowly drifted away.
And she jumped from her bed uttering some choice words in the process. She grabbed her rosary and repeated it until she fell asleep.
The next day Elvira related the previous night’s proceedings to her friend Valda and Valda muttered, “Something not right eh, something not right.”
That afternoon while Elvira was cleaning under the house, to her great surprise, she found the white piece of cloth that bound her toe the night before. “But how that get there nuh?” she asked herself. She wracked her brains trying to figure out how the cloth got under house and finally she came to the conclusion that maybe it was taken by a rat that was attracted to the scent of her blood and taken under the house.
That night Elvira took out her bible, dusted it and was about to start reading it when she heard a loud fluttering outside. Thinking a chicken must have lost its way in the dark she opened the window and said, “shoo shoo. Come out of the yard.” The fluttering stopped and she was about to close the window when she saw the dark shadow of someone under the breadfruit tree in the yard. She peered through the darkness, straining to see who the shadow belonged to.
“Hendrie, you that there?” she asked. Hendrie was a guy around the area who had ‘lost his head’ and was known to exhibit strange behavior. But the shadow remained unmoving.
“Hendrie, you that there?” she repeated and when the shadow remained unmoving she said, “If you doh come out from there I will throw pee pee on you eh.”
But the shadow remained unmoving and suddenly Elvira realized it resembled the old man from her dreams and she suddenly felt cold. She quickly closed the window and once again she got the strange feeling that she was being held down by some invisible force. She fought and she struggled against the strange force but it was no use. When it finally released her, she found herself on the floor and then her toe began throbbing.
She never slept that night because of the pain in her toe was relentless and the next day she called Valda.
Valda helped Elvira untie the toe, clean it properly and this time they splashed mercurochrome over the wound before adding the MB Powder. The pain continued and they decided to leave the toe untied.
Then Elvira told Valda what had transpired the night before and Valda listened with great interest, rubbing her head occasionally. “Something not right eh, something not right,” she kept repeating.
Suddenly Elvira felt a sharp pain in her wounded toe and she cried out in agony. Her sudden cry startled Valda who rushed to her side.
“My toe, my toe,” Elvira cried as sharp pain stabbed through it and then she pointed to her wounded toe.
As the two looked on the MB Powder on Elvira’s toe started moving as if something was under it.
And to their utter horror the head of a sour fly emerged from under the MB Powder and slowly the entire fly wiggled out and dropped to the floor.
“Where it come from, where it come from,” Elvira shouted.
“I doh know, I doh know,” Valda shouted back.
The two sat transfixed as the sour fly, covered with MB Powder, crawled aimlessly around and suddenly Valda stamped her foot over it, killing it instantly.
The two sat quietly for a long time unable to comprehend the magnitude of what they had just witnessed.
Valda was the first to speak. “That toe there is not a good toe eh,” she said gravely. “You notice since you get that toes there plenty things happening.”
And so the decision was made to visit the gardeh in Castle Bruce to get his opinion on what was going on. A small bald man, the gardeh listened intently while he wrote in a small white book. When he heard about the sour fly coming out of the toe, he dropped his book and appeared suddenly concerned. “Somebody put something by your house,” he stated. “Is a jumbie somebody put there and we have to run it away.”
The next day Valda and Elvira took a bus to Roseau to buy what was prescribed by the gardeh. The list consists of a black candle, a red candle, Oil of Protection, Stay Away Powder, Oil of Never Return, All Purpose Incense, Banishing Powder, among others.
They had to wait when the moon was in its first quarter before they could start the ritual that would drive the jumbie away from Elvira’s house and when the time came the gardeh arrived at around 11:00 p.m. The whole thing was to begin at midnight.
First he anointed the black and red candles with the Oil of Protection and Oil of Never Return. Then he sprinkled the Banishing Powder and Stay Away Powder in a circle around the house. And he and Valda and Elvira waited for midnight.
Suddenly there was a loud bang outside and the house shook to its foundation. The gardeh motioned everyone to stay quiet and said don’t be distracted by anything. He quickly sprinkled Stay Away Powder over everyone and lit the black candle. He placed it in the middle of the room and took the red candle. He spun around three times then lit it and placed it next to the black candle. He then lit the All Purpose incense and placed a stick in each corner of the house.
The banging outside continued and then the front door flew open as if pushed by a fierce and violent wind. Elvira and Valda held on to each other in pure terror. The windows followed suit and all flew open, swinging crazily as if pushed by some angry invisible force. This was followed by loud sounds on the galvanize roof.
And at exactly midnight, the gardeh got up, opened his bag and pulled out his book of obeah. For the next minute or so he uttered words from it while the windows and door banged unceasingly.
Then without warning the gardeh fell backwards as if pushed violently. The obeah book went flying. He landed in an unceremonial heap in the corner with a loud groan. He quickly got up, grabbed the obeah book again and continued his incantations.
In the next five minutes everything grew quiet and it was then Elvira and Valda saw the jumbie. It was the same old man that had haunted Elvira’s dreams. It stood for a second in the door way as if unsure of what to do next. Then it released a scream, a blood curling scream that rang in their ears. Then it turned and fled.
The gardeh found a chair and sunk into it, completely exhausted. Valda and Elvira stayed frozen to their spots, too afraid to move, until the next morning.
Just before the sun rose the gardeh sprinkled more of the oils and powders around the house. He then washed and cleansed Elvira’s toe.
He then told them the jumbie was an evil one that wanted to possess Elvira but would now never return. Elvira was to sprinkle the oils and powders around the house for seven days more, just to make sure the jumbie would never return.
And the toe healed quickly after that. As for the sour fly, Elvira has it to this day, suspended and preserved in a bottle of Macousherie Rum.
It was a reminder of the jumbie that haunted her and wanted to possess her.
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