A Day With Tim Sih Of Yang Village
By Yerima Kini Nsom
It was one of the glorious days of October 1979. My aunt had decided to put an end to my unstable health situation. In the morning of one “countri Sunday” (Ituh-boleh) we hit the road for Yang village in Njinikom sub division in Boyo Division of the North West province.
Yang was where Bobe Tim Sih reigned Supreme as the “medicine man” and soothsayer who saw deep into the future of men and women.
By the time my aunt and I arrived in Bobe Tim’s compound, the sun had parted its lips and emitted an illuminating smile that brightened the hills overlooking Yang village. This was a sign that the rainy season had completely given way to the dry season.
The compound that had three houses, was a vivacious beehive of activity. People carrying galloons of “medicine”, people strapping their sick children on their backs in desperate wait for the “doctor” and the shrieking voices of the mental patients who were receiving corporal punishment from the “aides of the doctor” characterized the scene.
Such a scene jilted my emotional serenity and I threatened to leave the place, but my aunt restrained me. We then took the queue and were sentenced to almost a whole day of waiting to see the “doctor”. In such boredom, I heaved a primitive yawn that virtually divided my mouth into two. My aunt, Nawain Nengsha, interpreted that it was a sign of hunger. She then opened her basket. My hand went down deep and emerged with a good quantity of boiled beans and maize. As soon as I began dousing the uprising in my stomach, I was ushered in to see Bobe Tim.
As I settled in the dark room, my fright peaked. Then, a thick short man, almost dressed fully in Adam’s suits, sauntered in from another dark room. His overgrown grey hair flew generously falling down his back and shoulders. His weird appearance cut the imaginary posture of what I had in my young superstitious mind as “mami wata”. That was Bobe Tim Sih. He began certain incantations as he moved towards me. But before he made closer steps, I screamed and voted swiftly with my feet.
I stormed out in fright and sped off, meandered the crowd outside and hit the road to Tinifoinmbi. Bobe Tim’s aides chased and arrested me. They joined my aunt in counseling and cautioning me not to be afraid of the “medicine man”.
This time around, my aunt accompanied me into the dark room. Bobe Tim tried hard to let me understand that he was just a normal human being. He cracked jokes, qualifying me as a coward. It was a dreadful experience when he started his cuts with a sharp razor blade all over my body. As blood oozed out from the tiny wounds, he started rubbing some smelly mixture all over my body. The pungent smell made a direct score into my nostrils. I covered my nostrils with my left palm in the dark room and exercised the patience of a vulture.
At one moment, he took snail shells, dipped them into a pot of another strange mixture. He held the shells in both hands, turned his back on me, then asked me to lick the two objects one at a time. I never did. I closed my lips tightly each time he asked me to lick any of the shells. The exercise was traumatizing. At the end, he gave me some small bundle of protective “medicine” to always put inside my pants when going to school or any other place.
This was to protect me against any harm.
It was to shield me against the diabolic mission of what he said were people of the metaphysical world whom he said were threatening my life. Before we left the place, he told me not to take a bath for seven days. I was not to shake hands with anybody on my way back.
I left the place feeling fortified against my enemies, real and perceived. My aunt was told not to give out any kitchen utensil to a neighbor if she came begging. Anybody who visited Bobe Tim Sih could easily be identified by the repulsive stench that was coming out of him or her. Anybody who went through the ritual of Tim’s medicine, was like a he-goat that could not hide its stink. People left the compound feeling healed and protected against enemies. Fortunately or unfortunately, I mistakenly violated the no “handshake” injunction by shaking hands with my playmate.
After a few days, I equally lost the protective charm after playing football one afternoon. My aunt cursed me continuously as I searched for the “medicine” without success.
Bobe Tim Sih was a dreaded “medicine man”. There were many mythical stories about Bobe Tim. One of them is that he was older than his parents because he had long existed in the spiritual world before the time of birth. It was believed that he left his healing abode when darkness had fallen. He went to look for herbs and other elements of his medicine in the wee hours of the night.
Tim Sih’s prominence in Kom was also seen through the two Juju groups in his compound, known as “Muh-isom” and “Duiyen”. The juju groups were feared and respected wherever they went. The centenarian died last March leaving three wives and several children.