The fourth person in the circle was their spiritual leader, Mr. Badi Ajake. Although the children prefered to call him papa because he was good to them like a father was to his children. Mr. Ajake's job was to teach the teenagers everything about being calm and going into deep meditation. Only there could they discover the true meaning of life and inner peace. However, the teenagers proved to be more stubborn than he imagined. They always believed they were right and sometimes, they refused to obey instructions given to them. As long as they were concerned, they knew it all. To teach the children a sound lesson, papa decided to carry out an experiment. It was a risky one but he was determined to go through with it.
Early that morning, Mr. Ajake didn't allow the children sweep the compound neither did he allow them do other chores. He didn't even allow them eat. When they asked why, He explained to them saying meditation that morning was a must, so, he took them into the cave. Within minutes, they sat in the meditation circle and the lesson began.
They were all in deep meditation, not minding anything that was or was not happening around them. They were very calm and wouldn't even respond to flies buzzing in their ears or mosquitos biting them. Although they were a hard set to teach, Mr. Ajake managed to instill discipline in them when it came to meditation. After about 10mins, a faint, foggy like human figure started to form by the side of each of them. After the figures had completely formed, it turned out to be their spirit forms which had left their bodies. Their spirit forms were robed in white gowns and slippers. They stood with closed eyes except Mr. Badi who had his eyes open.
"Open your eyes." Said Mr. Ajake to the children.
They obeyed but when they saw their bodies sitting on the floor, fear took over.
"Ahhhh!!!" Edi, the only girl and junior amongst them screamed as she saw their physical form still sitting on the ground as though in deep meditation.
"Papa are we dead?" TJ asked with fear written all over his face. Pascal was speechless. He didn't know what to say even though he felt like saying something.
"No! You're not dead." Mr. Ajake replied TJ's question with a smile while enjoying the expression on Pascal's face. Pascal was the most stubborn amongst them and so he really liked the effect the new experience was having on him. "You only left your bodies." He added.
"But why?" Edi asked.
"Because, I want to show you something. Come with me." He said as he led the way out of the little cave.
When they stepped out from the cave entrance, they found themselves stepping into a forest instead of the open field in the compound. The forest was not the usual type that was seen in the human world. The grasses were well trimmed. They didn't need anyone to help trim them. They trimmed themselves and even moved aside to create a wide path for people and animals to walk on.
The vegetation were as green as ever and they glowed with soft white light. Their beautiful flowers blossomed well into extreme beauty. Truly, the children had never seen such beautiful flowers. One could almost mistake the whole place for a garden made in disney land. The trees were really tall and their shades spread out well over the forest. As they moved along, the teenagers could not find even one dead leaf or stem on the ground. Apart from that, each plant had a small fairy like being on top of it. These beings helped to maintain the plants so that nothing bad happend to them. The beings were seen either singing to the plants or just caressing them with love.
The rays of the golden sun penetrated the shades of the forest and illumined every corners of it. In as much as the sun was high, the children felt no heat. The weather was just okay. It wasn't hot, neither was it cold.
Pascal over came being speechless and broke the silence.
"Wow!" He said as his jaw dropped open. "Are we on our way to heaven?"
"No" Mr. Ajake replied chuckling. "I only want to explain something to you and to do that, I had to bring you here."
"This place is truly magnificent." Edi said at last as she surveyed the surroundings.
"Yes." Mr. Ajake agreed. "Now let's move on."
Together, they walked through the forest. The teenegers could not help admiring the plants and flowers. They stopped to look at the flowers and the little beautiful beings that took care of them. Some of the fairy like beings gave the children flowers while the others just smiled and waved at them. One flew up and pecked the teenagers on their cheeks one after the other. They all smiled and kissed the little being back. They were so happy to be having such a wonderful experience, one their mates couldn't dream of having.
Soon, they came to a huge tree whose trunk was shaped like a house. There was light inside and the children wondered about it.
"Is this where you are bringing us?" Pascal asked.
"Yes." Mr. Ajake replied. "Now you are going to learn something important about the plants and all of nature and also, you learn about how they affect our everyday living." After talking, he clapped and asked loudly."Please great one can you kindly grace us with your presence?"
There was no reply, just movements inside the tree trunk house. The children were becoming impatient but soon, a majestic being fully illumined with so much light came out of the tree house. She wore a long green gown that only befits a queen. Her aura was full of light and love and so were her eyes. Her smile made the sun seem brighter and the teenagers were instantly in love.
"Welcome to my humble home." The being said. "Please come in."
They all went in and were surprised to see how bright the inside was.
"I never knew there was electricity in the spirit world." TJ said as he looked around, wondering where the switch was hidden."
"Of course there is." The being said. "The only difference is this. You call it electricity and you depend on others to channel it through wires to you. But here in our world, we call it light substance or, the light of God. We don't wait for someone to help us channel it, we channel it through deep meditation and acceptance. As you can see, its all around us in abundance."
"Oh!" Edi said with lost hope. "Meditation again? Papa has been singing that in our ear since the year began." Refering to Mr. Ajake. "Is there no other way around it? Meditation is too much work, we just want to have fun!"
"No dear, there is no other way around it. You have to discipline yourself in meditation, thats the only way you get to discover God and also enjoy everything life has to offer."
"Is this the lesson we came to learn?" Pascal asked his teacher.
"Yes Pascal." Mr. Ajake replied. "This and much more."
"Everyone sit down first." The beautiful being said.
"Sit down where? There are no chairs here." TJ said with a confused frown.
"Oh, but there are." She insisted.
At that same moment, some chairs appeared around a long table which was covered with white table clothe. The children looked on with eyes wide open.
"Okay, that is new." Pascal admitted.
"No, not new." Edi said after she recovered. "It's awesome." She finished in a whisper.
"What about you TJ?" Their teacher asked with a smile. "What do you think about this?"
"It's either magic or a miracle. All the same, its amazing."
"Wow! You all have your own words to describe what you have seen." The being said smiling. "But I will tell you this. Anything you can ever want is at your disposal, depending on how you go about taking it. You may get it instantly or you may work hard and wait longer to get it."
"You say it that easily because you are a fairy." Edi said.
"And fairies, or should I say light beings, get anything they want." Pascal completed.
"Well, fairies worked hard to become fairies, light beings do same. We were not always fairies and light beings you know, we were once very human like you."
"Really? TJ asked surprised. "So how did you change?"
"Well, that's a story for another day." The being answered with a smile. "For now, let us eat."
As she mentioned the word eat, food appeared on the table along side some fruits and snacks.
"Another extra ordinary happening." TJ said quietly.
The children moved further to inspect the food and soon, they were frowning.
"What kind of food is this?" Edi asked.
"Its the kind you haven't tasted before." Their teacher replied.
"Can't the food be changed?" Pascal asked with a pleading tone.
"Pascal! What have I thought you?" Mr. Ajake asked with a frown.
"To always be grateful for whatever we are given." He replied with his head hanging low.
"Now I expect you to say thank you. I don't want to hear another word of complain."
"Its okay." The light being said. "They are not used to eating this and so I will give them what they want."
As soon as she finished speaking, the food on the table was cleared away and replaced with well prepared pounded yam and Egusi soup." The children were happy. They sat happily at the table to eat but soon, their faces changed again.
"What kind of meat is this?" TJ asked after taking only one bite.
"Oh, that's not real meat." The being replied. "Its only made to look like and taste like one."
"Can't we get real meat?"
"No!" The being said firmly. "That is one request I cannot and will not grant. We don't eat animals here. To us, they are part of the family."
"What? Seriously?" Pascal asked. "So a chicken just walks by freely?"
"Yes of course. What else did you expect?" Said a voice from the entrance. Everyone turned to see a big white lion standing there. Its aura was full of light, its paws were large and strong. The hair on its head was neatly arranged and its eyes focused on the teenagers. Scared out of their wits, they jumped up from their seat. TJ and Pascal ran to hide behind Mr. Ajake because he was closer to them. Edi ran to hide behind the light being. As long as she was concerned, she was safer there.
"Now you run like chickens." The lion said as he moved closer. "How would you feel if I made meat of you?" It sneered.
Too scared to talk, the children hid very well and closed their eyes as they expected the worst. While they waited, they suddenly heard their father and the light being laughing. They opened their eyes and came out of hiding, only to find the lion sitting on one of the seats and happily devouring the meat like substance. At this point, the teenagers were more confused than scared.
"You are a lion, yet you eat like a man and talk like a man. Besides, you are supposed to feed on live goat, instead you are eating that?" Edi asked.
"Yes. Do you have a problem with that?" The lion asked while still focusing on his meal.
"Nope!" Pascal said as he blinked his eyes.
"Relax my dears" The light being said after she recovered from laughing. "This is Judser. He is a friend."
"A friend who obviously doesn't eat flesh." Mr. Ajake said.
The children relaxed and took their seats again. Soon, they finished eating and started chatting away happily. The light being later took them round the forest for sight seeing. They came across so many light beings and beautiful animals who could speak and they made friends.
When it was time to return, their teacher had to do everything possible to get them back.
"Would you take us there again?" Pascal asked as soon as his eyes opened in his physical body.
"If you are good and practice what you havelearnt, I will take you back."
"But we didn't learn anything." Edi said.
"There was a hidden lesson in everything that you saw and experienced. You alone will have to find that lesson and then practice it. If you can, then you won't need me to take you there again. You can go on your own. But if you don't get the lesson, don't even attempt going on your own. If you do, you will forever regret whatever experience you have."
"Yes papa." The children chorused before getting up and going out to do their chores.
Later that evening, the three of them came together to discuss about their visit to the other world and what lesson there was to learn.
"I think papa is just pulling our legs." Edi said. "If you think about it, there is really nothing there to learn."
"Edi, have you forgotten how tricky papa can be?" TJ asked with his arms folded across his chest. "If I were you, I would start looking for a lesson from our visit."
"I have an idea." Pascal suddenly said with so much hope in his eyes. "I think I know what the lesson is."
"What is it?" Edi and TJ chorused at the same time as they gathered around him."
"I'm not telling. If I tell, you will tell papa and papa will never know it was me who got the lesson first."
"Why would we do that?" Ebi asked.
"Because I know you would." Pascal replied. "I know what you are capable of."
"Okay, so if you keep it to yourself, what good is it going to do you?" TJ asked frowning.
"Its going to take me back there."
"You mean back to the fairy forest?" Edi asked.
"But how?" She asked confused.
"Have you forgotten that papa said we can go back to the forest any time we want as long as we know what lesson he was trying to teach us?"
"Ohhhh!!!!!" The other two chorused as realisation hit them.
"So what are you waiting for?" TJ asked. "If I were you, I would have long gone back. I won't miss all that fun for anything in the world."
Taking cue from his brother's words, Pascal quickly jumped up from the rock where he sat and soon two pairs of slippers were seen flying in the air as he raced to the meditation cave. Edi and TJ wasted no time in following behind. They wanted to witness how he was going to leave his body. They were sure he was going to succeed because according to their teacher, whoever learns his or her lesson would be able to leave the body conciously and visit the fairy forest. The teenagers were excited about this and they did not want to miss anything.
Soon after they got into the meditation cave, Pascal sat inside the white circle and crossed his legs. He immediately closed his eyes and went into meditation. It took him a while to become compeletly focused, but soon, his spirit was out of his human body. While there, he looked at his physical form sitting still as if in deep meditation. Edi and TJ sat quietly at a corner and watched. They didn't know Pascal was already out of the body but they assumed he was.
"Yes!" Pascal said as he jumped in triumph. "I did it. Now I'm going to visit every interesting place in this forest. That said, he moved quickly towards the exit. As soon as he stepped out, he saw himself in a forest. It was very bushy and very unlike the fairy forest. The sky was completely covered with dark clouds and a very stinking fowl smell rented the air. Wondering were the smell was coming from, Pascal looked about him only to discover he was standing on a decaying corpse.
"Ahhhh!!!" He screamed as he moved back abruptly. In the process, he fell down, but then, he screamed again. He screamed because there was another decaying corpse lying next to him on the ground where he fell. Pascal quickly stood up and ran away from the place. Unfortunately, the cave entrance had disappeared from behind him. Only people who were highly enlightened spiritually could find their entrance point and therefore their way back home. Besides, he didn't know how to get back into his body even if he found the cave.
Not knowing how to find his way back to his body, Pascal went deeper into the forest. The experience wasn't funny for him because the whole place was very bushy and covered with torns. Pascal frowned as he walked along. He wondered if the forest was the same one he and his siblings visited earlier with their teacher.
"What is this place?" He finally asked himself. "Did someone come here to destroy the fairies and their well ordered world? Why does it look gloomy and deserted?"
He couldn't answer his own question so he kept moving. Soon, he found a place to rest near a river bank. As the tides pushed the water in and out of land, Pascal sat on the sandy soil for a while. The atmosphere there was anything but happy. Pascal was at least relieved to rest at the river banks. The fear of other people seeing him sitting on the open river bank and hurting him was not there. As long as Pascal was concerned, he was the only living being in the forest. He remained on the wet, cold sand as he looked out over the river. In that spot, different thoughts went through his mind.
"Where was the fairy forest? Where were the fairies and the light being? If he searched a little longer and couldn't find them, how would he go back to his body?" He sighed almost in defeat as these thoughts crossed his mind. He knew that he was lost already but he didn't know just how lost he was. While he was still sitting in that position and still trying to think of a way out of his predicament, he suddenly felt a sharp sting on his neck.
"Jesus! What... wh... is that....?" .He winced in pain as he touched the spot where he felt the sting. There was something like a needle stuck to his neck. Pascal pulled it out and looked at it. He instantly knew that the needle was a poisoned one. He knew because back in his village he was once privillaged to go hunting with some hunters. These hunters sometimes used needles which were coated with an instant sleeping concoction to capture games which they later took home for consumption or to the market for sale.
"Oh papa, please help me." That was all he managed to say before passing out.
Pascal woke up to the sound of loud African drumming with all its complex rhythm. At first his vision was blur but as it got clearer, he didn't only notice being tied to a bamboo bed but also saw before him, a whole village of half naked bush men and women dancing around a huge pot which was placed on a fire. Apart from some leaves which were used to cover their vital organs, the rest of their bodies were bare. While they were still dancing, two bush men came for Pascal. Since he was already tied to the bamboo bed, they simply picked him up with the bamboo and started towards the big pot on the burning fire.
"No, no please." Pascal begged. "Please don't cook me, I'm not even sweet. If you cook me you wouldn't enjoy your meal. Please I beg you."
They couldn't understand what he was saying so they didn't bother listening to him. Their drums sounded even louder and the bush men danced harder. They were happy to have fresh human meat for their festival. At this point, Pascal knew that his end was near. He started to wish he had gone to his teacher first before stupidly going on a dangerous adventure. He thought of Edi and TJ and tears flowed down his cheeks.
"I wouldn't see them again?" He asked himself as he cried out like a little baby. "Why? Oh why did I have to be so sturborn?"
While he lamented, the bush men carrying him drew closer to the fire with every step they took. When they eventuallly got to it, the villagers stopped dancing and the beat of the drum changed. It was no longer the dance beat that was being played, this new beat was slower but had so much force. The bass drums sounded like a heart beat and with every strike, the sound was felt in the heart down to the abdomen, it was something spiritual that Pascal couldn't understand. The men carrying Pascal climbed a bridge that was built around the big pot. When they got close to the edge of the open pot, they lossened the binds that held him to the bamboo bed.
"Urghmmm..." One of the bush men said as he pointed into the already boiling water in the big pot below them. Pascal looked into the pot of boiling water from up the bridge where he stood. He saw lots of unsliced onions and pepper inside the boiling water. Seeing how hot the water was, his heart raced faster and beat even harder as hot tears rolled down his cheeks.
"Urrrggghmmmm..." the bush man said again, signaling Pascal to jump into the pot. But when Pascal refused for the second time, the man stepped forward and without warning of anykind, he pushed Pascal off the bridge. Pascal couldn't believe his eyes. So this was his end? He was actually going to be their meat? As he got closer to the boiling water inside the big pot, he wished for the last time that he was rescued but still nothing happened. Finally, it was just him and the boiling water. He closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable to happen but then, something else happened. Instead of landing inside hot water that was boiling with pepper and onions, he landed on the floor inside the meditation cave. He looked up to see papa, Ebi and TJ looking at him with so much worry in their eyes.
Their teacher had come in a few minutes earlier and saw that Pascal was in meditation. However, a closer look suggested that all was not well. Papa noticed that Pascal's body looked troubled. He quickly questioned Ebi and TJ and they confessed that Pascal had gone to the fairy forest because he had learnt his lesson.
"What nonsense!" Papa yelled before quickly placing his right thumb on Pascal's forehead. That done, he said some incantations that pulled Pascal's spirit away from where it was and forced it back into his physical body.
"Ahhh! Ah! Papa I'm alive." Pascal said with so much joy. He jumped up and hugged his teacher before hugging TJ and Ebi. The teenagers looked confused and they wanted to ask Pascal why he was so happy to be abruptly brought back from the fairy forest. His constant joyous cries of being alive also confused them. As far as they knew, he had been alive, so what in God's name was he talking about? They wanted to question him but one look at their teacher's face told them the timing was wrong.
Pascal was still celebrating and jumping about when he suddenly heard his teacher's voice.
"Are you done celebrating? " Papa asked. "What nonsense do you think you've done here today?"
Pascal quickly brought himself to order and knelt before his teacher. Everyone was surprised at his actions because he had never done so before. "I'm so sorry papa. I thought I was doing the right thing." He pleaded.
"You thought?" Papa asked. "Your limited idea of whats right and whats wrong almost got you killed do you realise that? Next time you may not be so lucky."
"I won't do it next time papa." He pleaded again.
Papa wanted to scold him some more but seeing that he was truly repentant, he decided to let the boy be, but first he needed to find out something.
"Now that you are back from that pit hole, can you tell me what lesson you think you learnt from the first experience?"
"I thought the lesson was that we could do anything we like." Pascal replied.
Papa's brows shot up as he looked at Pascal. "Who gave you that idea?"
"Well, the light queen said it." Pascal defended. "She said we can have anything we want but the way we go about getting it depends on how long it would take us to have it?"
Papa smiled then and relaxed a bit. He sat down and asked the other children to sit too. Before speaking, he asked Pascal to tell them about his experience. By the time Pascal finished talking, Ebi and TJ looked scared.
"We almost lost you." TJ said as he hugged Pascal. Ebi, on the other hand was speechless. She thought her brother was having fun in the fairy forest. She didn't know he was captured, tied to a bamboo bed and almost cooked alive by half naked bush men. She quietly moved forward and hugged her brothers. While they were at it, their teacher sat quietly and watched the display of emotion with a smile. He was happy that Pascal's story touched the other two children. He gave them a little more time to hug and pet Pascal. After that, he spoke.
"Now my dear students, I will tell you what lesson I want you to learn from all that has happened." Papa said. "The lesson is simple. Do not jump to conclusion especially on sensitive issues, and also, do not assume that you know everything. If you do that, you will not see the need to seek advice from elders or experienced individuals before taking certain steps in life. One wrong decision may bring about your end. The lesson I wanted you three to learn was actually from your second experience, not the first."
"What?" The children asked with wide eyes.
"You knew this would happen?" Pascal asked.
"Yes I knew." Papa admitted. "I was supposed to watch three of you so you don't go off doing something stupid, but then, I slept off. By the time I woke up, you three were nowhere to be found. I quickly came here and the rest, you already know. If I had been one more minute late, you would have been dead by now. The temperature of your body told me that you were almost gone."
"But why would you set such trap for us?" Pascal asked angrily. "I almost died back there."
"Yes, why would you do that to us papa?" Ebi asked almost in tears.
"Don't you love us anymore?" TJ asked too.
"That's not the issue my dears." Papa assured them. "I love you all as if you were my own children but like I said, I only wanted to teach you a lesson. One you must not forget."
That said, papa stood up, patted the teenagers on their heads before leaving them behind. As he walked out of the meditation cave, he smiled to himself. Once when he was also a teeneger, his own teacher did the same thing to him. Like Pascal, he too fell into the trap but he was also rescued. Since then he learnt his lesson. He only hoped that Pascal and his siblings had learnt theirs too.