a picture showing moyo okediji sitting next to his artwork

Ibeji: Soul Mates

Ibeji: Soul Mates

“Iya Oyo,” I asked, “why call her Ọmọ Méji? Ọmọ Méji means two children but she is just one person.”

This was after a woman who looked like she was in her thirties, who was on her way to an errand, stopped by Iya Oyo’s house to greet her.

Iya Oyo looked at me with surprise, as if to say my mother should have given me such basic cultural education.

Baba Oyo responded, “Moyo, when a person is an Ibeji (twin), you call her Omo Meji.”

Then Iya Oyo continued as if to correct him. “She is not really a single person. You may think you see just one person, though there are two people before your eyes.”

“How is that possible?” I asked, confused.

“Not everything in front of your eyes is visible,” Iya Oyo continued. “There are many more things in existence that your eyes cannot see.”

“I know that,” I responded. “Our biology teacher taught us that some things called microbes cannot be seen with the eyes, and you need special magnifying lenses to see them because they are just too tiny.”

“Iya Oyo does not mean that they are too tiny to see,” Baba Oyo explained.

“You may wear a million lenses,” Iya Oyo elaborated, “and you still cannot see them. They are not meant to be seen, period.”

“I know,” I replied, “such as air.”

“No, not like air,” Iya Oyo responded. “I feel air as it moves around and blows as the wind bending the plants. But some things cannot be seen, felt, smelled or perceived in any way or form.”

“Unless they want you to see then,” Baba Oyo interjected.

“An example,” I asked in disbelief.

“Such as Ọ̀rọ̀,” Iya Oyo said. “If an ọ̀rọ̀ was around us, you wouldn’t see it unless it wants you to. It is the same as the Ìbejì. Though Taye was here a moment ago, her second self, Kehinde, was also present yet nonvisible.”

“Kehinde died when Taye was just about three and –“ Baba Oyo was explaining when Iya Oyo interrupted him.

“Kehinde did not die,” said Iya Oyo. “Kehinde only moved to Orun, the world from where we all came from. Their mother, Mojere, immediately asked Amao, a sculptor, to make an Ere Ibeji sculpture to represent Kehinde, and Taye still has that Ère Ìbejì with her. It’s probably inside the handbag that Taye was carrying.”

“She carries the Ère Ìbejì around with her?” I asked, incredulous.

“Absolutely,” Baba Oyo said. “She bathes the Ère Ìbejì, rubs oils and camwood on it, and places beads around its ankle, waist, neck and wrists.”

“Taye and Kehinde are two spirits in the same person,” Iya Oyo elaborated. “When Taye got married, her husband realized that he was getting married to two people, not one.”

“Incredible,” I said. “Did he pay two bride prices?”

“No,” Iya Oyo explained. “Just one bride price. But the two twins would share it equally. In fact, all of us are twins. There is always a second person that Olodumare made for you. That is your soul mate. If you are lucky, people find their soul mates and marry them. Or you may just find your soul mate in a close friend, and nothing can separate both of you.”

“You and Baba Oyo are soul mates?” I asked Iya Oyo.

“Ask him,” Iya Oyo responded. “He is standing right in front of you.”

Baba Oyo smiled, picked up his Bible, and sauntered out, silent.

Today, I completed a painting that I named “Ibeji: Soul Mates,” as I recalled my conversation with Iya Oyo.

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