The lights of the sun were hiding on the other side of the world and the birds were retiring to their nest by the time Ejima decided that it was time to go home, having fed enough on the bread of affliction. She tried to swallow but the fluid in her mouth was all gone. Her lungs were like the face of two stones rubbing over each other and her stomach hadn’t rumbled in protest either. She wasn’t hungry; the sorrow had made sure of that. What kept flooding her mind was all the time she had spent with Uche. He was her first love. They had met on the eve of the new yam festival after she had danced with some of the virgins that were not betrothed. It was love at first sight. He too had performed that day. He had wrestled with Dinta—who turned out to be Nneamaka’s husband—and had lost. The villagers had been angry with Uche, for losing the crucial wrestling match. Most people called him a coward. But Ejima had seen his failure with one eye closed. Even though Uche had denied it, Ejima coul
“I don’t think she can make it” Someone was saying. The words were gibberish and echoed in Ejima’s ears like the voice of some market women, arguing over the price of a goat. Her legs and thigh were on fire and her body ached. Lifting a limb was almost impossible. She tried to raise her head, but the sudden weight of ten thousand people will not let her. Where am I? She tried to recall. Her memory flashed back and a new pain sparked through her spine. She saw her husband and her best friend in her mind's eyes, smiling together, and laughing at their jokes. Nonsense thought She sniffed just as the image of her fall also flashed in her vision. My baby. She panicked but her hands would not move when she tried. The only thing that was moving at the moment was her eyes, which provided her with multiple images. “Drink this,” A voice seemed to say. The multiple images appeared over her head and poured something into her mouth. “But she is still breathing” Came another strange voice.
How long had they carried her? Ejima whizzed, fighting through the rope that gaged her mouth. It was hard to get enough air, especially since her hands have been tied backwards. The firm grip of the guard which locked her to the body of the Ostrich did not add any ease at all. She tried to struggle but realized just then that there was no strength in her. The weakness of childbirth was kicking in and it was taking all of Will's power not to drift into the world of serenity. The pace of the Ostrich eased as they came before two burning torches. The Palace guards alighted, and one of them undid the rope that held her to the Ostrich. She fell heavily from the animal and cursed, but the gag in her mouth would only let a gibberish undertone. She coughed and sat up, trying to suck air into her burning lungs, but all effort was like water poured on a stone. Where were they taking her? Ejima's coppery eyes searched the night. The creeps of the cricket could be heard as they announced the de
“As promised” Uche signalled with his first finger and the servants dropped the baskets beside the small hut, “here are the gifts.” The Dibia stood and counted the baskets with her nose. There were ten baskets of yam, six baskets of tomatoes, five baskets of ogbono, and a calabash of undiluted palm wine. At least six chicken in their prime were tied together in another basket, just next to some edible vegetables. “You have done well,” the Dibia nodded and returned to her seat. The antelope skin that hung on her shoulders, kept her proud nature affirmed and nothing suggested if she was pleased with the present or not. “And here are the Six bags of cowries, for your trouble.” Uche smiled and dropped the bag into the Lion's skull, right in front of the diviner. He nodded once and his servants retired home while he took the wooden seat opposite the older woman. “I hope everything went as planned?” Uche asked The Dibia muttered some silent words and took a chalk from her goatskin bag.
Ejima yawned widely, not bothering to cover her mouth. She rested her weight on the broom and allowed her bright gaze to wander through the place she now calls home. It was nothing close to the size of her husband's compound, and the dried leaves that carpeted the floor made her want to cuddle under her skin. Bloody cashew tree. She hissed and wiped the sweat drop that had strolled towards her eyelid. Leaning away from the broomstick, she continued with her chore, hoping to be done before the sun hangs on the centre of the earth. But for the many trees, nothing stood for miles, just her small hut and the grasses. It would take about eight to ten miles before the next house could be seen. Seven weeks have passed since they drove her out of her husband's place, to this serene environment whose loneliness could make a ghost run out of wit. If hardship had not been her best companion all these years, she would have died of boredom. Dropping the broomstick, she packed the gathered leaves
Culture and tradition? They are nothing but twin sisters in a symbiotic relationship. It would be hard to tell which of the two was sucking the virtue and the moral rights of the people. Generations have come and gone. Good and bad people fading with its hood. These traditions that govern the cultures of the people had been enacted by some of the fathers who had lived long before the village had been born. But, thinking about it now, it would be difficult to pinpoint the moment in history when evil had crept in. The people had lived long enough with the folk tales of the fathers to blot the dent in the dough that had swelled in the batch of morality. Perhaps the adage, Ihe ojo gba afo, obulu omenala (If evil remains long enough it becomes a culture), was in play at the moment. Or was it the people? Why was it so hard to play the good card in life? Ejima hissed as she traced her path into the forest. She tried to keep her mind from wandering, but too many things tussled for her attenti
It would have been a frosty night if the sound of the ikoro had not beaten down the serenity and dethroned it from its place. Not even the people dancing around the fire could tell the maturity of the cold night. They had forgotten their wine calabash, for the first time in history. These men who love palm wine more than they loved their lives, had left their wine on the bench all because they were dancing. Unbelievable. Jidenna smiled as his almond eyes darted away from the gyrating men to the boys who knelt in front of the Dibia. The palm leaf that lined their lips made them look like an agent of death. Even though they looked tough and held a gaze that was stone cold, he couldn't count any of the five who hadn't fallen under his prey. Those bulging muscles that lined their skin were intimidating, but the boys were weaklings and would do anything to keep their reputation and ego. Jidenna yawned but covered his mouth when he caught the expression on his father's face. They were cold
Jidenna rubbed his eyes and walked out from his little bamboo bed. He yawned wide, giving no care to his father’s instructions to always cover his mouth whenever the need to ease his air tract arises. The good news was that his father was nowhere near his little hut. He was away to the Igwe’s (King’s) palace and will not return until the birds retire to their nest. The man’s lectures never cease. They always went on and on until the sun was high on the cloud. If the ears could get filled up, Jide was sure that his ears would be overflowing with all the instructions his father was laying down for him. He picked his clay cup, and with his free hands, washed the drool from his face, before gulping a good quantity to rinse his mouth. He was becoming a man and his father always forgets that part. Obi will not remain a boy forever, will he? A voice at the back of his head affirmed. Besides, Ugomma was living next to their compound. What will she say when she sees the drool on his face?