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|THE CONCUBINE --- (PART 2)||282 weeks ago|
Madume, now in his thirties, was by no means a very successful man. His compound was small with only two houses in it. Indeed he did not care for more houses, since thatching them in rainy season was a job he hated. His wife always complained of leaking roofs and had threatened on one occasion to thatch the roof herself, to shame him before the village. When she discovered half a dozen canes in her husband bedroom, she thought differently of the matter.
Madume?s yams were few. It was a lucky thing that barns were usually constructed in the farm, so that it was not easy to know exactly how many ekwes or columns of yams a man had. Still he had to sell his yam at the waterside markets during the harvest season and that gave him away.
Wolu, Madume?s only wife bore him four daughters ? a most annoying thing, despite the dowries he knew he would collect when they got married. But who would bear his name when he died. The thought of his elder brother?s son inheriting his house and land filled him with dismay. But there was time enough to marry another wife and the problem did not bother him unduly. Moreover, his daughters, marriages would provide him with the money for another wife. Wodu Wakiri had started the opening talk on his first daughter, now fourteen years old. But just now there was no telling whether Wakiri was serious or not. Practical jokes were also his stock in trade. There was one thing which Madume had and that was Bulk. He was tall and axe-headed and the old men said he has the best pair of calves in the village. His presence during the inter-village negotiation always lent a little extra strength to his village Omokachi. But people in his own village age group knew that he was not particularly strong. He was no a good wrestler (although he danced well to the beats of the drums) and many a young man had licked him.
Madume had one fault most villager disliked, he was ?big-eyed?; that is to say he was never satisfied with his own share in anything that was good, he would roar until he had something more than his companion?s share. Consequently he was always quarreling over land, palm wine trees and plantain trees and other such things, and that was
How he came to quarrel with Emenike.
But he had other reasons for not liking Emenike. The old men always cited Emenike as the ideal young man. He was good looking and well formed a favorite with the girls. He was just an average wrestler but had the devil?s luck of throwing people in spectacular ways which onlookers remembered long afterwards. He had won the old men?s confidence and they always let him run errands that required intelligence and the extensive use of proverbs. Perhaps Madume?s hatred for Emenike might not have been so great if only the latter had not snatched Ihouma from him. Madume had hoped to marry Ihouma, then the most desirable girl in Omigwe village. Neither Ihouma nor her parents had been kin on the match, but Madume overlooked this fact when later Emenike married Ihouma and blamed him wholly for the lost of the girl he wanted.
It was very easy for him to pick quarrels with Emenike because many events call for a degree of intimacy between the villagers. Take the sharing of meat after a general village hunt. Madume will always argue that Emenike had not been particularly active in the killing of a particular animal and so deserves only a fraction of what the old men actually gave him. But Emenike was not afraid of him. He knew he could hold his own against him any day given a fair chance. But a man?s god may be away on a journey on the day of an important fight and that may make all the difference. This was clearly what happened in the last fight between Emenike and Madume.
A day after the fight, it was clear that Emenike?s condition was serious. He himself had tried to make his brother Nnadi and his other relatives feel that he was almost normal. It galled him to think that he was suffering from a fight with Madume. He will rather die than to admit that. Nevertheless Anyika the medicine man was sent for.
No one quite knew were Anyika had come from. True he said he came from Eluanyim but that was no where as far as the villagers were concerned. But by now he had stayed so long in the village that people had ceased to bother about where he had come from. To the villagers, he was just a medicine man and a mediator between them and the spirit world. Towards evening, the medicine man came round to see Emenike who was laying in one of his wife?s room. A glowing fire had been made at the foot end of his bamboo couch. He was shivering and constantly adjusted his legs to be as close to the fire as possible. His feet were grey with several hours deposit of ashes. He coughed pathetically.
Ihouma sat on the couch her husband?s head resting on her lap. Nnadi and other relatives ranged themselves on one side of the room. Emenike?s children squatted on the floor, the oldest supporting his chin on his palm and peering anxiously into his father?s face. Anyika occupied the most central position. An oil lamp stood on a ledge on the wall. For some time there was a disturbing silence. Then Emenike coughed. As if in answer an owl hard by have vent to a long, eerie hoot. The sound died in a hair-raising diminuendo. The medicine man bowed his head. Nnadi exchanged glances with other members of the family. Clearly all was not well.
Anyika found his voice first.
?Well, Nnadi, you know the procedure,? he said.
?Eh, Anyika,? Nnadi replied and brought out two manilas. He knew that the medicine man could not open his medicine bag, without this sum, for it will be an insult to his personal gods and they would render his medicine ineffective.
?Let me have some kola nuts and gin?, Anyika said.
These were brought. Anyika cut them into pieces and threw them outside. He poured out some gin as libation and muttered as each drop reaches the ground:
?Gods of the night, take this;
God?s of the earth, take this?
Ojukwu the fair, take this;
Amadioha, king of the skies
This is yours;
And you ancestors, small and
Great, guardian of this compound
He hung an amulet over the doorway to bar the way for evil spirits. Then he brought out his divination cowries that made his name resound in the waterside village of Omokachi to the far, far lands of the Wakachis, the lands of the dwarfs, whom only Anyika knew or so he claimed.
By the time people had stirred from their ?digestion sleep? that is the first deep installment which ends after midnight. Anyika was through with his divination. He administered the drugs and told them what materials they were to collect for the sacrifice the next day. He removed his amulet but then changed his mind and replaced it over the doorway.
?To many evil spirits about? he announced.
?That is very kind of you? Ihouma said.
The medicine man packed and left. Nnadi and others rose to leave.
?Sleep well? Nnadi said.
?Am sure he will sleep well? Ihouma replied. By now Emenike was dozing.
Ihouma showed her great devotion to her husband in every way she could think of. She prepared dish after dish to tempt him. She brought out a new wrapper, and cautioned his head. The very logs of wood were specially collected. They were logs of the time-honored orepe tree which could glow continuously until the very last bit had burnt out. This ensured a steady supply of heat and made constant poking unnecessary. In his fevered brain, Emenike blessed his wife.
At last Ihouma was ready to go to bed. She roused her husband gently and whispered:
?Shall I lie on the bed by you, or should I spread a mat on the floor??
?Lie on the floor?, her husband muttered ?you may hurt my side. It palpitates as if it is ripe with pus.?
?I think you are right my lord? she said.
The first person to arrive in the morning was Anyika. Ha had warned Ihouma not to open the door for anyone until he came. There was no knowing who could come with what. But after him a steady stream of visitor poured into Emenike?s sick room. Wodu Wakiri the wag was among the early callers.
?I hope you slept well? he said.
?Eh? Emenike grunted.
?I wonder what Madume meant by such a crazy fight. I though that type of thing was now only for children.?
Emenike wanted to explain that his illness was not necessarily as a result of the fight, that in any case he threw Madume twice and gave him a worse beating. But his left side hurt cruelly and with the pain and the cough he could not talk properly. He decided to keep quiet.
?Do not take it to heart Eme? Wakiri went on. ?After all, you have always felled him in wrestling matches. Your personal god was not at home. That is how I view it. Everyone knows that Madume can only bust of bulk. Even I can throw him, his axe-head and big belly nothwistanding.?
Ihouma could not restrain a smile. Wakiri was always amusing people. He made fun of everyone. The curious thing is that he himself has very little to recommend him. He was small. Somehow his growth has been retarded. He was knock kneed and had large eyes. Yet no one made fun of him, and he was always welcome wherever he went. Perhaps his trick lay in making fun of himself as much as possible and that left people with nothing else to say. For instance of his protuberant eyes, he remarked that when the creator was making him, he had extra materials for eyes. He pointed out that his knock knee legs were best suited for Oduma, a village dance. And he was in fact a very good dancer. When at last Wakiri left, Emenike missed him.
The next caller was Nwokekoro, the priest of Amadioha. The god of thunder and of the skies. He was a short fat man, old but well preserved and had an easy-going disposition. He never seemed to be bothered about anything. He had no wife and no compound of his own. His small house was in his junior brother?s compound. He was getting too old for active farming so his yams were few and he owed very little property. He was friendly with everyone and was highly respected. His office as high priest of the most powerful god lent him great dignity.
The god of thunder was connected with rain. So nwokekoro was also the chief rainmaker. Everyone in the village knew that he kept a mysterious white smooth stone which when immersed in water cause rain to fall even in the dry season. Nwokekoro could also dispel heavy rain bearing clouds by merely waving a short mystic broom black with age and sooth. He derived a fair income during wrestling matches and other occasion where dry weather was more desirable.
Other rain maker stood in awe of him because he had the direct support of Amadioha. They dare not work in opposition to him. There was a case of Ogonda who tried to Rival Nwokekoro. A village had hired Nwokekoro to dispel of rain during a wrestling match. Ogonda felt that he has been ignored and had tried to make rain. He was struck down that very day by a thunderbolt while collecting herbs from the wayside. It all went to confirm that a man could not wrestle with a god.
?You have survived the night? Nwokekoro greeted Emenike in the traditional way. He was a mild stamerer. Wodu Wakiri always said he rumbled like thunder when he spoke ? a most reverent joke, seeing that Nwokekoro was the priest of Amadioha, the god of thunder. But Wakiri enjoyed an immunity hard to explain.
?Eh? Emenike replied.
?Amadioha will protect you my son?
?Please koko, shall we offer Amadioha a cock?? Ihouma asked.
Koko was the nick name by which the younger generation referred to Nwokekoro
?My daughter that will be on Eke the usual day for sacrifices. Meanwhile I shall pour libation on your husband?s behalf?.
Nwokekoro?s visit assured the couple. It was a fact that if Amadioha insisted on taking a man?s life no medicine man could do anything about it, and only a medicine man of great confidence would dare to try.
|posted by EHisassheshouldbe|
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