My knees rested on the cold kitchen floor as I ground the pepper. Mum had gone to a neighbour’s farm to work. It was unusual for a family not to have a farm of their own but that was our reality. My grandfather was said to be a very lazy man who slept at home while others went to plant. He wanted to save his strength for the future. Harvest time soon came and he had nothing so he sold his farm. My father never forgave him for that.
Today was friday so I hurried with my chore. Adabeke, the oldest woman in the village, must be in front of her hut now waiting to tell the village children a moonlight story.
While grinding the pepper, I heard Dorcas and Linda calling out to me. They were the only girls in the village with english names.
Nnenna quickly washed her hands and dried it on her wrapper. “Dorcas, Linda, are you set to go?”
“Yes, we even came with some dried palm kernel and garri to eat along the way,” said Dorcas. Linda smiled, saying nothing. In truth, she hardly said much. It was rumoured that she was an ogbanje. Linda fainted at the slightest sign of stress and could be too quiet atimes.
Soon, we got to Adabeke’s hut and sat with the other children. Adabeke smiled at us then began. Her sonorous voice made every tale captivating.
“A long time ago, there lived a couple, Mr and Mrs. Chike. They had everything but a child. People gossiped, saying she was born without a womb. Mr Chike’s relatives asked him time and again to get a second wife but he loved Mrs. Chike. Oh yes, he wasn’t perfect but in all my life I have never seen a love as pure as the one between them. He always said that if it was the will of his Chi (god) that he dies without a child, he was content.
Mrs. Chike wasn’t content. She wanted a child.
In desperation, she travelled to Ogbolor river, a home for the witches. They promised her a child on one condition; She would take the beads by the river and keep it with her forever.
In nine months time, Mrs. Chike gave birth to a very beautiful girl named Nwamaka. As she grew, no matter how hard you looked, you couldn’t find any atom of wickedness in her. Hmmm! but from the moment she was born, her parents’ wealth started dwindling. By the time, she was 14years old, her parents had nothing.
Her mother went begging for food but alas! kindness had fled the earth and mercy was nowhere to be found.
A certain woman finally agreed to give Mrs Chike some food in return for the beads.
Mrs. Chike though reluctant gave her the beads.
The minute Mrs. Chike parted with the beads, Nwamaka felt life seeping away from her. She went to her friends, crying and singing
*Goodbye one, goodbye all
My mother has exchanged my life for food.*
She finally died in her mother’s arms that night. oh! how Mrs Chike wept. Mr. Chike comforted his wife. They later embraced the true God, Jesus Christ and although they had no child, they had peace. Now, what did you learn from this story?”
Sobbing, Dorcas replied, ‘I learnt that we have to bring Nwamaka back from the dead.’
Everyone laughed including Adabeke who shook her head. “No. If there’s anything you’ll take home today, it’s that the devil is a trickster, if he gives you shoes, he’ll cut off your legs, if he gives you bracelets, he’ll pull out your hands. Don’t let circumstances deceive you, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Now go home.”
Scurrying out of her compound, we thanked her.
I got home to meet an angry mother. I had left home without completing my chores. As we prayed after dinner, mum made me the focus “…. Lord, give my child wisdom, make her responsible…”
A new dawn broke and so did another, then a family moved to our community, They had a son, Peter. Everytime, he stared at me in a way that made me grossly uncomfortable. For that reason, I avoided him.
Though, only time will tell how successful I’ll be in avoiding him.
To be continued…
By Kehinde Anita
Kehinde Anita is the author of a christian romance novel, “Why Won’t She Have Sex?” Its available on okadabooks app for N700 only.