Brief Insight: This is the second part of a fictional series called ‘The Umukabia Series’, and is a series that aims to highlight and emphasize the splendour that resides in rich traditional untainted African culture, and how the traditional African life is chuck full of beautiful stories to tell. The first part, “The Left Fork”, can be read here.
The harvesting season was not as fruitful to Mazi Okagbue as it was to the rest of his clansmen this year. He had been taken so violently by the fever four months ago, and from what Dibia Udundi said, recovery was not in sight. He had secretly known this before the words themselves were uttered because he felt thin against every, and all, evening breeze, weightless to the hapless calls of the nocturnal beasts. His was a fleeting soul, but the sad story really was what he was unwantedly fleeing from – a herd of male heirs that symbolized Okike’s cruelty towards him; if he had all seven of them as women instead, he’d had been a more fulfilled man.
Only his third wife was still alive, and had been his consolation, until she joined that gathering of fools held by the treasonous edifice called Ojinta’s church. Who has ever heard of a preacher man doubling as a coffin maker? When Father Francis introduced the white man’s religion to Mbaito moons ago, even though it spelt the end of all things good and sacred in the land, it at least retained some enviable dignity of being something one can stand in loyalty for, if one were interested in such revolutions. It was pure and true of resolve, unlike this charade Ojinta ran, eating colanuts before communion, and having counselling sessions after services graced by all the wombs of all seven villages in Umukabia.
Ezinne, Okagbue’s third wife bore him no child, so sometimes she was more like the help in his obi, and at other times, she was the warmth between his legs. She was never both, and as queer as he found this, it had settled between the both of them, and he was okay with it. This year, with all the bountiful reaping that had characterized the more hardworking families of Mbaito, Ezinne was gravely concerned about her fellow wives’ wayward children and how they were actually the cause of Mazi Okagbue’s illness. Okagbue would scold a child once, and after that, will abandon the child if he or she remains stubborn to their juvenile causes. He would perform the chore meant for the child, and blot out memory of any instance such child had ever been of help. And this he did, all the years prior to this one, putting food on the table for ever ungrateful spawns one blood-stained sweat at a time, selling the rest of his produce for cowries (and later, the inveigling intrusive oyibo’s pound sterling) to ensure his household remains a reputable sight for all passersby. He was a titled ozo, and had to look the part, come what may.
Dibia Udundi came in one afternoon with what he called the solution. His regimen: daily strolls around places that has brought him joy in the past for mental healing, two fresh untouched eggs drank from their shells with unfermented palm wine washing it down for internal bodily healing right after the walk, bathing with a bundle of bric-a-brac and raffia (mostly ornaments of wood used to tie up a confusion of palm fronds, fish scales, rough goat hide, bitter leaf, and red earth) after each drink for outer bodily healing, and finally, making love to the first woman his heart chooses per time after all other actions have been performed. This last one, he said, was so that he could become re-masculinized. Okagbue argued that in his life experiences, he’d found it is always easier to be than to become, and that for dog years, he had progressively lost his being. Becoming a man again would be an impossibility.
He believed that, yes he did. But he took on Udundi’s challenge anyway. It was more to quell his curiosity than to pursue remedy. A hope that Udundi, by some lucky stroke of Chaachaa’s divine grace, had this time actually been accurate lay in Ezinne. She was the only rock he had now, and she was solid enough. Sure, he never expected her to do manly things, like sow and harvest the yams, or tap the palm, but she and her onions were very well acquainted when it came to making sure that her part is done, and the yams and the palms are not left unattended. When Okagbue would not do it, she would pressure and bribe one of her step-sons to, and when she couldn’t, she’d go as far as seducing one of the men of Mbaito to do it for her. She’d done rounds on almost all the men she could remember – never actually going through the whole nine yards with them to copulation, but far enough – except ‘ndi okpukpere chi’ – the church people.
Ezinne did not know the day Okagbue was to begin Udundi’s prescriptions, and unlucky was she when she carried out her newest plan to see to the tending of the yams and the tapping of the palms to completion. She was undeniably one of the fairest women in Mbaito to look upon, and men salivated at her gaze, and even got trapped in wonder when they tried to figure how she’d cheated the gods that aged men. She was not beauty alone though. She was brains as well, and when she encouraged her youngest step-son, Johnny, to make friends with the pastor’s son, Dede, she knew her masterstroke would not only get Ojinta to please her just once. He would be at her beck and call. She would compromise this once though. She would go all the way through. But she would do it where no one in Mbaito dared approach – the clearing left of The Left Fork. She would lure and prance and dance until she got what she wanted. She loved Okagbue that much.
After Johnny and his new friend Dede had discovered Ezinne and Ojinta having sexual relations and not being imperceptible about the matter, Ezinne was struck with a sense of defeat. Chaachaa had defeated her, and had not willed her wiles to come to fulfilment. But what was more? As she and Ojinta quickly dressed to flee the scene, Okagbue’s form, engaging his first morning stroll appeared from behind a banana stalk just shy of the edge of the clearing. He’d seen them. His rock had just shattered his heart the most.
Chizzy Ndukwe N is a 24 years old Nigerian writer, literary entrepreneur, and a graduate of Petroleum Engineering from Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria.
He is the founder of Route Africa Writers Organization, a non-profit non-governmental organization that gathers a collective of student writers whose primary goal is to empower each other and contribute to Africa’s literary scene worldwide.
His works have been published by blogs ToryHub and InspireCrib. He has an exclusive feature interview with Afrikult.. He writes regularly for Yolar Magazine, and Birds and Bridges (the official blog for Route Africa). He blogs on a daily basis on Tukobos.com (his opinion blog, covering commentary on world trending events, dialectics on culture and lifestyle, book reviews, movie reviews, and exclusive fiction, non-fiction and poetry from him).
He has been writing on Wattpad for 5 years now.