Hi Everyone, this is could be read as a “stand alone story” but is also a continuation of Prayers Unanswered -1. If you can, please read it here first. Thank you!
Afamefuna was trying not to stagger as he walked home. He was drunk, he had not expected to be out this late or to drink this much palm wine. But was glad there was a full moon unless he might miss his step and fall to the ground. What a shame that would be.
He was returning from the ezinta shrine. Desperation had driven him to the dreaded ezinta. But Afamefuna was not ill, had gone to ezinta because he had overheard Okoro say that his wife had finally been cured of her bareness after a couple visits to ezinta. Afamefuna had gone to see if his case could be helped.
Afam was a peaceful and fairly prosperous man, he believed in the potency of his chi who always protected him from danger. In return, he tried to keep his hands off evil and thrived that way.
Many years ago, he had met Nwakego on her way back from the stream. In those days, he was still a growing farmer and made his money from helping older men cultivate their lands. They would sometimes repay him with healthy yam seedlings which he would then plant in his own land.
The first time he had seen her, she was going to the stream with her sister. They laughed and talked as they walked pass him. Deeply engrossed in their discussion, they had not noticed him standing there like he had been pinned down by some powerful force. His mouths slightly ajar, his eyes fixed on her.
She was beautiful, she radiated with a glow that seemed to come from inside her. Her small eyes darted back and forth between her sisters as she laughed. Her smile seemed to ignite a fire in his belly.
They walked past him without a second thought and he wondered why he had never really seen her before. He knew her family well, he had worked on her father’s farm land in the last planting season but he never really paid much attention to anything else.
Standing on the road that led to the stream, on his way back from Uzumia’s plot of land. He decided that he was going to take that girl as his wife.
He would later succeed in convincing her to like him, it wasn’t easy. Nwakaego had been extremely shy and withdrawn in the first months after their marriage. She would hardly smile for him, only becoming lively when her sisters and her friends came to visit. But he didn’t mind, he was deeply fond of her and cared for her regardless. But as time went by, like a blooming flower, she began to open up to him and they soon truly became one.
In those days they lived in peace, Nwakaego seemed to already know what her husband loved and expected from her. In return, he always knew how to make her smile. He loved to make her smile.
But as time went by, her smiles once again started to fade. The thorn of childlessness had taken up residence in her heart, causing her permanent discomfort. He had tried to pacify her, but nothing he would say could bring her any comfort. She would cry herself to sleep, only to resume crying in the morning. She would spend her days at the shrine of the goddess ani, bathing in the sacred river.
But month after month, her heart would break anew. In those days, she became like a shadow of herself – devoid of vibrance and fading away. Her pain was evident and it saddened Afamefula.
But the real blow came a few years later, after he had succumbed to the pressure being mounted on him by this family and taken a second wife.
Afam was the only son of his aging father who had started to request for grandchildren shortly after his marriage. He did not despise his daughter-in-law, if Afam wanted to keep her in his house to cater for her despite her inabilities to bear children, it was up to him. But he insisted that Afam take another wife. A real woman that would bear him children – sons that will ensure continuity of this lineage.
Afam had married Ogonma and in no time, she had started to bear him children- sons and daughters alike. Nwakaego had tried to bury her grief in the early days. She had helped Ogonma in the days when the pregnancy had overweighed her and in the days that followed the birth.
All the while still hopeful and praying to the mother that she would bless her with children of her own. In those days, the cries of a child brought her hope. But as time went by, the cries and laughter of the children seemed to gnaw at her heart and further twist the thorn of childlessness that had taken permanent residence in her heat.
Afam tried in every way he could think to bring her happiness and make her smile. Nothing seemed to work. Nothing he did or said could penetrate the cloud of grief that had descended on her.
Eventually he stopped trying, grief had taken over her heart. There was no room for anything else. His heart broke for her, this was not the life he had planned for the both of them.
Today as he dragged himself home, heavy from all the palm wine he had consumed. He prayed, he bargained with the gods in his mind as he stumbled home
“Let her have one child, let her belly swell with one child. One will be enough. Let this work, let her have one”
He was getting desperate, Ogonma was growing wilder with each passing day. She has been trying to take Nwakaego place. Even once suggesting that she should be sent back to her father, calling Nwakaego a man. He had hit her across the face without hesitation, he was furious. Rage burned from deep within his belly. Tempted to hit her again, he had wanted to stomp the life out of her.
But he had walked her out of his obi instead. How dare she say such a thing? Nwakaego had been like a mother and a sister to her. In the days when she was first married to him, he had no interest in her. She was still very young and Nwakaego had taken her in and cared for her, teaching her everything she knows. And this is how she plans to repay her- to dethrone her.
She has never mentioned sending Nwakaego packing again, but now she complains about everything every chance she gets.
Afam knows that it is only a matter of time till his people will take her side. This is why he had gone to ezinta despite his disdain for that place. The villagers believe that the children that ezinta called forth were children of evil that had been cast off by the mother. The rumours prevailed after Obidiah was raped by her young son.
Everyone recalled that she had been married nearly five years with no children and had borne her son-Ekelia after she had gone to the ezinta shrine for cleansing.
But desperation had made a home in Afam’s heart and had guided his feet to the shrine.
He was nearing his compound now, the moonlight illuminated the compound.
The soft breeze carried up chars from a fire that had burned in front of Ogonma’s hut. He would have to rebuild that hut, what she wants is to trade places with Nwakaego but he would not permit that.
The assurance that the priestess at ezinta shrine had given him seemed to dissipate with every step as he neared his home.
A lantern stood at the entrance of Nwakaego hut. The low light partly illuminated the hut. His heart sunk a little further at the thought of how cold and detached she had become.
But he didn’t blame her, life had dealt her a hard card. He touched his waist and heaved a sigh as he felt the potion the priestess had given him. He knew convincing her to take it won’t be difficult. She had suggested they pay a visit to ezinta shrine a few years ago but he Afam had refused to go.
Things were different now, this was his last choice. He was inside his compound now and heading straight for her hut. He could not see her yet but he knew she was there. Waiting for him