Hello reader, I’m glad you could make it. So this story can actually be read as a “stand alone story” but it’s also a continuation of Sacred Voices. If you haven’t already, please read it here first. Thank you!
It is not that I don’t mind that whenever I walk through the village, little children run behind me, calling me names and sometimes throwing stones at me.
Sometimes I want to stop and chase them away but how can I spare the time? I am in a hurry and even though I can’t remember where I’m going, I can’t let those untrained children distract me. I must keep moving.
As for the basket I carry on my head, if they were not mad they would realize that it is best to always carry all your possessions with you. For who knows what you might be needing at what time?
And they call me mad? Because I prefer to sleep in the village square? Do they not know that the gods gather there at night? They walk about like they are not in the presence of spirits.
Who is then mad?
It is jealousy, that’s what it is, because the gods have chosen to reveal somethings to me.
Because I can see what they can not
I hear them say that my chi went to war with agwu and this is my punishment.
It is them and their household that will fall under agwu not me.
The ones that see me and shake their heads in pity, those one infuriate me the most.
Why are they shaking their head? Do I look like I need sympathy? That is why I run after them, but they say it is unprovoked.
If they could see what I see, they would sympathize with themselves not me.
Look at mama Ada who has 3 stalls at the market square. How dare she shake her head at me? Does she think I can not see that the spirit of Obinma her nwunye–di follows her everywhere she goes? That Obinma’s spirit has decided that she will make no profit since she killed her to take her place.
That is why she rises early to the market on orie and nkwo days but returns with her wares unsold.
Instead of her to find a way to appease the spirit of her nwunye di she wants to sympathize with me.
That was why I scattered her table the last nkwo market day. Yes! I did it. Obinma did not ask me to and I can’t say I did it for her. I was angered by her false sympathy for me when she could dare kill her nwunye di for something as small as space in the market square.
You are wise and you are old. I know you understand me. You have seen men and you have seen spirits and know that the world of men and spirits are separated by but a thin rope.
Men look at you and see a tree, immovable and without eyes or ears. But I know what you are. That is why I sit here and pour my heart out to you because I know you will listen and you will understand.
But enough talking for today. The sun is almost at the highest point. I need to get going. My journeys are smoothest when the sun is hottest because anyanwu energies me.
Okponku began to gather his things – broken bottles, dead rodents and torn clothes – into the raffia basket he would place on his head. Taking his time, he arranged them neatly. Balancing the basket on his head he sprang to his feet.
Looking ahead he spotted Chiugo walking towards him with a water pot on her head.
“Isn’t it too late to be going to the stream?” He thought to himself as he watched her make her way up the small hill that led away from the stream.
When she walked it seemed effortless, like her feet didn’t touch the ground. Sweat beads formed around her head and trickled down her neck. He followed them with his eyes.
One hand on her head and the other on her waist, she glided smoothly towards him, her eyes focused only on the path in front of her.
Okponku’s eyes came to rest on her exposed belly. He was starting to sweat and vibrate.
Crouching down he carefully dropped his possessions by the roots of the tree whispering to the tree to keep it safe for him.
Standing up and unsure of himself he started towards her, then stopped abruptly after a few steps.
He tried to turn around but he couldn’t not get his legs to work.
“You see what the gods do that I don’t like? Do they not know their people?” he whispered to himself
She was getting closer to him and he felt his belly start to churn.
“I don’t like this. I don’t like this”
He started towards her again, this time stopping dead in front of her. He smiled at her as their eyes met, exposing the decaying teeth that filled his mouth.
She did not seem scared of him. Good maybe she will not shout and call people to bundle him like the time he tried to pass a message to Ezinma. She had screamed so loudly his ears rang for days. Some men on their way to their farms had bundled him and carried him to the edge of the village. He never got a chance to deliver his message to her.
But Chiugo stood there, she had not made a sound yet and she looked calm, unafraid even. So he looked her in the eyes and began to speak.
THE END(to be continued)
GLOSSARY OF IGBO WORDS
- anyanwu: sun; also believed to be the dwelling place of the god of light in Igbo cosmology
- chi: in Igbó cosmology, chi represents the personal spirit of a person
- agwu: patron spirit of divination, believed to have great influence in the actions of the one it possesses
- nwunye di: co-wife
- orie: the second day of the week according to the Igbo calendar
- nkwo: the fourth day of the week according to the Igbo calendar