There was a shriek in the inn, then the cry of a child. Eze Ndika rushes into the Inn. “what has my wife given birth?” to he asked.
“A child, Eze Ndika”. said the mid-wife giving the wrapped child to Ndika. Taking the child in his arms, Ndika looked at the child sex organ, with a long face he gave the child back the mid-wife and left the room without saying a word.
The full moon light, fell on a big compound, that was surrounded with big red hurts and barns. There’s huge Udara tree in the middle of the compound that served as shade. Some children who happened to be all girls were sitting under the Udara tree listening to the moon light stories from their granny and everywhere was calm, only the voice of the granny could be heard.
Ndika could be seen sitting in one of the hut that stood in the middle of compound with his palm on his chin, and his eyes at to one direction, he seem to be in deep thoughts. Just then Nnenna walked into the compound, with a child wrapped warmly in a red buba wrapper in her arms. The kids welcomed her with joy and resumed their normal positions near their granny, who couldn’t get up due to old age “Nne welcome” she said
“Thank you Papa” Nnenna replied.
“Greetings to you Ndi” Nnenna said as she made a move to enter the hut.
“Woman! where do you think you are going to?”Ndika bellowed.
“To the hut, Ndi” Nnnenna replied trembling all round
“What is that in you arms?” Ndika asked pointing at the child in Nnnenna’s arm
“A child” Nnnenna replied.
“A boy or a girl?” Ndika asked but Nnenna couldn’t reply, she was trembling and was two scared to say a word.
“Nnenna” Ndika called calmly “yes”
“The child you are holding is it a girl or a boy?”
“It is a… a…boy… no!…. a girl” Nnenna stammered.
Ndika stood up without saying much words, he went into the hut, and came back with a cane box, where Nnenna cloths were. Dropping the box in front of Nnenna he said “Now, leave my house and never return?”
dropping to her kneel, Nnnena plead “ please.! please Ndi, am sorry it’s not my fault I had a girl child, remember, am not God the giver of children” Nnenna plead with teams in her eyes.
“Woman! Don’t push me to the wall” Ndika said pointing at her “I said leave my house, in fact go along with your daughters and never return with them” Ndika stood his ground. But Nnenna won’t listen, she kept crying drawing the attention of the kids and their granny.
The children held their mother asking her what the problem was, but Nnenna won’t say a word, she only cried and screamed.
“What is the problem with your wife Ndika?”granny asked.
“Papa, please tell me, is it a sin if I have a son? I mean just one son?” Ndika asked.
“No my son” “if no, then why is it that Nne, can’t give me at least a son, to inherit my properties? is it a course? Or is it her plan”
“My son calm down and….”
“No Papa” Ndika snapped “look round my compound, look at the barns of yams, look at the number of goats, sheep and hens I owned, look at the beautiful huts, and my farm lands, who will inherit them, when I die? When you look round my coumpound, the only children you see around are girls”
“Tell me, those women that gave birth to both boys and girls are they not ladies like her?, do they have two womb for each sex? Or am I not man capable of doing what other men are doing to get a male child? Please tell me papa!” Ndika raved
“I know how painful it is not to have a son to inherit your properties”
Said granny “but you have to know that the creator has reasons why things are like this”
“Papa, I’ve made up my mind, Nne is leaving my compound today with her daughters” Ndika replied with final authority.
“Ndika my son, you don’t assert authority like that, without an elders advice, our forefather said”
“Papa, am tired of hearing your forefathers stories, they are dead and long gone with their stories in the world beyond, please lets face reality. Any way, I’ve heard you papa, but nothing can stop Nnenna from leaving this house today”
Ndika replied and entered his hut.
Meanwhile Nnenna was crying with her daughters beside her. Granny looked at both mother and daughters, he nodded his head in sympathy and turned to leave.
“You’ve heard your husband and you know how strong his heart is, am sorry but I’ve tried the little I could” said granny as he went to his hut.
The night was calm, the only sound that could be heard is the croaking sound of the frogs in the stagnant water, the hooting of owls on trees and the growling dogs nearby. The breeze was cool, the full moon light made the compound bright as though it’s late noon.
The thoughts of leaving the only home she knows filled Nnenna’s mind, “what a world” she said aloud, after cleaning her face with the hem of her wrapper. She twist her nose to blow out the watery substance in it, spatting on the ground she held her child tight to her bosom, she gave their boxes to the first child to hold. “follow me” She said, leading the two girls to an unknown destination. They walked for miles and stopped to rest near a palm oil tree.
Taking eight wrappers from the box, Nnenna made them into bed for the girls to sleep on. She sat down, leaning on the bark of the palm tree with her arms.
“Mama won’t you sleep? Ada the first daughter asked ”Nmba-Nwamu” Nnenna replied in her dialect and soon they were fast asleep.
The chipping sound of monkeys, the bleeding sounds of goats and the screaming of eagles woke the sleeping mother and daughter.
Stretching her hands forward and yawing loud. Ada greets her mother, her younger sister did same. “I guess you are hungry” Nnenna said “yes mama” Adaora replied.
The morning was bright and early breeze was too cool. Nnenna thought for a while what they could have fir breakfast. Looking up at the palm oil tree, she instructed Ada to make a shoot at it with a stick. Ada Made several shoot at the tree, but not a palm fruit could fall down to them. Exhausted and thirsty, Ada threw the stick in the bush and gazed at the tree “Mama, am tired” she said.
“Don’t worry Ada-Orma, just rest a little, before you resume, but before then, help me look after this child, while I ease myself” Nnenna said after placing the child in a safe area close to the palm tree.
The children sat quietly near the tree, wishing they could get anything to eat, everywhere was calm, but suddenly there was a cracking sound from the palm Ada had once made a shoot at.
Before Ada and Ada-Ora could look up to see what would have cause the crack, a huge palm oil fruit fell on the child, smashing the child face to pieces. The girls gave a piercing scream when they saw the child. Nnenna ran to the scene to see what the problem was, when she got to the palm tree, she couldn’t believe what she saw.
The child died instantly without crying or moving her body. One look at the child’s face one would think the child’s heard was squashed. The child’s face was badly battered, fresh blood was spilled all over the palm tree root. The child cloth and the wrapper in which the child was wrapped was soaked with fresh red blood.
Ada and Ada-ora cried, Nnenna screamed out her lungs but nothing could bring the dead child back to life. Holding the remains of her child in her arms she took the child deep inside the bush and buried her there. Nnenna took her girls back to the palm tree to get their boxes. Mama where are we going to “Ada-ora asked.
“To your anuty’s place” Nnenna replied “But you are taking us to the forest” Ada said, but Nnenna didn’t reply, as she took them further inside the forest. When ever they got tired, they seat near a tree to sleep and wake up when they are satisfied to resume their journey.
“Mama, you’ve never told us where we are going to” Ada asked.
“Don’t worry, we will soon get to the river that will take us to the city” Nnenna replied. And then they walk for five more days, before they could get to the river.
The river had a mixed colour, debris could be seen at the bank of river, some of the debris were already floating on the river. The environment was calm like an Island “Mama, who will take us to the city” Ada-ora asked.
“Don’t worry, a boat is already on its way”
“Where is it?” Ada asked.
“Look over there” Nnenna replied pointing toward the east, where an oncoming boat was. “Oh! Yes I’ve seen it” Ada-ora replied excitedly.
When the boat got to where Nnenna and her daughters were, it stopped to pick them up, but Nnenna had no money with her, she called the boat man aside to talk with him.
“Please, good day sir, we want to go Port Harcourt, but I have no money with me here, can you please help us out”
“Ehmm… Madam” the boat man began” “ if you don’t have the money you can use what you have to get you want” the ferry man replied looking at Nnenna with lust. “ A fine woman like you will be good on bed” he said again.
Nnenna got irritated and harassed “ let’s moved firward” she told her daughters but was stopped by one of the passengers who over heard her conversation with the ferry man.
“ Abeg, madam enter inside, no mind that womanizer , na would man wrapper in be” said the passenger.
“Shey na you go pay their transport? Good Samaritan” said the driver.
“ You think say I dey like you, abeg move this boat” said the young man. Thanking the man Nnenna and her daughters hopped in.
Once the ferry man got to the other side of the river he dropped them at the bank where they took a bike that got them to the river need area. At the riverlibe e are they board a cab heading to rumudara.
“that green gate over there” Nnenna replied pointing a green gate ahead of them, there the driver dropped them. Thanking him Nnenna took her little luggages.
When they got to the gate, Nnenna knock but there was no rely, instead dogs were gnawing and barking inside. Nnenna knock some more before the gate was opened by a stout looking man. “yes how may I help you? He asked looking very mean.
“Ehmm…. Please, my name is Nnenna am looking for my sister who leaves here” Nnenna replied.
“What’s her name?” he asked
“Ndidi” Nnenna replied.
“wait here, while I call her” the man instructed and went back to the house, few minute later a fat plumpy woman with a silk wear who looked wealthy by her appearance approached Nnenna.
“Oh, my God, Nne, come inside” Ndidi took Nnenna inside the house. The compound I’d big housing about three bungalow SG. The sound of generators known as “ I pass my neighbor” could be heard in each house. The compound was light-up by the light from each house. Ndidi took Nnenna and her children to her apartment.
Inside Ndidi’s apartment, one room serve as the sitting room and bed room, while the short passage in front of the room serve as the kitchen. Inside the room, a T.V set and DVD were place to the wall. A pink curtain round the walls of the room except the window where the curtain is pushed aside to let air in and give it a little modern look. There’s a large family bed opposite the TV set and a small freezer with two black box near the bed.
A table was place at the middle of the room, and a sofa was at the edge of the bed facing the door to the room. A man who appeared to be Ndidi’s husband was lying on the bed with only a white singlet and boxes on him.
“Nne come inside” Ndidi usher Nnenna and her children in to the room.
“ah! What a surprise visit, Nne” James Ndidi’s husband gasped with sleepy eyes
“Keep your boxes here” Ndidi direct them where to keep their boxes and went inside to dish some food for them.
“Within a minute, hot Ukazi soup with fresh fish and meat and garri was placed on the table for Nnenna and her children.
“Thak you my sister” Nnenna replied taking the food down from the table so Ada-ora could eat. When they were done, Ndidi gave them water to bath and directed them where to sleep when they are done.
Nnenna was grateful and thanked her a lot before sleeping.
Author; Ruth Lawrence
All Right reserved 2019
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