0bianuju:“My husband, I prepared your favorite nkwobi, and my father just sent us freshly tapped palm wine. Come in dearest and eat” Obianuju said. She had become more beautiful since giving birth; her breast had become fuller and perky.
Emeka:“My beautiful wife, just gazing at your beauty makes me full” Emeka joked.
Obianuju:“You should stop teasing me”she replied, blushing like a new bride.
“Oga,oga,wake up” a voice intruded.
Emeka opened his eyes, gone was his little house in the village, Obianuju was nowhere in sight, all he saw were bright lights and linoleum floors. The floor attendant asked him to follow him to the doctor’s office; it was the voice that had intruded his dream. Remembering that Obianuju was in coma, not pregnant and serving him dinner, left a bitter taste in his mouth. The doctor was a man in his fifties, dressed in green scrubs, with his hands covered in surgical gloves. He told Emeka that, Obianuju would be referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
Doctor:“we performed a procedure on her, oxygen supply to her brain was cut off causing fluid to fill up her brain, we removed the fluid from the brain, but we cannot tell if she would come out of her comatose state” the doctor said grimly.
Emeka:“What is your prognosis”
Doctor: “Well, her chances of survival are pretty slim; I would say it is a 30% chance”
Emeka refused to give up, he was determined to make Obianuju well again. He signed the necessary forms for her to be referred to Lagos. An ambulance conveyed them to Awka from where they would board a flight to Lagos. The aircraft was fitted like the ICU unit, with a life support machine. Throughout the flight, Emeka debated within himself, whether to recognize that there was an almighty God. In the United States, he had been exposed to atheism and agnostics, but now he felt helpless, where were the ideologies and thought schools now that the situation was out of his hands.
Emeka:“If there is an Almighty God, please do not let Obianuju die” he said with tears in his eyes.
An ambulance was waiting for them at the runway, to take them to LUTH. Immediately they arrived, Obianuju was taken to the ICU, where the doctors worked tirelessly on her. The burns on her back down to her calf region were second degree burns, the skin on her back had been charred to the bone. She needed reconstructive surgery, but nothing could be done on her until she comes out of coma.
Back in Umueke, people had fled after the second day of the police invasion; the village was like a dead zone. Only the old and feeble that were unable to run were left behind. Udoka’s father, Mazi Emenike had been arrested and charged for manslaughter, along with some members of the mob who had set Obianuju on fire. He was to be arraigned in the High court at Awka, no one came to bail him out, and so he remained in prison. In prison, his red cap title could not save him from the hands of his fellow inmates; they beat him up and made him in charge of cleaning the toilet, poor Mazi. Udoka, his daughter was not faring any better, the boils on her body had healed, but they left ugly scars on her. No man in her maternal village wanted anything to do with her, she spent all her days on the farm tilling the soil to make a living, whereas before, her father had servants who did farm work, and she lived like a princess. Oh how the mighty has fallen.
So it happened that, Ohamiri became angry. She had seen the destruction in the land, because people had fled the village; no more sacrifices came to the gods and goddesses of the village, no more libations were poured on their altar, the gods were hungry and angry. To this end, she gave her priestess a message. At dusk, the priestess came out of the shrine, leaning on her walking stick, her shoulders stooped like she was carrying the weight of the message on them.
Priestess: “Obianuju, daughter of Aneke and Nwokoye, because you have brought suffering on my people, suffering shall follow you, all the days of your existence. You sought for the love of a man instead of the love of Ohamiri as you were chosen to, but the love of a man will elude you. Your beauty will attract them but your scourge will pursue them, till they are gone from you. You shall die a lonely woman ,as the goddess Ohamiri desires, so it shall be” the priestess said in a high pitched voice that resounded all through the dead village, as she stamped her walking stick on the ground in finality.
After three months in coma, Emeka was advised to sign some papers, so that Obianuju would be taken off life support and proclaimed dead. He went to the ICU for the last time before signing the papers. He watched Obianuju’s still form, with skin that has gone so pale, and lips that were cracked and almost blue, she looked like a corpse. When he brought Obianuju here, he still had hope that she would come back to life, but through the months, seeing no sign of life, except the whir of the life support machine, his hopes shriveled and died.
Emeka:“so that is how I am going to lose you, after all we have been through” he said, sorrow choking the words as he clasped Obianuju’s hands .
“We are no longer in Umueke, I bet you have never been to Lagos before this time, will you not open your eyes , even a peep, to see how beautiful Lagos is” he began to massage her fingers, like he wanted to bring life into them.
“You brought light into my life, I am not ready to let go ,please come back to me” Emeka broke down into sobs, and soon he was bawling. The doctors came in and carried him away.
People who have come back from death say that, there is a tiny sliver of place between life and death, I guess that is where I am, everything here is blurry with no definite shape, it is so cold in here. Just beyond, are people who have died, calling me to join them, and behind me, in a distance, I can see Emeka begging me to come back, I can even hear him faintly calling my name. I wish to go back, but there is a big wall of fire in my way, I cannot bring myself to pass through fire again. I will go to the dead, life and happiness was not meant for me. I began to walk towards the other side of the divide but, my dead grandmother stopped me.
Grandmother:“adaoma,achalugo’m” she began to coo all the sweet names she used to call me when we were all alive.
Obianuju: “Grandmother, are you really here?” I asked
Grandmother: “Perhaps, perhaps not, but. You have to go back to living, your time is not up, you have to, or you would be stuck here, neither dead nor alive, losing your essence, living in emptiness”
Obianuju: “But grandmother, I have been burned before, I cannot go through fire”
Grandmother: “But the fire is just a figment of your imagination, there is no fire. Go back now” my grandmother pushed me forward towards the fire.
I told myself there was no fire and lunged.
Emeka had just signed the necessary forms giving the hospital the go-ahead to stop the life support machine. He walked to the ICU where Obianuju was, with resignation, the doctors were with him, with grim faces, they took it personal with every patient they lost.
Doctor: “We are deeply sorry, we tried all we could, but our best efforts could not bring her back” the only female doctor said and patted Emeka lightly on the back.
Emeka: “Goodbye my love” he whispered as the doctors switched off the life support machine, and pulled away the oxygen mask.
Obianuju: “Haaaaaa” Obianuju let out a loud scream; everybody took to their heels, except Emeka. She writhed on the bed screaming “fire”. Emeka embraced and cooed softly to calm her, at this time, the doctors came in, with surprise etched on their faces.
Doctor: “This is beyond science, how can this be explained except to call it a miracle” one of the doctors said.
Female doctor: “There is no way you could have come back except by a miracle” another quipped.
Question: Do you think Obianuju should return to her village to continue serving Ohamiri? Can Obianuju and Emeka face battle of the god, Ohamiri?
…. SEE Episode 5 Below (You don’t want to miss this!)
SEE Episode 13
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