At 12 midnight, the loyal people gathered at Azagba’s compound, to hear his plan to bring them out of this calamity that had befallen them. He told the desperate people that, king Emelu was responsible for all the calamity that befell them. He told them that Emelu committed a crime against Idemili for killing an innocent pregnant woman; therefore, he should be ousted out of the palace.
Azagba: “We have to cleanse the land of all abominations, and we have to start from the palace” he said. He was a great orator and he knew how to use the proverbs to strike the cords in the people’s heart.
Azagba: “This is not the time for sleep, ura ga-eju onye nwuru anwu afo (
A dead person shall have all the sleep necessary)” he said and the people nodded their head enthusiastically, in agreement. One of the men stood up, he had something to say;
Man: “Azagba, is it because of the people you are doing this, or because of the grudge you hold against your brother? If it is because you have the good of Igbundu at heart, then I say we wait. The Queen is pregnant of child, she is almost due, if she gives birth to a son, we have a prince and it means the gods have forgiven us, if not we move to oust the king since he has no heir. Have I spoken your mind, my people?” he asked turning to the people. They responded on the affirmative nodding their head, for the man who spoke was another good orator from the Odogwu clan. Azagba looked at him with anger in his eyes; he was going to be a problem, if care was not taken.
While they waited for Ego Oyibo to give birth, Azagba went to and fro Idemili shrine, wanting to know the gender of Ego Oyibo’s forthcoming child. But he always left with a warning from Ezidemili.
Ezidemili: “Be careful, lest the gods visit their wrath on you”
Azagba: “How have I offended the gods?”
Ezidemili: “Allow the gods finish with Emelu, if you influence anything, you will be visited by the gods. Patience is a virtue” he would say.
So nine months had expired and Ego Oyibo went into labor at dusk. Everywhere was dark; there were no stars in the sky. Many household had gone to sleep, some with hungry stomachs. So when the towncrier went round announcing that the queen was in labor, many did not even bother coming out as they were wont to do. Midwives in the village refused to go to the palace to deliver the child, they all told their families to tell the king’s messengers that they were went to the next village and would be back till three days hence. Therefore, a midwife was called from the next village, across the Achaka River, to come deliver the queen of her baby. Adaku was among those to attend to the midwife during the birthing process. Since the incident of her mother’s death, she had lived as if in a trance, she talked to no one.
But when she watched Ego Oyibo giving birth, emotions she thought were buried came to the surface. She held on strongly, to the pail in her hand, because, her hands were moving of their own volition, and they wanted to hit Ego Oyibo with the pail till se bled to death. But she knew that would mean death for her. She remembered the promise she made to her mother, how would she keep it, if she was dead? No, she decided to live and it meant bridling her emotions. She dutifully passed the hot water from the pail to the midwife when she needed it. However, she was consoled by how much pain Ego Oyibo was in. There was nothing as bad as pain that is suppressed, and that was what Ego Oyibo was going through. She was going through extreme labor pains, but because she was dumb, she couldn’t vent, all she could make was guttural sounds like a bear, with the hunter’s arrow lodged in its heart. Adaku smiled; she had never thought she would ever see the day that she was happy for another’s pain. She was pulled out of her musings when the midwife yelled.
Midwife: “Ewo! The baby is coming with legs oh” she screamed. Adaku saw the look of horror on Ego Oyibo’s face.
Adaku: “Yes, let her feel what mother felt when she was almost buried alive” she thought within as tears streamed down her eyes.
She turned and walked away from the hut.
Midwife: “Hey where are you going?” she shouted after Adaku, but she didn’t miss a step. So she turned to the other girl; “Please get me a sharp pair of scissors, we have to make the birth canal wider” she said.
As Adaku walked back to the servants’ quarters, she bumped into a young boy; he was a child of one of the council members. He looked up and down at Adaku’s tattered clothes and dismissed her for one of the servants, it was the aristocratic way she carried her nose up in the air, that made him take a second look and realized it was the princess Adaku.
Young man: “Princess, why are you looking like this?” he asked and then remembered his father had told them, that the princess had been banished to the servants’ quarters. Adaku just looked up and down at him and walked away, making sure to bump his shoulders on her way.
Young man: “Wow she is feisty” he said aloud with a smile, as he went on his way.
Meanwhile the midwife battled with the child birth, Ego Oyibo was bleeding profusely and there was no way for her to stop the bleeding, the child was half way out.
Midwife: “Who even told me to answer this kind of call, what kind of child comes out with the leg” she murmured to herself, obviously exasperated. Then Ego Oyibo took one painful deep breath and gave up the ghost. This was just as her baby slipped into the world, and gave a loud cry. The midwife turned the child upside down, and its sex organ was revealed. It was a girl. One of the women in the hut rushed out to where the king sat with his council and broke the news, whether it was good or bad, depended on the King.
Woman: “The queen has delivered, it is a baby girl” she shouted. The men with the king bowed their head in disappointment. They were beginning to ponder the whisperings of their family members who were loyal to Azagba. It was obvious that Emelu had nothing to offer them; a king’s worth was by the promotion of his immortality, if he couldn’t continue his lineage, he was no king to anybody.
When the king heard this, he left his council members and ran to the hut where Ego Oyibo was, but when he saw Ego Oyibo, he was distraught. There was so much blood everywhere, he touched her and noticed her body had gone cold.
Midwife: “I am sorry, the baby came out with her legs, and she was bleeding too much. I couldn’t save her” the midwife said as a way of explanation. Then the king’s eyes went to the baby, who was lying quietly by the side and staring at him with dark black eyes. The baby was a complete replica of his late wife, Udoka. Looking into the eyes of the baby, he felt like she was laughing at him, and his mind snapped. He ran out of the room, screaming.
Emelu: “Udoka! Udoka!” he screamed as he began to remove the clothes he was wearing. His council members fled when they saw him, screaming and removing his clothes. They didn’t know what made them run more, the name he was calling, or that he was removing his clothes. They dispersed to their house, to spread the tale of the raving king. Azagba sat in his hut and one of his children, his eldest son ran to him and told him that the king had gone mad and Ego Oyibo was dead.
Azagba: “Ezidemili, I thank you for holding me back. The gods did it perfectly, the road to the palace is open” he said to himself, laughing a weird laugh. His son joined in the laughter; he was going to be prince after all, or so they thought.
Question: What will become of the new child that was born to Emelu? What is the fate of Igbundu?
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