Adaku tried to run, but there was nowhere to go. With her back against the cold wall, she looked up and prayed to her chi to deliver her from Ejike. But her chi was sleeping or she went on a far journey, because help did not come. Ejike grabbed her and threw her on the bed. She made to get up, but Ejike leveled her on the bed with a blow.
Ejike: “Didn’t your mother teach you anything. How dare you refuse your husband” he said. With one powerful move, he yanked the beads covering her breast, and they splintered into different pieces, falling on the ground like dominos.
Adaku: “Please, I am only a child” she pleaded, with one of her eyes swollen. He did not act like he heard her, he concentrated on undressing himself. After which, he pulled her to the edge of the bed, and spread her legs wide open, and thrust into her. The moment he broke through her, Adaku screamed and fainted; the pain was too sudden and too much. Ejike didn’t mind, he kept on thrusting, till he had emptied his seed inside her. He kept at this, giving intervals for rest, and then he would continue, till he saw the first light of dawn, then he left the hut without a backward glance.
In the morning, the senior wife rushed into her former hut, because she had heard the screams and the moans of pain during the night.
Senior Wife: “Adaku! Adaku!” she called as she entered the hut. She stopped short, when she saw the blood stained bed and the bruised face of Adaku. The girl was still unconscious; she rushed to her husband’s hut and began to bang on the door.
Senior Wife: “She is still unconscious oh, her breathing is labored oh. Let her not die here oh” she cried.
Ejike: “Stop shouting woman and go get the medicine man” he shouted from inside the room, without even coming out. The senior wife rushed out of the compound, to the medicine’s man house. She kept seeing her daughter, Chioma’s face all bruised and bloody, naked on the bed, with blood stained privies. The more she thought about it, the faster she ran, with her fallen breasts flapping and swinging from side to side, like a pendulum bob. People who were setting out to sell their wares at the market close to the jetty, looked at her and wondered what fire was burning in her house, that made her run with such urgency.
When she got to the medicine’s man compound, she did not greet his wives who were sitting outside; she rushed to his room and began to bang the door.
Senior wife: “Medicine man, medicine man” she shouted as she banged his door. The door opened to reveal a tall, dark, dry skinned man, with eyes deep seated in their sockets.
Medicine man: “Wife of Ejike, did you see me in your dreams? Why have you come to disturb me so early in the morning?” he asked, with a frown.
Senior Wife: “My husband’s new wife is dying, please come” she replied. The medicine man rushed into his hut and came back with a bag, which contained the tools of his craft.
Medicine man: “Chike, follow me” he called. His eldest son, Chike was being groomed to take over from his father, even though his passion was for hunting animals. He followed his father grudgingly.
Senior wife: “Hurry up please” she said as they walked back to her house. No matter how fast they walked, they weren’t fast enough.
At Ejike’s compound, the senior wife led them to where Adaku was, and the medicine man cringed when he saw her. Never in his years of treating the sick, had he seen such, of a little girl. What was the world coming to, no man in the South gave their daughters out to marriage at this tender age, it was only prevalent in the North.
Medicine man: “Your husband did this?” he asked, the senior wife’s silence was the reply he needed. He set to work, cleaned her up, and brewed a mixture of herbs in a tin container, which he poured into a plate and forced into her mouth. Afterwards, he told this son to help him carry her from the soiled bed, and instructed the senior wife to make a new bed. Outside the hut, the other members of Ejike’s household waited for news, they didn’t understand what was going on. They had been willing brides when they came to Ejike’ s house, and even though he was a masochist when he copulated with them, it had never been to the extent, in which they needed the medicine man.
Medicine man: “Allow her rest, I will leave my son here, he will bring me feedback after she has woken up” he said and began to pack his herbs and tools into his bag.
When Adaku came to, the first thing she saw was this tall, dark skinned boy, with skin like almond, and eyes, that were penetrating, but soft and sweet. She gazed up at him, and smiled.
Adaku: “Are you an angel, my teacher in school said there is a God who is bigger than my chi and he has angels in his home, up in the sky” she said in English.
Chike: “Why should I be an angel, are we in the sky?” he asked in reply, with the hint of a smile on his lips. Adaku looked around her and recognized the familiar setting of the hut where she had been violated by the man who called himself her husband. Fear came into her eyes as she remembered all that transpired the night before. She began to whimper. She thought she died and went to heaven like her teacher said, that would have been better than this life she had.
Chike: “Don’t be scared, nothing will happen to you” he cooed to her. Then the object of her terror came into the room, with a scowl on his ragged face.
Ejike: “The world has gone mad, why would a boy who is old enough to impregnate a woman, be allowed alone with another man’s wife. Get out of here before I use my cutlass on you” he barked. Chike got up and took to his heels. While Adaku shifted into the bed, her back touched the wall, and there was nowhere else to go. It was last night all over again, no, her mind was not ready to go over the trauma again, it blacked out, and she fainted.
Ejike: “A so called daughter of a king. Faint all you want, fainting will not save you. I paid for you, you are mine. I did not marry you to come and look at my face, but to give me boys. If I have to rape you every night to achieve my aim, I will” he said through clenched teeth.
Back in Igbundu, there was fire on the mountain. The chief priest and the Ezemmuo refused to coronate Azagba as King.
Chief Priest: “The princess did not run away, she was kidnapped. Hear what the gods are saying, if Adaku is not returned to her fatherland, Igbundu shall know suffering, like she has never seen before. Find princess Adaku, only her and the man she shall choose shall rule Igbundu” he said with finality. The whole village was divided into different factions; some thought the gods were right and Adaku should be found, others thought, Azagba deserved to be king, then there were the ones who thought, a new family should ascend the throne. They believed Igbundu was created by Azagba’s family, but now, it belonged to all of them who have toiled and paid with blood for Igbundu.
Azagba went to Ezidemili his friend, to ask for guidance, but the latter washed his hands off him.
Ezidemili: “Did you kidnap the princess?” he asked
Azagba: “Yes I did. I have waited so long to be King; I won’t allow a small child to double-cross me like her father did”
Ezidemili: “I will not be a party to this. I warned you to be patient, but you didn’t listen to me. This is a direct affront to the gods and I will not be a party to it” he said. Taking a bowl of water from the shrine, he washed his hands.
Azagba: “Keep this between us, or I will forget you are my friend” he threatened and left the shrine angrily. Where were friends, when you needed them? He thought bitterly. As he was walking to his house, he met the Ezemmuo on the way;
Ezemmuo: “Azagba, you are walking to and fro, looking for whom to devour. Where did you keep our princess?”He asked, putting his hands behind his back.
Azagba: “Why would I harm my niece, what would I gain?”
Ezemmuo: “The throne, which is if the gods allow it”
Azagba: “You are crossing your boundaries, Ezemmuo. Be warned” he said pushing into Ezemmuo’s face, his eyes were angry and dark, if he could; he would strangle the Ezemmuo, right there on the path.
Question: What plans does Azagba have for Ezemmuo? Is Chike going to be Adaku’s salvation?
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