When the boat banked at the side of the river that was Asaba, the man pushed Adaku out of the boat and took her by the hand. They walked to the pier where a ferry would take them a short distance to the Ukwani people’s land. Adaku felt frightened, she didn’t know what the future held for her, she knew she wouldn’t be killed, because they wouldn’t need to bring her to Ukwani to kill her. They passed through a small market, where Adaku turned left and right, looking at the different things on display, and the people, they were happy, and they spoke a language that was similar to the one they spoke in Igbundu.
They walked for a long time, Adaku’s legs were all blistered before they got to a town called Ogwashi-uku, and then they entered a house. There were three women, a man and five girls that were a little younger than Adaku. They all greeted her in a language she didn’t understand, except the man who just kept looking at her up and down like she was livestock about to be bought.
Masked man: “This is your wife, she has been delivered as promised” he said and made to go.
Man: “Visitor, won’t you sit and break kola with us” he said in English language. The masked man shook his head and went away. Adaku felt so alone, why did her uncle bring her to a strange place here she knew no one?
Adaku: “Please, I want to go back to my land” she said to the man who seemed to be the head of the household, in the same language he had communicated with the masked man. The man just laughed like she was talking nonsense.
Man: “This is your land now, this is your house now because, a woman adopts the land and family of her husband” he replied.
Adaku: “Are you mad? Is that how they marry wives in your village? Do you know I am a princess; I was to become the queen before I was abducted. How do you think I will marry an old man like you?”
Man: “Don’t be stupid, the sooner you get used to it, the easier for you. Senior wife, take her to your hut, you will have to sleep with your children from now on” he said and shooed them away.
The man she had been brought to, was called Ejike, he was the richest man in Ogwashi-Uku, he had paid a good sum of money to Azagba for Adaku. He met Azagba, when they were both in the far north, and when he had sent him word through a slave of his, that he needed a wife that was not from Ogwashi-Uku, because all the wives he had gave him daughters, his friend Azagba had told him that he could not help him. But, a few days ago, he had sent the masked man to tell him that he had someone for him. He smiled as he thought of the girl, she was small, but beautiful, and Azagba had told him she had royal blood, so she would give him royal sons.
Ejike: “I will demand my conjugal rights, tonight” he said licking his mouth as he thought of her pert breasts that he could see from the ileke covering them.
The senior wife shook her head as she stood and watched Adaku, the girl was not much older than her daughter, what of her mother, and how did she allow her daughter to married off to a strange land?
Senior wife: “Where is your mother?” she said in her local dialect. But Adaku did not understand, however, she heard “nne” and concluded that the woman was asking her about her mother.
Adaku: “My mother is dead” she said in English. The senior wife just shook her head; it would be hard to communicate with the girl. Their husband was a hard man, he would demand his conjugal rights tonight, and she wished she could help the girl prepare. She had an idea. She rushed out of the room to get her daughter who was going to the community primary school.
Adaku just sat and looked around her; she wondered why the woman was asking about her mother. She thought to herself that if her uncle had really married her to Azagba, then she had to find a way to run away from this place. She was interrupted in her thoughts by the entrance of the senior wife and one of the girls she had seen in the outer room.
Senior wife: “This is my daughter, Chioma”
Chioma: “My mother says I am her daughter Chioma. It seems I will be her interpreter. Well, if you keep your ears open, you should understand the language in no time, it is very similar to your ibo” she said in English.
Adaku: “Thank you Chioma, I am Adaku, child of king Emelu of Igbundu”
Chioma: “So you are a princess, wow, tell me about your people, I have never been across the Niger”
The senior wife saw how deep in conversation the two girls were, so she left them to go meet her husband.
Senior wife: “Ejike, so you now marry small girls. That girl is just a little older than Chioma, was there no mature maiden in that village?” she said angrily, because every time she looked at Adaku, she saw Chioma.
Ejike: “Who are you to question me, in how many years of marriage, you cannot even give me a son, and yet you have the guts to question me. Don’t you know that the duty of a wife is to promote her husband’s immortality, or don’t you know you are yet to be rooted in my family till you bear me a son?” he spat at her.
Senior Wife: “Am I Chineke that gives male children. Was it not the sperm you put in me that brought out a girl?”
Ejike: “You are asking me? I will soon send you back to your father’s house” he said as he applied snuff from his snuffbox to his nostrils.
Senior Wife: “You will do no such thing Ejike, was this how you met me when you came to my father’s house to marry me? Change me back to how I was, with my full breasts that pointed to the sky when I walked, with stomach that was flat like a tabletop, and oh my skin that shone like molten gold. Change me, and I will gladly go back to my father’s house” she said and left his presence. She knew she had said enough, if she didn’t go, Ejike would beat her up.
That night, Adaku had helped the senior wife cook Akpu and Ofe nsala, which the senior wife told her to take to their husband, Ejike for dinner. She balanced the tray of food on her head and walked the short distance from the kitchen to the room where Ejike stayed. She entered and placed the tray on the small stool, and turned to go.
Ejike: “Where are you going? Didn’t your mother teach you to serve your husband? Bring that food closer to me and feed me” he thundered. Shuddering, she carried the tray to where he was sitting on the bed and began to feed him. After he was done, she carried the tray away to the kitchen, and then she returned to her room.
Adaku saw a plate of food covered, but she didn’t open it. Her stomach was tight with fear and sadness; there was no way food would pass through it. She was about to remove the beads covering her breast, so she could get ready for bed, when Ejike came in. She immediately stood up and moved farther into the room, away from him.
Adaku: “What do you want here?” her voice was strong, but her eyes were wild with fear.
Ejike: “You are without manners; you think this is your father’s palace. Let me tell you, you are no longer in your father’s house, this is my house and I am the law here. Now, I have come to get my conjugal rights” he said and dived for her.
Question: How will Adaku escape this situation?
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