Back in the day, Azagba and his brother Emelu were inseparable; they loved each other and were there for each other because they had lost their mother at a tender age. It was just them and their father, who was king then because, he had refused to remarry after their mother’s death; he said he got all he needed in his two boys.
Whenever their father was in council meeting with his cabinet, they would hide behind the trapdoor and listen to all the issues that were discussed. Their father never found out because they always followed the trap door to their late mother’s room. They say the king, their father, when his queen their mother was alive, would follow the trapdoor to his wife’s room, in the middle of a meeting, to attend to her physical needs. They had loved themselves that much.
But things had changed for the brothers when Azagba went to the far north to cave out life for himself; he was tired of the village and wanted to see the world. Even when his father begged him not to go, he insisted. While Emelu remained with their father, caring for him and being everything a first son should do, that Azagba was not there to do. Even when he fell sick and was on his deathbed, there was no way to contact Azagba; it had been years they heard from him. The King making council of that time had no patience for waiting, especially as the chief priest then, told them that Emelu was chosen by the gods to rule in his father’s stead.
So when Azagba came back to Igbundu, with his wealth, hoping to see his father, he saw his younger brother Emelu on the throne, as king, with his father dead. He felt cheated and from that day onward, the relationship between the brothers was never the same.
It was their mother’s former room that the mad Emelu now occupied. Azagba gave a wicked grin, as he knew exactly how to get rid of Emelu. He pushed the trapdoor which was rusty with years. It creaked but did not open, even when he pushed with his might. He ran with full force towards the door and barged into it. The door gave a loud bang, and when he gripped the rusty handle and pushed, it opened.
The door opened into the room where Emelu was. He entered and closed the door, and then he looked and saw that his brother was lying down. He moved closer with the knife in his hand, and saw that Emelu’s eyes were closed. He was sleeping he thought, he told himself he would slit his throat quietly, or perhaps he would suffocate him with the pillow. Before he could decide which method to use in killing his brother, Emelu sprang up from the bed and gripped the knife in his brother’s hand.
Emelu: “You have taken the throne, and even my daughter, what else do you want, my life? I won’t give you that” he said, with his eyes standing in his head like a mad person, although he was really mad. They began to wrestle for control of the knife. The knife fell, and Emelu struggled with his brother so that he wouldn’t reach the knife. But Azagba was stronger, whereas Emelu was frail. Azagba pushed Emelu on the bed and grabbed the pillow. It descended on Emelu’s face before he could push himself off the bed. Azagba held it there, till his brother could no longer struggle. His eyes were lifeless and his arms limp, a single tear dropped out of his eyes, a tear of regret. He wished he had lived his life differently. But the curtain had fallen, and his time on the stage was up.
When Azagba realized his brother was dead, he removed the pillow and put it under his brother’s head. Then he wiped the tear drop from his eye, and bowed to him
Azagba: “Sleep well with the ancestors, ka chi fo” he saluted and left the room through the trap door, he locked it tightly behind him, no one would ever know that he had passed through here, to kill his brother.
The maids were camped outside waiting for Emelu to call on any of them to come in and attend him, but they waited in vain. So they went closer to the room’s door, and when they didn’t hear any sound, the one that had brought the paper and pen, entered.
Maid: “My king, i…” she stopped short when she saw he was laid down, she thought he was sleeping and went back out.
She told her colleagues that Emelu had fallen asleep, and they all went back to their quarters. Meanwhile, Azagba waited for an outcry, which would announce his brother’s death, but he heard none.
Azagba: “Has he not been found?” he kept asking himself. Being unable to bear it any longer, he called one of the palace guards and asked him to go call Emelu.
Palace guard: “I should call your brother, the King?” he asked unsure of the errand.
Azagba: “Are you mad, is Emelu the king or am I the king?”
Palace guard: “I am sorry my king, you are the king, not your brother”
Azagba: “Get out of here and do what I have asked you to do” he thundered.
When the palace guard entered the room where Emelu was kept, he wanted to go back, thinking he was asleep. But he didn’t want to go back to Azagba without his brother, because Azagba was known to be a hard man. So he respectfully tapped Emelu.
Palace guard: “My king, the king wants your audience” he said reverently. When the king didn’t stir, he came closer to his face and realized he was not breathing. He rose up an outcry so loud that Azagba heard it from the throne room. People rushed inside the room to confirm for themselves that Emelu was really dead.
When a person die, most times all his bad deeds are forgotten, and people begin to look for his good deeds. That was the case with Emelu’s death, but in his case, they didn’t need to look far for his good deeds. He brought prosperity to them, he settled dispute with wisdom, and overall, he was a good king. He fell from grace, when he became obsessed with having a male child.
Adaku, faraway in Ogwashi-Uku, did not know her father had died, but that day she found herself having a cold feeling. She felt sad and it had nothing to do with Chike. When she went to the kitchen to carry her water pot, so as to fetch water for the cooking, the water pot slipped out of her grip and shattered on the floor. The senior wife who was lighting the firewood, jumped off the small stool she was sitting on, with fright.
Senior wife: “Chimo, this is a bad sign, somebody has died” she said putting her hands on her head. Adaku paused and thought of what she said, the only person who mattered to her, was her father. However there was no way to know if he was alright.
Adaku: “I hope you are alright, father” she whispered as she held herself tightly. There was the compulsion to cry, but she didn’t know why she should cry. She bent down to pack the pieces of the broken water pot when Ejike walked to the kitchen.
Ejike: “All you do is, destroy my properties, no children, you wet the bed and you stink. Why is your chi unfair to you?” he asked and stretched his leg to kick her. In fright, she fell into the pieces of broken pot, and it bruised her skin, and she began to bleed.
Senior wife: “Ejike, why are you so wicked, if you don’t want the poor girl in your house, send her back to her people” she yelled.
Ejike: “Will they send the money I sent them, maybe I will turn her into a slave, to warm my bed” he said holding his chin thoughtfully.
Adaku: “I will rather die, than be your sex slave. Kill me if you are done with me” she said standing up to her full height. She stared down Ejike, her mind was made up, and they could kill her if they wanted.
Ejike: “Witch! Your blood will not be on my hands” he spat and walked away.
Adaku looked towards the house; she remembered the love she had given up because she was scared of Ejike fighting out about it. She told herself she was done running away and being afraid. The future looked bleak, what did she have to live for? Even though for one day, she was going to embrace and live her love for Ejike. She turned and ran away at full speed towards the medicine man’s house.
Reaching there, she saw Chike sitting outside the compound; he was trimming a chewing stick.
Adaku: “Chike!” she screamed in excitement and ran towards him, as she approached, Chike stood up, and she slammed into him with speed. Her arms were wrapped around him and she hugged him with all her might.
Chike: “Adaku, are you alright?” he asked.
Adaku: “Chioma threatened to tell her father about us, that is why I have been avoiding you. But I am done hiding, this life means nothing anymore. Even if for one minute I want to love you” she said. She had been raped countless times, so much that she should be afraid of the male species, but when she was with Chike, she felt peace. Impulsively, Chike crushed his lips on hers and kissed her, she didn’t cringe or withdraw, she just stood still, and allowed Chike kiss her. She liked the way he kissed her, softly, like she was a porcelain doll that was fragile. He was so different from the man she was married to, he was gentle and soft.
Chike had been waiting for her to show her interest in him, if she was willing, he was ready to go the mile. He knew it would not be easy, Adaku was married to Ejike, and Ogwashi-Uku frowned against taking another man’s wife, not even if the man was treating her like an animal. Coincidentally, Adaku was thinking of the same thing, suddenly an idea formed in her mind’s eye.
Adaku: “Let’s run away, you and I, to Lagos” she said desperately, looking into Chike’s eyes and wishing him to say yes.
Question: Will Chike run away with her, or would they be found out?
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