Adaku: “Run away with me, if you love me, you will do this” she pleaded, looking up at him earnestly.
Chike: “Run away to where, what about my family?” he asked, searching her face to see how serious she was.
Adaku: “I heard about Lagos, we can live there, love each other without anybody disturbing us” she replied tugging on his shirt.
Before Chike could reply, they heard footsteps behind them and turned to see Chike’s father, the medicine man.
Medicine man: “Taa! Witch! Look for somebody else to ensnare, not my son. Did you forget you are married? Leave my house right this minute, you stinky, cursed child” he yelled in anger.
Chike: “Father” he said firmly holding on to Adaku.
Medicine man: “Shut up your mouth, of all the beautiful girls in the village, you didn’t see anyone to play love with; it is this girl that Ejike has destroyed. Can you count how many times she has been raped, even her bed wetting is surely connected to the incessant rape.” He said cruelly. Adaku stared at him unbelievably, he had been so kind to her when he was treating her, how could he turn so cruel, she wondered. She began to understand, she was not good enough for his son, and she was a damaged person, not good enough for anyone but the one who had damaged her. She pulled her hand away from Chike’s hold, and retraced her steps backwards, with her eyes now on Chike, she was telling him to live well and get a good girl who was not damaged like her.
She thought of Chioma and her heart broke, Chioma was not damaged, she was still pristine. With speed, she turned around and ran away. As she ran, urine leaked from her body, wetting her already wet clothe, but she didn’t mind. She would run, even to the end of the world, the hurt in her little heart was too much to bear.
Adaku: “Adaku, you are stupid, who told you to go and fall in love, don’t you know that it would end like this?” she talked to herself as she ran.
Chike made to go after her, but his father held him and gave him a punch on the face, his lips broke and spurted blood.
Medicine: “Wake up, that girl is damaged goods, she will bring you no good” he said and pushed him into the house.
Meanwhile, Chioma was sitting with her father outside their compound. He was engaged in his favorite hobby- applying snuff to his nostrils. She kept looking at him and it was obvious that she had something on her mind.
Ejike: “If you have something to say, just say it and stop looking at me like a new wife” he grunted.
Chioma: “Father, soon I will be ripe for marriage, but the one my heart beats for, is older and may get married before I am ready”
Ejike: “Really” he said thoughtfully.
Chioma: “Yes father” she replied
Ejike: “So what do you want me to do, pause his age till you are ready?” he asked sarcastically.
Chioma:”No, betroth me to him” she said excitedly. Ejike turned to look at his daughter; he had on a puzzled look on his face.
Ejike: “If marriage is what you want to do, come and sit at home and get married. I shouldn’t be wasting my money sending you to school, while you are thinking of marriage. Do you want to be like Adaku, if her parents had sent her to school, would she be in my house today?”
Chioma: “I want to be like Adaku” she said and her father, Ejike almost fell off his seat, with shock.
Ejike: “Have you lost your senses?” he asked with his eyes wide with surprise.
Chioma: “Chike likes Adaku, he doesn’t like me. He said Adaku is better than me”
Ejike: “I don’t, Chike, the medicine man’s son says he likes Adaku, my wife?”
Chioma: “Yes father” she said. Ejike jumped off the chair and rushed into his room, he came out with a shiny cutlass.
Ejike: “Adaku! Adaku!” he shouted, as he marched towards her room. But Adaku was not in her room. Ejike went to the room of each of his wives, but no one had seen her.
Chioma: “Father, it is possible she has run to Chike’s place, please go and catch her before she runs away with Chike” she said desperately, with tears in her eyes. Ejike looked at his daughter but he didn’t see her, he saw his ego being trampled on the earth. Everything he had been intimate with Adaku, was against her will, but here she was having an affair with a boy.
Ejike: “When I see her, I am going to separate her head from her shoulders” he said and ran like a cheetah towards the house of the medicine man, his wives took out after him, their fallen breasts flapping in the wind.
Senior wife: “Please oh, help us hold our husband before he kills someone” she screamed. The other wives also joined in begging the villagers they met in their flight, to hold Ejike before he killed someone. But who was ready to hold a man with a newly sharpened cutlass? No one was ready to die just yet.
Ejike rushed into the compound and the first person he met was Chike, in anger, without thinking, he raised the cutlass and brought it down. There was a scream, and everywhere went quiet. Even the villagers, who abandoned their duties to run after Ejike, stopped in their tracks with their mouths open in utter shock. A life had gone. It was like someone, some place other than there, had stopped everyone with a remote control.
Adaku ran till her legs were on fire, from exhaustion. By the time she stopped, she was on the bank of the river Niger, where their boat had banked, on their way from Igbundu. There were people selling big fishes by the bank, some were boarding the ferry. She moved towards the group boarding a ferry, and tapped a nicely dressed woman.
Adaku: “Madam, please where does the ferry go?”
Madam: “It goes to Calabar” she replied, looking at her quizzically because of her dressing. She was dressed in a short wrapper tied tightly around her waist, and another tied around her chest. But that was not the reason the woman was looking at her, it was because of the wetness of her clothes. She was too big to be wetting her clothes, and what was that smell emanating from her? The woman shifted away from her.
Adaku: “I am not going to Calabar anyway, isn’t that where they used to carry slaves from?” she whispered and shrugged her shoulders. She looked and saw that there was another ferry loading people on the far end of the bank. She broke into a run towards the ferry.
Adaku: “Please, let it be going to Lagos” she prayed as she came closer to it. When she got to the people boarding the ferry, she approached a woman who had a lot of cargo and was instructing the ferry guide how to load her cargo.
Adaku: “Madam, please where is this ferry going to”
Madam: “It is going to Lagos” she said and dipped her hand into her purse, she brought out a few pound notes and slipped it into Adaku’s hand. She had just bought stuff she was going to sell in Lagos and she believed in her heart that if she gave to Adaku, she would sell well.
Adaku: “Please madam, I am not a beggar. I am a princess running away for her life. I don’t need your money, I only need to board this ferry, can you help me?” she asked soberly.
Madam: “I will help you, you can sit on my cargo, but you can also keep the money” she replied with a smile.
Adaku: “Thank you very much, madam. You are a kind woman, are you from Lagos?” she asked.
Madam: “Yes I am” she replied, she perceived the smell coming from Adaku, it made her uncomfortable, but she was determined to be good to this girl, her spirit told her she had to.
Adaku hearing that the woman was from Lagos was relieved and hopeful. Lagos people were nice, were they not the ones whose men allowed them go to work, and even wait before giving birth? It sounded like a land where dreams were made, and she was optimistic that her dreams and her promise to her mother would be realized in Lagos. Or so she thought…
Question: What would be Adaku’s fate in the land she is going to? Also, whose life was lost by Ejike’s cutlass?
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