She sweated profusely and wept so hard as the mid-wives continued to urge her to push. That was her first labour after so many attempts at conceiving. Her husband’s family had sent her packing on several occasions but she always found a way back into her husband; Mazi Nnamdi’s house in Umuokpo Nnewi. As she pushed, she kept praying to her Chi that() the baby would survive even if it meant her losing her life. It got to a point that she requested the mid-wives should cut her stomach out so they could bring out the baby but they had continued encouraging her not to give up so easily.
After close to ten hours of labour, the cry of a baby was heard at last in the compound and Mazi Nnamdi jumped up in exhilaration. That would be his own first child too since he had refused to remarry despite his people’s insistence.
Mazi Nnamdi: “Heeeey! People come and rejoice with me for at last, I have become a father” he lifted his hands up in the air and praised his Chi. His friends surrounded him, all beaming with smiles of pure gratitude for their friend.
One of the women appeared from the door to announce that it was a bouncing baby boy and he went up in another bout of ecstatic dance.
Mazi Nnamdi: “Chim di mma. My God is good indeed for He has blessed me with an heir at last. He has wiped away my tears and taken away my reproach before men. Obumneke” he said suddenly turning to his friend, “please I need five gallons of those wonderful palmwine you tap. I must start celebrating from now on” he said facing his friend who was looking up to the sky probably saying one or two prayers for the new son.
Obumneke: “I shall supply them and you won’t even have to pay a dime. I already had them preserved when I heard your wife was in labour this morning when I was getting ready for orie afor. Today, we shall celebrate and drink to our heart’s satisfaction” he announced, stepped forward and wrapped his friend in a tight congratulatory embrace.
Within a twinkle of an eye, myriads of people were already in the compound to congratulate the new parents and to see the lucky boy born to the great Mazi Nnamdi who was a very respected and a wealthy man known far and wide in the whole of Nnewi.
As he walked home with his hands clutched tightly behind his back, he grumbled and mumbled within himself. He never knew Nnamdi would still be able to father a child. He had found one way on the other to terminate all of Obianuju’s pregnancies even before they reached their second trimester.
“I should never have changed my game plan. I should have just terminated the pregnancy immediately it was announced. I thought it will die during labour. Kai… what should I do now? I can’t just allow him to have a son like that. He has everything already- wealth, a beautiful home, fame and a beautiful wife but me, what do I have? A wretched life and a ugly wife with dunderheaded children.
My Chi, what did I ever do to deserve this? No matter how much I try, everything still work wrongly for me. How do I cope with him having an heir now? And I am very sure the boy will be just as smart and special as his father is. Hmmmmm I must do something”
As he walked along thinking of what to do in order to take away his friend’s bundle of joy, he would wait to look up, shake his head and walk on. Many of the villagers walked past him on the road, greeted him happily but he was so oblivious of his surroundings he didn’t even notice the trees dancing by as he walked past them.
His wife ran out of the house to greet him when she spotted him from afar…
Onyeka: “Nna anyin welcome” she went on her knees happily. “I heard your friend’s wife has finally put to bed, I am so grateful for them at last. I just want to quickly finish up with the supper I am preparing before heading there too” she chit-chatted away, failing to notice her husband’s discomfort and indifference to what she was saying.
Obumneke: “Bia nwanyi a (come this woman), leave me alone or what is your problem. Go and continue with your chores in the kitchen and leave the celebration to us. Besides, where is Emeka? I need him to help me convey the remnant of the palm wine to Nnamdi’s house immediately” he walked past his wife into his room without waiting to hear what she was going to say.
Onyeka: “Emeka is not at home right now nna anyin. He is yet to come back from wherever he goes to every afternoon” she shouted loud enough for him to hear her.
He jumped out of the room fuming.
Obumneke: “What kind of a useless son is that? All your children are exactly like you, lazy, ugly and daft. How can he be out by this time when all his mates should be helping out in the farm? I will skin him alive when he comes back” he pointed into her eyes as if she was the culprit.
Onyeka: “But nna anyin, I don’t like the tone of your voice at all. If you want to scold Emeka why not do that? Why must you insult the whole of this household like that?” she said, showing her annoyance mildly, careful not to sound offensive and disrespectful.
Obumneke: “Where is Chinwe?” he asked looking frantically around. Chinwe was his second child.
Onyeka: “She has gone to Mazi Nnamdi’s house” she replied looking down, knowing fully well that her response was not going to augur well with him.
Obumneke: “What? Please get out of my face. Get out, now!” he said in a fit of rage.
She scurried away from his face, trembling.
The celebration lasted till the day of the naming ceremony. Many of the children did not bulge from Mazi’s house till that day. He fed and entertained them with different kind of traditional music and thankfully, that period, the moon was in its full regalia and shone happily at nights, watching them sing, clap and dance under its bright light.
She sat in the room with her baby boy in her arms, admiring his beauty- the already high cheek bones, gums that showed there was going to be a gap in between the front teeth, fluttering, dark lashes accentuated by a curly dark brow. His eyes was a shade of grey making him look more serene than Norway- Light and Laughter itself.
Mazi Nnamdi: “It’s like you will not stop admiring my son will you? I am afraid you will make his fine looks disappear with your incessant glazing” he said jovially as he stood in front of her.
Obianuju: “My dear, you are here?”
Mazi Nnamdi: “No! I am in the farm. I’ve been standing at the door watching you as you continued smiling at him” he said proudly.
Obianuju: “I am just so thankful, my heart is overwhelmed with joy for this gift he has given us. I am so short of words I feel like crying incessantly” she said and tears of joy welled up in her eyes.
Mazi Nnamdi: “Yeah. Chukwu Okike Abiama is the greatest” he said. He had just gotten converted to Christianity but he still believed in the traditional ways of worship and so he preferred to call God by his traditional name most of the time. “My dear, let’s go outside, everyone is already waiting for us there, that is what I came to tell you” he said and reached down to help her up. He collected the baby from her and gently placed a light kiss on his forehead.
As they stepped out, they heard the shrieking of the eze mmuo whom both the Christians and the non-Christians feared more than the oracle themselves and in most cases took his words as final except for the few strong Christians among them. His staff had several belles attached to them and as he walked, he made sure the bells announced his presence even before he was visible.
The earth froze and the people trembled when he walked into their midst and headed for the couple who was still standing at their doorway transfixed to a spot at his uninvited presence. Mazi Nnamdi knew immediately that something was wrong.
Mazi Nnamdi: “To what do we owe your visit Eze mmuo?” he asked handing the baby to his wife to walk closer to the man
Eze Mmuo: “I brought a message from the oracle and it must be obeyed otherwise there will be great consequences” he said shaking his staff aggressively, eyeing the baby in Obianuju’s hands.
Mazi Nnamdi: “Speak! We are listening” he said not knowing what would hit him next would be heavier than the olumo rock.
Eze Mmuo: “That baby is an abomination and must be killed before nightfall tomorrow” he said loudly so everyone present could hear it.
Mazi Nnamdi: “What? You must be joking” he said as his feet quavered therefore making him sway slightly.
Eze Mmuo: “That child will be a great menace to the society. He will be a taboo, an abomination to mankind so give him to me now so I can go do the necessary stuffs at the shrine. You will have other kids but this one is doomed to die. Give him here” he outstretched his hands towards Obianuju who stepped back, glaring disgustingly at him.
Question: Will they hand the baby over to him? What do you suggest they do?
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