O.G.B.A.N.J.E (The Child of Thunder)
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It didn’t take her long when she saw it.
A black shadow in the shape of a huge scorpion as it advanced quickly towards Ebuka’s hut.
Ogbanje smiled a little as it kept advancing towards her at a faster rate.
The moon rays was an advantage as she clearly saw the shadow scorpion.
“So this was even the stupid shadow I sense coming to attack Ebuka”, Ogbanje said louder to herself. “Well, let me see what it got”.
Ogbanje lifted her hands and said in a commanding voice. “Stop their Shadow scorpion!!”.
The shadow scorpion harken to her voice and stops.
“You will go back to wherever it is that you came out from and hurt whoever that sent you”. Ogbanje spoke out without fear to the scorpion that was few feet away from her.
The scorpion made a U-turn and left the presence of Ogbanje at a faster speed going back to sender.
“Surugede is the dance of a spirit that one needs to know how to dance to it’s strange tune”. Ogbanje said and left for her home.
The black scorpion made it’s way to the coven, where Eze Nwayi await the news of the death of Ebuka.
They were surprise to see it. As it appeared in their presence, Eze Nwayi pin it on the ground with her staff. She stood up from her throne and started dancing, circling the scorpion as she moves around. Suddenly she stops and closes her eyes and said. “A child that dances to the sweet melody of Surugede does not know Surugede is the song of the spirits. Be calm great shadow of death”.
The scorpion disappeared.
“What just happened?” Nnenna was the first to speak.
“Who has such powers to send the scorpion back to it owners?” Another coven witch, Obidiya asked.
“How can the shadow of death return to kill us in the place of that child”. Another coven witch said.
“Or maybe Nnenna’s son, has greater power that his mother refused to tell us, I am also thinking that it was the same power that helped him earlier on”. Adaku said this time.
The Eze Nwayi shook her head sideways and said. “No, I felt the powers of a female child who was able to control it”.
“Then who can that female child be that has the powers to control such shadow?”. Obidiya asked.
“Not just a shadow, but the shadow of death”. Another coven witch said.
The Eze Nwayi closes her eyes briefly and opened it. “Aku, is very angry with you Nnenna, find a way to sacrifice your son to the great Aku, or you will be sacrificed in your sons place”. Eze Nwayi told Nnenna who bowed her head.
“I will kill my son for the great Aku”. That was Nnenna’s reply.
Aku, a three headed god in his aboard was restless. He was wondering how a mere female child could send back his shadow of death to his worshippers. He was promised by the great Ikenga that no power on earth can stand against his, but what just happened proved that wrong.
He has to go and see Ikenga fast.
“Ebuka! Ebuka!!” Nnenna called her child from the kitchen where she was pounding fufu vigorously. It was not yet bright, and the crow of a cock has not been heard, but Ebuka did not mind as he got up from his bamboo bed and made his way to his mother. His mother was an early bird raiser and he didn’t mind. But today was early, too early in fact.
“Yes mama”, Ebuka said as he approaches his mother.
“Quickly go and fetch me water from our village stream to use and cook ofe onugbo- bitterleaf soup this evening inugu”
“Yes mama”. Ebuka reply as he went to take a udu- earthenpot. Although he has younger siblings which consists of two girls and a boy, he was the second born of his family, the first son. They were three boys and two girls, but their most senior brother died mysteriously leaving Ebuka as the eldest.
He took the Udu and was about going out when his mother’s voice stopped him in his track.
“Did anyone visited you yesterday night Ebuka?” Nnenna asked her son.
“No mama, I had long gone to sleep so I don’t know if I had any visitors. I hope there is no problem or did anyone visit me yesterday night”. Ebuka answered confusingly to his mother.
“Okay my son and no one visited you yesterday evening. I thought I heard someone calling out your name yesterday evening, but I heard wrong my son. Don’t worry yourself, just go to stream and get me water”. Nnenna said, a plan forming in her head.
Nnenna was being know to the people of Udum as one of the few women who has made it big. She has eight (8) barns of yams, goats, maize, a full plantation on Plantain. Her husband has died under a mysterious circumstances. It was said Nnenna killed her husband in exchange of wealth. Some even said she used her husband for rituals. She has helpers that work on her farm. Well their gossips didn’t mean anything to Nnenna as she went about her daily work.
As soon as Emeka went out of the house to go to the stream to fetch water for her, she quickly went inside her room, took out a red covered small Udu she had kept hidden under her bamboo bed. She opened the black cloth used in covering the pot. It was empty.
“The great snake of Aku, I have once again need your help”. Nnenna voice said softly.
A three headed black cobra appeared.
“Go, go, go and Kill my son Ebuka. Find him and strike him with your venomous bite”.
Nnenna told the snake as it disappeared to carry out the order.
“Let me see how you would escape this time”.
Ogbanje woke up very early to do her morning chores. She swept the entire compound, wash the dirty plates they had used the previous night. Warm the left over food, then carried her Udu to go and fill the bigger pots in the kitchen. Her father has promised her she will follow him to his farmland today, she doesn’t want to waste time or want her step-sisters to delay them.
She had gone two times before she met Ebuka on her third journey to the stream. Ebuka was scared when he saw a silent figure approaching him, he had thought that it was a spirit and had wanted to run for his life when the spirit called out his name. He realized that it was Ogbanje’s voice.
“So Ebuka, I never knew you are scared like this oooo. It is now that I know you are scared of little things, after you will open that your wide mouth to say ‘I am a man’. You are a man that want to run”. Ogbanje said in a mockery way.
“Aha, me Ebuka, the Lion of Udum village run? That is impossible biko. I wasn’t running, I was only trying to see if there is another person behind my back so that I can ready myself”. Ebuka lied through his teeth.
“Anụrụ m gị- I have heard you. So where are you going when it is not yet dawn?” Ogbanje asked.
“Well, my mother sent me to go and fetch water from the stream for cooking. You too, why are you awake by this time when you ought to be sleeping by now”.
They had started walking towards the direction of their village stream.
“Papa told me I would follow him to the farm today. Ị maara otú ekwensu si eji ọrụ nke ya- You know how devil use to do his own work, my two lazy sisters decided to come and told him they wanted to follow him to the farm too, can you imagine”. Ogbanje said as Ebuka laughed.
“You don’t mean it, but wait o, what do they want to go and do in the farm when they don’t even know how to lift a hoe, Ma ọ bụ mara otú e si arụ ọrụ ubi- Or know how to do any farm work. Those two lazy ejima-twins”. Ebuka told Ogbanje who laughed alongside with him.
“That is what made me wake up early to do all the necessary house chores because if I was waiting for my sisters to wake up and join me with the chores, just know none of us will be going to the farm today”. Ogbanje said.
They were quite as they made their way down the bush path of the stream. They got there, fill their Udu to the brim and started home. They were half way home when Ogbanje felt its presence.
“Ebuka, something is hiding in this bush, it was sent to harm you”. Ogbanje told Ebuka as she tried to find it with her spiritual eyes.
Ebuka laughed again “You and this your superstition things again”. Ebuka said as he also turned to look around them “You see there is nothing hiding around here”.
But Ogbanje wasn’t listening to what Ebuka was saying, her focus was to find what has been stalking them.
“Wherever you are or whatever you are, I don’t care to know. You will listen to my words and mine alone, they say, Whatever tune you play in the compound of a great man there is always someone to dance to it, whoever that it is that had sent you to kill him go back to the sender”. Ogbanje said.
Ebuka then know Ogbanje wasn’t lying, she only say ilu- proverb when she is serious about something or had seen something. Ebuka knew that Ogbanje wasn’t an ordinary girl right from day one.
Ogbanje bent down and pick some pitch of sands with her hands and then continued, “When we see an old woman stop in her dance to point again and again in the same direction, we can be sure that somewhere there something happened long ago which touched the roots of her life. I am sending you back to the very person that sent you. Kill and strike with no mercy”. Ogbanje return the sand and hit her palm thrice on the ground. “He that has ears Let him hear”.
“What are you doing Ada?” Ebuka asked confusingly. “Ada…” Ebuka frowned increases when Ogbanje laughed out.
Ogbanje turned to face Ebuka, “It is gone. I had sent it back to its sender. Don’t worry, we shall know who had sent the three headed snake after you”.
“After me? What did I do to them or that person that would warrant he or she to sent a three headed snake to me?”
“I don’t know Ebuka. There seems to be a connection to what happened yesterday night in your home”. Ogbanje said aloud.
“In my home? What happened?”
“Yesterday, someone sent a Shadow of death to you. Thank the gods I came on time if not you won’t be talking to me now”.
“Strange, and you think it is the same person who might have also sent the snake after me because they did not succeed last night, right?”
“That is also my thought, I don’t know but the truth shall surely unveiled, come let’s go home. I have a farm that I wouldn’t miss for anything”.
They went to their various home.
Ogbanje, Ugochi, Uzochi and Okoro all went to the farm. The three girls were carrying a basket each on their heads, the baskets were for the cocoyams, corns, Maize etc they will collect from the farm.
They got there and quickly went straight into work. Ogbanje cleared and worked like her father in his hay days. In fact Okoro had wondered where Ogbanje had gotten her strength from. Ugochi and Uzochi were trying also, the little portion Okoro has given to them to clear has not yet been cleared. Ogbanje finished her portion and went to join them to clear their portion. When they saw Ogbanje clearing their portion they went to rest their muscles.
“Are you girls tired?” Okoro asked his daughters which they nodded their heads in unison to his question.
“Come and join me in harvesting some of the crops”.
“Papa, we are tried, when we have fully rested we will continue with you biko”. Uzochi said and her twin nodded her head.
Okoro shakes his head and continued harvesting his Crops alone.
They worked till it was around midday when they decided to go home.
On their way home, they met some group of people in front on the late Mazi Ibe’s house. Nnenna was on the ground writhing in pains as she kept on shouting. ” Ọ na-egbu mgbu, ọ na-agba m dị ka ose- It is painful ooo , it is paining me like pepper”. Adaku was among the women who had gathered and was pouring her water to cool her body down.
“Let’s hurry up and drop what we brought from the farm, your mother is there already she would come and tell us what actually happened to Nnenna. I don’t want the villagers to start saying all my family members are here”. Okoro told his daughters.
Ogbanje shakes her head inwardly, she already knew what has happened.
Soon Adaku came back and was clapping her hands together.
“Ụwa a juputara na ihe ebube- This world is full of wonders”.
Okoro, Uzochi and Ugochi all stood up when they saw Adaku coming towards them. Adaku walked up to them, sat down and turned to look at the faces staring at her.
“Nnenna confesses that she was the one responsible for the death of her Husband, Ibe”.
Okoro eyes shone in shocked “Kedu ihe ị kwuru?- What did you just say?”.
“Nnayi, Nnenna said she was the one who killed her Husband and her first son nduka. That she wanted to kill Ebuka that was when nemesis caught up with her. Uwa di egwu- This world is strange. How can Nnenna, do such a thing”. Adaka said.
Uzochi and Ugochi shakes their head in pity. Ogbanje laughed out loud causing them to look at her.
“Ogini Ada- What is it Ada?” Okoro asked Ogbanje.
“Nothing Papa, is just that When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool. Nnenna has brought it upon herself, let her bear the cross”.
Okoro stares at his daughter in surprised wondering about the words Ogbanje had omitted from her mouth.
Adaku was busy eying Ogbanje.
“How can such a thing happen to Nnenna?” The Eze Nwayi asked her fellow witches.
“I have this feeling that Ogbanje might be responsible for the predicament of Nnenna”. Adaku told them.
“How did you know Adaku, your step daughter do not know about us if she knows, you would be have been dead by now. I told you she’s being guided by a very powerful strange god”. Eze Nwayi said.
“So you have been saying Eze Nwayi. We can’t sit down and fold our hands and watch Nnenna die mbanu eh, it is not right”. Adaku said.
“We cannot undo what Nnenna brought down upon herself, the deadly snake venom is deadly and cannot be removed. She only has three days to live, three days and Aku will take her life”.
“I never knew my mother would do such a thing to me”. Ebuka said as he cried like a little child in front of Ogbanje. Ogbanje had been consoling him since.
“Please Ada, can’t you help my mother, please don’t let her die. She is the only person we have in this world. Ada I am begging you, save her through your means, please”. Ebuka pleaded with Ogbanje who didn’t reply him.
Ogbanje was sleeping when she heard a voice. The voice has been speaking to her once in a while, in the past. As time went by she got to know it wasn’t an evil voice and had wondered who the voice belongs to but nevertheless she obeys it.
“The time has come for the whole people to remember me. You will start from her”.
To Be Continued
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