This is the continuation and final episode of the story I started yesterday in memory of my late legend Chinua Achebe. For you to enjoy it, do go back and read the Part 1 if you missed it.
… Eight market days after Nwanyimma sold my sisters, Mazi asked me to accompany him to Eke Umuoru to buy palmwine for his in-laws. I was scared that he was going to sell me too. So when we got to Amaokpala, I ran into a nearby bush through the footpaths leading to odor river. It was dry season so I managed to cross the shallow river and found my way through the dark forest till I got to Akama a neighbouring town. It seemed to be their market day as I could see men carrying palm wine and yams on their bicycles while their women had baskets filled with wares of different kinds elegantly balanced on their heads.
They all headed in the same direction. With nowhere in mind to go, I followed their train. When I got to Afor Akama, I saw a woman that looked so much like my late mother, her round face and big breasts reminded me so much of her. She had ejula displayed on her wooden agbada. I walked up to her and narrated my story. She had pity on me, took me home at the close of market and gave me food. I stayed with her for three days, there was no sign of children or husband. When I saw the round heap of mother earth located close to the yam barn, I concluded that she was a childless widow. On the next afor market day, she brought me to the market and sent me home back to my father’s house.
(It was already morning, and visibility was clearer when we got to Ishingwu, the closest village to Amaudala. I saw children of my age going to the farm with their fathers, their small hoes slung over their shoulders. Palm wine tappers were returning with their fresh morning sap, while some lucky hunters were smiling home with the unlucky animals caught by their traps. The road had become busy, Mazi was happily exchanging greetings with people. I was sober, I was moody, I wasn’t just happy. I wish we could just get to Amaudala so I will be assured that our journey is what it is, and not another plot by him to sell me off to the white man.
When we got to Mission School Ishingwu; the school built by the Irish Missionaries, Mazi told me to go through the school field, saying that if we could cross the bush path behind the school building, it will connect us directly to Achina and then we have just few distance to cover and we are in Amaudala.
My fears returned. I was skeptical but there was nothing I could do because rather than walk behind me, Mazi has been walking by my side since we crossed the Ishingwu shrine of Ogwugwu deity. Maybe he wanted to be closer to avoid me escaping him again like the last time. The bush path behind the school was thick and dense with trees and shrubs. It was fearfully quiet, with occasional chirping by insects and chants of bird.
Out of nowhere, two men emerged in front of us, talking to themselves while walking towards us. I looked at Mazi to register my fears only to realise woefully that he too was looking at me, with his right hand positioned tactfully around my neck. I knew the game was up. Before I could let go of the chair and bag, the men were already on me. My next escape move from the other direction was terminated by the fierce kick I received from Mazi around my groin region. I fell and shouted in serious pain, I was crying and wailing, kicking my feet in every direction, trying to fight my way out from the men who were already holding me back to the ground, preparing their ropes to tie my hands and feet.
I saw Mazi retreat, picking up his bag and chair and making his way home. I cried out to him, shouting louder than before, begging him not to leave me. “Mazi please come back, don’t sell me please, remember I am your brother, don’t allow them take me away” … He didn’t even look back, he kept on going till his figure faded out of my sight. I could see him no more…
I kept on crying and kicking, calling Mazi to come to my rescue when that hot slap from Nwanyimma brought me back to reality).
I jumped up from the raffia mat on which I slept only to find out that I have been dreaming all along.
“Look at the time and you are still sleeping. Get up and sweep the obi. Remember to go to iyienu the village stream to fetch water and fill those calabashes in the kitchen. When you are done, rush over your meal as Mazi is already waiting for you to accompany him to Amaudala” … She concluded and left my hut.
On my way back from iyienu that morning, I struck my left foot against a tree stump and almost fell down but my chi was kind enough to save me. When all was set, we left for Amaudala; myself, Mazi, Ichie Okwuọgọ and Ọzọ Anukaifufe. The two men had their boys of my age with them as well. As we journeyed along, I found out that they were Ekweọzọ and Obidike, and their story wasn’t any different from mine.
Whether or not the three of us will return from that trip remains an exclusive knowledge of the gods.
My name is Iroeshika, this is my story