Uche was found in the footpath between Allu and their village Chiolu…….dead.
His body was carried to his compound by the village youths…..who held leaves in their mouths in Mourning. It was a strange thing for a young vibrant man to die suddenly especially when it was from unknown causes.
“What killed him?” people wondered.
Ego was in tears in the room while her friends consoled her
“He’s been dead since yesterday” she said “He didn’t return last night, I thought he was with Kelechi….Ewoooo”she sobbed cleaning her eyes with the end of her wrapper as she sat on the floor of the hut. The compound was soon filled up with people, all his friends, Kalu, Nonso, Kelechi and his brother Ekene stood staring at the body wondering what could have happened to their friend and brother.
” He left without even saying goodbye” Kelechi said while having an idea of where he might have gone, he knew Uche had not been himself since Obiageli left.
The last person to have seen him was the little girl Ebere . They decided not to tell the father but wondered if he would hear because by now the whole village had gathered.
“She has killed him ooo, she has killed him” Ego wailed “Obiageli has made me a young widow”
“What is she talking about?”an elderly man asked
They thought she had gone mad from the sorrow especially as she kept calling Obiageli who was long dead
“She finally took him,” she continued “she took him eeeeeh, Uche Nwam why?”she asked standing up to go close to the body, but her friends pulled her back.
The men sat down together in front of the house the next day
“What do you think could have killed him?” Kalu asked
“If I know”Kelechi said arms folded across his chest “This is so strange”
“Stranger things have happened” Nonso said and shrugged “…..aru…”
Ekene just sat staring silently into space.
They finally decided to bury him after three days, every villager who was younger than him was there close to the burial site, the elders who came stood around not participating in any of it as was custom, Ego refused to be consoled, the father had still not been told.
“Nkem why did you do this..?” Ego cried still, her friends consoled her in the room as the men dug the grave outside..”I thought we were doing so well, why did you leave me?”she cried
“HE MUST BE BURIED STANDING”
Everyone suddenly heard and turned.
The village chief priest walked into their midst, he carried his bag, his staff giggling, he looked around, then took from his powder and blew…
“Eheh Agunwan……” he said moving on his feet like one possessed “the god of our land has finally gone home….go go Agunwan, go and take your place in the land of the gods….eheh.” he said “..look at him” he pointed to the sky, they all looked up and saw nothing “his visit has ended for he has returned to his father”he finished and looked around.
“He must be buried standing” he said again for all to hear “for he is a son of a god and not a mere mortal”
A silence”But we have already dug the grave” one of the young men said
“What is he talking about?” the villagers wondered at his sayings
“I told his mother who he was” the chief priest continued, loud enough for everyone to hear “I told her if she has any other child after him she would die, but she did anyway…” he changed his staff to the other hand “she had prayed to the gods for a child after many years of childlessness and they sent him……..Agunwan, the son of Amadioha” the friends looked at each other.
“The gods have paid us a visit” he finished.
He got close to the body and laid his staff on it, and began a dance around the body beginning his incantations on it. The villagers looked at each other in bewilderment.
Ego had since stopped crying wondering what he was talking about, what did he mean Uche was a god, the son of Amadioha.
But was he? had he really left her and gone back? She didn’t believe he was dead though, she believed he would suddenly wake up someday and come back to her…..if he truly was a god, wouldn’t he?
The men had stopped their digging and buried him standing as was directed by the chief priest.
Ego married again after three years of waiting and even after he was long gone people still talked about Uchenna, the son of Ozor who was a god and lived amongst men like he wasn’t.
They still believed Agunwan would return back to the village someday……in form of a child.