Two months after that night they heard shouts and quarrel.
Read ” The Bet ” by the same author ( Funmi Anita Adesina )
. Uche came out and discovered it was coming from his brothers hut, Chioma came out then went back in. Adaku had since moved into the house and since then the quarrel had increased in the compound, his brother obviously loved his new wife more and she was using it to her advantage in causing trouble, Uche knew he couldn’t live like that, his father had been wise in marrying just one woman and had lived in peace till she died, he was going to do same.
Oluchi just delivered of another baby, this time it was a girl and people called Okafor a lion wondering why the gods chose to answer them at old age, but Oluchi knew it was Obiageli who had gone to make it possible by her death, she named the new child Ifunanya.
Ekene was beating his wife, then while she talked threw her clothes outside, he did not listen to Uche
“She’s leaving this house” he said
“What happened, what has she done?” he asked, Chioma was busy raining abuses on him and crying and only Uche standing between them stopped Ekene from hitting her
“Look Uche stay out of this” he said reaching for Chioma who was hiding behind Uche
“What did she do..what did you do Chioma?”he asked her, she refused to speak, just kept crying . Ekene finally told him that she gave him dirty water to bathe saying he should tell his new wife to serve him instead, and that had warranted the beating
. Uche finally begged his brother on her behalf and they went inside.
Ego clapped her hands as they got back to their hut ” eheh, I never knew your brother was a wife beater, is that how your family is?”
Uche glared at her”Chioma was wrong, you know it”
“Even then, my brothers would never do such a thing”she said
” if you don’t want beating, don’t do what would make your husband angry “he said sitting on the bed
“So only men get angry eh, don’t you make us angry sometimes” she said sitting with him “I’m glad you haven’t beaten me”
“So you would go and tell your father again”he said, she looked at him but he ignored her, his mind not there
” Nkem I thought that issue has been settled “she said
“It hasn’t, because of you I lost kegs of palmwine and was disgraced amongst my kinsmen”he said
” Is it wrong if you give my father palmwine? ”
“You tell him everything don’t you.. ” he said “even how I perform in bed”
He dusted his leg and laid down to sleep, while she gaped at him.
The next morning Uche dressed up and carried his bag, Ebere his brothers child who was growing so big skipped to meet him
“Uncle are you going to the forest?” She asked holding his hand
“Yes” he replied
“Can I follow you?”.
Uche looked at her and smiled, he wanted to tell her it wasn’t for girls but changed his mind
” no, don’t worry I’ll bring back something for you ”
She had looked disappointed but smiled now in glee holding her hands together
“Is it butterfly?” she asked, she had taken a fancy to butterflies and Uche wondered as he rubbed her head fondly
“If I tell you it won’t be a surprise” he said
“Okay” she said, the girl was going to be very brilliant he thought as he looked back at the compound before he made his way out of it.
The old woman’s hut was worn but neat, it looked deserted as Uche stood in the compound looking into it, he wondered how an old woman could keep a place so neat. He had found it difficult to locate the place even though Obiageli had given him directions, Obiageli had told him the old woman would die soon and he had to make his decision now or never.
A woman came out with a stool and tray of melon, he watched her as she put the stool down with the tray on her lap and wanted to proceed when she noticed him staring, Uche was staring at her while imagining her young, she was dark complexioned, short, bent, with hair all white. She looked about 80 years old, looking at her now he knew she had once been a beauty but not like Oby.
“What do you want?” She asked, her voice tiny and croaked, she coughed, he came close while taking precautions knowing who she was
“I need you to direct me to a river” he said
“The river beyond Allu”he said
She stared long at him in silence
“There’s no river beyond Allu”she said in dismissal and continued what she was doing, Uche turned and looked around, was he in the right compound?
“wonder what you are doing coming here, nobody comes to my compound”
He looked at her”Why?”
She looked at him with old eyes”They say I’m a witch”
Was she trying to scare him?, Uche licked his lips and decided to try again
“Do you know anyone called Obiageli ?”
“I know no one called by that name”
“Obiageli…” he paused” Valeria”he said. She looked at him again and stopped breaking, putting aside the melon.
Uche was sitting down now on a stool while the woman sat in hers staring ahead
“She told you about me, she’s not supposed to”.
” She’s convinced I’m special…I need answers “.
” Sometimes its better you don’t know”she said
“I want to go beyond the river”.he said, he knew he would find answers there
” you don’t need to go beyond the river, I can give you answers “she paused” I know who you are, you are one of the gods”.she said plainly. It wasn’t the first time he was hearing that so he wasn’t impressed, he looked at her and chuckled
“A god….i”m not a god, I have a wife” he said
She looked down ” I’ve watched you since you were a child, when your mother died “. she couldn’t have known that, she wasn’t in his village, he wondered
“you’ve been watching me”.
“I am the owl that hoots at dawn when you wake, and at night when you with Obiageli” he knew he had found that strange
He looked at her “why didn’t you contact me?”
“Because I couldn’t, I had to wait for you to come to me, when you needed my help” she paused then continued “beyond the river is not for the faint hearted…many go there and never return”she said, when he didn’t reply, she asked”you have met Tabo I presume ”
” Average size and height, not too dark, one eye closed”
That looked like the man who had visited him when he was ten years old and during the initiation” yes, yes I’ve met him”
“What are you then?”
“I want to find out my mission” maybe he was a god, but why was he here, why didn’t he know that?
“Are you sure you are ready for the task ahead?”
He knew what she mearnt as he glanced down, he didn’t know if he was, but if he had been created for this, he had no choice
” what are you over there?”he asked her
“I’m just a maid…I need to return back home , theres a wedding to attend” She said, Wasn’t that why he had come, the weeding “and a new king is to ascend the throne”she continued
Napsi, he thought “Did you have any family here?” Uche asked because of the deserted compound looking around again
“My husband is dead, I had a son but he died….boys never stay”
“How come you married and gave birth?”he was surprised looking back at her
“Unlike Valeria, I had no man to marry there, maids coming here is the only chance they get, Valeria is a princess”
Now he wished Obiageli was a maid
“You have powers like her?”
“No, just to live as long as I please” she said “can’t believe I’m telling you everything”
“Well your princess trusts me, you should too”.
She chuckled”Princesses fall in love easily with humans…Napsi is a Prince, she had no business coming to earth, she came against his wish”she said. She then directed him to Tabo.
Uche used a day to get to the shrine, when he got there, he saw no one, the whole place was deserted. He called the man’s name with no reply, he decided to walk to and made to enter the shrine, Tabo suddenly appeared in front of him, Uche looked at him, then moved closer
” Agunwan”he said in greeting
“What..” It was the name he had called him the first time they saw
Tabo buried his staff on the earth”That is your name…you were but a child then, but here you are….a man”
Uche gaped, he looked at the river flowing behind him “is that the river?”
“How did you find this place?”
“Negi told me, Valeria sent me?”
“What..” he suddenly said knowing why he had come “you have to go back, you’re not ready”
“You mean I travelled all the miles for nothing?”
“Its too dangerous”Tabo said
Uche glared at him
“I wouldn’t have come if I wasn’t ready Tabo….take me beyond the river” he said then added “that’s an order”.
*so Uche wants to go beyond to river to find Obiageli, probably fight Napsi for her, would he succeed?
Who is Agunwan?