We Are Not Cursed #11

PS: My apologies  for posting this installment a day late 🙂

PART ELEVEN

Edited by: Darlene Jones

 

 

Dubem straightened up with a machete in his hand. He ran his eyes over the remaining weedy portion of land that was his to clear and with the back of his other hand, wiped away the sweat that had misted over his forehead. It usually took a brief moment for his arm muscles to regain the much needed vigour for work, but now, before that dynamism kicked in, a woman’s image flashed through his mind. A warm inviting smile. Arms held open to him. A body scantily clad in a wrapper.

Just thinking of her enkindled a strong feeling in him.

A desire to hold and cherish.

“No!” Dubem whipped his head widely from side to side.

The woman who’d given him this strangely sweet feeling was Okuoba.

Don’t beat yourself up over it. Your subconscious is getting things all mixed up. He blamed fate for causing this problem, for putting her in his path this afternoon—just as it had done on several occasions lately. By the gods, he had to admit that he didn’t only admire her. Something else had evolved. It feathered beneath his skin and made his heart flutter whenever she was around. Until now, he hadn’t looked upon her as someone he was attracted to, for he was just a teen plagued by the fresh memories of his family’s brutal killing. He was a young boy seeking survival as a servant in her father’s house.

Willing his body under control and doing his best to erase the thought of Okuoba from his mind, Dubem bent down to resume work. When he was about to raise the machete again, he thought he heard a shout from the east. A cry?

Okay, concentrate; there isn’t much to account for in the way of finished work.

There, he heard the sound again. Definitely a distressful female cry. Shooting up, he dropped the machete, and strode quickly towards the servants working in close proximity to him.

“Did you hear that?” he asked, pointing a finger in the direction of the perturbing cries.

The two females paused. Pegged their ears to the air. No sound.

Confused, they looked at each other before lifting their eyes to Dubem. “Nothing—what is it that you heard?”

“A cry…” he repeatedly stabbed his finger in the direction the sound had come from. “I think someone is in danger! We ha—”

The cry charged through the air once again.

Dubem’s first instinct was to run toward it and his legs responded without hesitation. Concern, the other fuel, combined with the blood that coursed through his veins. The earth awoke to the urgency, the rustling and crunch of dry grasses and leaves protesting underneath his feet.

“We’ll alert the others!” The women shouted.

***

Okuoba couldn’t believe it. Yet, it was happening to her.

She’d been lifted off the ground and held strongly against her will on the shoulder of a friend whom she ought to have feared more than an enemy. While she did her best to resist Ibeabuchi, her legs thrashing helplessly in the air and the sides of her fists driving hard into his back, he seemed to enjoy it all, laughing wickedly and taunting her to do more.

“Let me go! Let me go!” Okuoba cried. But her plea for release fell on deaf ears.

Typical bush in south-eastern Nigeria
Typical bush in south-eastern Nigeria

Balancing her body on his shoulder, Ibeabuchi left the footpath and veered into the bush. Okuoba stretched out her hands, trying to grasp the drooping tree branches along the way. She knew that if she held on to something strong or deeply rooted, this would at least impede Ibeabuchi’s movement. But he seemed to keep away from the trees.

She drew in air and shouted again, the loudest she could muster.

But there was no one in sight. Not even any one of her father’s servants.

“Please, Ibeabuchi … please, you have to let me go.” She could feel her voice wavering, tapering off to an indistinct mutter.

Plead; it was all she could do now. Horrific thoughts of being forced to submit or watching life seep out slowly from her brought tears to her eyes.

“Please, I beg you.”

“Shush! I want to take good care of you.”

“Just let me go.”

“Shut up!” Ibeabuchi snapped, throwing her down on the ground.

Rather than concern herself with the sharp bite of pain she felt raking her back, her mind raced through what Ibeabuchi could do next. Why Ibeabuchi decided to throw her down remained unsolved until she craned her neck to see Dubem running toward them.

“Let her go!” Dubem shouted.

Okuoba glanced at Ibeabuchi—he was visibly fuming, his face contorted out of shape as he narrowed his vision on the one arriving. Seizing the opportunity for an escape, she scampered on all fours away from him. She was too afraid to get up and run.

***

“Fly away, you half man!” Ibeabuchi gestured toward the sky in a fit of rage.

Dubem accessed the distance between his master’s daughter and her assailant. She was at least three feet away from danger in the flesh, the demon of a friend. “Let her go,” Dubem said in a calm, yet assertive manner.

Ibeabuchi reached behind his loincloth and pulled out a knife. Unsheathing it, he twisted it in his hand and stepped closer to Dubem. The afternoon sun stealing through the trees kissed its blade causing a halo over its sharp point.

“Let’s see how the earth will welcome your blood.”  Saying this, he launched himself toward Dubem, who deflected the arm holding the knife. Both men fell to the grass-carpeted ground, rolled, and got up.

Poised for a fight, they both bent slightly at the waist, evaluating each other’s prowess, circling for an opening to attack. The circle got smaller when the other servants showed up.

“You know you have the chance to leave now.” Dubem said, with an intent to offer Ibeabuchi a way out.

Ibeabuchi swung the blade mid-air, but Dubem bent low and gripped the vengeful hand, elbowing him in the throat. The impact sent Ibeabuchi crashing to the ground. He squealed and reeled in pain, spitting out dirt and phlegm.

Cheers of joy and relief came from the servants. They rallied around Dubem, taking the knife into their custody. And just when Dubem wanted to turn to Okuoba, she ran into his arms and squeezed him tight.

Ibeabuchi recovered, rose to his feet, and wiped the dirt and spittle around his mouth with his back hand. He pointed to Dubem. “I’ll make you pay for this.”

He wanted to reach for Okuoba but a group of mean-faced servants stopped him. Leaving, he said to her, “They are your enemy. Not me. Not me, asa m.”

Part Ten||Part Eleven

_____________________________

Translation:

Asa m — My beautiful one

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72 thoughts on “We Are Not Cursed #11

    1. Aw, that will be great — starting from #1. The story is set in pre-colonial Nigeria when there were no states or protectorates, just tribes and settlements. The picture was taken during a visit to one of the villages (Ngwa) in Abia (a south-eastern state) not too far from Warri. Juliana, I’m touched by your interest in knowing the location and setting of this story.

      Thanks for the visit.

      1. Well, my exhusband’s father has a street in Warri named after him, Mokoro Mowoe. He is my daughter’s grandfather, but died many, many years before she was born. Although I have never been there, I have known
        quite a few Igbo and Urhobo and Ijaw people.

        1. Wow! Your ex’s father must have been a great man indeed because, in this country, naming a street after someone is one of the ways the public confers honour to such an individual. On the other hand, to have a street bear your name — that is, “buying” it from the Ministry of Lands — entails some good money depending on the location.

          Once more, your knowledge of some of the tribes amazes me.

      2. When I taught literature, I made my students read “Things Fall Apart”. The father of my exhusband has a street in Warri named after him–he was Mokoro Mowoe. He died long ago. Although I have never been there, I have known
        quite a few Igbo, Urhobo, and Ijaw people.

        1. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe? My o my! Juliana, I’m over the moon at the mention of the man’s book. I still have a copy of book on my shelf. I read it as a requirement for one of my exams (African Literature).

          I’ll be on the look out for “Mokoro Mowoe” as I go about my daily dealings in the city.

  1. Excellent!
    You brought this well! I wondered what would happen, but I never expected this.
    Well done Uzoma! Well done!

  2. Eeeek! Such tension! So exciting, but I am especially thrilled that Dubem saved the day. Saying prayers for him now to try to ward off Ibeabuchi’s retaliation. You are writing this with such command, Uzoma! I am psyched for you!

    1. Me, too — I really want it all to turn out so well 🙂 🙂 Now, we don’t have to worry much about Okuoba. For me, it’s an interesting turn. I just hope I can put it down in an enticing manner.

      Thanks for reading, Sirena.

  3. Oh, Sirena Tales, you are so right, the word “retaliation” comes to mind right away!! Uzoma, you did spectacularly with this portion of the story! Thanks for all of your energy on this and always, keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you so much, Robin. I’m glad you found this part worthwhile. I’m hopeful I can keep up with the story 🙂 and when I feel can no longer be able to do so, I will just write “The End.” 😀 😀

      I appreciate the time you took to read my story.

      1. I hope you have a good break and will check back after Tuesday! This is challenging going to public library and checking so many blogs and doing my own comments. Take care, my friend until we “meet again!”

  4. This is great, Uzo. Everything. The words. The characters. The tension especially. I really enjoyed reading it and I’m quite happy for Dubem, although I fear for him too because of Ibeabuchi’s threat. The suspense climbs with each episode and I can’t wait to read more.

    Well done! Two bottles of Gulder for you. 🙂

    1. I’m happy for Dubem, too. There is a twist, which I hope to pull in the next. Hopefully that will sustain the tension.

      I appreciate your avid support. And my! Two Gulder bottles are a perfect reward for the effort.

  5. Close combat scenes are difficult to pull off – and you did it very well, Uzo my friend. I could visualise every move of the combatants.

    Ibeabuchi is turning out to be a real nasty – suspected it when he showered her with food-meat that his family could well use. Dubem’s infatuation – and if it is, love – is headed for an uphill struggle in all fronts, from the immediate families and tribal society

    1. Awwwwwwww, thanks a lot, Eric! Using words to create an action scene is one of the difficult aspects of writing … a part I dread but have no choice to write, if need be.

      Ibeabuchi sure is a nasty sort and this scene confirms your suspicion and the dangers lying in wait. For the Dubem, his growing love will come up against a strong opposition … a storm, IMO.

  6. This is great! I thought Ibeabuchi was going to get away with it, but Dubem got there in time. Beautiful rescue – and a fantastic description of Ibeabuchi carrying Okuoba off. 🙂

    1. I admit that I fret over some of my descriptions, especially those that are meant to be action-packed. Your words reassure me of a good job done.

      Cheers to you 🙂

      1. Physical action is one of the hardest things to describe, but you got that carrying off perfectly. I loved that she snatched at tree branches – that’s exactly what she would do!

        Interestingly, I described the same kind of carrying of in my book just published (I’m talking about The King’s Sacrifice) – a hefted over the shoulder kind of carrying off, so he could have his way with her, but in fun, so there wasn’t much of a struggle on her part. So, of course, I was especially interested to see how you detailed yours. We used different words and different descriptions, and you took account of weight, which I did not.

        I’ve got to say, I think we are pretty even in our descriptions… but I like yours better. 😀

        Cheers!

        1. Thank you so much, Allyson. See, when I am about to write a scene, I take a moment to picture it all in my head. I ask myself about my response if I happen to find myself in such a situation. Thinking as a female character can be challenging, but it’s more exciting. So … in this case, I decided to go with my imagination, my feelings. Crafting the scene via words is where the writer — a good one — comes in. And after reading your comment, I couldn’t help but smile at my success. So, you wrote a similar scene, were a man had to carry off a woman (his lover, I guess)? Hmm, that’s sweet. Of course, I expect the approach to be different. But more especially I am happy you didn’t mention the woman’s weight. In my own opinion, it would’ve been a hitch of some sort since they both were up to something “interesting.” 🙂 🙂

          As always, reading your comment leaves me with a big smile.

  7. Very exciting ! Now there is no doubt that Ibeabuchi is not a trustworthy guy. Regarding your comment above Uzo, I do hope you can keep up with the story for a while longer – we need to know the outcome of Eloka’s visit to Isiochie and hopefully see Nnanna’s murderer brought to justice.
    Great photo too 🙂

    1. Yes, this part clearly reveals that Ibeabuchi has a dirty mind and should be avoided.

      Lena, I am so encouraged by this particular comment of yours. Knowing how the story will end and where I am with the story-telling poses some sort a of challenge to me. More scenes … intricate scenes to write, emotions and suspense to pull off. Surely I’d like to continue with the story. You’ve been a pillar of great support from the start. And remembering it gives me strength.

  8. You read my mind, I’m glad Ibeabuchi’s evil intent was thwarted by the diminutive Dubem, is love in the linings between Okuoba and Dubem? I would really love that! I love the way you built the tension and how you expertly deflates it! I hope the story will go on for a while longer!!
    Blessings. 🙂

    1. Yes o … Ibeabuchi was up to no good. I love your line of thought regarding love possibly sparking up between Okuoba and Dubem. That’s the writer and love-filled spirit in you … in me too, because I love such kind of stories too.

      With your support, the story continues.

      1. Hi Uzoma,

        during my degree we were taught that sometimes brevity of words actually enhances the text, it allows the reader to infer as opposed to being told.If you read any of E. Hemingway’s novels you see why this works so well.

        Be well. Talia.

        1. I confess I’ve not read any of Hemingway’s novels. But I sure agree with him and you about the basic rule of “show; don’t tell.” To do this, the right words and descriptions must be used.

          Happy weekend to you, Talia 🙂

  9. Hmm, I’ve fallen in love with Dubem, and I now fear for his life. He seems like a man of character- I mean he even gave the wicked Ibeabuchi time to escape with his dignity. A part of me wished the knife ‘mistakenly’ went through Ibeabuchi’s heart… but that would be too easy and the end of an interesting storyline. Well done Uzoma.

    1. Aw, I’m glad you’re drawn to Dubem. Poor dude … there are quite a number of obstacles to his heart’s desire — Ngwo culture, his status in the village, and the other men who want Okuoba. I wish I could advise him to find another woman to love. Dis kyn love dey chop persin head.

      And about the knife … I agree it would’ve been sweet if it went through Ibeabuchi’s heart during the fight. That guy has a crooked mind; one no man should underestimate. But somehow, fate has kept him alive. And we’ll be seeing him again … perhaps, pretty soon.

      Thanks for reading, Timi.

      1. Oh oh, my darling Dubem 🙂 I’m still a sucker for fairy tale endings… the pauper that fell in love with the princess, who in turn fell madly in love with him… the pauper turned out to be a prince in disguise & they lived happily ever after! If wishes were horses…

        I’ll still be here next week anyhow

        1. Hehe. Such stories leave goosebumps on my skin. They are sweet to read, but a bit difficult to pull off. Well, I can’t deny am aiming for such an ending.

          As always, I’m grateful for your time.

  10. Wow! Super like! slow beginning, then building up nicely and finishing on a high note. Excellent. I must also take this opportunity to compliment your editor Darlene. She does a marvelous job. And you both make a good team.

    1. Oh yeah! Darlene is doing a marvelous job with the editing. Her input can’t be ignored. Again, it’s a thing of joy for me that this story continues to hold your interest.

      Namaste, MJ 🙂

    1. Emere m nke oma (I’m OK) 🙂 Wow! I’m glad we are greeting each other in Igbo.
      ]
      I’ve been super busy lately and have not written the next installment. But I will … hopefully.

      So, you’ve finally gotten a copy of the book? That’s great. So are you going to tell me about it when you’re done reading it?

      1. Well, so far it isn’t looking good for the Igbo, but it’s the mid 60’s, so I’m sure you’ll all survive to write your stories by the 21st century! 🙂 I wonder what year this is in Igbo time?

          1. Oh that’s okay–you don’t have to apologize. As a matter of fact, I’m glad you’re interested. Very interested.

            My dad was drafted to the Biafran military in the first year of the war and because of his rank, he stopped his two younger brothers (drafted later) from being posted to the war front. My mum, on the other hand, was unfortunate. She lost two of her brothers–the only two males born to her parents–in the war. One was blown up by a mine; the other ambushed and killed with a few other soldiers. It was a painful and bloody war, I’m told. But then, we fought gallantly too. If not for betrayal at some point we would’ve won. Well, that’s a story for some other day.

            So, yes, Chimamanda in her book, highlighted the war, preserving a historical moment for the Igbos. As an Igbo I’m proud she did this. She’s Igbo to the core too.

            Thanks for all the support. I’m hopeful my writing would be published someday. Then, I’ll join her and the others like her in telling the world about our dear tribe.

            1. You have me very interested in the Igbo political situation of the recent past, Uzoma! I am so glad your father was able to intervene on behalf of family and sad that your Mother’s family suffered. As a writer you will wonder at the presentation of Chimamanda’s story, her going back and forth in time to further elucidate her character’s dramas.

        1. Aw, that’s nice of you to ask. Prior to the coming of the white man, we had our own calendar. A week was made up of four days: Orie, Eke, Afo, Nkwo. And seven weeks made a month, usually marked by a full moon–that’s why you may have observed that I use full moon in the story serial ‘We Are Not Cursed.’

          Nowadays, however, we go with the English calendar. Some of the calendars here, have the traditional notations (Eke, Orie, Afo, Nkwo), though. I’ve one. It’s important if I want to meet up with an appointment or market day in a certain village.

          Please feel free to ask more questions. I’m enjoying this already, but don’t want to stray away from the topic at the moment.

          1. Calendars are so central and often politically biased. The English were slow to adopt the present calendar because it was promoted by Catholic Europeans. In Japan there was a time when the common person was not allowed to know the calendar and many of the Japanese woodcut prints of beautiful ladies were a disguised calendar and a secret police force confiscated many prints to keep the code calendars out of circulation.

            1. LOL@ the Japanese effort to have the calendar. But then why should a secret police be on the hunt for calendars at the time? In the past, my people depended on the moon a lot. Sometimes when it did not appear, my fretted because they fear the gods were angry.

              Development and science has really changed the world.

    1. Hello Shawn … I see you’ve been into a lot activities lately. The snaps I see on FB are sensational. And I wish you and your family all the best.

      I, myself, haven’t been active lately. I have a lot of catch up to make. But I’m grateful that you’ve come around today.

    1. Thanks for asking. Unfortunately I had to start the next installment from the beginning because my laptop was stolen. I hope to post the story next week.

      I’ve been responding to the blogs I follow by email, so will be popping in to read other posts of yours in a couple of minutes from now.

  11. This was a dangerous move but the only move that Dubem could do to rescue Okuoba! Still with the way the class or caste system is, Dubem can be blamed. I hope to find a happy ending soon on your blog. I also enjoyed or seriously read, the part about your Dad’s serving and also, the sad part about your Mum’s brothers, your uncles. That war has taken its toll and I feel the same about all wars, wishing we could all get along without them!

    1. Yes, Robin, memories of wars are like an indelible tattoo; they stick with the survivors. Mum does remember her late brothers from time to time. But there is always a tinge of sadness in her voice whenever she does so.

      As for the story serial, yes, I’m also looking forward to a happy ending–love happy endings that leave a long impression on me.

      Hope you are having a great day…

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