We Are Not Cursed #14

PART FOURTEEN

Edited by: Darlene Jones

 

 

The sight of Amaefuna approaching evoked an instant feeling of bitterness and then disappointment in Umeh. Umeh’s first thought was to rise and bark an order at his fellow nobleman to leave his compound. But a quick rethink halted him. He couldn’t afford to throw a tantrum before his guests, who were seated with him in his obi; moreover, Amaefuna wasn’t supposed to bear the brunt of his anger at the attempted abduction of Okuoba.

"An Igbo compound, early 20th century" (pic source: nairaland.com)
“An Igbo compound, early 20th century” (pic source: nairaland.com)

While the eldest of his three guests was still talking, Umeh tore his gaze away from Amaefuna and focused on the muddy red floor of his obi and heaved a deep sigh. His foot rapped on the floor impatiently as he folded his arms across his chest. He sensed the new rhythm of his heart. It had just moved up, beating at an irregular pace, leading him to reflect on the terrible events of the recent past.

“Ichie Umeh, is everything okay?” asked his eldest guest in a concerned tone.

Umeh nodded.

Resting both hands on his thighs, he intertwined his fingers. Loyalty, old friendship, and trust were already at stake. To imagine taking a retaliatory action against his friend’s son amid the delicate situation of searching for Nnanna’s killers could result in an even worse consequence. As much as a part of him now believed that his son’s killer was found in Ibeabuchi, treading with a good sense was all he could pray for. Deep down, he hoped that his fellow nobleman and friend was aware of the foiled abduction of Okuoba and had come to make immediate amends.

Amaefuna bent low to gain entry into the obi. Smiling, his said his greetings with a hand raised while his eyes jumped from face to face until they found Umeh’s.

Ichie ibe m,” Amaefuna hailed, “my salute is as strong as that of the winds that bring harmattan and as high as that of an Iroko tree.”

“Welcome.” Umeh forced himself to say. Turning his head slightly, he called out to one of his servants behind the obi to fetch a wooden stool for his new guest.

“No—no, that won’t be necessary,” Amaefuna interrupted with a wave, a restrained smile spreading across his lips, “As a matter of fact I don’t intend to stay long, considering you have guests alre…”

Umeh could see that his friend’s eyes were now aimed at the ten fat tubers of yam and gourds of fresh palm wine on the floor. Then on the dwarf tripod of a table, a small plate containing four kola nuts. If Amaefuna was smart enough, he would correctly decipher the significance of the number of the kola nuts present, hence the reason behind the visit of the other men in the obi.

Suspecting that his fellow nobleman was quite stunned by the gift items, Umeh intentionally cleared his throat.

“Ehen,” Amaefuna flicked his eyes to Umeh, “Ichie ibe m, I’ve come with something important. The situation now makes it more compelling that we discuss in private.”

It was unlike Umeh to let his thoughts wander in search of the possibilities such a statement could hold. Rather he asked, “Can’t this issue wait until these guests of mine are gone?”

An uneasy expression appeared on Amaefuna’s face. “I—I won’t take much of your time.”

Excusing themselves from the other men, the duo broke away.

When they were some distance away from the obi, Amaefuna began, “It’s about one of our previous discussions.”

“One of our previous discussions?” Umeh paused and eyeballed him. “About what?”

A soft dry wind blew across the compound. Cocks crowed.

Amaefuna took a quick look at the servants who had accompanied the guests. Raw-boned and dressed in scanty pieces of the animal skin that only managed to hide their private parts, they all were standing in the shade near the obi, waiting for their masters, waiting to carry their wooden stools once the meeting with Umeh was over.

“I can tell that by the number of kola nuts on that table those men have come to ask for something special from you. Someone in their midst is seeking for Okuoba’s hand in marriage.”

Umeh didn’t utter a word.

“But I thought I … I mean, we’ve discussed this a long time ago. And as far as our friendship is concerned, we should cement it by joining our children in marriage. I’d expected that you’d give my son the first pre—”

“I see that you have no shame! Need I remind you of your son’s foolish action?”

Amaefuna stared at him with wide-eyed surprise. Umeh continued to bark his questions, “So weren’t you aware of your son’s grave action before now? Or are you here to pretend that none of that happened, hence pursue your own interest? Know this: I will never let my dau—”

“Nnaanyi…” a voice interrupted him from behind.

Umeh turned around. Oluchi, his wife, was standing some feet away, hands clasped in front of her. The worried look on her face made him move closer to her. “What is it?” he asked.

“It’s about your brother, Eloka,” She said. “He’s just returned with a human head.”

Part Thirteen||Part Fourteen

________________

Translation:

Obi — A spot for relaxation

Ichie ibe m — My fellow nobleman

Nnaanyi — Master

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31 thoughts on “We Are Not Cursed #14

  1. Hi Uzo,
    I’m always behind on reading other blogs, so I’ve missed some of your posts, but you are truly a gifted writer and I have enjoyed everything I’ve read! I hope you’re doing well and have a wonderful Tuesday! 🙂 Lauren

  2. Heh! Uzoma, human head? I wonder whose head that was, hope not Dubem! I’m quiet fond of the guy! Can’t wait for the next part and it’s beautifully written! Great job brother!!
    🙂

    1. You’re right, Lena. Eloka has incurred more problem for the family by returning with a human head, making the prophesy of the juju priest come true.

      Thank you so much for the ardent reading.

  3. Each time I come here, Uzoma, I find: 1) a colorful sense of place described; 2) credible dialogue; 3) compelling action and mounting suspense; 4) a stunning cliffhanger! Along with very strong writing. This installment is no exception. Congratulations, my friend.

    1. Aw, that’s so sweet! Writing this, I believe, will help me revisit my main WIP with fresh eyes and more experience. It’s a worthy course really.

      You’ve been very supportive, Sirena 🙂

  4. i do hope the head is good juicy one… 🙂 I really like your descriptions of the way of life of the Igbos… no condescension or sense of apology. Rightly so! Every people, tribe have their unique, rightful place of respect in the life-cycle of the world…

    1. LOL @ the juicy head! In reality, that’s invited trouble; one that Umeh and the rest of his family will have to deal with.

      Glad you are enjoying the snippets of my culture that make for part of the story-telling. My people often show high regard for their guests.

  5. A head Uzoma!
    Whose head? My curiosity has been deeply aroused.

    So sorry it takes me a while to come in and read, but I am so eagerly following. Kudos to you. I hope you plan on turning it fully into a novel.

    1. No worries, Funmi . I hope everything is okay at your end. That you continue to comment on the story is the greatest gift of all. About turning the story into a novel once it is done … well, I intend to archive the story and return to it after I must have released my debut novel.

  6. “…the number of kola nuts on the table…”

    A marriage proposal? Hmmm, interesting. This muddies the interests and agendas of several ‘actors’ in this story.

    Of course, you threw us all off guard with that ‘human head’ ending – no pun intended. It just gets piled onto poor Umeh – now his brother has provoked something really serious.

    Looking forward to the next episode.

    Peace,
    Eric

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