We Are Not Cursed #18

*** Warning: Sexual theme involved. Reader discretion is advised ***

PART EIGHTEEN

Edited by: Darlene Jones

African woman art (pic source: Internet)
African woman art (pic source: Internet)

Ekwutosilim had arrived at Ngwo village at the height of the rainy season and was working as one of the servants at the house of Ichie Azuuzu in return for refuge. At least, that was her best chance of survival after her village was hit by a plague which left scores of inhabitants dead. Although subservience was required in her new home, accepting more duties and errands for Ichie Azuuzu himself soon became an excuse to avoid his wife. With what she earned from an illicit service to Ichie Azuuzu, she thought she should be able to leave before the next planting season and begin a new life in some other village.

More than anything, she wanted to be far away from home—from the place with haunting memories of the dead. If anyone had told her eight full moons ago that she would have gone from being a teenage girl who just liked to have fun, to a kept woman in Ngwo, she wouldn’t have believed it. But when, at her second period, she had secretly been offered ten cowries to stroke her master’s erection, she hadn’t been able to refuse such precious shells. Sweet-talked into coming close to his side, she had knelt quietly, shy and abashed at the sight his sex—throbbing and veined—until he placed her hand on it. The unfamiliar contact made her pull away instantly, the effect, nonetheless, lingered, bringing her almost to the point of vomit. Yet Ichie Azuuzu didn’t seem to take interest in her reaction; he once more took her hand, wrapping it around him, his lascivious need clearly reflecting in his eyes. She remembered the feeling—how his penis alternated from hardness to softness at the head and back—as she moved up and down on it, the pleasure pouring out from his face as he urged her to go faster. She had not stimulated him for long when his body convulsed and spurts of semen spilled over her hand. Unable to hold back anymore, she shot to her feet and at the corner of his hut, vomited on the floor.

If Ichie Azuuzu’s wife knew the number of times she’d serviced him ever since, she would be surprised. By the gods, she’d be shocked. Ichie Azuuzu, a prominent figure in the village council and a man old enough to be her father, was nothing like his cruel and fault-finding wife. Actually, if she wasn’t terrified of being publicly disgraced and killed, she’d have taunted her master’s wife with the revelation of his illicit association with her.

No, better not go that road, she told herself. Even though Ichie Azuuzu, who had only occasional need for her as of late, now gave her fewer cowries than what she used to receive from him, she knew she couldn’t complain. As a matter of fact, she’d been saving steadily for her big escape, and very soon she’d have a sizable nest egg, enough to live on until fate linked her with right man from the village where she’d resettle. Who knew, could be she’d be accepted by the family of a well-known farmer and she’d bear him many good-looking sons to the shame of her master’s wife, who had two: a dull midget of a first son and the second, about her age or older, whose actions, sometimes, made her wonder if he was born deranged.

“Ekwutosilim, hurry up! You’ve been standing there as if you had just encountered the river goddess,” Funaya, the eldest of Ichie Azuuzu’s four servants, called out to her.

“Oh … right away.”

Ankle deep in the flowing river, Ekwutosilim gently submerged her clay pot in the clear water, waited, then with practiced precision, lifted the water-filled pot; first, onto her bent knee, before placing it atop her head. She hoped Ichie Azuuzu’s wife wouldn’t send her back to the river for the third time today to draw water; otherwise, she would have very little energy left to meet other duties. She suspected that Ichie Azuuzu hardly talked or spent time with his wife because of her incessant nagging. The woman was like a waspish rain that wouldn’t let up.

As she ascended the slope abounding in rocks, she asked her fellow servants who had been waiting for her, “Was I really looking lost?”

The three looked at each other, amused, then flashed her knowing smiles. Turning around, they advanced slowly, their clay pots perched on their heads.

As water dripped down the sides of her pot, Ekwutosilim wiped the drops rolling down onto her face with the back of her hand. When she was almost at the head of the slope, her foot slipped and she fell. The pot shot forward and shattered into bits.

The other servants paused. Turned. They stood rooted, gaping at her, close to panic.

“Are you all right?” Funaya finally asked, glancing down at her, at the bits of clay, and back.

Rising up and dusting her sides, Ekwutosilim nodded. Anger and disappointment crept into her voice. “Now, that woman is going to take a strip off my hide.”

Time slipped by in silence. The river continued to make it lapping call, mingling with the human voices behind them.

“No worries—we’ll figure a way out.”

People, going to and fro, passed them by; some caring to make sympathetic remarks. But none of these words made much sense to Ekwutosilim. For her, life, all of a sudden, looked like a wasteful journey—like the spilled water which she couldn’t retrieve.

The three servants beckoned to her. Together, they agreed that since there were still some empty pots left, Ekwutosolim would present one of them—already filled with water—as her latest contribution to making water available in their home. This would save her from the wrath of Ichie Azuuzu’s wife.

Smiling, Ekwutosilim nodded her thanks to what she believed was an excellent plan.

Side by side, they resumed walking while they gossiped about a variety of issues including the upcoming Mputa Ezi ceremony. Funaya and the other two seized the opportunity to direct their next question to Ekwutosilim: “Our master must be keen on getting pretty maidens for his sons after the ceremony, right?”

“How am I supposed to know that?” Ekwutosilim tried to sidestep the question.

“Ah-ah! You mean he hasn’t discussed the matter with you? Or do you think that we aren’t aware that he now enjoys talking to you?”

Ekwutosilim halted, her mind rapidly clutched by the frightening possibility that her affair also was no longer a secret. She looked desperately at the other servants, contemplating telling them the reason for her ongoing relationship with their master. After that, she’d then hold on to the hope that they wouldn’t turn their backs on her. On second thought, rather than talk too soon without being certain that her affair was already out in the open, she decided to keep quiet about it. But she couldn’t ignore the warning emanating from their comment. For her own safety, she now had no choice but to escape earlier than planned.

With a false sense of innocence, she continued, “We … I mean, he never discussed the issue with me.”

Her fellow servants looked a bit surprised. They seemed to believe her, though.

Funaya lowered her voice, “You see that second son of Ichie Azuuzu … that rascal…”

Ekwutosolim and the others leaned in, keen to hear the rest of what she had to say.

“Only the gods know what misery that young man will bring upon his future wife or wives as the case may be. He’s like a tsetse fly perching on the scrotum: smite it and you kill your manhood, leave it there and it kills your manhood.”

They all convulsed with laughter.

While they proceeded toward home, Ekwutosilim remembered her master’s words about finding a beautiful maiden for his second son after the Mputa Ezi ceremony.

Ichie Azuuzu had mentioned a few names. Out of the few, he spoke highly about one.

He said she was like the pungent beauty of twilight.

But he was also sceptical of the match proceeding.

For some unexplainable reason, he couldn’t vouch for his second son.

PART 17 || PART 18

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52 thoughts on “We Are Not Cursed #18

  1. Wow, more plot thickening and interesting character entries, Uzoma. You have woven quite an intricate tapestry with your story and I do wonder how it will all turn out. See you next time….

    1. I also want to support the thoughtful and articulate impressions and feedback of livelytwist, below, especially the things that will stay with her. Spot on and very well said of your strong work. Cheers, my friend….

  2. I was curious about Ekwutosilim & Ichie Azuuzu, since I didn’t start reading from the beginning, I wondered if I had missed an earlier entry about them. But it is a tribute to your writing style- the way that your story is unfolding- that I could follow the narrative nonetheless. One thing I admire about this series is that each post can stand alone and make a compelling read. Well done Uzoma.

    The thing that will stay with me though is this:

    “For her, life, all of a sudden, looked like a wasteful journey—like the spilled water which she couldn’t retrieve.”

    The layers of meaning contained in the fetching water scene, your use of language: “Time slipped by in silence. The river continued to make it lapping call, mingling with the human voices behind them.”, your use of nature as a metaphor for life…

    Reminds me that precious things can suddenly slip, we can make our plans, but they can be overturned… and while we stop to reassess, life continues…

    1. Your comment is like a fine medal bestowed on me. Thank you very much! 🙂

      Timi, your curiosity is not misplaced. Admittedly, the characters introduced in this episode are all new, but they are pivotal to the story at this point and we will get to know the reason when the next installment is posted. I’m delighted the story and the style still interests you. For me, this is the most important thing — to keep the reader captivated from start to finish.

      Thanks for letting me know about your favourite lines in this episode. When I came to the point of describing the girl drawing water from the river, I reminded myself to be thankful for the readily available water at our homes nowadays. That aside, I love your line of thought in that regard — it’s a basic truth about living for which we all have to acknowledge.

      Once again, thanks for the handsome comment.

  3. You’ve smoothly introduced new characters and gave us cause to take sides. For example, “The woman was like a waspish rain that wouldn’t let up” – is enough to make one dislike the wife even before meeting her.

    Wonderful application of moods and visuals with phrases – as already pointed out by “livelytwist”. You’ve enlisted nature as a vibrant character to your narrative.

    Finally, you pulled off the sex scene without been too raunchy. These type of scenes always pose great challenges for me.

    Well done, Uzo my friend,
    Eric

    1. I always look forward to reading your comments, Eric. They are thoughtful and lend layers of meaning — sometimes in a new way — to me.

      As much as this story is a work of fiction, the element of reality is very important. This helps the reader connect and empathize with a/some character(s) when need be. In this case, like you, I won’t want to spend even an hour with that nagging woman:(

      “Livelytwist” did point out some of my favourite descriptions. I’m happy you mentioned them, too. No doubt, the more one reads, the more his writing skill gets better.

      I had to tread carefully while writing the sex scene, because of my target audience as well as the igbo tradition back then pertaining to conjugal issues.

    1. Wow! Your analysis stands alongside what will eventually happen. I hate to kill the suspense for you at this stage, but I couldn’t hold back the excitement of having to say so after reading such a wonderful comment.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  4. The lore of opposites, much use in their different aspects to the variable attributions above here to dissolve within, delivering the different points of contention between the hierarchy of characters, and environments, a good mix of lead and flow. But the intended escape for Ekwutosilim, might just be a difficult course for her to navigate, like many rivers, it may fold back on her.. Like the growing brilliance in the writing above, no journey is ever wasteful, were it never to of been undertaken, traveled, perhaps one may never the chance to reveal each new destination that was just waiting upon your arrival, and subsequent departure to the next.

    1. Your judgement is not misguided, Sean. Ekwutosilim is in a delicate situation where her survival depends on her next decision. We’ll get to see more of that in subsequent episodes. Life is a journey best told by the traveler. But until this journey is properly defined or embarked upon, his words have no place for in history. I’m glad you are enjoying the shift of events and the hierarchy of characters.

      As always, I am grateful for your contributions.

  5. I cannot improve on the insightful and appreciative comments you have already received, Uzoma, but I do hope you are actively seeking a literary agent. The breadth and depth of your writing along with the intriguing revelation of Igbo culture, which seems timeless in its presentation, surely needs a bigger marketplace than our lovely WordPress forum.

    1. Hello, Cheyenne!

      I dearly appreciate your generous comment! Your interest in my culture never seems to wane at all. Honestly, I feel blessed to be able to share it. I’ve not yet contacted an agent for this story, but I would like to do so once am done. Though before that time, I’d like to seek more beta readers.

      Darlene, who does the editing, has been wonderful. I owe her a lot.

      1. Having just read Malidoma Patrice Some’s Of Water and the Spirit, I know that many people are hungry for gifts of knowledge from Africa. So, don’t be shy, Uzoma, start hunting for that agent before you finish…. Best of luck!!!

        1. You really know how to make someone happy 🙂 I’ll keep your words in my heart and will certainly acknowledge your unwavering support when my story is made available in print form.

            1. I understand — it’s the same here. Good thing is that there some on your blog to read.

              I wish you the very best with it. Are you going to publish it once you are through?

  6. Uzo, are you writing this week to week from a general outline, or are you scintillatingly doling out a complete novel (novella or petit bouquin)?

    1. Hello Prospero,

      Hehe. I guess it’s the latter — feeding my readers with a weekly snippet of what is turning out to be a novel. When I started, I thought it would span for ten episodes only 😦

  7. I agree with livelytwist, you certainly know how to capture your readers’ attention and the introduction of Ekwutosolim flowed seamlessly. I love your choice of words as well, this one caught my attention most, ‘Time slipped by in silence. The river continued to make it lapping call, mingling with the human voices behind them.’ Beautifully written dear brother! I can’t wait for the this latest twist!
    🙂
    🙂

    1. Thank you so much, sis. Glad you share the same interest with Livelytwist. The next twist will come in the next episode with a rather weird revelation.

  8. I am happy I read this story, it held my attention the whole time. I look forward to reading more of the story, I feel inspired, like I found a new gem. Love the episode

  9. Oh no! Is this (the second son) to be Okuoba’s husband???

    It’s not definite, not stated, but the big pointer is there and I hope a red herring, but how many marriages are being planned? So it seems Okuoba is facing a grim future with such a man.

    Ekwutosolim comes across as a nice and gentle soul who puts up with a lot of abuses. I like how you’ve written about her secret and how I cannot tell, for sure, if the other servants know or don’t know, or are themselves unsure. A nice balance there – it puts the reader at exactly the point where Ekwutosolim is (not knowing) and feeling that, yes, keeping silent is probably the best thing to do.

    Nicely done.

    The scene where she worked Ichie Azuuzu to a climax was well done, too. It was precise and showed all the crudeness of such an act, also portraying his lack of respect for her, or any care for her feelings. She will do well to escape from him.

    And yes, this is building the tension very well. 🙂

  10. Aw, I can’t thank you enough for this generous comment, Allyson. You sure know how to make one smile, saying lotsa encouraging words to spur on the creative mind.

    It’s amazing how your rightly figured out that this second son is one of the suitors waiting and hopeful to have Okuoba as a wife. In the past, marriages in my culture, were mainly ‘arranged’ by the parents–in fact, fathers of both families. For Okuoba, it’s a stage she has no choice but to embrace. Only fate can decide otherwise.

    Glad you found Ekwutosilim’s bit believable and well-written. And yes, her master was after his own satisfaction. Sadly this is what some women who are not servants or slaves also have to face. Education is key to fighting this ugly act.

    Cheers my dear friend. I am all smiles reading your generous comment.

  11. You are an excellent story teller. I haven’t had the time to read your work until now, but I’m so glad you left them up for us that are lagging behind. I plan to catch up soon and find out just who will get married and to whom. Your word play is amazing Uzoma and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

    1. Oh my, to get such a high praise from a talented writer like you is indeed a blessing. Sure, the story will still be here even after I’ve completed and converted it to a free PDF.

      Haven’t been blogging so much lately because of health issues. Will certainly drop by your blog.

  12. Great writing, bro. You know, I think when I’ll write a sex scene in my project, I’ll meet you for guidance. I loved the way you pulled this.

    I liked every bit of the lines pointed out by Livelytwist. But this one had me rolling with laughter: “He’s like a tsetse fly perching on the scrotum: smite it and you kill your manhood, leave it there and it kills your manhood.”

    I think that’s what great writing does: it has the reader sitting at the edge of his seat, nervous, heart thumping against the rib cage, then all of a sudden it has the reader rolling with laughter, and then back to the tension again.

    You’re a master! 🙂

  13. It has been awhile since I dropped by, Uzoma. We got disconnected but I wish to say, “Hello” and say “I still admire your writing.”
    You display a great talent for developing characters and seem to understand women in history. Hope that “E” saving her cowries, will be able to accomplish her goal. The description is lovely. I reblogging a post today from 2 years ago and saw your face and smart comment. Take care, Robin

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