(ODILI MY FIRST) Love Story Series #8
Dear readers, if you are yet to follow us on our Story series, I guess, you are missing out. This is our first story series by one of our talented and pen-power aficionados, Ify Ani. Here, we bring to you Series number 8 – (ODILI MY FIRST) Love Story Series #8.
One Day; Three Troubles
“Aunty Olaedo led me outside the class. My classmates could not conceal the glint in their eyes. They tried to stifle laughter as our teacher took my hand and led me outside. My gaze went in George’s direction and he was as confused as I am. I have not done anything wrong, I thought, wondering if Aunty Olaedo wanted to pounce on me.
As I walked behind her, my thighs brushed against each other and I felt some liquid in my inner thigh. Did I urinate on my body without knowing? Aghast, I obediently followed Aunty Olaedo like a sheep to be slaughtered. She led the way to the bush behind our class where we urinate during break time. To ensure I was not going to be flogged for designing my pinafore with urine, I touched my buttocks and saw the red stains on my palm.
“Chi m o!” Horror escaped my eyes. Aunty Olaedo turned sharply, watching me glare at my hands. She gave me a knowing smile. Aunty Olaedo’s smiles were priceless because she does not do so often. She was always reigning terror on us. But even the smile did nothing to placate my situation.
“I didn’t-sit-sit-on a nail o”. That was the only explanation I could give for having my buttocks soiled with blood. Wounds I know, bring out the blood.
But unfortunately, I could not recall sustaining any injury. Tears welled up in my eyes as I stammered. She asked me to squat down and urinate. My terror had not ended yet. Thick red stains were all over my pants. I staggered back and wore my underwear brusquely. Aunty did not flinch and the smiles never left her face. Clearing her throat, she said, “you’ll start going home before you start experiencing fever”.
Because adults seldom discussed things pertaining to the private parts, I could not get any explanation regarding my plight. Calling out the names of the private parts was seen as vulgar. Mama would choose to call it ‘arụ nwanyị’ or ‘iru ụkwụ’ whenever she wanted me to pay attention to my body while bathing.
My bag was brought outside for me and I began my journey home. I could feel George’s questioning gaze from the window. Sadly, I had no explanation for the puzzle.
If misfortune could be described in words, it was this day. As I made my way home, I thought of the awful things that happened – Nwude’s bathe of shame, the horrible news of Odili’s disappearance, the incessant abdominal pain and smudge on my clothes. I covered my buttocks with my school bag while the other free hand cleaned the uncontrollable tears in my eyes.
(ODILI MY FIRST) Love Story Series #8
The road was deserted as people have gone for the day’s business. A few people I saw kept purring me with questions.
“Hewu, ndo. Arụ adirọ gi?” While the curious ones wanted to know why my hand is behind. To avoid the stares by passers-by, I took the lonely path leading to ‘ụzọ iyi’ instead.
The harsh sun was burning with much intensity. Heat emanated from the sand as though they were fried. My ‘zere ọkụ’ rubber sandals received the heat like an offering and burned my legs. Hardly was the ‘iyi’ visited in the afternoon.
A popular myth in Aku had it that ‘mmụọ’ used such times to visit the stream. Kasie would exaggerate the story saying the spirits take human form to visit the stream, while my brother Chikelu would say that facing a mirror towards the sun would make one see the spirits going to market.
These were stories I never took to heart but being alone in the bushy path had me sweating profusely. I prayed silently to see ‘ndị nta’, or their dogs.
They were yet stories of ‘ndị ntọli’ that come with ’ember’ months. These kidnappers who are ritualists according to stories go as far as luring children with sweets, biscuits, or akara and used them for money rituals.
People who trade in other towns come back spreading the news that a child picked money from the ground and turned to yam or goat. I tried as much to shun my mind from these scary thoughts and hummed ‘Gị atụla egwu‘; a popular hymn in the CMS hymnals- Ekpere na Abụ.
The house was empty when I got home, except for Udoka who could not go to school due to the snake bite. Mama had already gone to the market to sell her fresh vegetables.
In the backyard, she has a garden where she cultivates vegetables-pumpkin leaves, spinach, waterleaf, aṅara, and bitter leaf. The popular ewa vegetable used in preparing delicacy in Aku was not left out.
During the dry season when vegetables are scarce and seldom fresh, she resorts to ‘mgba mmiri’ system. In this farming system, the vegetables are watered early in the morning and cool evenings to help them withstand the drought.
Our goats were bleating non-stop close to the dwarf fence securing our compound. Papa had built the fence last Christmas when ‘ndị mkpalụ ani’ were trying to encroach into our land. There were people that virtually owns a piece of land in every nook and cranny in Aku.
One of them was Egbo. Being one of the influential men in our town, Mazi Egbo was well known for ‘snatching’ people’s land, claiming that his great great great grandfather had a piece of land in such place. To avoid such land disputes when he started a block industry close to our compound, Papa decided to fence the building.
Udoka was playing kolosa at the veranda as I approached. Immediately he saw me, he feigned he was still in pains. One of Udoka’s tricks had been using illness to stay off chores. With the snake bite, he would never touch a broom let alone sweep for I knew him too well. The black stone on the wound had fallen off; an indication that the venom has been removed.
“Uju ọ gịnị. Why are you back?”, he asked. My face contorted in pain and I still clutched my abdomen as I entered the house, totally ignoring him.
“Where is Mama?”
I came back almost immediately to the spot where I met him.
“d s d nnukwu ajụjụ”, he sang an annoying tune.
“Udoka, Mama kwanụ?!”, my voice shrieked. But he did not give up. The song infuriated me the more.
“d d t d t d r m-nnukwu ajụjụ k’i jụrụ m
I na-ajụ m ọzọ ọjụgọ-d m s
d r m-i jụrụ m ka m zaa
d r m l s-ọ na ewe m iwe, ma azazi kwa!”
He threw his head back and laughed.
The clothes I changed into were already soaked when Mama came back. Mama had smiled like Aunty Olaedo when she saw me lying down on the bench inside her room.
” Ada m nwanyị bụzikwa nnukwu agbọghọ”, she smiled at me.
With much dexterity, Mama cut one of her wrappers into small pieces and showed me how to pad myself with the cloth to avoid stains. She boiled water, dipped one of her old clothes into the water, and massaged my abdomen. She gave me the hot liquid to drink too to ease the pain.
The hot sensation had my entire body dripping in sweat. I beckoned on my ancestors as she continued pressing the hot cloth on my body, for I had not experienced this kind of anguish in my entire life. It was one day with three troubles.
To be Continued…