Hello readers! Welcome to GUEST POST WEEKEND and today’s Guest Post is a short story written by Emeka Ubesie.
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Read Emeka’s story below and enjoy!
SILENT TEARS (CHAPTER ONE)
“Eeeeeee”, “eeeoooeeeooo”, “weeeoooeee”, “whoop, whoop, whoop”, “wooo, wooo, wooo” ‘Ebube, can you hear the wailing of the siren from afar?’
‘Yes Odinaka’, Ebube replied in a sulky tone, as they were seated on mounds that were on a farmland, which was close to a tiny pathway that steered into their compound that was barricaded with rafters.
‘Chai! So it’s true that mama has finally died? Chineke! This life is just a mysterious drama that everyone just has to play his or her own minuscule script which was squeezed into these black thin lines that are on the faces of our palms called akaraka. I just wonder the secret behind death. The plans that I have for her and her dreams just whisked away into the air and soonest, her story and history will be forgotten. What an unfair world. Why must people die?’
‘My brother, I don’t know oh! Ask God.’ Ebube shook his head and responded, as he was deeply in an agonising mood and rain of tears flowed down from his eyes to the ground.
‘Just imagine mama lying inside that wood called coffin and decaying their few days later, in the belly of the mother earth that can never get tired of eating dead bodies like a chunk of meat. If truth is to be told, I really wonder why men were created, since after this whole stress and drudgery, all will just lie down helplessly in a box one day and the lowest creatures ever, the akikas will feast on their bodies. I’m just confused with this set up called life and the ordeal surrounding it. I can’t even figure out how papa will feel, sitting down close to the dead body of his wife inside that ambulance. You know papa too well that anything that has to do with mama bothers him very much, let alone this unending demarcation that nature and destiny have finally brought in between them. I just pray that he will be strong enough to get over this pain and learn how to live with them.’
‘I pray so oh!’ Ebube hushed quietly.
‘Ebube! I can see the ambulance now, look, look, it’s a white one. Ah! My lovely mother is gone’, Odinaka bawled, as the white ambulance that conveyed the dead body of his mother rolled in between their village bush pathway and clogged in front of their small two rooms apartment, which his father, Nwokenife built with the last money he got as pay-off, from the Oloko company where he worked as a carpenter, at CMS, in Lagos State, during the 1990’s. But he later resigned due to strabismus.
Onaa, onaa n’udo, onaa ebe osiri bia na uwa…! The Alum village women, who were already seated under a canopy that was made from bamboo sticks and palm leaves chanted the burial song gently, as they watched the coffin of their member, Nwanyi Oma as it was been brought out from the white ambulance by some Alum youths, who had converged at Nwokenife’s house very early in the morning to dig the grave where her remains would sleep and rest for eternity. Immediately, an outburst of cry ensued from all the angles where the villagers, family and friends sat under their respective bamboo canopies as her coffin was laid on two wooden long bench which were kept parallel to one another in the centre of the crowd.
‘Father! Father!’ Ebube who was fifteen years old yelled, as he sighted his father, who was been held gently, as he alighted from the ambulance and was led quietly into their house by his two friends Mbanefo and Ejiofor. As the boy ran closer to him, he tossed his hands round his father’s thighs, held it and wept bitterly.
‘Father, so it’s true?’ Ebube whose heart had been gulfed by sorrow enquired of his father, as his arm were still girdled on his thighs, very tight.
‘Ebube my son it’s okay, God knows the best,’ Nwokenife managed to mutter these words from his shaky mouth, as he tried to let loose the boy’s arm that twisted round his thighs like an agbu, which was knotted round the stem of a palm tree.
‘It’s okay my son,’ Mbanefo told the young man, bent down and assisted Nwokenife to forcefully unwrap the boy’s arm. He pulled him to his side and they all sauntered straight into Nwokenife’s parlour where so many people clustered around like bees and were weeping.
‘Please Nwokenife, just sit down here biko’, Ejiofor pleaded with him and pulled closer a long bench, which was empty very close to the window and they all sat down on it and viewed through the window space in order to have a sight of everything that was happening outside.
‘Nwokenife my good friend, please stop crying like a woman and be strong. If you continue this way, it won’t be a good idea. Think about this; who is going to console your two sons if you choose to weep like a child?’ Just look at what you are doing in the presence of Ebube, your son,’ Ejiofor squeezed out these words from his mouth, as his eyes were wet and reddish.
‘Ejiofor my good friend, aru emee! I can’t still believe that my wife is gone. Nwanyi Oma my lovely wife. If crying for her loss will make the whole villagers to classify me as a weak man, so be it, because I don’t care. Do you mean that my precious possession disappeared just like that? Mbanefo, the most horrible part of this nightmare is that she was never ill; I mean nothing was wrong with her. She woke me up in the middle of the night six days ago and started screaming; her head! Her head! And that was it. Before I could run to Nwachi’s house to plead with him to convey us to our community hospital at Oji, she was already gone.We thought it was a joke so we insisted and drove her down to the hospital but Dr Obidigbo confirmed to us on our arrival that she had given up the ghost. Uwa!’ Nwokenife shook his head, folded his arm and kept them in between his legs and tears surged from his eyes, through his cheek and pasa, it landed on the ground.
At exactly 10:00am, Rev Osondu who was the parish priest at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church Alum village arrived in the deceased compound. Other church members, friends and families had already settled down under their respective bamboo canopies earlier and were patiently waiting for his arrival so that he could initiate the opening ceremony of the final burial rites of Nwanyi Oma, which would be given to her as a Christian woman.
Osondu’s arrival ushered in a kind of calmness in the atmosphere of Nwokenife’s compound, as those individual who wanted to cry and express their emotions had taken their time earlier to pour out as many tears as they wished, since Nwanyi Oma’s dead body arrived at about forty-five minutes ago. Shouting and crying was also part of the rites of a dead person in most African communities. Both the evil people and the good ones would always observe this rights and some individuals could even go to the extent of pulping themselves on the dust of the earth and inflicting injuries on their bodies.
Rev. Osondu who parked his motorcycle under an ugiri tree that was in front of Nwokenife’s compound on his arrival, strode straight towards the bamboo canopy where his church members were seated. He sat on a short bench that was in front, close to a wooden table that was covered with a white piece of cloth, and a bible and a hymn book were placed on it. Osondu bent down as he was seated, said a little prayer silently within some seconds and afterwards, he stood up and the burial mass began.
‘Shall we all stand on our feet’, he urged the congregation and some people stood up, while some others ignored him and fixed their buttocks very tight on their wooden bench. He led them in an opening prayer, after which he called out few hymns and it was chanted by the church members and other villagers that came with their ekpere n’abu.
While the burial mass was going on, so many women from Alum village that came for the burial were not paying attention to the mass, but rather, they gathered themselves and were seated under an orange tree that was few meters away from the canopy where the church people were. These women were busy discussing about this mysterious and untimely death of Nwanyi Oma. Some of the women were of the opinion that her death was not natural, that it must have been orchestrated by some evil people or forces. Some others narrated how premature death of young men and women had savaged their village, leaving no clue of those responsible for this evil act in the recent time. They pointed out how good Nwanyi Oma was and they wondered how someone on this earth would think of pointing a finger at her, let alone deleting her from the face of the earth. Adanne, a woman from Umuneri village, who was a very close friend of Nwanyi Oma told them that a similar incident happened in their neighbourhood a fortnight ago. In fact, they confessed that the rate at which people were dying in their villages in this recent time had become so anomalous and very excruciating. They wished and prayed that the law of karma would prevail someday in their land.
Visit the blog next weekend to read Chapter two of Silent Tears.
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