Hello readers! Welcome to GUEST POST WEEKEND and today’s Guest Post is the second chapter of the short story SILENT TEARS written by Emeka Ubesie. Click on the link to read the first chapter which was published last weekend.
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Read Emeka’s story below and enjoy!
SILENT TEARS (CHAPTER TWO AND THE END)
Rev. Osondu explicitly gave a touching sermon after they had finished chanting the hymns and so many people that were there felt the power that was in his words. He also confessed that the rate at which some villagers maltreat their fellow villagers, and even kill them had reached to an alarming state in Alum village and he pleaded that they should stay away from committing evil. It was obvious that everybody that heard about the death of Nwanyi Oma sensed a foul play in her death, but the question on who was responsible for her death still remained an unravelled puzzle to all of them.
Nwokenife and his family members just relocated back to Alum village from Lagos two years ago. Despite this, his wife’s burial ceremony was able to pull great crowd that paid their condolences to his family. Within this short interval of their stay in Alum village, everybody that had ever come in contact with them would attests to their unalloyed good behaviour.
Nwanyi Oma had a first class in assisting people that are in need. In many occasions, she would give out all the food that she had made for her family, to some village orphans and widows that usually pay her a visit. The wrappers that her husband bought for her at the Oshodi market, before they left Lagos suddenly became the best attire that most widows in village had, because she had distributed all of it to them. She was also very active in their church activities and she does that with her full heart and joy. She was never seen or heard arguing or quarrelling with anybody, since their arrival in the village. Nwanyi Oma was later nicknamed nwunye ukochukwu, the wife of the priest, by some of their church members because, she always spent most of her precious time in the church cleaning the floor and dusting the chairs. She would smile, when flattered with the name. Her demise touched so many orphans and widows that she had impacted into their lives in one way or the other and they mourned her uncontrollably.
‘May her gentle soul rest in peace,’ Rev. Osondu muttered, as he finished with his long sermon. Ebube and Nwokenife who were seated in their parlour were called upon and both them were escorted outside by Nwokenife’s friends. At once, the reverend requested that the coffin of Nwanyi Oma should be open, so that everybody would have a sight of her for the last time, before her body would be committed into her everlasting resting place. Instantaneously, three Alum youths surfaced, after Osondu’s announcement and her chocolate coloured coffin that lay on two long wooden bench was opened in the midst of everybody.
Like roaring hyenas in the jungle, cries ensued again from every corner, as her coffin lay open. The villagers, friends and their church members crumpled in a single file to grasp and as well, say final farewell to her. Rev. Osondu quietly had his seat and watched his congregation and other friends of the family, as they tagged along in the queue.
‘Chai! Nwanyi Oma is this how your chapter ended?’ Adanne, who was the first person on the queue howled, as she came closer to her coffin. She shook her head and watched her friend fully dressed in a pure white linen, like a bride on her wedding day. Her hands were stretched on both sides in the coffin, like a soldier that stood on attention, on sighting his superior, and Adanne sobered the more. Everybody took their time to look at her carefully and beaded goodbye to her, because this was the last time they would ever set their mortal eyes on her again.
The crowd that flooded Nwokenife’s compound was something else. Alum village had never witnessed such population in the burial of just an ordinary person. Even when Mazi Ego Igwe, one of the richest men in their village died few months ago, the turnout of the villagers was little to compare to what swamped Nwokenife’s abode. His friends from the Oloko Company where he worked before weren’t absent in anyway. Most of them came all the way from Lagos to this remote village, which was located in the Eastern part of Nigeria.
As time was ticking so fast, the queue was getting longer and longer. Most people found it very difficult to give way from the queue, after they must had taken their turn. Rev. Osondu who was seated on one side and was flipping through his bible looked up and observed the dawdling motion of the line. He appealed to them to walk faster a bit, so that he could finish up the burial mass at the appropriate time, as he had envisaged.
Nwokenife, his two sons and his friends stood at a distance and watched as everybody were all matching on the queue, so as to have a glance of Nwanyi Oma’s lifeless body that lay like a chopped timber in her coffin. As the culture of Alum village had it, the husband, wife or the children of the deceased person would always be among the last people on the row that would sight the dead body, before it would be covered. Nwokenife, his sons and his two friends waited patiently for everybody to take their turn and gradually, they proceeded.
Odinaka, Nwokenife’s first son was about twenty years old. He had calmly sat outside alone, since the arrival of the ambulance and he looked stronger than every other family member. He was Ebube’s consoler, before the arrival of his father in the early hours of the day. Mbanefo and Ejiofor were very amazed and excited towards the young man’s courage. At least, he had saved them some joules of energy that would had been dissipated, trying to calm both himself, Nwokenife and Ebube. Consoling Nwokenife and Ebuke wasn’t too much of a task for both of them to handle.
All the people that came for the burial were so fervent and nervous to have a glance of Nwanyi Oma’s left over. Finally, Nwokenife, his two sons and his friends matched onwards, towards the opened coffin, with Mbanefo leading the queue. Ebube and his brother were in between Ejiofor and his father on the queue, as they all walked majestically to say goodbye to their beloved mother, wife and a good friend. Mbanefo who was in front paused for a while as they got closer to the coffin. He turned and yanked Ebube’s right fist, who was right behind him. Viewing through few meters away, in front of them on the two parallel bench was Nwanyi Oma’s body smiling at her husband and her prodigy that would keep her memories alive, and also tell her stories to their unborn children and wives, if the orchestrator of her death would have pity on them and allow them to unleash all their dreams on earth. Ebube was very scared on sighting the dead body of his mother and he couldn’t stand that sight. Mbanefo, who had anticipated what was going to happen ab initial, quickly glanced at her body and pulled Ebube along, as fast as he could and off they went to the other side.
At this point, the reality of Nwanyi Oma’s death became very much obvious to Nwokenife. Odinaka who had been strong and calm all this while broke down, immediately he stood in front of his mother’s dead body. His knees clunked at one another and off he went flat to the ground. He held the edge of her coffin and squealed aloud, farewell mama! Ejiofor who was right behind him gently tapped his back, held his arm and lifted him. Gradually, both of them strode away.
The whole crowd that were there felt Odinaka’s pain. Some of the old women rolled back their pool of tears, which had dried up, because of this touching scene the young man just created in their midst. Most especially, those that had loss either their parents or loved ones understood the depth of agony that had swathed his young heart.
‘Gbosa! Gbosa! Gbosa! Thunder storm hollered suddenly, immediately Nwokenife loomed closer to his wife’s coffin. Everybody were astounded and they all shivered. He felt cold rashes on his body and his heart almost hopped out from his mouth.
There is a saying in Alum village that the spirit of great men and women are always escorted into their everlasting resting place with loud boom sounds. This sound could be humanly created like; sound from the local gun or the nkponana. It could also be triggered by the gods or God through the use of nature, like the thunder storm that rumbled few minutes ago in Nwokenife’s compound.
Rev. Osondu was surprised at what just happened and he looked up, thinking that rain was about to fall, but it’s practically impossible, to have rain at this period in the Eastern part of Nigeria because, it was during the dry season.
‘Nwanyi Oma my lovely wife, I never expected that you are going to leave me and your sons on this earth this soon. Our dreams and plans just disappeared so quickly than I ever imagined. What a life.’ Nwokenife cried and silent tears flowed from his eyes, as he stood in front of his wife’s coffin. He stared at her, with his eyes covered with cloud of tears. He couldn’t stop staring at her remains or move his feet an inch any longer because, he knew that this was going to be the last time he would ever set his eyes again on the mother of his children, the only woman he had ever loved and who stood by him all these years of tough grind. He lifted his face to the heaven and wept bitterly, with droplets of tears from his eyes dwindling to the dust and his two friends came closer, held him and took him away.
The truth of the matter was that Nwanyi Oma was killed by somebody in Alum village, but Nwokenife had chosen not to enquire from the gods, because he believed in one God that does his own things in a mysterious way.
Straightaway, according to Osondu’s instruction, Nwanyi Oma’s coffin was covered and sealed by these three Alum youths and it was then taken to her everlasting resting place. They lowered it into the heart of the mother earth and her role in the drama of life on earth came to a halt.
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