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Poster source: He was sure he had seen his wife transform into the serpent woman in...

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He was sure he had seen his wife transform into the serpent woman in bed on many occasions and had seen creatures he could not describe calling his four children the children of serpent. The most vivid of his visions was the last one he had. In the dream, he had gone into his bathroom for a bath only to see four pythons swimming in his bathtub. He was terrified and fled away; as he ran he turned to see if the four snakes were closing in on him, rather he saw his four children coming out of the bathroom with their feet shifting from snake-like form into human feet. He woke up from that dream calling the names of his children. As was with his many night visions he forgot it by the full dawn of the day. However as he paced home that early night, the visions he had seen about his wife and children flooded back into his mind as if the power which kept them from him had snapped. He remembered waking up in the night in his matrimonial bed only to find a larger-than-life serpent coiled around him. Each time he tried to shout, something would knock him off to sleep and he would forget in the morning. In each of the occasions he saw a serpent around him, his wife was not in bed. “So where was she?” he thought aloud as his feet pounded the earth in his haste to get home. 

When Ugonna drew closer to his house he passed a woman who was buying akara balls and the woman greeted him, “Good evening sir!” Ugonna did not answer her; he was lost in his thoughts. The woman turned to the akara seller and said a little loud, “E be like say the thing wey dem give am chop don comot for em eye! See as em de vex dey go home”.  The two women were laughing when a slap crashed into the face of the woman who was buying akara. Her words had wafted into Ugonna’s ears and he came back to quiz her over what she said. Seizing her by the neck, Ugonna demanded, “Wetin dem give me chop? Wetin?” While the woman tried to recover from the earlier slap, Ugonna landed another on her face and she began to yell really louder. People ran out of their house and made for the scene. When the crowd which gathered saw that Ugonna was the one having a brawl with the yelling woman, they stood a distance away from him as if he was some evil. A man emerged from the crowd and pried the woman away from Ugonna’s grasp and hurled insults at him, “You are a foolish man Mr. Ugonna! If beating a woman is very easy for you why don’t you go beat your snake wife wey born snake children for you and see if you will survive a night in your house!” 

The man’s words hurt Ugonna in no small way. They were like salt to the wounds of his heart. Had it not been for the crowd he would have seized the man by the throat and forced to explain what he meant by his wife and children as snakes. When Ugonna saw the crowd was thickening, he felt sober for beating the woman. He was going to apologize for his unmanly action when the man, who must have been the woman’s husband, came out. Really when the man bore down toward him, he expected a fight. However the man was content that someone had rescued his wife from him; calmly he led her away and this puzzled Ugonna much further. Even the crowd inched away from him as though he was an evil to be avoided at all costs. They held their tongues in check as if condemning what he had done would make him crawl out by night like some callous wizard and suffocate them in their sleep. While Ugonna pondered the matter the gate to his house jangle and his wife, Iniye, peeped out her head. The moment the crowd sighted Iniye, they dispersed like a crowd which had seen anti-riot police squad. That almost drove Ugonna insane; clearly his friends and the people in his neighbourhood knew a lot about his wife and children which he was ignorant of.

For the first time since they got married, Iniye greeted Ugonna and he did not answer her. Before the events of that night, Ugonna was of the impression he was having the best marriage in the whole wide world. In over twelve years of marriage, he had not had a single fight with his wife. She had loved him selflessly and cared for their children with unsurpassed devotion; however, the thought of living with the very serpent he thought he had escaped destroyed everything he felt for her. After having his bath, he went into the guest room and locked himself in. Iniye came by the door and knocked for him to come out and eat his food, but he would not. So she sat down by the door and cried till late into the night. About 1:00 am she woke up from the floor and realized she had cried herself to sleep; she stood up and went into their bedroom. Inside the guest room, Ugonna was still awake and livid with rage; he felt deceived both by Ebinyo, Iniye, the serpent woman and the tree man he met during the Nigerian civil war. As he thought how his life had spiraled to the point where he was living with a serpent for a wife, he hurled volumes of insults at he who dwells in the sun, the tree man, the serpent woman, Ebinyo and the serpent which attacked his family in the village and killed his father. “Father I am sorry for what I brought upon you and our family, by morning, I shall end all this! I will stop the serpent by my hand! I invited him and I shall banish him!” he bravely promised the imaginary presence of his father. While he was in the guest room seething with rage, Iniye was summoned to the serpent kingdom for a new assignment.

As Iniye made her way to a row of seats occupied by some serpents of humongous sizes and shapes, she wondered why she was slithering on the floor like a snake. When she got close enough to them, she folded herself into a heap and raising her head, she bowed. From amongst the serpents which sat on the seats a voice spoke, “Ugonna has served his purpose well! We have no use for him anymore; the children of serpent have been born”. “My children are no serpents!” countered Iniye. “It matters not what you say about them, the truth is that they are what they are. And they are S-E-R-P-E-N-T-S! The children of destruction! Ugonna was the chosen seed, the man who was to give birth to men of great destinies, but we made him a servant of the serpent kingdom, the father of the children of serpents!” “You deceived an innocent man! You do no good! The whole of you are evil! I shall permit none of you to come near my children!” “What do you think you are Iniye? You are a faithful servant of the serpent kingdom. You are no different from your children and you shall do as you are told!” “I swear I shall not!” Ignoring her defiance the voice continued, “Your new assignment is to kill Ugonna! He knows the truth now!” “I will never kill him! I would rather die than kill him!” “If you die, then another servant of the kingdom will kill him. Now get out!” Iniye was allowed to speak freely only because of her mother’s place and ranking in the kingdom of serpents. When the voice commanded her to get out, she woke up in her bed in the form of a huge serpent, yelling, “No! No! I shall not! No! I shall never kill him!” When she beheld the form of herself on the bed, she began to scream much louder calling Ugonna for help, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!! Oh God! Ugo! (Fond name for Ugonna) Ugo! Ugonna! Help! Help!!” while she screamed hysterically for help, slowly she began to morph from the monstrous reptilian creature she found herself in to her usual ravishingly beautiful self.

Though Ugonna was angry with himself for the choices he had made in life and with his wife for being what he loathed intensely, he could not resist the sound of horror in his Iniye’s voice as she screamed and called for help. Like a prince in shining armour, he dashed out of the guest room where he had holed himself in all night and bolted straight for his bedroom. The sight he met on his matrimonial bed was way beyond the horror he had imagined when he heard his wife’s voice. A huge serpent with a human head was sprawled out all over the bed. Out of the mammoth serpent, Iniye’s full human figure was slowly emerging. Ugonna was frozen and speechless; he wanted to do so much but could not. His lips moved languidly, but no words came out. In trickles, tears began to run down his cheek. It was as if the magnificence of his serpent wife held him rooted to his feet; he could tell a power beyond him would not let him leave his bedroom. It took a while before he could manage to sit down on the floor in utter despair and hopelessness. While he moaned in a near voiceless cry, Iniye having completely transformed back to her human form, came over and sat with him on the floor. Ugonna tried to inch away from her when she sat close to him, but he could not afford even that. He felt his skin shiver in the presence of his wife. For long they said no words to each other… 


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