BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 30

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog. the dream of making, river, sun, eyes, hut, months, father.

Craving for love and longing for a man who would cuddle her, Obioma held strong, and focused on the dream of making Ugegbe a great land. With enthusiasm she attacked the task of rebuilding and turning Ugegbe into the land of her dream. She made laws which upheld the sanctity of life and regarded no god. Relying on her gift of vision, she provided medicine for the sicknesses which plagued the people of her time. As her fame spread, it brought men and women flocking into Ugegbe. Before long, the once popular evil forest became a delight-some land which offered hope to the poor, afflicted and abused. However, the woman who was in the center of it all was lonely. At nights she would sleep off imagining her dream man. Often she would think about Ikechi and picture how happy he must be with Ugochi. She still did not know Ikechi was worse off than the last time she saw him. She was a strong girl, but in the matters of the heart, her bravery was lacking. Udeagu who had taken command of river Ntiti trade route, knew what his daughter was going through. As his clout grew, he began to secretly look for a man for her. A particular young man from Obolo, who had made some fortune bringing goods to Ugegbe through river Ntiti, stood out amongst all the eligible single young men he considered for her. This young man was Nnamdi Ojiaku.

“Obi, a young man will be sharing evening meal with us by tomorrow, try to be around when he comes.” “At what time would he be coming? I will have quite a busy day tomorrow. The newly cleared lands near eso field, will be shared to the families which came from Ngwa.” “He will be here before the evening sun disappears behind Nsu. Even if you are not yet done by then, please try to be home and join us in a meal.” “I will try.” Obioma had so much on her mind to notice that her father had assume the role of a matchmaker to hook her up with a man. By evening the next day, Obioma was still being swarmed with responsibilities. It took Udeagu sending a boy to her, for her to recall she was meant to be home sharing a meal with her father’s guest. She made haste and deferred the things she had to do till the next day. Obioma went home not expecting anything out of the ordinary. In front of Udeagu’s hut was Nnamdi and Mazi Udeagu, sipping palm wine and devouring roasted bush meat. The look of the young man made her heart skip a beat. His well-built frame and handsome face made Obioma realize she was in need of a bath.

“Papa, please forgive me. I lost track of time in the thick of things I had to do. I should have been home earlier.” Turning to Nnamdi, she said, “Onye Obia, Nnoo (welcome, our guest).” “Anyanwu Ututu, Nnoo (morning sun, you are welcome),” Nnamdi replied. Obioma made her way into her hut and dropped the wares she returned home with. She went to the back of her hut where they had a bathroom and had her bath. The impression she had of Nnamdi was that he was not the regular type of guy; and so she took a longer time in the bathroom scrubbing herself. Udeagu was careful to observe the look of Nnamdi’s face when Obioma arrived. He saw delight and a warm smile. Of course Nnamdi had heard about Obioma Udeagu. Who had not? However, his thoughts were far from what Udeagu was scheming and further away from her becoming his bride.

When Obioma returned to join them, she had transformed herself with uri ede and mgbaji (native make-ups). The wrapper she wore was new. The skin around her thigh area which her wrapper could not cover left Nnamdi salivating. Under the evening sun, she stood like a goddess. She took a seat beside her father and made effort to avoid eye contact with Nnamdi. Leaning closer to her father, she whispered, “Papa, should I go and serve the ofe erio (mushroom soup) which I prepared last night?” “Yes, Uto Nwa (sweet child). Our guest needs to eat,” Udeagu replied. Obioma stood up and made her way to the kitchen area, sensing Nnamdi’s eyes stabbing into her luscious, nubile body. As she stooped to start fire in her cooking place to warm her soup, she whispered to herself, “Chiukwu, onye ma o ga bu nwoke a kam ga ahu na nanya? (God, who knows if this is the man I will fall in love with?)” After warming the soup, she made her fufu ready and served the meal on a raffia tray. She almost tripped while bring the tray of food when she had eye contact with Nnamdi. After she set the food on a log of wood which served for a table, she dashed back into the kitchen to fetch water for washing hands. In there, she said to herself, “Ife a oburo obere ife o, nwoke a mara nma nke ukwu (this is not a small matter, this man is very handsome).”

When she returned with the water, she was bolder. The subsequent eye contacts with Nnamdi did not leave her flustered. Before her father and Nnamdi could begin to eat, she asked, “Papa, onye obia anyi, o bukwanu onye? (Papa, who is our guest?)” “I have been waiting for you to settle down so I could introduce him to you. He is Nnamdi Ojiaku. He hails from Umuosochie in Obolo. He is a successful trader. He has fleets of boats bringing goods to Ugegbe and back to his land.” “I hope he pays his levies as she should?” Obioma asked, lightening up the mood. A heartful cackle followed her joke. “I am thorough in my dealings with your father. I don’t owe him a dime,” Namdi said with pride in his voice.  “I am glad to hear that, I have not forgotten where I left my machetes,” she quipped, leaving her father and Nnamdi rocking with laughter. “Nnamdi Ojiaku, you are very much welcome,” she added. “The sunshine of Umueze, it is an honour to sit this close to you and to share a meal with your father,” Nnamdi said.

Obioma did not join them to eat from the same plates. She went into her hut and ate. When they all had eaten to their fill, Obioma cleared the plates. Rounds of jokes and tales followed after until darkness fell over Ugegbe and the brightness of the moon took over the night. Udeagu had not in a long while seen his daughter laugh as hard as she did that night. Nnamdi’s visit seemed to have woken something in her. She was happy and told jokes on end. Nnamdi was so taken in by her rapturous beauty that he lingered as long as he could. When he was leaving, Udeagu encouraged him to come as often as he could. Obioma was happy to hear her father goad Nnamdi to visit as often as possible. She was going to say that if her father had not said it. Months passed and Nnamdi’s visit became frequent. It wasn’t long before rumour began to spread that perhaps Obioma had found love. Nnamdi and Obioma were often seen together handing out instructions at river Ntiti and at other times supervising construction work. He would visit Obioma whenever he was in Ugegbe and would stay with her till midnight. As the rumour of Obioma having found love spread, it entered ears that should not have heard it. And so, at palaces in night time, kings sat and began to device her downfall. Nnamdi did not know of the prophecy or of the danger which lay in loving Obioma. He was like a lamb heading to its slaughter.

In faraway Ezele, Ikechi was still without a bride and was pondering whether to go look for Obioma or not. His experience with Ugochi had taken the sunshine out of his heart. Without a woman to love, life was mechanical and a boring duty for him. Within him was a secret battle. The more he thought about Obioma, the more he felt drawn to her. He did his best to resist the pull, however, it grew stronger with each new day. He made up his mind to go down to Ugegbe to look for her after he had a nightmare where Obioma died in a horrifying manner. The morning after the nightmare he went to visit his grandmother to confide in her about the nightmare. “Ndaa, I saw Obioma excitedly walk into nwomi (muddy, sinking ground) and drowned. She thought it was a dry land but it was not. In the dream, I was busy hunting and did not see her head in that direction.” “Ike, you must leave this evening in search of her. The gods have given you a burden to protect her. This is the time to heed that call. Stop being afraid of the prophecy; you are not the man to kill her. She needs your help now. Have you forgotten what you said Azi River told you about being light to her in her time of darkness?” Ndaa asked. Ikechi had let that bit of knowledge sink under his fear of being the man who would kill Obioma. By evening, he took two young men who were learning hunting under him and set out for Ugegbe. He also left his grandmother an instruction to send his fighters down to Ugegbe when they hear rumours of war.    STORY CONTINUES...

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BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 30
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog. the dream of making, river, sun, eyes, hut, months, father. An African Literary Blog
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