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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Crickets chirped ebulliently, butterflies fluttered and flapped, thunderbolt of love after meeting, osu label on their family and kindred, freeborns do not intermarry with us, had fallen in love, osu caste system.

As soon as Ugonna left, Onyeuke rose to his feet. His efforts to remove Olachi from his thoughts had failed in all ramifications. He wore a shirt over his wrinkled shorts and walked quietly out of the compound. Crickets chirped ebulliently as the moon illuminated his path. His heart was pounding when he reached Mazi Ulakwu’s compound. “Ndewo nu oh! (I greet!)” He bellowed as he walked into the compound. “Young man, I hope all is well? Is anything the matter that you had to come see us this late?” Mazi Ulakwu asked him. He was seated in his obiri; a small wall-less hut with thatched roof for resting and receiving guests. He had just finished eating dinner. “All is well nna anyi,” Onyeuke replied politely. “I am not sure I know you. What brings you to my house this late? Do have a seat please.” Onyeuke sat on the raffia chair in front of him. He was not quite sure how to present his proposition. He could feel his teeth clattering and his heart rumbling as butterflies fluttered and flapped all over his stomach.

“I am Onyeuke, son of the late Mazi Izunna from Umuaka.” Ulakwu looked him over for a moment. Now, the resemblance struck him. “Your father was a good man. He died young. I knew him very well back in the day. So, what can I do for you?” “Nna anyi, I am here with a rather difficult proposition. You see, some days ago I ran into your beautiful daughter Olachi. Eziokwu nna anyi (in truth sir), her beauty glows like the moon in the sky. It would please me to marry her if it pleases you.” There was deafening silence following Onyeuke’s last statement. Ulakwu looked at Onyeuke with pity. He imagined what might be going on in his head. He had been struck by the thunderbolt of love after meeting Olachi. He wondered how many young men had felt the same after beholding Olachi’s striking beauty, only to distance themselves from her, given the osu label on their family and kindred.

“Are you out of your mind, Onyeuke?” He asked sharply. “No, nna anyi. I am all too aware of what I said and the consequences.” “You mean you, from Umuaka, would like to marry my daughter from Umuikenga? Do you realize we are osu? You freeborns do not intermarry with us. We are the only osu village in the land and we marry among our people who were dedicated to deities many years ago. If you marry my daughter, your life will never be the same again, in all the negative ways you can imagine. Your people will abandon you. In fact, they will drive you from your village to come and live among us. You will lose all your father’s lands, palm trees and ukpaka (oil bean) trees. My son, go home and forget you ever met my daughter. It is in your own best interest. Love might be swirling in your head now, but when the heat descends upon you, you will regret ever seeing my daughter’s face. Go home and lead your normal, peaceful life. We have accepted our fate and for generations, we have lived like this. With the white man’s religion, people have come to accept to trade with us and talk to us. But marriage, that is still considered abomination of the highest order.”

As if he had not heard a word of the dire scenario that Ulakwu had painted, Onyeuke asked, “Nna anyi, do you think things should remain like this?” “No my son, but you are too young to fight the fight you are about to pick.” “I am ready to do all it takes to marry her, unless you don’t want me to. I will take the torture and pain to be with her.” “You speak like a man Onyeuke, but you have no idea what you are about to start. Your father was a brave man, but he wouldn’t dare venture on this path. Return to your mother my son and find another woman to marry,” Ulakwu insisted. “I am not afraid Mazi Ulakwu. I am ready for this. My heart will not be at peace until Olachi is mine,” Onyeuke answered emphatically. “Please nna anyi, can I have a word with her?” Onyeuke implored. Ulakwu could not hide his admiration for Onyeuke’s bravery at face value. “You really have deep feelings for my daughter?” “Yes I do nna anyi.” He regarded Onyeuke for a moment, shook his head gently in sheer pity for him. As a young man, he (Ulakwu) had fallen in love with freeborns, but he never dared to make his feelings known to anyone. He buried his feelings in the abyss of his mind, methodically tucked away from any other living humans.

“Ugodiya!” Ulakwu hollered to his wife. “Nna anyi!” she answered from behind the neighboring hut. “Can you please come? Bring Olachi with you, please.” Onyeuke could hear the hammering of his heart as it smashed ferociously against his rib cage. His mouth suddenly went dry out of anxiety. His hands were almost numb from sheer expectation. Ugodiya appeared with Olachi close behind her. Her alluring physique and elegant facial appearance left Onyeuke’s mouth hanging open. He gawked at her with drooling passion. “Olachi my daughter, do you know this young man?” Olachi stepped closer to get a closer look at him. Ulakwu moved the palm oil-fueled lamp closer to Onyeuke so Olachi could get a closer look at him. She peered into his face for a moment. Her endearing scent wafted past Onyeuke’s nostrils. He wanted to reach out and touch her, but he restrained himself. “I have met him once before papa,” Olachi answered. Ulakwu cleared his throat for a moment. “Well, he is asking for your hand in marriage. I wonder why he had to come at night. I don’t see his kinsmen, so I reckon they do not approve. Ugodiya, this young man is from Umuaka, so I am sure we all understand the consequences of his proposition.” He paused for a moment to gather his thoughts before proceeding. 

“I have asked him to leave and never to think of Olachi again. I am sure you both agree with me on that.” Ugodiya looked at Onyeuke with genuine pity. She was an avid hater of the osu caste system into which she was born, but in a land where tradition was woven into the fabric of the people, there was little she could do about it. She thought of stories her parents had told her of the past when osus could not speak directly to freeborns, how much less trade with them. “My son, you have heard my husband. I understand you might be madly in love with our beautiful daughter, but you’d have to learn to smother your feelings by finding a freeborn you can marry. We have nothing against you, but the land and its traditions are to blame. You have no idea what you are proposing. I reckon you go to Whitehuse’s (Whitehorse’s) church.” “Yes I do and I strongly believe that God views us all as equals before him. We have no right to discriminate against others.” “Well-spoken my son, but you still have no idea what you are about to walk into. When you become ostracized, Whitehuse will not be there to save you.” “But his God will. I believe that. Please give me your approval,” he pleaded solemnly with them. “What says Olachi?” Ulakwu asked.

She had been angered by Onyeuke’s obvious recoil at the mention of her lineage the other day they met, but his courage and charisma at this point had certainly impressed her. She looked at him and he stared back, pleadingly. His eyes were fixated on her. If his eyes could speak, they’d be begging for her support. “Papa, we all hate where we have find ourselves. We think something has to change, but no one is willing to take on the system; the tradition. If we are to end this system someday, we have to start fighting to break the strong and tenacious barriers that have condemned us to the bottom of the human ladder. It may be tough, but someone has to start the fight. If Onyeuke is brave enough to renounce his life, family and kinsmen to come and live amongst us, then so be it. I admire his courage papa, and if you agree, I will be pleased to marry him as far as he is ready to live through what we live through.”

The chirping of crickets was the only sound in the vicinity. It appeared the darkness of the night had thickened as they all pondered Olachi’s words. Although surprised, Ulakwu was impressed by his daughter’s brave reply. “Go home my son. Return to us in twelve market days and I will have an answer for you.” “I meela nna anyi (thank you sir),” Onyeuke replied. He rose to his feet and began to leave. “Let me walk him out,” Olachi said. She could barely hide her admiration for him. She had wondered all her life when a real man would rise up to do something that might change the system that labeled her as second class for no fault of hers. Ulakwu gestured she should go ahead and walk Onyeuke out. She walked quietly beside Onyeuke who inhaled her appealing scent once again. The thought of her walking beside him sent unimaginable sensations through his heart. He wanted to speak but his throat had gone dry again. Her beauty left him mesmerized. “What changed your mind?” she asked as soon as they had walked a good distance away from her parents. “Your beauty,” he replied without hesitation. His voice was somewhat inaudible. He swallowed hard in an attempt to lubricate his throat.

 “Everyone has warmed me of the consequences of marrying you, but I don’t think anything can stop me unless you and your family turn me down. I have tried to forget I ever met you, but your beautiful face smiles at me in my sleep. The thought of you serenades my ears and heart with heavenly lyrics. You see, Rev. Whitehorse said that when you find your own wife, you’d know. The spirit of God will plant that in your heart. I feel that very strongly in my soul and I trust God to see me through. To see us through if you stand by me through this torrid journey that is about to start.” “I am impressed by your courage Onyeuke. I least expected you to step up. You are one of a kind among the men of this land. If you remain strong, I promise to walk through fire with you.” As if on cue the scent of the local perfume (uri), which she wore caressed Onyeuke’s nostrils yet again. He looked at her. Despite the darkness, he could make out the gorgeous lines on her face. The beads around her waist dangled invitingly with each step she made.

Onyeuke’s mother listened raptly to Whitehorse as he preached. “Madam,” he said through an interpreter. “God loves us all. He died on the cross that you, myself and even the people of Umuikenga may be free forever. Imagine, if you were from Umuikenga, how would you feel? Your children would be looked down upon. When someone treats you badly don’t you feel angry?” “Of course I do,” she replied. “How much more when you are permanently considered to be worthless? Accept Jesus Christ and he will come and dwell in your heart. Your life will change. You will find enormous peace. Above all, He will give you understanding to appreciate the things I preach to you.” Each time Whitehorse came around to visit with Onyeuke, he used the opportunity to preach the gospel to Onyeuke’s mother and Ugonna. Today, his words permeated Adani, Onyeuke’s mother’s heart. “I want to accept Jesus,” she declared. Overjoyed, Whitehorse prayed for her. From then on, a hunger to know the white man’s God grew in her heart.


                                           CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 1

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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