Posted by Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu | 20 April 2019 | 1,579 times
The stars suddenly disappeared from the sky and the moonlight game came to an abrupt halt. This is disappointing for the children who have put in relentless efforts rehearsing their dances all day to be displayed to their parents during moonlight.
Moonlight seasons are the most remarkable seasons in Igwekala. They are nights of dancing, folklores, and hide and seek games. The nights also provide ample opportunity for children who are into mischief and adults who engage in some illicit affairs, such as Agbonma and Obianyim. Teenagers jostling to be initiated into the world of adults capitalise on the opportunities provided by these seasons to perfect their escapade.
Agbonma’s affair with Obianyim the leper is now an open secret. In markets and village squares, women are seen discussing the issue in hush tones. The story making the rounds is that most nights when Nwaobike, Agbonma’s husband, goes on his night-watch duties, Agbonma is spotted sneaking into Obianyim’s hut and also spotted by early risers sneaking out of the hut in the wee hours of the morning at the outskirts of the town, where the leper is quarantined.
Soon, the clouds became so thick that visions were so blurred that it became very difficult for one to see beyond his nose. The thunder clapped uncontrollably like chariots deployed for war. The rain pounds in torrents. It is on the same scale with the rainfall that characterised the battle between Igwekala and Mbaiso in which both parties lost over 50 of their warriors. The fierce battle consumed Igwekala warriors such as the great “Nsiegbe”, Igwilo, and Obidiano.
It was a more pathetic loss for the people of Mbaiso. Warriors such as Amansugbe, Akina and Okiki were neither spared. The worst is that Amansugbe, a warrior of high repute who saw Mbaiso to a chain of victories was beheaded and the head was not recovered. Efforts by Mbaiso people to recover Amansugbe’s proved abortive and even escalated the casualty rate among Mbaiso.
“The night was terrible,” Okiriko, the great story-teller and one of the survivors of the war, told the children who gathered in his obi, because of the rain. “The issue in contention,” Okiriko continued, “was the Igwegalama pond.” The pond is rich in fish. “Fish is the mainstay of Igwekala economy, even their neighbours.”
Suddenly, the rain, just as it began, ceased and the moon reappeared, illuminating the earth once more. But all activities are out on hold as the night is far spent. Just as the children are gearing to return to their homes, a distress cry is heard. The cry begins to faint and ceases.
Everybody rushes to the direction of the cry: children, youths, and adults.
Spontaneously, as if the parties were regulated by some instinct, the parties halted to a pond near Obianyim’s hut. The parties are bewildered by the spectacle as Agbonma’s lifeless body floated on top of the pond. The women cried in unison: “Chai Agbonma, your sins have exposed you.”
•Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu, a public policy analyst, writes from Aba, via email@example.com
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