Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ntenako: Chapter One

Hilililililili, the sun was shining through the chinks of the little hut with mud beds and chairs. The fireside was made of mud too, plastered as art from Picasso. The hollow roof and crevices released the sound with such rush that the screeching could be heard in the next quarter. “What are those cries? Where are they coming from?” Mbintu asked the wife. "Didn’t our fathers say that if a man heard cries from a neighbor’s house but does not mind his own house could be next?” Mma Atungho chided the husband.   “It seems the noise is coming from Agbor-Ndakor’s house. You know that he is always like that.” Mbintu calmed the wife.
Mbintu took his chewing stick and put in his mouth. He ruminated as a goat chewing the brome.  It was his usual way of being disinterested. His wife already knew that. Nagging him was like scratching a match on dry mart. However, he did not like to see the wife do things that he was supposed to do because it was a shameful thing for the goat to bleat strangers while the guard dog sits unconcern. Shouldn’t the husband go out to square off with whatever danger was lurking under their noses?
“Atungho, where are you going?” He asked, as if saying come and sit down and let me go there. "Isn’t it the duty of the husband to guard the family from danger?” He questioned. “I thought that I should do it myself since you do not want to do it. It is true that Agbor-Ndakor is a drunkard, but those are not the ramblings of a drunkard. They sound like cries of joy especially because Mma Bessemenow is pregnant.” She lectured him.
It is well known that Mbintu read books and newspapers upside down, so reasoning always arrived when foolishness had taken hold of him. This was when his wife is not around because her insights were like the thoughts of a goddess. That struck a nerve in Mbintu’s head. He walked a few meters, looked at his wife and then he shook his head. Deep in him, he was excoriating himself why he could not think. “Why did I not even remember that Agbornadakor’s wife was pregnant?” He muttered to himself. “Why am I always late?” He kept berating himself.  Such was his daily dose.
No one knew the town like Mbintu. Despite his laziness in thoughts, he was a dexterous and kind hunter. “A hunter should never go out in the field without arming himself.” He cautioned himself. Mbintu was always ready. He never liked to be caught by surprise. If anything was to happen, he should be able to defend himself. He went a few steps again; he tried to go forward, but turned back to take his spear. The spear was slightly taller than him and it was to him what the rod was to Moses.
Immediately as the wife saw him, “You are no more going? What type of a man are you? Why are you like this?” Mbintu’s wife scolded. Nagging to Mbintu was like the buzz of hovering flies on rotten meat. He looked at the wife, then took out his chewing stick and began chewing it again. He has been married to her for more than 24 years, so he knew her a little bit by now. Rumors in the village said that the only competition Atungho had was with the radio. No mortal, no human and no villager could muscle up with Atunghow when talking was concerned. She was so garrulous that she nitpicked even on the weaverbirds in the sky.
That did not discourage Mbintu. He took his pear and rushed out straight to Agborndakor’s house. The closer he went, the louder the screeches became, and the more he increased his pace. The legs of his pants were broken in the middle as if nature had a design for his legs to take fresh air. As he walked, he blew the dust with his feet. Sometimes the little stones crawled off his toes and hit wasted aluminum cans and broken bottles by the roadside or in the gutter, producing a cacophonous beat.
A few meters away from Agbornadokro;’s house, Mbitu began shouting, “Nnemme-Mmu, Nnemme-Mmu, Nnemme-Mmu!”  It means the great man. Agbornadakor recognized the voice. It was Mbitu calling his nom de guerre. “Mkwoh Mmasem!” He shouted. That is how everyone in the village called Mbintu. The tiger or leapard of Mmasem. Mmasem was his mother’s name. “When my wife and I heard your screams today, we thought a snake had beaten you.” He joked with Agbornadakor. “He that has been struck by lightning does not fear the groaning of thunder.” Agborndakor bellowed. “When the sky hatches rain, the lion roars. The sky was dark for nine months, and today the sky has lightened up.” Agbornadokor boasted. “NnemmeMmu, NnemmeMmu, NnemmeMmu!” This is manhood! Mbintu exclaimed. Agborndakor’s wife has given birth to a baby boy.
 Since they had been married for more than 22 months and they did not have a child, many people began slandering him that he was a woman. Some people joked in their absence that two women were married together. Perhaps that is why Agbronadkor drank too much so that he will submerge the tittle-tattle of the villagers. It was not only the villagers; even his own family had questioned his manhood. His mother will say, “My son, nine months, I mean nine months have passed, but the village has not come to dance in your house. When are they coming to your house? Should I bring you a real woman?” Therefore, this baby was like God himself came down to remove the barrenness opprobrium that sat on his household like the albatross on the Ancient Mariner.

St Arrey of Ntenako

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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