Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ntenako: Chapter Two


     Mbintu sat down just beside the fireside. As a hunter, he is used to sitting around the burning fire in the thick evergreen forest, so smoke meant little to him. As the fire glowed, the smoked rose up as if sacrifice was being offered in the house. “The boy looks just like the father.” Mbintu exclaimed!” He did not just say it as was the custom to make the father feel good that someone else had not worked the farm of his wife, but the child truly looked like Agbor- Ndakor. “No, he looks like me. Look at the nose and eyes. Are those not my grandfather’s?” Agborndakor’s wife- Bessem_ Enow interjected with a sense of satiety. Villagers always said that the day Agborndakor will have a baby, he will stop being drunk.

As the news went around the kraal, people said two things. Agbrondakor’s friends said that God has redeemed their friend, but that was not what his enemies saw. They instead said that they hope this time he will learn to stay home and raise up his kid. It was surprising that a man who had been married only for twenty-two months was considered impotent. They expected the wife to be pregnant within the first or second month of their marriage and to have the baby within the first nine to twelve months, other than which there will be several theories. Some will say that the couple is being bewitched. Others will say that the couple is being punished by the goods because of something they did in secret. Some will say that the man is impotent while others will sing that the wife is barren. Whatever reason they gave was enough ignominy to the couple as childlessness was a grievous stigma.

The parents will not rest until they sorted a way out of it. Usually the solution will be for the husband to get married to another wife. In most cases, they never ever thought that the fault could have resided with the man. In a trice, a marriage could be over without the volition of the couple. The couple several times was like a puppet and the family was the puppet master. It was difficult to separate one’s self from such outrĂ© for fear of being cursed. That is why Mbianda drove his wife one day because they could not have children. Then he got married to a second and still did not have a child.  The family themselves brought him another wife, but she too failed to deliver. No one ever thought that it could be Mbianda, or if they ever thought so they never said it openly. Instead the villagers accused one of his aunts for closing the womb of his wives in witchcraft.

Mma Atem-Ebangha was forced to dance Awangwang- a degrading dance for being a witch. It would not take for long for things to change. After each of the women left, she remarried and got pregenant the ensuing months. In addition, Mbianda himself had gone to Nfuni where consulted the obasinjom who told him that he was the problem.  The Juju told him that children were not in his blood. As Mbianda sat in silence as the family forced the wives to carry his crossed, he was internally eroded by compunction. He will question himself what he ever did to merit such a fate. “Did I seize someone’s wife?” He pondered.  “Was my peccant with a goddess and the gods are paying me back?”  He probed himself. “This wasn’t fortuitous!” He soliloquized. It was as if a man has been charged and found guilty for a crime he was not aware and now he has to run to the gods and humans to ascertain his crime.

One day while he was drinking in Ben-Nso’s bar, he caused a brawl with a boulevardier. “Are you talking to?” Ashu-Enowfungkang asked Mbianda. “If they were counting men in this village, would you too stand to be counted? Would you?’ He emphasized. “Aren’t you dead within?” This verbal plangent went like a ribald to a hobbledehoy sitting by. He exclaimed “ah ha, the boil has finally been pierced and the pus is oozing out.” Indeed, that is the way Mbianda felt because then he knew that everyone knows now he was the problem, so there was nothing to hide anymore. It was insensate what they did to him, but it brought him joy. The porcupine has hidden things inside its stomach that its entrails have been embittered.
No more will he be venomous, no more will he live in denial, and no more will he live in self-deceit. He told himself with his heart palpitated. He looked at himself cap-a pie and kept walking. Today is the day. He will never forget this day.
“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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