Victims – Episode 6
A Story By Rosemary Okafor
The day was Sunday and people were reluctant to leave there mats.
“Neighbor, Inaro eje Uka? (You no wan go church)Her neighbor asked, struggling with an old head tie that has holes on it, the head tie swallowed her forehead and part of her eye brows.
Her name was Mmasinachi, Ukwuoma later learnt, the day a fight broke out between her and her husband.
“Mkpi na agba ewu! (He goat that mates every female goat) you think I no know say you dey knack that army woman eh? Now my body no good for you again eh Okechukwu, she don give you chop and clean mouth, her bolom-bolom nyash don enter your brain sotey you don forget say my own been your sweet honey before abi?” he neighbor has shouted angrily to her husband
The poor Man was a direct opposite of his voluminous wife, slender and fit, he could pass for a handsome man if not that the situation kept his beards over grown and his skin rough and hard like an iron sponge.
Who would blame the Man for always disappearing from the tent even before his wife drags her massive body off the mat,
But that night Mmasinachi wouldn’t be bribed with bread and few tins of sardine, she had wanted sex and the poor man couldn’t get his joystick;
“This Toto no be for decoration, na for you to do the thing” she said holding him by the shirt, her body bouncing vigorously with every stump of her feet and movement of her hands.
Their pandemonium woke the already angry settlers, but they soon adjusted themselves and laughed heartedly as the rumble went on;
“if na me get this kine woman, I go even run away since sef, who wan sleep with hippopotamus, the man no wan die” someone commented from the crowd, arousing laughter from those around him.
“Oga give am knack na ah ah, no be only make you put your something for her something? Watin heard for there?” one woman shouted from afar
The Face shamed Man was rescued from his wife’s firm grip by
Okechukwu, her husband hurried away with the men, leaving his wife swearing and raining curses on him and his mistress, the Army woman
Ukwuoma wondered how husband and wife would be comfortable having sex in the tent not minding that other settlers might wake up in the night and see them, hasn’t she woken up to a cry of a baby, only to realize that the father and mother were having sex as if they were fighting, with the woman’s pant in her mouth to prevent her from moaning, the baby woke up and thought that his father was beating his mother.
The next day after Mmesomachi’s fight with her husband, Okechukwu was not seen in the tent and he didn’t return for two days.
“You said church?” Ukwuoma asked Mmesomachi
“Yes na, you no dey go church before? Abi you be idol worshiper? My children don go baff o, do fast make you follow us go, e get one church way dey come every Sunday for that big there…” Mmesomachi said to the reluctant Ukwuoma
“Okay, you can go, I will come with my son later…”
“Osi later? You no wan seat for front? Them dey share food o, e beta make you come early seat down for front, food fit no reach people way dey for back” Mmesomachi said
Ukwuoma tapped her Son gently, and led him outside with their bucket, brushes and some powders charcoal for brushing.
“Madam, no dey waste your time dey look for toothpaste here o, I cost, go for that their kitchen by that toilet side, collect charcoal grind am make you dey use am” someone had told her the next day after the day she came into the barracks, and was begging for toothpaste for her teeth.
The plastic seats were almost filled up by the time they got to there. It was as if they were not the only people who knew that foods would be coming to church that day.
Mmesomachi gave her a long stern look, and she knew the woman was blaming her for making them arrive late.
“Mama, this place no dey full like this before o” one of her daughters commented
“Don’t mind them, sinners that only seek Jesus for bread” Mmesoma added, as if she wasn’t eager to hijack both the bread bakery if giving the chance.
“…if you believe, all your sins will be forgiven and your problems over…” the young minister was saying from the wooden platform which served as the pulpit
The pulpit reminded Ukwuoma of her grandmother’s old kitchen table which had lost half of its legs to termites and was supported with stones to prevent it from falling.
She remembered one of the days she stole pieces of goat meats from her grandmother’s hot Onugbu soup, and the table lost its balance, sending both the pot of hot Onugbu [/i]soup and its hot content all over her.
She had planned with her Cousin Jonah to strangle one of their grandmother’s goats so they could be able to eat meat after a long time, since their grandmother would not kill and cook any of those goats except any of them dies of sickness or accident. But when the goat was killed and part of it used for soup, Jonah was giving a large chunk while she got one piece and few pieces of [i]Mangala fish.
Her grandmother had slapped two teeth out of her mouth that day as she was caught with a piece of the meet in her mouth and one in her hand, added to the two she already eaten. She had cried, jumping up and down like a frog in a hot water, with spittle gushing out of her mouth and the meat in her mouth falling off with her teeth, mixed with blood and the color of the soup.
“Ima ego ole m jiri sie ofe a ikwafuru? (do you know how much I used in preparing this soup you just poured away)” her grandmother had cried bitterly for the soup, as if she was mourning her dead child, not even her red skin from the hotness of the soup had mattered to her grandmother.
“Mummy, I wan drink water…” Ogugua tugged her skirt and brought her mind back to the preacher’s voice
She opened the old container she picked few days ago, which now serves as their drinking water can, and gave Ogugua to drink. The child gulped the content greedily, spilling half of it on his body. He coughed so heard, drawing attentions to them.
“…Judgement is for sinners, poverty is for sinners, if you are in Jesus, your life will change like mine did…” the preacher continued
“Oga we no wan hear again, abeg do commot there make we chop…”An elderly man muttered behind her
“…my helper oh my helper
My helper oh my helper
There is something that makes me
Come into your presence my helper…” the preacher broke into singing, while the congregation joined with clapping and dancing
“We are going to take communion, I will bless it and it will turn into the body and the blood of Jesus Christ…if you receive this, you will not die again!”
“You will not thirst again!”
People were filing out to receive the pieces of bread and the Zobo drink, out of hunger more than out of religion;
“Drink plenty Zobo, make you take that one hold belle before the food” A mother told her son
She stood up too and joined. Her grandmother had changed her perspective about communion and the Whiteman’s religion. Though her father was a bishop, her grandmother stopped going to church and became a traditionalist.
On her dying bed, Ukwuoma’s father had wanted to give the woman a communion, but she had declined and had said in her old frail voice:
“Where we raise the Kola nut made by God, you people raised your bread made by man. When we declare ‘HE WHO BRINGS Kola BRINGS LIFE’ you people declare ‘THIS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE’. We offer thanks, you also offer thanks. We blessed the congregation; you too blessed your congregation. we call on our Ndichie and worthy ancestors by their name: Okeke,okafo,Okoronkwo,Okorie,Igbokwe, Odenigbo, in the communion of the living and the dead to come and partake in our Kola, you also call on your Ndichie and ancestors by the name: St Peter, St Paul, St Philips, St Caro, to come and partake in your bread and wine. We break the Kola, and you also break your bread and wine. My son, a true concentrated Kola is the Kolanut”
As the warm Zobo touched her lips, she realized how hungry she was; she widened her palm to accommodate more bread crumbs and wished she could have more of the Zobo.
To be continued
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