Two months later, Obigbo came back well and hearty. Ugonma was joyful, joyful because the once lost child is back to normal and bubbling with life. Ugonma looked forward to the day she would have the money to send him the school of his choice. That day she would be taking him to school among other children. But not quite long, Chief Okeosisi visited, he was a business associate to her late Husband, Obikaku, he came for his money; the money that Obikaku was owning him before he died, he signed a deal with him that if he could not pay up his debts that his son should serve him as a slave until he could save up the money owned.
His stomach was as big as the surface of a mortar used for pounding yam. His head, small and shaped like a coconut but fashionably shaped in a fashionable manner. He wore Agbada with an embroided design on it. He looked good and fashionable. When Ugonma saw him in the room, her heart jumped out from her stomach racing through the sinful cold ground. She looked confused looking from one angle of the tattered striped house to the other. The baking of another problem has just begun.
“I don’t need to introduce myself anymore, I’m no longer a stranger here. You know my deal with your late husband, Obikaku. It is either my money or your son is leaving here today with me. You chose one.” Chief Okeosisi explained, face up.
” Chief…em..em..em.chief.” Ugonma stammered
“Keep quiet! Quiet woman!! I will not hesitate to drag him along with me if you refuse. My farmlands need labourers, if you are not blind, you will see many of those boys and girls outside, they are from my debtors. Some I will marry and some, I will make my slaves and; some will work in my plantations and your son is not better than them”.
“Endure for a while, Chief, I will pay you before this month ends” ugonma pleaded.
“Lele, chelukwa! Where do you have in mind to get the money? In fact woman, I don’t need my money again, I need that boy to serve me, Inugo! Obigbo! Obigbo!! Where are you? Come over here we are going home now.”
“Chief, chief, chief, you can’t do this to me. Please temper justice with mercy. I will pay you in due time”. Ugonma pleaded on her kneels.
“Your husband said the same thing before he died, now I won’t look back on your tears, no! Fair exchange is no robbery.” Chief okeosisi ranted here and there in annoyance.
“Please Chief, just give me more time, None but the brave deserve the fair, a drowning man will always clutch at a straw. As a twig is bent so the tree’s inclined. I have been brave many times, answer the calls I make now; for we never miss the water till the well runs dry.”. Ugonma wailed on the ground pleading.
” We always set a thief to catch a thief, he was a thief before he died but so unfortunate I didn’t catch him. None so deaf as those who will not hear the beating of the drums in the market place. Fine words butter no parsnips. I have to do that which is in my mind”
Fiercely, he dragged Obigbo outside without even allowing him to take one or two cloth from the house. He cried and screamed for help but none came to his rescue. By now many people had gathered in front of the house watching what was going on between Ugonma and Chief Okeosisi. Many people knew him to be a hard man, who hard-hit people because they were poor. He never pity his prey whenever they fall in his trap. Some of those that he took their children as his slaves came around also, pleading and begging to no avail. The village torn into two as people wailed here and there just because of Chief Okeosisi rudeness. They were under the same cloud of frustration but no hope seen, even the king can’t help.
Some pleaded with Chief Okeosisi but he didn’t listen rather he dragged Obigbo along with him and others. Immediately Obigbo was dragged out of the room, ugonma fainted on the ground in tears. She began to bleed profoundly. Many women rushed to her but they were too late to save her life, too late to save the baby in her womb, too late to help to couple togther the madness in the air, too late to break a silent that chip off the old block that had built a home in the heart of Ugonma; she was gone, gone with her baby, gone leaving her only surviving palm fruit in this wicked forest called life.
When Obigbo heard the scream of one of the ladies among the women that rushed to help his mother, he knew that something has happened. He was dead-beat. He wanted to free himself from chief Okeosisi’ hand but he couldn’t. Desperately, he snatched a digger that a girl among them was holding and stabbed himself on the stomach. The world became silence to him, a film like a dark cloud covered his face and he was gone to join his mother. Every was frozen, not even the living was moving.
(C) John Chizoba Vincent
All Right Reserved ’16