THE CURSED LANTERN Episode 6 By Okafor Erasmus Ugochukwu (2023)

Ojiugo woke up from a weird dream panting. She couldn’t understand what happened because of the disjointed nightmare. Beads of sweet were pronounced all over her forehead indicating how strange the dream was. It was very early in the morning when the fowls were meant to be waking up.

It was a bit strange because no crow of the cock was heard to indicate that it was dawn. All of a sudden, the strange noise from the fowls was heard around the compound. Ojiugo suddenly jumped out of her bed and lit the mpanaka to seek what was happening. It was still early for the egbe and agunkwu (kites and hawks) to threaten the fowls, so it was ominous hearing such strong distress call from the fowls.

Ojiugo tried to open the door but was afraid to do so because in Igbo land when strange things happen, the man of the house would always be the one to come out. She pulsated heavily and listened attentively. She began to feel that a snake may have threatened them which could be another reason for the noise.

In no time, she heard the clanks of the machete of her dad making her more confident. As she was about to push the door slightly open to know what was going on, Obidinazu wailed: “Umudike gbazuonu oo (gather in numbers)!”

It became clear to her that something abominable had happened, so she forced the door open and peeped from her position into the compound.

It was breathtaking for Ojiugo to see that the entire fowls were suffering from mgbakwaolu (wryneck). Their necks were twisted while they all faced upwards. They jerked and staggered in anguish. It was a bad omen.

Ojiugo slowly came out of her hut with her mouth agape. She looked around and observed that not even one of the fowls was spared. With fear, she ran towards her father and hid behind him,

“Nnam (my father) what’s going on here?” she queried with great fear but Obidi got his mouth glued into silence, “Why are they all suffering from mgbakwaolu? This is very strange and never happened in this land,”

Arunne and Anuka suddenly came out of their huts and beheld the moment. They started to shout in fear because it seemed as if the silence of the gods had begun to threaten the villagers.

“Nna anyi, what is the meaning of this?” Arunne asked with her hands placed on her head. “kedu onye anyi mejoro? (Who did we offend)?”

In no time, outcries were heard from the neighbors; showing that they may be experiencing the same thing.

“Anuka gbaje na nke Ogbuagu (rush to Ogbuagu’s compound) and tell us what you see,” Obidinazu yelled at his son.

Without wasting time, Anuka rushed to their neighbor’s compound and came back with fears. “The entire roads were littered with the fowls suffering from wryneck. We’re finished. Umudike is in serious trouble,”

In an exceedingly short time, the Ikoro (slit drum) was heard from afar indicating that the chief priest’s attention had been drawn to the recent occurrence.

Obidi cried out to heaven looking at the firmament. He raised his hands saying: “Akam dikwa ocha (I’m innocent)”

Ojiugo looked at her father and snorted making Arunne notice her gesture.

“Why looking at him like that?” she asked with suspicion, “Isn’t he innocent?”

Obidi didn’t even have time to listen to the ladies, so he began to head to the palace to answer the call of the Ikoro.

Arunne followed her husband while Ojiugo and Anuka locked up the doors and followed behind them.

As the siblings were heading to the palace, they saw other villagers trooping in the same direction. They avoided being touched by the distressed fowls littered everywhere. They had to jump them as they passed.

“I saw this in my dream but not exactly the way it’s happening now,” Ojiugo broke her silence, “I can’t remember the dream the way it happened,”

Ijeoma, Okwuoma, and Ojinigbo joined Anuka and Ojiugo as they all marched to the palace.

“Ebeekwa ka ha si (where are they coming from)?” Ojiugo said to her friends, “are your fowls affected too?” she queried making them look at her mockingly and started laughing.

“No, the ones in my compound are dancing the Ikwaada (staggering) dance,” Ojinigbo replied, making others laugh, but they had to muffle their laughter due to the seriousness of the situation.

“How can you ask such a question when it’s clear that we all have the same problem?” Ijeoma asked and shrugged, “I had a bad dream about this but woke up not to remember what I saw in that dream,” she said feeling confused.

“You did too?” Ojiugo asked feeling perplexed, “I woke up from the bad dream but couldn’t remember what I saw. This is the first time I woke up without remembering the dream I had,”

“Unfortunately, I had the same dream,” Ojinigbo said making it clear to them that they all had the same dream.

Okwuoma was silent and didn’t say anything but sunk in deep thoughts. She was feeling not just strange but isolated in the dream experience.

Ojinigbo couldn’t help but notice Okwuoma’s absent-mindedness. She walked closer to her and nudged her. “Nwanyi (woman), I’m sure you had the same dream that’s why you’re silent,” she said seeking to hear from her too.

Okwuoma didn’t say anything but kept heading to the palace like others.

Anuka felt odd among the ladies, so he slowly left them and followed his fellow boys.

“It’s obvious that many of us had the dream,” Ojiugo said observantly, “but why is Okwuoma so quiet as if she had the worst nightmare. Please share with us so that…”

“That’s the problem!” Okwuoma hollered angrily breaking her silence, “does it mean that the gods don’t want to reveal the dream to me too?”

There was a moment of silence as they all got busy with thoughts of why Okwuoma didn’t have the same dream.

The girls kept looking furtively at each other but were unable to explain why Okwuoma was left out of the experience.

“Unu enweghi okwu (you people don’t have anything to say)?” Okwuoma asked looking at them one after the other, “but I’m very sad for this; even though I dread nightmares,”

“Well,” Ojinigbo said and parted her lips, “I am stuck in confusion and couldn’t explain why such happened, but it seems that it’s not everyone that had the same experience. I wish I didn’t too because I snapped out of sleep panting like someone who just outran a leopard in the jungle,”

“It’s true. Not everyone had the nightmare,” Ojiugo concurred, “Look around and hear others. Some maidens had the nightmare while some didn’t, but none of the mothers, fathers, or boys had it,”

“Dream for the girls,” Ijeoma thought aloud.

Ojiugo’s observation was noteworthy, so it became food for thought for them all.

“Well, we’re all heading to the palace of the Igwe,” Ijeoma said, “at least let’s hear from the chief priest to know what caused such anomaly in…”

“What else will you hear?” Ojiugo cut in, “if not that the gods are silent or went on their village meeting,” she added on a lighter note making them laugh secretly.

“But it’s true,” Ojinigbo said in support, “I can’t explain what has been happening in this kingdom and why the gods have deserted us,”

The girls had to increase their steps so that they’d be faster in getting to the palace especially when the boys were already far ahead.

Great silence lingered until they got to the village square.

When Ojiugo and her friends arrived, the people were already gathered waiting for King Ozuruonye.

The chief priest and the king weren’t present yet but others have gathered.

The three eriri ihe chieftaincy titleholders had to hold sway until the two most important people in the village shows up.

Onuchukwu, Omemma, and Nnebue made the people calm as they all waited for Ijiji and King Ozuruonye to arrive.

There was a lot of murmuring in the background as people waited in fear and speculations.

Eze Nnebue went to the podium and signaled the people to listen attentively.

The silence was achieved after a while of persuasions and convictions from the village chiefs and the guards.

“My people, the great people of Umudike, hear me out,” Nnebue voiced out to the hearing of everyone present, “the indomitable people of Umudike kingdom, lend me your ears. Today, something strange confronted us and we seem helpless. One thing I’m here to assure you is that we must get back on our feet and witness a better kingdom soon. I crave your patience because one thing I know is that; if there is a problem to be complained about, then there must be a god to solve it,”

The people were a bit relieved by the words but that never struck out their fears completely.

“Many of our daughters woke up having similar nightmares filled with confusion,” Nze Onuchukwu entered, “this is strange but we need to seek the face of the gods and know how to end this quagmire,”

Seeing that the king and his entourage were coming, Nze Omemma raised his voice and said: “Here comes odinkenke eme ire (the brief man that does exploits). I have so much confidence in our king, and I hope you all do too,”

The people were calm as they waited.

“But who knows if Amandianeze isn’t dead wherever he is?” Obidinazu whispered to his wife, “No one has ever heard from him or reported seeing him anywhere in this kingdom and beyond,”

Arunne was calm for a while as she grunted her desire to see Amandi punished. “I pray wild animal devours him wherever he is,”

Obidi smiled and shook his head as he patted his wife’s shoulder. “Aren’t you being too mean by saying that?” he said and chuckled.

Arunne didn’t care, so she didn’t bat an eyelid. She just hissed and rolled her eyes. “The boy must suffer and I know it,”

King Ozuruonye, having come out from his meeting with the chief priest and his cabinets, sat on the throne. He raised his staff in greeting to his subjects.

“Igweeee (Your highness)” the people all chorused with a bow.

“Love live Umudike kingdom,” the king said and waved at the people, “it’s an abomination to see such happening this early morning. The wryneck that has bedeviled our fowls is a bad omen. The chief priest will brief us,”

The people were eager to hear from Ijiji. They needed the opinion of the mouthpiece of the gods to have a restored hope amid the prominent despair.

Ijiji came forward, struck his Oji (tingling staff) on the earth, and allowed it to remain firm in the sand. He danced around the staff and uttered some abracadabra. The more he danced, the weaker he became. It was obvious to the people that something was wrong but they waited; impatiently though.

After dancing, the chief priest started looking at the young ladies one after the other.

The young girls didn’t understand what was going on but avoided looking directly into his eyes.

“The nightmare had by our virgins has an interpretation,” Ijiji said making the people’s hope high, “but the person to interpret this isn’t with us. “He added making them grunt in hopelessness,”

“They have chased away Amandi,” Ojiugo whispered to her friends, “No wonder they can’t find him to get the interpretation of the confusing dream,”

The girls looked at her doubtfully. They didn’t believe that Ojiugo could be right; they were skeptical about it.

“But your step-brother doesn’t even dream let alone interpret a dream,” Ojinigbo reminded her.

“None that we’re aware of,” Ijeoma seconded.

Okwuoma kicked Ijeoma slightly on the ankle to make her stop murmuring. “Ndi asiri,” she jeered indistinctly.

“All I can say,” Ojiugo said unconcernedly in reply to them, “is that my brother always wakes up having a terrible nightmare but he never for once narrated them to me,”

“Liar,” Ijeoma said, “you’re close to him but he never told you even one of the dreams?”

The chief priest looked in the direction the murmurs were coming from and frowned.

“I said it,” Ojinigbo mumbled hiding behind Okwuoma, “he’ll soon penalize us,”

The ladies all kept calm and pretended not to be the ones that attracted the attention of the chief priest.

“Only the virgins in the kingdom were the ones that had the nightmare,” The king said aloud leading to a prolonged murmur among the people. “The gods must have their reasons for revealing the dreams only to those ladies that haven’t defiled themselves,”

Ojiugo, Ijeoma, and Ojinigbo looked suspiciously at Okwuoma and hummed.

Okwuoma was flushed with embarrassment just like the other maidens that didn’t have the nightmare. She felt like disappearing from the crowd but she couldn’t, so she became dejected in shame.

“But I never knew that you’re no more a virgin after the entire pretense,” Ijeoma said boldly to Okwuoma, “I warned you about this bush rendezvous with Anuka but…”

“Which Anuka are you talking about?” Ojiugo asked making Ijeoma realize that she just spilled the milk before Anuka’s sister.

“Explain to her, ekwurekwu (talkative)” Ojinigbo replied swiftly as anger wafted through her. “You should sometimes learn how to talk,”

“But I’m sorry for that,” Ijeoma apologized.

“That never answered my question,” Ojiugo said insisting on confirming if her elder brother had an affair with her friend.

There was no reply to Ojiugo except for grunts from Ijeoma and Ojinigbo while Okwuoma stole herself away from the gathering of her friends.

The guards took some time to calm the people down so that the chief priest could go ahead with the instructions and revelations.

When calmness was restored, the chief priest said: “A sacrifice is needed for us to open the sealed mouth of the gods,”

The king heaved a sigh of relief hearing that there could be a solution.

“At least, we can finally hear from the gods and know why things are going wrong,” The king said with cheers written all over him, “what’s the sacrifice like, wise one?”

The chief priest didn’t reply to that but simply shook his head and said: “Amandi’s disrespect to the gods is ravaging us all. We need to find a lasting solution to this before the deity of Mmirimuo intensifies his wrath,”

Everybody was shocked to hear this. The silence was broken again leading to muttering everywhere.

“I told you about this but you allowed that boy to escape,” Arunne said angrily to her husband, “You can see what your adamancy has done to the entire kingdom,”

The king sprang up in wrath and directed his angry gaze at Obidi. “Where is your son?” he hollered at him; pulsating with anger, “I instructed you to ensure that you produce that boy but you did nothing. Do you have any defense?”

The palace guards went straight to Obidi and dragged him out of the crowd. He was made to kneel before the king. As this happened, his family whimpered.

“Where is Amandi Acharaba?” Ijiji shouted at Obidinazu, “why has your family chosen to destroy us all?

Even though Amandi was having a chunk of the blame, Ojiugo wasn’t getting it. She was eager to ask questions but wasn’t ready for the dire consequences her question could attract.

She fidgeted as she watched her dad plead for mercy.

The king came closer to Obidi in fury, held his jaws, and raised his face. “Look into my eyes and tell me you know nothing about his disappearance, you wretch,”

Obidi trembled as he tried to speak but lost words to explain himself.

“The child disappeared and wasn’t found,” Arunne intervened, “he even left his ete (palm wine tapping rope) just to trick us into believing that he was around,”

Ojiugo couldn’t hold her silence anymore, so she raised her hand to be allowed to speak.

“Now, you’re going to put yourself in trouble,” Ijeoma muttered and tried to bring Ojiugo’s hand down but the king already looked in her direction. She simply stooped and pushed Ojiugo forward, “go and face the wrath that you just brought upon yourself,”

“What defense do you have for your parents?” The chief priest asked and beckoned Ojiugo forward, “let’s hear from you,”

The king nodded in approval for Ojiugo to speak.

The fearful maiden came where her father knelt and bowed before the king. “Long live the king,” she greeted trying to summon courage as she quivered in great fear.

“Go ahead and don’t waste much time,” the king said impatiently, “where is your brother. Any clue?”

After some jitters, as she tried to gain her momentum, Ojiugo said: “I am not here to speak for or against my brother but I have a question for the chief priest,”

The people muttered their confusion because they didn’t feel good about the imminent question. They were afraid on behalf of the maiden because no one dares question that chief priest let alone a young maiden of Ojiugo’s age.

“Your friend is finished,” Ojinigbo said to Ijeoma, “You warned her earlier though, but she preferred to be the heroine,”

“I did,” Ijeoma whispered back to her, “I wish she didn’t go at all. I feel bad about this,”

The chief priest saw how the fretful maiden suddenly summoned courage, looking daringly into his eyes. He couldn’t guess what the question of the girl could be but he was ready to hear her out.

“Go ahead and ask your question,” the king said curiously as he listened ardently.

“Igaghi emechi onu gi (you won’t shut your mouth)” Arunne blurted whisperingly at her daughter but she didn’t heed her warning.

“Thanks your majesty,” Ojiugo said and took a deep breath. “My question is this,” she said as everyone listened, “since the chief priest has made us all believe that the gods are silent, how then did he know that it was Amandi who is the cause of whatever happened to the fowls?”

The chief priest felt challenged by that question but chose to keep calm until Ojiugo is done with her question.

Everybody was already afraid because Ojiugo’s question sounded as if she was questioning the gods.

Obidi felt like beating Ojiugo up even though he knew that the question would help to make the king stop bugging him with accusations.

“Are you done with the question?” The king asked feeling perturbed by the courageous question thrown at the chief priest.

“No, your majesty,” Ojiugo said making the people roar in amazement.

“Okana ekwukwa (she still talks),” A voice said from the crowd said while the murmuring lingered therein.

“Silence!” the kingmaker wailed to the crowd.

“Then don’t waste our time,” the king said to Ojiugo and demanded silence from the people.

“Thanks your majesty,” Ojiugo said and came even closer to the chief priest, “The eyes of the gods,” she called meekly, “since you said that a sacrifice is needed to unseal the mouth of the gods, why are you being bothered about my brother’s whereabouts when a solution is near. Make a sacrifice to the gods let’s start enjoying peace again. Again, why was Amandi mandated to carry the casket of the dead python which will end up making him a slave to the deity of Mmirimuo (water of the spirit)? The dead python was seen by Amandi at the entrance door of his hut. But does it make him the killer? If the gods are silent as we’re made to believe, how then was Amandi judged without hearing from the gods? The one that breaks my heart most is to think of the implication of his actions if the burial ritual is performed. Amandi will end up being made an Osu (outcast). Can I get answers to these questions?”

There was weighty silence among the people as untold fears swept them off their feet. They were afraid of the aftermath of Ojiugo’s action on her. It was unheard of that anyone challenged the authority of the gods.

The dwarf king saw lots of meaning and sense in Ojiugo’s question but he wouldn’t admit that the chief priest could be challenged. He believes that whatever the chief priest says or does is according to the directives from the gods. He was a bit infuriated by the audacity and challenge but still admired Ojiugo’s shrewdness and doggedness.

King Ozuruonye knew that allowing the chief priest to attend to the questions could be implicating and indictable to him. Even though he trusted the wisdom of the diviner, he had to protect him from embarrassment.

The chief priest cleared his throat and said: “Let me start by…”

“You don’t need to reply to the young maiden,” The king entered making the chief priest pause his proposed reply, “The salient questions are good but it is derogatory for a question like this to be directed to the chief priest. It means that some of you here doubt the veracity of the chief priest’s information. This is punishable according to our tradition but I will pretend that I didn’t hear those questions. The situation remains that Amandi is declared wanted and a handsome reward awaits anyone who finds him or gives us a clue to capturing him. I, the king of Umudike kingdom, have spoken,”

The people were calm at this point. A few people around, especially the aged ones knew that Ojiugo made some sense but the chief priest wasn’t meant to be questioned, therefore they accepted whatever comes from him.

It was generally believed that the diviners are infallible; therefore, whatever they reveal comes from the gods. A diviner is seen as half human and half immortal. They are not just respected but feared because it’s believed that they understand the language of the gods. The chief priests have strong charms that can inflict anyone with strange diseases. For this belief, people avoid anything that would make them conflict with the servants of the gods.

Ojiugo was uncomfortable and unsatisfied with the reply from the king but she just had to shove it aside. She continued to kneel until the king asked her to go back to her mother.

Ojiugo chose to return to her friends and avoided her mother whose trouble would be steaming in readiness to be unleashed on her.

The chief priest felt that his pride had been fingered and punctured. He thought of using ife aju (charms) secretly on the girl but decided to let her go because she was just like a child to him.

“A virgin is required for the sacrifice, and she must be from this kingdom,” Ijiji announced making the virgins in the village yell in fright, “The white feather of the eagle is needed. The egg of the crocodile from mmirimuo and the canine teeth of a man with a hunch back are the things that’d accompany the virgin that would be sacrificed.

The ntopu ire (tongue-loosing) ritual is needed to let loose the tongues of the gods so that they’d speak to us. The gods alone can provide a solution to our collective problems,”

“Thanks to the gods,” Okwuoma said heaving a sigh of relief, “at least I’m safe,”

The table suddenly turned. Those who were happy for being the virgins turned to be scared because of the pronunciation by the chief priest. Those who were virgins even wished to be deflowered at the instant.

“I repeat,” the king voiced out in a deep tone, “anyone with useful information that would lead us to the capture of Amandi Acharaba must be rewarded handsomely. A royal reward awaits the person. This will save us from sacrificing our maiden to please the gods. Amandi should pay for his sins and not our maiden,”

The people suddenly became eager to capture Amandi; dead or alive. Whenever a royal reward is to be enjoyed by the lucky one, people can go any length to get the work done.

“All those who had the nightmare should go to my left,” The chief priest said in a stringent tone, “you already know yourselves, so if you lie, then the penalty would be severe,”

A couple of minutes later, the assortment was done; making the virgins to be separated from those who weren’t.

Moans, sobs, and cries took over the moment. People were overpowered and overtaken by emotions, making them cry as the turmoil lasted.

The mothers of the virgins began to cry and beg for their daughters to be spared. Each of them prayed to the gods not to choose their daughter.

The fathers to the virgins simply throbbed with brokenheartedness and wept inside in secret. It’s believed that a man shouldn’t shed tears but blood even if the pains are severe.

The fierce-looking guards intensified their efforts to stop the parents; especially the mothers of the virgins that could interfere in the decision of the gods.

Those mothers who were mad at their children for deflowering themselves began to jubilate as if it was something that should be celebrated.

Arunne was so badgered by the fact that Ojiugo was among the shortlisted ones waiting for the vote. She felt like stealing her daughter out of the crowd but that was impossible due to the population of the people around.

As the chief priest was pronouncing some strange languages and moving around the maidens to choose the right one, Okwuoma came forward and knelt before the king seeking an audience to speak.

The people were surprised to see her because no one knew why she came forward and what her mission was.

“Speak if you have anything to tell your king,” King Ozuruonye said and waited for her to talk to him.

Everywhere suddenly became so calm because it was confusing for them to see Okwuoma who hardly talks to demand an opportunity to speak.

“My king,” Okwuoma said bowing her head in reverence, “My friend, Ojiugo knows the whereabouts of her brother, Amandi,”

There was pandemonium among the people while great shock overtook Ojinigbo, Ijeoma, and Ojiugo.

Ojiugo couldn’t believe her ears because the statement rumbled in her head as if it was a mere dream. She kept looking intently at Okwuoma and couldn’t comprehend what was going on. The last time she checked, Okwuoma was among her best friends. It wasn’t adding up, so she remained confused at the moment.

“What are you talking about, Okwuoma?” Ojiugo asked looking confused.

“Yes, I saw you at the farm behind your house when you and Amandi were discussing his escape plans,” she said vehemently, “I wanted to confront you but I felt that it wasn’t my business. Meanwhile, I didn’t know he was running away from his responsibility. Now, it’s clearer. If I lie, may Amadioha strike me dead,”

Ijeoma and Ojinigbo burst into tears when they heard Okwuoma who was supposed to be their best friend betraying Ojiugo. It was pertinent that Okwuoma’s greed for royal rewards had influenced her decision.

“Now I see how desperate this witch is,” Ijeoma said to Ojinigbo, “this girl has always said that she could do anything to get enlisted among the palace maids. The desire just became more glaring that it thwarted her trustworthiness”

“And she just betrayed Ojiugo,” Ojinigbo said with tears rolling down her cheek, “I hope Ojiugo doesn’t die,”

Swearing by the name of the gods made it convincing to the people that Okwuoma wasn’t bluffing but saying the truth.

The king was happy hearing this, so he raised his voice, and said: “Ojiugo, do you have any refutation against this accusation?”

Ojiugo had nothing to say especially when it came from her supposed good friend. Her heart pounded heavily while a strange headache overtook her at the instant.

“Didn’t you hear the king?” Ijiji hollered at Ojiugo, “this is a strong accusation but you seem silence by it,”

Arunne couldn’t bear the heartache so she fell to the ground. “Efukwam (I’m lost)!” she cried while her husband held her, “Nna anyi ajukwaram ya ajuju (my husband, I asked her) but she said she had nothing to do with his disappearance. I wish our daughter says that the accusation is falsified,”

Obidi tried being a man but those lonely tears began to flow from his left eye. He quickly wiped it away using Arunne’s hair. Both anger and confusion got him devastated and rueful.

The

confusion continued until Ojiugo came forward and presented her hands to be bound for the sacrifice.

“What’s she doing?” Ojinigbo yelled with her lips fallen apart, “Is Ojiugo accepting this fate or what?”

“Tell the king you didn’t do it!” Ijeoma shouted at Ojiugo while crying without ceasing, “of course, okwuoma is lying, right?”

Ojiugo looked at her parents, her friends, and finally at Okwuoma. She shook her head and smiled.

The people around were surprised that she smiled instead of being emotionally devoured by the accusation.

“Please, what’s wrong with her?” Arunne asked looking more confused than she was before, “Okwetara ekweta (did she accept it)?”

There was noise everywhere but Ojiugo didn’t care. It was obvious that she’d accepted the ill-fate and was willing to sacrifice herself instead of seeing Amandi captured.

“I aided Amandi’s escape but it’s for good,” Ojiugo echoed with tears, “an act of injustice was about to be committed, so I had to stop it from happening. I was the one that encouraged my beloved brother to run away. Wherever he is now, none of you can find him,”

“Is this true,” The chief priest asked looking so surprised.

“The blood of a virgin is needed for the sacrifice and I am one,” Ojiugo outcried to everyone’s bewilderment, “don’t be bothered about Amandi anymore since my blood when spilled, can cleanse the land from whatever that is crippling it,”

“That makes a perfect choice of sacrifice then,” The chief priest said aloud, “It’s either Amandi is seen and made to perform the necessary rituals or Ojiugo is sacrificed,”

Arunne started twirling on the ground and begging for her daughter’s life to be spared but no one listened to her.

The mothers among them cried in solidarity because they knew how excruciating it was for their fellow mother to see her daughter being sacrificed.

The guards got her hands bound with a strong rope.

Anuka felt like fighting off the guards and taking off with her younger sister but there was nothing he could do. He rushed to his mother and held her close for comfort.

“But Igwe,” Obidi said and tried coming to the king but the guards prevented him from doing so, “we can look into this and find a way to get Amandi other than sacrificing my daughter….”

“Shut up, Obidi,” Akukaria the kingmaker shouted at him, “your daughter was accused and she never denied it. Why then are you trying to force lies into her mouth knowing full well that she has accepted her fate,”

“Let’s take her to Mmiri Ngene (Ngene River) for the sacrifice to the gods,” The chief priest announced to the people. “At least we’ll be hearing from the gods soon,”

Many villagers began to cry because they knew that once Ojiugo is taken to Ngene River, she wasn’t returning alive anymore.

“Can I speak to my mother before we go?” Ojiugo requested in tears.

“No, you cannot do that,” Akukaria contested.

“At least, we can fulfill a dying girl’s wish,” The king said and granted Ojiugo permission to speak to her mother.

Arunne rushed at her daughter, embraced her, and didn’t want to let go. “Let me die for you instead,” she said sobbingly, “Nne gi ga-eme ya (your mother can do that)”

“Nne (mother), if I die saving Amandi, happiness would be mine,” Ojiugo said making Arunne so angry at her for saying that.

“What kind of nonsense is this?” Arunne said with a tinge of anger, “That boy is good for nothing but you’re always fighting us because of him,”

“I want to pay for the sins of nna anyi (our father) and that of you,” Ojiugo said tearfully to her mother, “You have committed a lot of atrocities against the poor boy but Amandi kept calm and did nothing. He is a good man but you and nna anyi kept torturing him. Fare thee well, and make peace with your stepson; that’s if he is still alive,”

After saying that, Ojiugo was taken away to Ngene River where the sacrifice was to take place.

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To be continued…

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Introduction: My name is Pres. Carey Rath, I am a faithful, funny, vast, joyous, lively, brave, glamorous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.