Fiction: Cap of Umuala

December 16, 2015 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Alaba Bridget Olufunmilola

 

 

We ate to an empty stomach the night Dim udenze passed away. We had eaten amidst tears and it marred the meal with a salty taste. Everyone had felt the harsh taste of sodium in the soup and had taken some effort to swallow the morsels that felt like gravel in our throats, everyone except Nnanyi who swallowed so effortlessly and washed it down with the keg of palm wine Dim had given, to ensure the food got down his bowels.

“Hey! Woman” he barked, fixing a hostile gaze at mama, his dark eyeballs that shone under the kerosine lamb seemed to be mocking her tears.

“Lick up that mucus if you will, before it falls in your soup, then I need more fofo” he said in a voice that held no emotion of bereavement.

Mama rose morosely from the mat dragging her feet in the manner of a girl who had wet her pants and was scared to come out in the morning.

I felt sorry that Nnanyi had hated Dim even in death, the same Nnanyi that chided me when I said it was good that Nwanyi-eke died instead of troubling the village with her witchcraft. Nnanyi had slapped my mouth warning me never to speak evil about the memory of the dead, now Dim’s corpse is not yet cold and he disdains it.

I wondered what thin line lies between dying and living. Just yesterday Dim Udenze had seen me coming from the game hunt and had given me the keg of wine from which Nnayi drank so guiltlessly and asked me to inform mama that she would lead the women of our umuna to the coronation. I still hear the chains of banter that rang in his laughter as he called me Nwokem, his breast jumping atop his sturdy chest as he laughed. He looked (as Ajuka said) like a man that would have healthy kids when he bares children, then this cold death knocked on his door. Mama came back with a wrap of fofo and placed it on Nnayi’s already empty pan.

“Thank you Nwoyem” he said, biting a chunk of meat. “Very soon, you would become the Lolo and you will have very dutiful maidens to serve you” Mama shot a hateful look at him and began to cry even more.

Igwe Nnachi had passed on without an heir, and only a close relative could rule umuala in his stead. Dim Udenze was chosen by our Umuna because he was Papa’s senior by two years and a younger brother to the fallen Igwe.

In latter times when Nnanyi wears the Royal crown I always think to myself “what lies in this royal cap of umuala that could be thicker than Dim undenze’s blood.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alaba Bridget Olufunmilola

Alaba Bridget Olufunmilola is young Nigerian who has got a great liking for the ink. She dreams of proving to the world what powers the beak of a writer’s pen has above a hundred blades of a warrior’s sword, and everyday she practices to prove this truth. She is an undergraduate student of economics.

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