Adaeze was sweeping the compound with palm fronds, She was married to the best palm wine tapper in the village Osunkwu, even his name was synonymous with palm wine tapping. His family had been the best in it for ages and they were very wealthy. People always said they were blessed by the goddess of trees Asika while others gossiped that they probably made a Sacrifice to Asika that only they family knew about.
Staggering footsteps and stomping pace was what Adaeze heard as odera the flutist ran into the compound, he scampered to the floor shouting, he had seen Adaeze’s husband osunkwu on the floor close to his palm tree with his fingers stuck out and stiff in a claw like manner and his tongue sticking out of his mouth, he was looking lifeless. Adaeze threw down the palm fronds she was holding and started running towards the forest while odera followed suit.
Osunkwu was known to be a night time palm wine tapper, he always said “You can only get the best palm wine at night, because Asika kisses the trees at dawn”. He was right because what he always brought back was unique and had a special taste. As Adaeze and odera ran frantically past the village square shouting her husband’s name, some young men who were drinking saw them and quickly stood up and followed them because they heard osunkwu’s name. There he was sitting on the floor, looking like he had just seen a ghost, Adaeze ran towards him pushing him and calling his name saying “ Don’t do this to me Osunkwu, where do you want me to go to”. The young men arrived shortly and told her to move away as they carried him on their heads and instructed odera to go inform the village chief priest Okarammuo that a big calamity has befallen the community, the mighty Osunkwu has fallen and he is needed at his compound immediately.
Okarammuo slowly walked to osunkwu’s compound, whenever people heard the clinging of bells from his staff they knew better than to walk on the same path with him or stand in his way. He got to their compound and saw osunkwu lying on the floor, he laughed and looked around , everyone seemed confused as to why he was laughing, he struck his staff into the floor as he requested for two kola nuts and a cup of palm wine, Adaeze ran into her husband’s room to bring the items, she rushed out almost immediately and handed the items to okarammuo. He broke each kola nut in two places making them four, he murmured an incantation and threw one to the floor, he then put one into the palm wine, gave Adaeze one to eat and ate one for himself. He poured the palmwine with the kola nut on Osunkwu’s face, he staggered back a bit and smiled saying “Woman, your husband has seen what was not meant for the eyes of mere men”. She pleaded with him to tell her what her husband had seen, Okarmmuo stopped smiling and said “ Woman, your husband set his eyes on Asika the goddess of trees, no one dares” . He told her that her husband was only alive because he worshipped and paid his dues to Asika.
Adaeze begged him to help her husband , he told her the only way they can get past this is by offering a sacrifice to Asika and the only sacrifice she would receive is by cutting down all the palm trees owned by Osunkwu. Adaeze fell on the floor sobbing as Okarammuo picked up his staff and walked away. Two days had passed since Osunkwu has been bedridden. It was raining heavily on the second day at night, Adaeze sat beside her husband crying, she stood up immediately, left the house and started walking towards the forest in the rain. She got to her husband’s palm trees, took off her clothes and knelt down naked in the centre of all the palm trees as they all surrounded each other. She cried out loud calling Asika and begging her to let go of her husband because if they sacrifice all their palm trees the source of their wealth would go and she would not be able to stand the shame of poverty. She picked up some mud and rubbed on her head and body screaming and promising Asika her firstborn child. Nobody could have heard her because the rain was heavy with a lot of thunder. A palm frond fell from one of the palm trees on her head, people always said when a palm frond falls from a tree when you are asking for a favor from Asika that means she has accepted your plea. Adaeze smiled and picked up the fallen palm frond saying “Thank You Asika”.
Osunkwu got better after two weeks but he refused to speak on the incident and he did not even ask what was done to make him better. Early in the morning on eke market day, Okarammuo walked into Osunkwu’s compound looking angry “ Woman, what have you done, do not think you would not pay the price of your promise” he said. Adaeze was left dumbfounded as Okarammuo vanished in their sight, he never does that only when someone has done a great wrong. Osunkwu looked at his wife “What did you do?” he said. She put her head down in shame and walked towards her kitchen.
“Push, Push”. The midwives shouted to Adaeze as she tried to deliver, it’s been two years since she made that promise to Asika and Somehow hoped she had forgotten.”The baby is coming ,I can feel it” said one of the midwives, they all urged her to push harder and out came two little palm fronds, The midwives screamed and fainted and as Adaeze stood up to see what had happened she saw the two palm fronds she gave birth to vanish in plain sight.