“You have decided to turn my name into a pariah in Umuanuchi. You have decided to make me, Ukadike Egwuatuonwu Ike-eji-eje-mba, a byword, o kwa ya? I’ll kill you before you succeed.”
Ukadike was livid with rage. He was ready to spill all the venom his heart could secrete, and he was doing just that.
“Uka, you have to take it easy.” Dee Uzoma spoke, with a calmness that could only be exhibited by elders, “our people say that when a child misbehaves, you reprimand her with your right hand and draw her close with the left. O nweghi ihe anya huru gba obara. My son, there is nothing the eye will see and shed blood.” Ukadike made to interrupt, but he was tapped on the back by Ejike, his elder brother, who was seated next to him. He understood the sign. Dee Uzoma spoke on…
Ifeoma was in Chinasa’s arms, crying helplessly. She was the subject of discussion. All eyes in Umuanuchi community had been on her, and now, in her father’s compound, she felt she was right before the entire village. Two weeks earlier, she had come down with the telltale signs of pregnancy. An unwanted pregnancy. It was a shame. An unbearable shame and embarrassment for Ukadike, who was the catechist of St. Agnes The Pure catholic church in Umuanuchi. Word about Ifeoma’s pregnancy spread like wildfire, and Ukadike, in a rage, drove Ifeoma and Chinasa out of his house.
“… Any goat that died in the barn was never killed by hunger,” Dee Uzoma was saying, “we need to treat this issue with wisdom before a black sheep gets lost in the dark night.” Dee Uzoma, seventy-six, scratched his forehead and adjusted his red cap. He was venerated for his wisdom. Whenever there was a tricky dispute, the entire village knew just who to call.
With him were Dee Mathias, Dee Friday and Ichie Olowu. The three men sat on a long bench adjacent to the one on which Ukadike and Ejike sat. Opposite them were Rev. Fr. Emmanuel, Chinasa and Ifeoma. The three benches formed a U-shape under the large orange tree in the middle of Ukadike’s spacious compound. The red soil was dank, a result of the light downpour that graced sunrise in Umuanuchi that day.
Fr. Emmanuel broke the silence, “Catechist, I believe it will be a wise decision to take your daughter and wife back in, they are your family—”
“With all due respect Father, they are not my family.” He interrupted sharply. “This woman didn’t teach her daughter well. And as far as am concerned, they are no longer my family, she and that loose daughter of hers. My family now is only Chinedu and Chimezie, my sons. I taught them well. She should take the bastard child to whomever bastard fathered it.” He rose up to leave.
“Tufia.” Dee Friday. “Aru, Ukadike, abomination. How dare you talk in such depraved manner.”
“Dee with all due respect, I have decided. She should take that Osu to the bastard father.” He shot a long angry stare into the distance and cupped his knees with his hands. Silence reigned.
Angrily he arose, storming into his house. As he approached the door, Ifeoma’s crying voice shot from behind him: “Papa, Chimezie is responsible for the pregnancy.”