My Child My Gift  – By Okoli Benjamin Chukwunedum

My Child My Gift – By Okoli Benjamin Chukwunedum

MY CHILD MY GIFT BY OKOLI
BENJAMIN C.
The sun set lazily casting its rays
east the village of umuagu.
Ugomma
was spreading bitter leaves
under the sun, since she couldn’t
make it
earlier from the market. It would
soon be dark and her husband
Ngoka
would soon be back from the
farm.
Ngoka and his wife Ugomma
were newly married. It was the
third the
year of their marriage; the couple
had been faced with unusual
challenges. Nobody would ever
believe that Ugomma the village
damsel
would agree to marry Ngoka
after all the mysteries that were
attached
to him. Some people had it that
Ngoka was an Osu (Outcast)
while
others had it that Ngoka was a
runaway slave who mysteriously
crossed
the evil forest of Isu (the goddess
of love) , of which no mortal had
ever done. Be it true or false,
nobody could really tell. Ugomma
had
quite a different conclusion of
the whole story.
”I have some feelings more than
love for him which is so
mysteriously
that cannot explain”, She would
always think aloud.
The door cracked, it was Ngoka,
Ugomma’s husband, he had just
returned
from the farm tired and worn
out as usual.
“Welcome my husband”
Ugomma said as she would
always say.
Ngoka groaned and slumped
into his back chair. After resting
for a
while, Ngoka went and took his
bathe. Ugomma quickly set his
lunch
before he returned. Ngoka ate
the food in haste and left for his
room.
Ugomma was slightly puzzled at
his silence. She watched him lay
tiredly on the bed.
”What’s wrong, my husband?”,
Ugomma tenderly asked.
Ngoka did not speak but sat up
and stared aimlessly.
”Our land…..the last hope”, Ngoka
muttered after a long pause. He
did
not need to explain more for
Ugomma to understand.
This was not the first or second
time Ngoka’s land was being
confiscated by the elders of
Umuagu…It’s plain, there was no
other way
of telling him that he was no
longer welcomed in the village.
On his
way to the farm that day, a man
boldly stood to his face and told
him
” leave our land, you…………”.
Ngoka would not like to remind
himself of
whom he was. On reaching the
farm that same day, he saw two
young men
working on his farm. He was
about to speak when two other
young men
approached him and asked him
never to step his feet on that
land
again.
Only a fool would still protest in
such a situation. Ngoka left
without any further comment
and went straight to the Igwe’s
palace.
Much drama unfolded as Ngoka
stepped feet on the palace; the
palace
guard welcomed him with some
hot dirty slaps in front of the
Igwe who
only smiled on seeing that.
Ngoka could not greet the Igwe,
let alone
presenting his petition. Then,
Igwe smiled and asked the
guards to
push him out.
Ugomma looked at her
husband’s face and frowned as
she saw his
chin slightly swollen. She quickly
made for the kitchen and quickly
returned with warm water.“It
will be fine my husband” she
said as she
rubbed his chicks with the
saturated towel. That was what
Ngoka was
expecting – his only source of
consolation and happiness.
“What is our lives turning into?”
he muttered in pain. “The gods
are
not dead” said Ugomma as she
squeezed water out of the towel.
She took
the bowel out and came back
with some leaves which she
vigorously
rubbed on Ngoka’s chin which
made him groaned in pain.
It was already glooming; the hut
was small with few clothes
hanging on
the cloth line. An old box lay at
the Conner of the hut. The only
valuable property there was the
bed which occupied much of the
space
in the hut. The hut was gloomy
with the dim light of a hurricane
lamp
burning slowly. The soft snores
of Ugomma could be heard in
the
background.
Ngoka was half asleep when he
saw a bright light slowly
descending
into his compound coupled with
strange snarling…. Now, he
became fully
awake or so he thought, he
slowly left the bed so as not to
wake his
wife. He tiptoed towards the
window to take a peep. The light
was
brighter than any light Ngoka
had seen.
Surprisingly, the light fell to the
ground with a great thud and
the
earth was shaken beneath him.
He grasped and wondered why
Ugomma his
wife would still be sleeping with
all the noise notwithstanding.
“By
the way, what could this be?” he
wondered.
As this scenario was still on-
going, Ngoka remembered his
odyssey when
he ran away from his father’s
house – how he swore never to
return and
his journey into the evil forest of
Isu. He began to remember his
encounter with the dark spirits
of the forest. Also, he had a
flashback that he had once seen
similar the light outside his
compound
some time ago.
Ngoka was immediately brought
back to reality when he felt a
strange
dreading touch on his skin. He
gave out a loud scream, jumped
up and
tried to pull away but the force
was beyond him and soon he
yielded.
Like a magnetic attraction, Ngoka
was drawn into the bright light
which had now settled down as
a bright shinny beast.
Suddenly, there was a great clam;
the scene changed. Ngoka saw
himself standing in the middle of
a big hall. The hall was gloomy.
Old
women gathered around him
leaning on their walking sticks,
their
facial expression were horrible.
Ngoka shouted at the top of his
voice, but his shout was nothing
to
them. Suddenly he heard a
cracking sound like that of a
great thunder,
just then all the women held out
their walking sticks and
chorused
”his family must be terminated”.
They stamped their feet in
unison. The dust that rose from
the ground
gradually combined to form a
beast, that same shiny beast. The
beast
has four horns and breathe out
fire…Ngoka recognized the beast,
it was
Agbara, the god of thunder. The
beast rushed and attacked as
Ngoka
resisted weakly.
It was at the point of devouring
him when a little blue man
appeared
who called himself Ngoka’s
guardian angel. He spoke with
the beast for
a while.
“I will make life miserable for
you” was the only sentence
Ngoka could
gather from what they said. The
little man then took Ngoka by the
hand
and disappeared.
“Thanks to the gods” Ugomma
exclaimed as Ngoka sneezed and
opened his eyes.
It was a broad daylight; Ngoka
had slept for hours and has
refused to wake when Ugomma
tapped him. Now, he had finally
woken. He
narrated the dream to his wife
who seriously marveled on
hearing it.
“This is so mysterious; and it is
not ordinary” she truthfully said.
“Please my husband, tell me all
you know about your
background” she
calmly requested, after a brief
pause.
Ngoka was the only child of
Atutaugo and Igwemma of
Nkwoagu
village far west of the evil forest
of Isu, the goddess of love. His
parents had been barren for
years before luck later smiled at
them.
Igwemma was sure; the child
was not from Agbara, their
village deity.
He was a child she got
desperately from Amadioha, the
deity of their
neighboring village and was not
accepted by Agbara. Ngoka who
was not
aware of all this lived like other
young men of Nkwoagu. He was
strong
and hardworking.
His problems started the day he
stepped feet into the Python
Forest. Every son of Nkwoagu
had access to the forest as it was
owned
by a great python, the goddess
mother of Agbara the god of
thunder.
Unknown to Ngoka that he had a
different blood running in him;
he was
not a legitimate son of Nkwoagu
village. He went together with
other
young men who also came to
hunt in the forest.
As they ventured deep into the
forest, sudden wind blew and
carried
leaves around Ngoka. That was a
bad omen but he waved the
thought. Not
long after that, the great python
appeared ready to devour the
strange
blood that dared to step feet in
her territory. Ngoka resisted but
was
overpowered. As she flung her
massive body and twisted round
him, with
her jaw raised as well, perfectly
ready to strike; the brave Ngoka
courageously raised his cutlass
to counter attack and to save
himself.
And they began to struggle.
Expectedly, it finally struck and
the cutlass pierced through her
mouth and went into her body.
Internally damaged by the
cutlass, the
python consequently released
him and rolled blindly for quite a
while,
outstretched herself and finally
lay still. Ngoka who holistically
became frightened by what had
transpired, immediately ran
home to
narrate his ordeal to his father.
The news immediately spread
home – Ngoka has killed the
goddess mother
of Agbara; an abomination that
is corollary with death. The chief
priest visited Atutaugo’s house
that evening to explain the
enormity
of his son’s crime. At there, he
openly asked Igwemma from
where she
got the child. “The great python
only devours strangers”, he said.
Igwemma could not hide again
this time as there was no more
time
for trick. After a short pause, she
decided to open up, “the child
was
a gift from Amadioha, the rival
god of Agbara”. It was clear that
she
had desperately searched for a
child for seven years from
Agbara with
no result before she finally
turned to Amadioha.
That notwithstanding, the Chief
priest angrily passed his
judgment: Ngoka will be burnt at
stake in the village square to
appease the wrath of Agbara.
Having declared his judgment, he
immediately flounced out with
his guards. Atutaugo’s hut
became totally quite that evening.
Igwemma instantly became
speechless. She never told her
told her husband that the son
was a
gift from a different god.
“Ngoka is our only son, we can’t
allow him die” Atutaugo
muttered as
he went inside the hut. He came
back with an image, a symbol of
his
personal god of protection. That
evening, he made a solemn
covenant
using Ngoka’s blood. With that,
he made a connection between
Ngoka and
the spirit in that its powers to
protect him were shifted to
Ngoka.
That was the small blue man his
guardian angel.
On the early morning of the
appointed day, Atutaugo and
his wife hid Ngoka in a pit near
the village square. ”We rather die
in
your place” they said as they bid
Ngoka farewell and went back to
the
hut. At daybreak, the villagers
gathered to see Agbara
appeased. Murmurings increased
when the guards returned
without Ngoka
and publicly announced his
disappearance. Nobody would
dare like to
face the wrath of Agbara. At the
chief priest’s order, Atutaugo and
Igwemma his wife were finally
tied and burnt on the stake
meant for
Ngoka.
When Ngoka heard his parents
groaning and dying in pain, he
dropped tears aloud. And at a
point, he could not bear there
weep
anymore which consequently
made him rush out to save them.
But
immediately the villagers saw
him, he was given the fastest
chase of
his life; they desperately pursued
him. Ngoka took to his heels and
made his way into the evil forest
of Isu. Then, the chief priest
called them back and told them
that the only way of staying safe
is to
shift Agbara’s wrath on Ngoka.
And with a united voice, they all
shouted ”His family must be
terminated” firmly stamping
there feets to
the ground.
In the great evil forest of Isu, life
was miserable for Ngoka. But for
the fact that he had a protection
from his father’s deity, he was
immune to the attacks of the
dark spirits of the forest. Night
and day
he travelled deep into the forest.
His feet bruised and were healed
with time. Until he saw light, he
fed on wild fruits.
When he finally arrived at a
village, he walked past a stream
as he
aimed to reach the village square
before dusk. As he walked past
the
stream, he heard the shouts of
“Help…help”
Who could that be? It was Igwe’s
son who was drowning. The
current had
carried him to where nobody
could dare swim. Ngoka,
knowing that his
life was not worth much, jumped
into the stream and luckily,
managed
to save the prince. The people
who were nearby took him to
the village
square where people gathered in
groups discussing and pointing
at him.
On hearing his story and how he
managed to save the prince,
Igwe was
so passionate and pleased with
Ngoka, to the extent that he
automatically made him an
absolute citizen of Umuagu. The
people of
Umuagu were afraid of Ngoka
and took him as a mysterious
man. He was
the only mortal man who had
ever travelled through the great
evil
forest of Isu, and came out alive.
Following Igwe’s order, he was
given few pieces of land as his
possession to start life with. As
years passed by, Ngoka settled in
Umuagu as a farmer and life
began to
smile at him again.
That was how Ngoka became a
part of Umuagu village.
There, he met Ugomma; his first
and only love. Ugomma’s parents
were
apprehensive about their
relationship and tried all they
could to put
them asunder. Her love forNgoka
was immeasurable; she never
ceased to
visit him, notwithstanding the
impediments.
When her parents saw that their
efforts to separate them
were all meaningless, and that
their love for each other was so
intimate; they had no other
option but to call Ngoka to come
and marry
her before she got pregnant
outside wedlock. Happily, he
brought all
the requirements for that; and
when everything had been
perfectly
settled, he finally took his wife,
Ugomma home.
That was how Ngoka married
Ugomma the village damsel; the
starting
point of his second misery. He
loved his wife and would not
always
allow her do most of the house
chores; they lived in peace and
love.
Barely three months after their
marriage, Agbara’s wrath swept;
Ngoka
had series of mysterious
nightmares. In each, he could
clearly hear
Agbara saying “I will make life
miserable for you”.
Ugomma simply shook her head
as he heard all this story of
husband
being told by him. “We shall
conquer and overcome all these”
she said
simply.
Few months after Ngoka’s
dreams, things fell apart for him.
People of
Umuagu suddenly developed
strong hatred for him and his
wife. They
always antagonized them and
sometimes even refused to sell
goods to
Ugomma. Day by day the elders
kept on confiscating Ngoka‘s
land. Even
the Igwe gave consent to their
actions. Ngoka clearly knew that
all
those plagues were from Agbara,
but one thing he strongly
believed was
that Agbara could not touch his
life. His worries seriously began
when
in a dream, he heard his chi told
him that Agbara has extended its
wrath upon his pregnant wife.
“You must do something mortal
man, I can’t help you this time
because
I am bound to protect you and
you alone” he clearly heard the
chi
spoke to him in the dream. From
that hour, he became restless
and
spent most of his time thinking
about that.
Few months after the dream, he
got a message from the Igwe’s
cabinet
asking him to appear before the
cabinet that evening. In the
meeting
the elders of Umuagu weighed
allegations on him as regarded
to thing
he had been committing in that
land. He became speechless and
couldn’t
say much in his defence. Igwe
then passed his final verdict –
“you
should stay clearly out of
Umuagu boundary before dusk
the morrow”.
And the meeting dismissed in
concordance.
When Ugomma heard the new
development, she wept with him.
Having
decided to obey the order, Ngoka
pleaded with his wife Ugomma
to
return to her parents and start a
new life. ”I have actually known
that am cursed” he sobbed.
That was what Ugomma would
want to hear anymore. She
vowed to follow
him to wherever he went and to
even possibly die wherever he
would
die.
Finally, they both set out leave
They managed to cross the
boundary of
Umuagu. As Ngoka had no other
place to go, he made straight
towards
the direction of the evil forest of
Isu and the afraid Ugomma
followed
meekly. When they travelled deep
into the forest, it was night and
Ngoka perfectly knew Agbara
would attack soon, Ugomma was
pregnant and
her belly had out-grown hand
cover.
”My beloved wife, my child, my
gift…. No, I can’t allow that
happen”
he soliloquized aloud. He could
not sleep that night.
“If Agbara allows her see
tomorrow, I will pay the price
myself” he
thought passionately. At dawn,
Ngoka looked at his wife, still
sleeping peacefully, he smiled
and said “I will put an end to all
this
today”.
With Ugomma’s breakfast ready
beside her, he left with his
cutlass.
When he had covered some
distance, he benevolently stood
with firmness
and cried out “Let me die and
protect my unborn child and my
beloved
wife” After saying this, he
sorrowfully bent down in agony
as he wept
aloud. When he finally stood, he
drew his cutlass together with
his
last breath and struck himself,
groaned in pain and finally fell
down.
Within a short period, death
soon came to help ameliorate the
issue.
Ugomma woke later and
searched sorrowfully for Ngoka
her
husband; thinking that he might
have been attacked by a wild
animal.
She rubbed her stomach which
had now grown big as she cried
bitterly.
When he finally saw Ngoka’s
corps with his cutlass buried
deep into
his stomach, she knelt there and
wailed aloud. For a moment she
was
quiet, Stood up and drew out the
cutlass from Ngoka and raised it
up
to the highest level “We are
coming right after you” She said
as she
closed her saturated eyes to
strike.
Immediately, seven medians
appeared round her and began
to smile to
her. One of them spoke, “drop
the cutlass mortal, this forest has
been
my abode until I was subdued
and imprisoned by the dark
spirits. They
took over my forest and made it
an evil forest as you mortals call
it.
The spell they cast on me was so
strong that I cannot break free.
What
your husband Ngoka did was an
act of love of the sixteenth
degree; It
has broken the dark spells and i
am back. I… Isu, the goddess of
love
express my gratitude to you by
giving you a gift to console you
for
his demise” she paused and
lowered her face to Ugomma
who was shaking
with fear. She smiled and
touched Ugomma’s stomach,
smiled again and
joined the circle. Finally, together
they bowed low before her,
chorused in one voice “You are
Welcome, Ojadike, the beloved of
the
gods” and with that, they all
disappeared into thin air.
Ugomma was pent-up; she again
rose and wept the second time
for her
husband. “I love you Ngoka and I
would be proud to be your wife
even
in the world to come” she
avowed.
“How are you, the great mother?,
we have come to pay homage to
Ojadike our master” Ugomma
clearly heard and turned to see
who was
speaking but only felt the
presence of the wind blowing
around her.
“You are indeed blessed among
women“ The wind blew again
and then
everywhere became calm.
At that unforgettable night, the
great forest of Isu and all its
inhabitants made a great feast
for Ugomma. Animals gathered,
The
glowworm made sure the feast
was illuminated, Birds gave off
their
melodious songs the monkeys
made sure the tables never
lacked food.
Ugomma was adored that night.
Seconds trickled into days and
months.
Ugomma lived happily inside the
forest of Isu. She spent one hour
everyday at the spot where
Ngoka was buried. She ate
whatever she
wished as she had them as soon
as she thought of them. She
never
lacked anything.
When it was time for her to
deliver, the good spirits of Isu
aided and
made it more peaceful. The gift,
Ojadike was born with teeth and
beards even at birth. The forest
once again jubilated at his birth.
The forest took care of him and
the mother. It nursed them with
their
best heart wishes.
As time went on, Ojadike grew in
strength and Ugomma watched
him grow.
He was loved by nature herself.
Even the elements of nature
obeyed
him. The fire, wind and water
were at his command. He
understood the
language of herbs, trees and
animals. Ugomma helped him
master his
skills. Ojadike, like his late father
Ngoka, loved his mother so
dearly. He had a very soft spot for
her. Ugomma lived happily with
her
comfort, Ojadike. His power grew
proportionally with his age. He
was
humble, kind and brave. His
mother had earlier warned him
never to use
abuse his power nor use it for
evil sake. Ojadike had always
asked
after his father, but Ugomma
would always divert the
question,
believing that one day, he would
make Ngoka his late father
proud.
As years wore on, When Ojadike
was of age as Ugomma thought,
she
called Ojadike and narrated
down the entire story to him.
Ojadike was
so moved by that. He also had
this burning desire to visit his
late
father’s homeland Nkwoagu.
When he inquired of the route
from his
mother she told him not to
worry; that his late father’s spirit
will
lead and direct his path.
The night before Ojadike left,
Ugomma took him to his late
father’s
grave, where she blessed him on
her husband’s behalf. ’’Go, my
son, I
know you will make your father
proud wherever he is ’’ she said
as she
sent him forth to his homeland
of Nkwoagu.
Ojadike travelled for days, with
the help of his power before he
finally got there. When he arrived
the village as the spirit led him,
he passed the night unnoticed.
The next morning, he was led
into the
forest of the great python, where
Agbara still mourned for its
mother.
Coincidentally, that day was also
the day people of Nkwoagu used
to
offer their sacrifice of seven
virgins to Agbara. As they lined
up
waiting for Agbara to consume
them Ojadike appeared. There,
he,
Ojadike challenged Agbara the
god of fire to a duel, which it did
not
hesitate to initiate.
When the fight began, Agbara
changed to the beast which late
Ngoka
always saw in his dream. The
fight was a though one. Agbara
used his
diabolic powers to attack while
Ojadike used his skills, fire, water
and wind in defense. The battle
raged fiercely till Ojadike with his
very last strength cast the water
spell on Agbara the god of fire.
The
water quenched his breath of
fire and he consequently fell.
Ojadike
triumphed, He chained Agbara
and sent him down to Hades and
brought
back the virgins alive.
The people of Nkwoagu were so
pleased. Although they pledge
loyalty to
Agbara, but this case of
sacrificing seven virgins in every
quarter
year had made them blaspheme
it in their hearts. Ojadike soon
won
their loyalty. As he gained
ground, he narrated to them the
story of
his late father Ngoka.
On hearing this, the people felt
so sorry. Although most of the
people
who were the elders of
Nkwoagu village when these
things happened were
no more alive. It had been a long
time indeed. After accesing and
seeing personality, his nature,
abilities, potentials and powers,
the
people of Nkwoagu concordantly
agreed to install Ojadike as their
first substantial king, to be
crowned and coronate after
twenty-one
market days as the traditions
required. On hearing this, the
over-joy
Ojadike sent for her mother
Ugomma who happily came and
witnessed the
installation. He immediately had a
palace built for him on the same
place where his grandfather
Atutaugo had lived. And he
began to rule
the Nkwoagu village. As young as
he was, he perfectly ruled in
accordance with the direction of
his chi.
After few weeks of his
impeccable reign as a substantial
king of
Nkwoagu, news came that the
people of Umuagu village was
under serious
attack of their enemies. “That’s
my fatherland, where your father
and
I had lived before until the day
we were banished” Ugomma
reiterated.
On hearing this again, Ojadike
with his gaurds prepared for
battle.
When they got to Umuagu, the
enemies had broken deep into
the village.
Ojadike attacked immediately,
fought, conquered and restored
peace to
Umuagu as the remaining
enemies fled. But then, much
damage had been
done. The Igwe and his heir had
fallen and the people were
mourning
for them.
At the end of everything, Ojadike
narrated the story of his life and
that of his late father to the
elders of Umuagu village who
curiously
longed to hear that. Because his
late father Ngoka naturalized in
the
town when he was leaving there,
the elders of Umuagu happily
welcomed
Ojadike as their son. They were
so pleased with his
indispensable
contributions and the roles he
and his men played towards
ensuring and
securing their victory in the war.
And in order to celebrate their
victory and register their
appreciation and gratefulness,
they
organized a big feast which they
made in the honour of Ojadike
and his
men. At the end of the ground
breaking feast, the elders of
Umuagu
village hastened and re-provided
all the late Ngoka’s lands which
were
confiscated from him by various
individuals and group when he
was
living in that land; and gave all of
them to Ojadike who happily and
joyfully accepted them.
At there at that moment, the
delighted Ojadike happily
announced and
invited all the people of Umuagu
village to his coronation
ceremony
coming up on next four market
days. Happily and with a great
shout of
joy, the people all accepted the
automatic invitation, avowing to
grace the occasion with all
magnificent things within their
reach.
They also chant choruses of extr-
honourable rhythms as they
gloriously
escorted him to the boundary
between Umuagu and the Isu
forest, from
where he made his way with his
men, to the land of Nkwoagu.
On the appointed day of
Ojadike’s second coronation,
Ugomma sat beside
him in noble regalia. As well as
his son she was so beautifully
dressed for the occasion the
entire land was blooming that
day as
everybody came out in his best
outfit as if
they had been reserving it for the
day. Even the animals and
grasses
in that land could smile that day.
And the coronation and
crowning
began immediately.
When it was time for the new
king to speak, Ojadike humbly
stood up in
honour, attracting great shouts
and eulogizing claps from the
people
as he stepped forth to speak. He
tersely made a long edifying,
inspirational, motivational,
historical and soul enlightening
speech,
to
the extent that the elders of
Nkwoagu as well as every other
person
marveled at his wisdom. At the
end of his speeches, he was also
followed with another great
shout of joy, thunderous claps,
standing
and bowing honour, as people
trooped out in mass to offer a
thankful
handshake and hug to him.
That day was the greatest day
ever seen in the entire land of
Nkwoagu,
witnessed both by the living and
the dead. It happily became more
colourful as satisfactory delicious
wining and dining, masquerade,
various music and dancing, and
uncountable thunderous sounds
of cannon
took over the occasion.
It was indeed a memorable day
in the life of every Nkwoagu
indigene –
a day one would never forget in
the entire land of the village. Even
then neighbouring communities
could feel the wave; what a great
event!
And from that day, Ojadike the
great son of Ngoka completely
became the ruling king of the
whole village of Nkwoagu, where
his
father was condemned to death.
Who could see and who could
tell? The
world is round, and so it
turns.The gods blessed the land
of Nkwoagu
and offered Ojadike the king and
Ugomma his mother, the gift of
immortality. They both ruled the
land into eternity. “My child, My
gift” the mother would always
say and smile whenever she
remembered
all this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Okoli Benjamin Chukwunedum is
a native of Ebenator in Nnewi
South LGA
of Anambra State..He is born into
the family of Mr and Mrs Samuel
Okoli. He is a lover of literary
works.Currently he is a student
and seeking for admission..this is
his first writeup..
Attachments area



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