“Nnamdi… Nnamdi! Come and see o.” Chika, a sturdily built young man called. Nnamdi walked out from where he sat with a group of friends to where Chika stood. He was obviously taller than Chika. Nnamdi’s body shook as he saw what was beyond his innocent eyes.
“Obi, Friday, Akpan abeg make una come o”. Instinctively, Nnamdi called his friends who were busy drinking beer in the local restaurant to come see what stood before his weary eyes. Nnamdi’s pals ambled out to have a look at the reason they were summoned. As virilescent young men that they were, they had expected to see a young beautiful woman with mountainous breasts and gigantic backside which was the topic they were discussing before Chika and Nnamdi stepped out but what they all saw from the lens of their eyes was a phenomenon that nobody prayed for.
Just as the calling had started with Chika, to Nnamdi and others; the same natural crowd pulling technique had drawn countless people out from their respective stalls to look at the confounding figure. The people were out and were looking and talking simultaneously, in a typical market fashion.
It was Monday evening, 6:30pm to be precised at the famous Onitsha market in Anambra state, Eastern part of Nigeria. Shadow of the day’s sun weakly illuminated the popular market. Electricity supply by the government was as usual, epileptical. The hardworking Igbo men and women, and the few non Igbo traders didnt even expect government light to power their businesses. Lanterns flickered, and bulbs of different sizes, and colours powered by generators whose deafening noises were ignored by the busy people, aided the dying sun.
“Isn’t that Mama Nneka?” A trader who was obviously perplexed asked.
“She is the one.” Another trader answered.
“As she gone mad?” Another person inquired as she gawked at the woman who kept walking to a place that the people did not know. She was completely naked. Her sagged breasts that had milked many babies who didn’t wait to thank her, were outside, jumping up and down her dehydratedly determined body. Her hair was soapy and water was all over her dark complexioned body. She was bathing when someone came to call her that a cement truck which belonged to a famous merchant had crushed her only child.
She forced the little girl to go on the errand she had sent her before she went to bathe herself. The little girl, Nneka was reluctant. She never wanted to go. For the first time in a long while, Nneka told her mother to her face that she didn’t feel like going out. Mama Nneka was astounded by the message that her unfailing ears passed to her brain. Being a no non-sense Igbo woman that she was, she flogged Nneka with the long cane that many african parents used to have at their arm reach. The girl cried in loud voice. Her cry was louder than the expected cry proportional to the pain of a single stroke of cane that she had received on her tender skin. It was a cry of death that neither Nneka, her mother, nor the many people who heard the terrible cry could understand.
Without taking out time to finish bathing, she scurried out ignoring her nakedness and the sizzling groundnut oil that she placed on gas cooker. Everything she had been doing or intended to do all disappeared from her memory. “My child! My child!” She murmured to herself as she walked out.
To African parents, children are the clothes they put on, and not the physical raiment of many colours and textures. This was the reason why those people versed in African traditions had more children to protect their presumed nakedness. A barren is naked, forget about the number of the conspicuously hued clothes he or she had in the wardrobe. This is the reason why you see the African childless man or woman doing both the imaginable and the unimaginable just to be accepted into the serious class of African parenthood.
Like many African mothers, Obianuju whose name changed to Mama Nneka, was very happy when her child, her world, Nneka decided to stay.
To be con’t.