[ISSN 1974-028X]








filosofia & religione


storia & sport


turismo storico




























N. 28 - Aprile 2010 (LIX)

short novel - part i

di Emmanuel Celestine




In the little village of Amazi was a couple, Mr and Mrs Nwanneka. They have three children, Nana, Ify, and Kachi. They lived with Chioma, Mr. Nwanneka's late younger brother's only child. Mrs. Nwanneka loved her daughters very well and did for them everything they wanted her to do for them, but she hated Chioma with great passion because she was not her biological daughter. She had asked her husband to throw Chioma out of their house but he did not agree because he loved his late brother's daughter. Nana was twenty years old and the oldest among the three girls. Ify was two years younger. Kachi and Chioma were age mates and a year younger than Ify. The two little girls loved each other and played together whenever they have the chance. Kachi's mother and her two elder sisters did not like how she got used to Chioma because they did not want to have anything to do with her. Chioma would always do the domestic work alone while the other girls would be playing. She would fetch water from the stream, fetch fire wood from the bush, cook the meals and tied up the house alone. Sometimes, she would not eat any food until evening while the other girls would have already got intoxicated with food. Kachi always felt for her and sometimes, she would help her to do some work at home. Her mother had in several occasions punished her for helping Chioma to do some domestic work but she continued to help her because she loved her very much.


“Kachi, please I don't want you to be beaten again because of me. Please let me do the work alone”. She told her one day as she offered to help her wash the heaps of dirty dishes.

“Let her beat me if she so desires. I cannot see you do all these work alone. It is not proper before our gods and man. You know I love you and would do anything for you”, she replied pitying her.

“I pray that our gods would reward you gratefully for all your help and support to me”, she appreciated.

“What do you think you are doing?” Mrs. Nwanneka interrupted as she entered. The two girls suddenly became naive. They did not know what to say. Chioma was already shivering with fear because she knew that her aunty will give her the beaten of her life.

“I am sorry mother...I...”

“Shut up your mouth. Who is your mother. Don't you know your mother in the grave.” she interrupted.

“Now tell me”, she continued, “who asked my daughter to do these work with you?” she queried.

“Mama, nobody asked me to do any work. I decided to do them myself since I am not doing anything”, Kachi intervened innocently.

“Leave here now before I slap you, you idiot” she ordered Kachi out. Now remaining her and Chioma, she drew her closer and started beating her. Chioma was quite helpless in her aunty's hand because her uncle was not there to rescue her. After being beaten, Chioma lay down on the floor without anyone to console her.





Mr. Nwanneka was very infuriated when he heard what happened to her niece. He had just come back from a journey he made to a neighboring town in search for an herb that curses Iba {malaria}. He did not take it easy with his wife who already was ready to fight him if he dares beat her. Chioma wasn't happy when she heard that her uncle and his wife were quarreling because over her. She never intended to tell her uncle what happened, but Kachi told him before she could knew it. Nana and Ify were already threatening to beat her but she wasn't concerned about that. Her concern was how to quell the misunderstanding between her uncle and his wife.


“You are a very wicked woman. See how you are treating somebody's child as if she was not a human being. I don't have anything to tell you but you must know that the gods are above watching you”, he warned and left her. Her wife stood there as she laid him all sorts of abuses, but her husband was no where near the home. That night was very quiet in Mr. and Mrs. Nwanneka's compound. Nobody was talking when the meal was going on. The man was still very angry about what his wife did to his niece while the woman was not happy that her husband scolded her because of another man's daughter. When Chioma and Kachi saw what was going on, they felt very bad but their two elder sisters did not mind. After a while, Chioma stood up and beckoned Kachi. Both girls went inside the room, thinking on what to do to reconcile the situation.


“I have a plan”, Chioma suggested.

“And what is it? Kachi queried inquisitively.

“Come closer let me tell you”, she said as she drew Kachi close.

“Yes! Wonderful idea!” Kachi exclaimed. After a while, Chioma screamed, “somebody help! She has fainted ooh! Kachi ! Kachi!”, Chioma shouted repeatedly.

Everybody outside rushed in as they heard the girl shouting.

“What is it?” Mr. Nwanneka and his wife chorused.

“I don't know. We were discussing and she fell down and started foaming”, Chioma replied.

“Mama Nana what do we do now?” Mr. Nwanneka asked.

“I don't know. May be you get some herbs”, she replied. He hurriedly went out and got some herbs.

“Here is it, squeeze and put in her mouth”, he said as he came back with the herbs. As the woman was about to put the herbs in Kachi' s mouth, she woke up and started laughing. They were all surprised and looked at her in amazement. She was only pretending. They agreed to do that in order to quell the differences between their parents.

“What happened to you my daughter” her father asked looking perplex.

“Nothing papa, you and mama refused to talk to each other and we planned to do something that will make both of you to talk to each other again. And I am happy that you have talked to each other”, the little girl said smiling at both of them. Her parents looked at each other, smiled and went inside the room holding each others hands.




That evening, Mrs. Nwanneka asked Chioma to go and fetch water from the stream. It was on a market day and nobody was allowed to fetch water from the stream on that day because it was the belief of the villagers that the market day was a sacred day when the spirits of the land held their meetings and that was normally done at the stream. That was her strategy to get rid of the poor girl, because in the history of the village, nobody had gone to the stream on a market day and returned home alive.


“But today is our market day and we are not supposed to go to the stream,” the little girl reminded.

“Shut up and do what I asked you to do. When have you learnt to question my authorities in this house”, she commanded. Chioma went into the room quietly, carried her pot and left for the stream. Kachi and her father were not at home when this happened. When they came back and heard what has happened, they felt very bad. Before they could know what was going on, Kachi ran out of the house in search of Chioma. All the attempt to stop her was futile. Mr. Nwanneka was disappointed at his wife's attitude towards his niece. Kachi continued to shout Chioma's name as she ran deep into the narrow part that leads to the stream. At last, she found her and the two girls embrace with joy as tears flowed from their eyes. Even though Chioma was happy to see her, she was not comfortable about her going to the stream with her because she knew that her aunty will beat her mercilessly if she comes back. She persuaded her to go back but she refused.


“I must go with you anywhere you are going. If it would cost our lives, then let two of us die together because, I cannot live in this world without you”, she reiterated. When Chioma saw that she could not convince her to go back, she allowed her to follow her. Sooner had they moved forward than they noticed an old woman carrying a heavy load on her head. They felt pity for her, but were afraid to help her. Chioma suggested that they should help her but Kachi refused. After a long argument, they agreed to help her. When they went close to help the woman, she refused to allow them carry the load. But when the girls insisted, she gave in. the two girls carried the loads as the woman followed them far behind. The girls became scared when they walked a very long distance without seeing anybody or building. When they came to a three-path way, the woman asked them to follow the left turn and immediately they turned, they saw a small hut. They wondered how only that old woman could be living in such a lonely place.


She called them back as they were about to leave.

She put her hand into her pocket and brought out two gold necklaces and gave each of them one. The gold necklaces were very beautiful and were the type worn only by princesses. She also gave them a pot of water which she had fetched from the stream the previous day and warned them not to go to the stream that day. The girls thanked her and went home rejoicing. Mr. Nwanneka was very happy to see them when they came back. It was already mid night and nobody believed that they could still come back alive. He rushed out and hugged them. His wife was not happy at all to see Chioma because she knew that her plans had failed. Nana and Ify had already gone to bed and did not know when their sisters came back. Their father offered them food and they ate and went to bed but they refused to tell anybody what has happened that day.




The next day was the new moon festival. It was always a big ceremony in the village. That day, the children wore the best of their clothes and shoes. The people had gathered at the village square where the masquerades and various dancing groups were entertaining the people. The men had a place where they stayed as well as the women and the children respectively. Mr. Nwanneka had gone where the men sat and his wife to the woman's wing. Nana and Ify paired while Chioma and Kachi were together. When the dancing masquerades finished dancing, the little girls decided to have a stroll. They held their hands as they walked. They saw a palm tree and decided to rest there. As they were resting, two young men approached them and pleaded that they want to be in their company. The two girls refused and stood up to walk away from them but the young men resisted. Chioma pleaded with them to allow them go back to where they were staying but the men would not listen.


“Who is your father?” the senior among the men asked. The girls did not answer because they were afraid. Even though the young men were looking very handsome and innocent, the girls were not comfortable standing with them. Again, if their mother comes and see them there, she will beat them especially Chioma, for talking with strangers.


“We are Mr. Ogbonna Nwanneka's daughters. How can we help you?” Kachi replied. This time, the men smiled and told them they knew their parents very well.

“I am the prince, the first son of the king of this village and this is my friend, Ikedi. What are your names?” he queried but the girls did not answer because they were scared of being seen with the prince of their village.

“I will like to marry you”, he said pointing at Chioma

“Me?” Chioma asked. “You cannot marry me because we are of different backgrounds”, she continued. The prince and his friend were busy gazing at the golden ornament the girls were wearing on their neck because they knew it wasn't meant for ordinary people.

“Yes, I will marry you and my friend wants to marry your sister. He is the prince of Umunta, our neighboring village. We shall come and see your father the next market day. You may now go”, he told them and left. By the time the girls went back to the venue of the festival, people were already going to their houses. Their parents and sisters had gone home after searching for them and could not find them. The girls agreed that they will not tell anybody what they witnessed that day. When they got home, their father was not happy with them. He reprimanded them and asked them not to leave the venue of events any time they go out for such occasions. They apologized and promised not to disobeyed him any more. He asked them to go inside their room and have their dinner, as it was already mid night.


Nana and Ify were disappointed. They expected their father to beat Chioma and Kachi but to their greatest surprise, he didn't. They went to bed disappointed. As they were eating, Chioma reminded Kachi the need for them to tell their father what those young men told them but she declined. After many attempts to make her agree failed, Chioma angrily left the food for her and lay on her mat. When Kachi saw that she was angry, she went to where she was and tapped her on the shoulder.


“Are you angry?” she asked politely, but she did not reply. When she saw tears flowing from Chioma's eyes, she was touched.

“Are you crying?” she asked as she tried to turn her face. She could not withstand the tears that flew from Chioma's eyes. She felt her face with the back of her hand. Chioma was crying because she didn't want to betray their father. She believed that her father would feel betrayed if those young men came to meet him while he had not been informed, but Kachi didn't seem to reason with her. When Kachi saw her sister's mood,she told her that she had agreed that they would tell their father.

“If telling our father this will make you stop crying, I have agreed. Please don't cry any longer unless you want me to start crying”, she said as she turned her face. Chioma looked at her with great passion as they hugged each other. Now, the deal has been sealed,. They have agreed to tell their father about their suitors' proposed visit to their father next market day. They went straight to their father's room to let the cat of the bag. Their father was surprise to see them in his room that night.

“You are supposed to be sleeping now, I hope there is no problem?”he asked surprisingly.

“No Papa, there is no problem. We just want to discuss something with you”, they chorused. He wondered what the girls wanted to tell him which could not wait till morning. The girls had never paid him such emergency visit. He gently rose up from his mat, sitting tenderly as he leaned on the wall. He was happy when the girls told him the story. They told him that it was because of that they came back home late that day. He was very proud of them but asked them to commit everything in the hands of the gods of their land so that they would not have any obstacle.

“There is one more thing father”, Kachi said

“What is it?” he queried.

“Please, don't let mother know about this yet”, she pleaded.

“Why?” he asked amazingly.

“You know that mother does not like Chioma. If she knows about this, her hatred for her will double. Again, she will tell you that we shall not marry before our two elder sisters, Nana and Ify, she remarked.

Her father was surprised that such a thought could come out from his little daughter.

“Alright, I will not tell her. I hope you are now happy?”

“Yes father”, she said as she looked at her sister, who also affirmed by nodding. Unknowingly to Mr. Nwanneka and his two innocent daughters, Mrs. Nwanneka hid at the back of the door listening to everything they were saying. As soon as they finished their discussion, she sneaked back to her room. The girls were very happy that their father supported them. Happiness could be read on their faces as they could not hide their feelings. Mrs. Nwanneka could not sleep that night. She was just contemplating on how Chioma could be the princess or queen of their village. She was full of pomposity and could not see herself stooping so low to be under her. Like Kachi had earlier noted, she wondered how the two girls would marry before their elder sisters. Anybody who had seen her that night would surely know that she was bothered.

“I must do something to prevent this calamity urgently before it is late”, she told herself.


Nobody could say for sure what her plans were, but looking at her mood that night, you would definitely know that she was nursing evil plans waiting to be executed.





Mrs. Nwanneka was wearing a very deep frown that morning. Nobody knew what her problem was. Her husband had made many attempts to know what was bothering her but she refused to open up. Nothing seemed to be moving well for her that morning.

“Chioma”, she shouted repeatedly for three times.


“Yes mother”, she answered as she came out to meet her.

“Who is your mother? How many times do I have to call you before you answer me?”

“I did not know that you were calling me. I was sweeping father's room”, she replied kindly. Before she could say another word, her aunty had started beating her. She dragged her to the kitchen and brought out firewood which was on fire and designed her face with it. Chioma's face was burnt. She wondered what she had done that morning to deserve that kind of treatment. That was a strategy by her aunty to mutilate her so that she would no longer attract the admiration of the prince. Kachi was at a corner crying, calling neighbors to come and rescue Chioma but nobody heard her tiny voice.

“Go inside now and carry the water pot to the stream before I squeeze life out of you”, she commanded, looking satisfied that she had accomplished her mission.

Without uttering any further word, Chioma went inside and carried her water pot to the stream. She could not control the tears flowing from her eyes. Kachi followed her immediately as she left. She tried to console her but she was in real pain and could not pretend that all was well with her. Kachi collected the water pot from her and carried it herself.


As they were going, Chioma remembered that they have not visited the old woman who gave them golden necklace for a long time.

“Let us go and see that old woman who gave us necklace and know If she needs our assistance”, she suggested

“You must not be serious. You are bleeding and are in serious pains, yet you are here looking for a woman to go and visit. To do what?” Kachi responded angrily. She imagined the kind of person her sister was. Chioma was not yet convinced. She insisted that they go and see the woman since it was long they saw her. At last, they agreed and took the direction of the woman's hut again. They were convinced that they met the woman in that place.

“I am sure this was the place we came with her that day. Look at the mango tree, it was just behind the hut but now we cannot see the hut”, Chioma remarked. After a long search and they could not see the hut, they left the place. On their way back from the stream, they saw the old woman resting under a palm tree. Kachi saw her first and called her sister's attention. They argued whether it was actually the old woman they saw before or not. When they came closer, they observed it was the woman. Kachi drew Chioma back as she wanted to rush and greet her.

“I think this woman is a ghost”, she whispered into her ears.

“I don't think so”, Chioma replied. “She is just tired and may need our assistance. Kachi was really scared. She was unlike Chioma who can withstand any kind of horrible situation. She didn't want to argue further with Chioma so that it would not be as if she always antagonize her decisions. They agree to go and see the woman but Kachi was quite far behind her. When they got there, they found out that it was actually the woman.

“What are you doing here?” they asked her.

“I should be asking you what you are looking for around this place this early morning,” the woman replied.

“We have been looking for you all over the place. We went to your hut but we couldn't find any building there. What happened to your house?” Chioma bombarded. The old woman did not answer them. She was gazing at them one after the other.

“Why are you looking for me?” she asked.

“We want to know if there is anything we could do for you”. They replied.

She was pleased to hear this from the girls and could not hide her happiness. As she was about to draw them closer to her arms, she noticed the wound on Chioma's face.

“What happened to you?” she asked anxiously

“I fell down”, she lied. The woman knew she was telling lies. She knew that the wound must be one got from fire burnt.

“Y our aunty did this to you, didn't she?” she asked. The girls were surprise how she came to know.

“I know this woman must be a ghost,” Kachi thought in her mind.


They did not know what to say again, so they admitted that Mrs Nwanneka did it to her. They told her exactly what happened. The woman was very and disappointed. She looked around and saw some palm kernel. She gathered them together and broke them. She made oil out of them and gave her to apply on her face. Chioma hesitated but later took them and applied on her face. She asked the two girls to always cooperate with each other and be good to their fellow human beings. She also advised Kachi not to be as wicked as her mother. The girls still wonder why the old woman was saying all these she was saying. They told her about their prospective suitors and she told them that she was already aware of that. They were surprise how she came to know much about them. After a while, she brought some oranges and gave them. She assured them that the gods of their land were with them. They took the oranges with joy and left. When they got home, Nana and Ify were outside the building playing while the dishes were left unwashed. Their mother has gone out and nobody knew where she had gone. Kachi and Chioma were annoyed when they saw that the dishes were not yet washed but they did not say anything. They dropped their pot of water and started washing the dishes. When they finished washing them, they went back and have their breakfast. It was already mid-day at that time and both of them were very hungry. They ate voraciously like people who had not eating for some days. When their father came back from the farm, he was happy that every where was clean, and he knew that Nana and Ify couldn't have done the work because they were lazy people. He thanked Kachi and Chioma and gave them some pieces of roasted meat he had bought from the market on his way back. He called them into his hut and told them some interesting folktales. He continued to wonder how Kachi and Chioma were growing bigger and more beautiful than their elder sisters. The oranges that the old woman gave them made them glitter than never before. Chioma's wound could no longer be seen because the oil from the palm kernel which the woman rubbed on her face cleared everything. They did not tell their father what Mrs. Nwanneka did to her since the wound has healed. Both of them went to bed that night happily.





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