The silence between the 3 of them was weighty. Anaborhi was lost in her thoughts as she took in the information that Adankwo had divulged. Akunna sat still, fidgeting with the hem of her blouse as she stared out the window at the tree that seemed to peek over the balcony and into the room. Adankwo stared at both of them. She wished they had been her descendants, free from the problem that had brought them back.
“What do we do?” Anaborhi asked. “Who do we go to meet or who do we approach for further advice?”
“Aruegodore is to drive you to Arorisa. There you will meet the Keeper. He or she will tell you what else must be done and what further action must be taken. But one thing is sure; it is you, it must be you”
“Do I go with her?” Akunna asked. Adankwo shook her head.
“From here on she is the only one to make the journey the rest of the way,” Adankwo said smiling warmly as Akunna’s face fell.
“Your daughter is stronger than you think Akunna. Give her the benefit of a doubt in this” Adankwo turned to Anaborhi. “Go downstairs. Aruegodore should be waiting for you by now”
“How do you know?” Anaborhi asked. She watched the woman smile and then gestured for her to leave. She was being shooed away. Standing up, she curtsied and headed towards the door where she lingered for a few seconds, turning to look back at them, before opening it and walking out.
“Do you think there is hope Dada?” Akunna asked.
“One of two things is certain in matters like this” Adankwo said “It is either Anaborhi meets Apunanwu, successfully appeals to her for mercy and get the curse lifted or Apunanwu refused to show herself and the curse remains”
“I prefer it to be the former, Dada,” Akunna said as a tear escaped her eye and ran down her cheek. Adankwo smiled.
“Faith is the only thing you and I can have now,” she said “Pray is the only thing we can do”
Akunna clasped her hands as she looked out the window hopefully and longingly.
Downstairs Anaborhi met her uncle by the car. He smiled as she approached and she smiled back.
“I do not know how she did it,” she said as she came to stand in front of him.
“She has a way with predictions. However, she had already told me yesterday that I should be ready by 1 pm so I have been waiting for like 1 hour”
Anaborhi smiled “So how far is Arorisa?”
“An hour’s drive” He answered opening the door for her. Hesitating for a few seconds, she got in and he closed the door. In minutes, they were on the highway and Anaborhi took in the sights of the hilly town. They drove in silence before Anaborhi spoke up.
“How come you have stayed away from the curse?”
Aruegodore smiled “Tsohuwa Dada has been helpful in many ways. She has kept it at bay, for most of the time” he said as he signaled a left turn.
“For most of the time?” Anaborhi asked. He nodded and she watched as sadness filled his features.
“My fiancé bore the brunt of my last outburst and since then I have stayed away from relationships. That way I knew I could stay sane enough to play my role in what she told me was to happen.”
“She told you about today?” Anaborhi asked puzzled.
“She told me that a day was coming when the hope of my family line would come home. She said that when she does, that we are either close to redemption or drifting further and further away from freedom” Aruegodore glanced at her, smiling.
“No pressure then,” Anaborhi said sighing deeply. Aruegodore laughed lightly.
“Don’t worry darling. The fate of the world does not really lie on your shoulders”
“It feels like it does at this point,” Anaborhi said sadly. Aruegodore did not say another word as he turned onto a dirt road and into a rural area.
“We are here,” he said as they drove up to a bamboo gate in front of which an old man sat.
As they approached, the man looked up and smiled.
“Two visits in a week, Aruegodore.” He said as he looked towards Anaborhi “And is this she, your niece?”
Aruegodore nodded and introduced Anaborhi.
“The one who seeks the audience of Apunanwu, daughter of the old god”
“You know of her?” Anaborhi asked.
“I may not be as old as Dada, but I am old enough to know of the legends and your family history,” the old man said as got to his feet and opened the gate. He stepped aside allowing her pas through.
“You are on your own from this point onward. The seer is waiting”
Anaborhi walked in following the path until she could not see the gate when she looked back. She heard the sound of rushing water to her left and followed the steps carved out of the clay soil, descending into a mini bamboo forest beside a fast flowing river. She looked around, at a loss on where to go or what to do next. To her left, she saw what appeared to be a clearing in the distance and approached it.
There was a white cloth laid out in the clearing close to a cluster of bamboo trees.
“Sit. The bottle of water is for you” a voice said softly, startling her. Anaborhi looked around in panic before finally catching sight of a woman dressed in white and half hidden by the cluster of trees.
“Are you the seer?” Anaborhi asked. She heard a light laugh.
“You refuse my offer and expect me to answer your question?” the woman said revealing herself. She was a little taller than Anaborhi, slender and beautiful as her natural hair fell to her shoulders but seemed longer. “That is not polite” the woman added.
Anaborhi smiled and approached the cloth. Kneeling she found the softness of the material pleasant on her skin. As she sat, she picked up the bottle of water and sipped the content.
“Now that was not so bad,” the lady said as she walked up to her and sat opposite her “For a moment I was beginning to wonder if Akunna raised you to be unfriendly”
“How do you know my mother’s name?” Anaborhi asked startled. The lady smiled.
“I know a lot about you too Anaborhi,” The lady said smiling. “I have lived long enough to see many births and many deaths” she added smiling sadly. “Several lifetimes”
Anaborhi frowned “Are you saying you are immortal?” she asked.
“In a way I am but not in the manner that you think.” The woman tilted her head to the side “I die when I am old enough but then I am reborn”
“How is that even possible?” Anaborhi asked.
“The same way a curse placed on one selfish individual can ruin the lives of generations after her.” The woman said. “Funny how that was the part of the curse everyone remembers”
“Is there another part to the curse?” Anaborhi said worriedly. The last thing she wanted to hear is that there was an extension or additional clause to the curse.
The woman smiled “She did not go scot-free either. She was cursed to watch it all play out on her descendants, generation after generation. She would die one night only to return in the morning because she was to never live it down”
Anaborhi straightened as the realization started to dawn on her. The woman, seeing her reaction, smiled.
“Akuada was cursed to watch her children descend into madness in their prime. She was never to die, always to reawaken, younger and eventually having to live out her life as a recluse” The woman said as her face fell “I have lived many years and driven to near madness as I watched my children generation after generation reap where I sowed”
Anaborhi grew angry “You are Akuada”
“In the flesh” The woman answered.
“You are the wicked woman who caused all this” Anaborhi said
Akuada took in her descendant’s hatred and anger “I am the very same and you, Anaborhi, are the one to save us all”
To be continued……