The walk down the path to the river seemed like a long one. She thought of all Akuada had said word for word, over and over again in her head alongside the thought of an actual living ancestor continued to marvel her, talk more of her being the very reason behind the curse that plagued her family.
She paused when she got to the river, reveling in the beauty of her surroundings yet realizing how lonely and isolated the place was as well as how much more it would have been in the era when Apunanwu would have been banished there. Sighing deeply, she shut her eyes before taking a deep breath and walked to the bank of the river.
Standing there, she looked around remembering Akuada’s words about letting her heart tell her where to place her offerings. She walked down the riverbank a little and when she came to a clearing she felt her heart skip.
“It’s here,” she said to herself. She looked around, used her foot to gather up some dry leaves and then placed the items out separately taking a little extra care on the shawl. Then, she sat down on a rock to the side and then shut her eyes.
“Ok, so I have to appeal to you with a genuine heart” she muttered. Taking deep breaths, she opened her eyes and looked skyward.
“I am not exactly your descendant and I know that my ancestor was a very horrible person to you but we have suffered for something that is long forgotten in our history. I had to travel far to find out that a great, erm, injustice was done to you so I am here to beg. I met a really lovely man who I now know is going to suffer greatly for something even he doesn’t know about.” She paused as tears welled up in her eyes and she put a hand on her belly.
“He is destined for something awful if he marries me and even for the fact that I am pregnant with his child.” Letting the tears fall, she shut her eyes “It has gone on for so long, too long. They said you were kind and good to people. What was done to you was wrong but we have suffered enough. Please. Please, please rescind your curse. Allow My child to grow with his or her father. Allow my father to regain his senses, I miss him so much”
“Take this away from us, please. Please” she points down the path she had come through “She is there, the one who caused all this. You cursed her too and it is fair” she paused and shook her head “But then again, after so many years, so many generations, she too has suffered enough”. She looked around, listening to the birds in the trees above her and for a second, she allowed herself to get lost in their song.
“You should forgive us all,” she said softly. “You just have to. Please”. Anaborhi said, burying her face in her hands and allowing her sorrow to overcome her and giving in to her tears. As the tension of the past two days eased off her, she became aware that the birds had falling silent and that the river had quietened as well. She opened her eyes and looked up to see that someone was seated on a rock behind where she had laid out her offerings. She also noticed that they were not there any longer.
“A person’s name does indeed reflect the person’s personality,” The woman in white said smiling. The beads were around her neck and the shawl was laid out on her lap. The gourd was on the ground beside her.
Anaborhi started getting to her feet when the woman gestured that she stay seated.
“Are you..?” she started to ask when the smiling woman straightened her back and leaned on the tree behind her.
“I am the one you seek. My name is Apunanwu and you are Anaborhi, the descendant of Akuada, my once renowned foe”
Anaborhi shivered as she spoke and hung her head in a bid to avoid her gaze.
“It is not you who is my foe and it is sad that you are of her line but I am glad that you are the one that is here today. It had to be you” Apunanwu said in a soft voice. She watched as the young girl in front of her raised her head slowly. Her brown eyes made Apunanwu smile.
“How so?” she asked.
“Do you know what your name means?” Apunanwu asked. Anaborhi shook her head.
“One born with a good destiny,” Apunanwu said as she stroked the shawl on her lap. “You are one with the destiny to break the curse and here you are. I have been expecting you”
“You have?” Anaborhi said with a broad smile. Apunanwu nodded. “So does it mean that it’s broken?” she asked eagerly.
“It is not that easy. The past is already set in stone.” Anaborhi’s shoulders fell as the reality of her words hit her hard.
“So my father will never recover?”
“For all those in your family already affected by the curse, it may be too late;” Apunanwu said “Except a price is paid”
“Are you willing to sacrifice something that is dear to you?”
“What would I be required to sacrifice?”
“What will be taken is not what you will offer.” Apunanwu said “What will be required of you is something that is extremely valuable to you and you will not know it till it is time”
“No matter what it is? I will not be given prior knowledge?”
“No,” Apunanwu said shaking her head. “You only need to agree. So decide. You can choose to accept that you and those born after you will no longer be affected by the curse. Free of everything” she paused to sip from the contents of the gourd “Or, in a bid to rid it from all your family entirely, you accept to sacrifice what you love the most”
Anaborhi sighed deeply. Apunanwu watched her sister in law’s descendant ponder on the choice to be made. She wondered if the present day generation was capable of such a high level of selflessness. She knew what she had felt when Anaborhi reached out to her and she knew she only needed to be patient.
“If I agree, everyone including my parents, uncle Aruegodore and my aunties, everyone will be free? They will have another chance at living?” Anaborhi asked with a shaky voice.
“Yes,” Apunanwu said. She watched as Anaborhi nodded and tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Then so shall it be,” Apunanwu said smiling softly. “You are special Anaborhi, strong-willed and selfless. The curse is no more, child. You all are free”
To be continued….