Anaborhi sat down beside her mother and turned to face Akunna, and waited.
“When I was dating your father I was full of hope and love. Excited at the prospect of marriage, I dived in on the preparations. Mama was seriously trying to get my attention and I turned a deaf eye as well as ear” Akunna said hanging her head. She took a deep breath before continuing
“When the day drew close, I finally sat down long enough for her to tell me that my marriage was doomed from the start. That the moment that he and I exchanged the vows, his sanity will start to diminish for that was the curse on all males in our family”
“But doesn’t that mean that the curse is on those that are of our blood? Akin is not of our blood, in no way is he related to any of us so how can the curse affect him?”Anaborhi asked anxiously.
“The fact that he is married to you and you lay with him, he becomes one of us by right of what is called a ‘melding'” Akunna explained
“Is that why your younger sister refused to marry traditionally?” Anaborhi asked. She watches as her mother nodded in response.
“Hers is truly the only true success story for us all. She realized on time that no traditional rites should be performed and when they decided to give it a try, he agreed and they have been together since then. Over 10 years now”
“And the curse? Who laid it? What is the source and mummy why something so awful?” Anaborhi asked.
“I do not know. When everything started to unravel I realized I had to concentrate solely on ensuring that your kids lived as much of a normal life as possible”
“Aren’t you the least bit curious as to the origin?”
Akunna paused and stared at her first born for a few seconds.
“You would have to go looking for our Tsohuwa Dada,” She said bringing out her phone and flipping to the gallery for Anaborhi to view the picture of an old woman who must have been a rare beauty in her prime. “She is the oldest in the family and is even rumored to have some sort of mystical powers”
“Have you ever met her?” Her daughter asked.
“Not really. She came around when mother died and we met briefly when prayers were said at her burial, but I didn’t wait after the ceremony” Akunna turned to her daughter with tear filled eyes “Your father and I eloped that night. We forfeited any and everything we could have learned for love.”
“But your sister, Ahunna did?”Anaborhi asked, “Was that how she found a way around it all?”
Akunna nodded sadly “Though I do not know how much better she has fared in all this time, we are not that close. But yes, it would seem that she listened to some advice and her partner remains unaffected”
“And where is she? Our Tsohuwa Dada?” Anaborhi said looking down at the phone again and smiling slightly.
“I would assume she would be in Barwi where we are from. You may want to ask around. Maybe from Ahunna” AKunna said sadly.
Anaborhi could not really remember her aunt but had looked forward to the cheques that came in the mail on her birthdays until they had stopped. Now she suspected that the tension that ran deep in her family was from this festering wound that had refused to heal. Fear gripped her at the realization that she too could become lost in the pending avalanche of discovery that she was sure awaited her.
Not to be deterred, she left the room and approached her aunt Akpobome who she met sitting in the balcony staring at a bee hovering over the flowers that beautified the hedge in front of the veranda. She sat by her for a few seconds, joining her in staring at the bee.
“I want to so see Tsohuwa Dada” She started. Beside her, she felt her aunt shiver.
“What about?” She asked under her breath.
“The Curse. I need to understand, I need to know”
“Are you ready? Are you prepared for what you will find?”
“I do not know what to expect” Anaborhi turned to look at her aunt “I came to ask if you could take me to see Aunt Ahunna”
Her breath hitched “Did your mother mention her?” From the corner of her eye, she saw her niece nod yet did not turn to her
“She said she must have spoken to Tsohuwa Dada and found a way to avoid the curse. She remains with her partner and her children are with her”
Anaborhi froze when Akpobome turned to face her with eyes brimmed with tears and a face filled with sorrow
“There is no way to avoid the evil thing,” Akpobome said as the tears she had held back flowed freely. Anaborhi frowned in confusion.
“How do you mean aunty? Mummy said she is happy, that she lives a fairly good life”
“Akunna does not know my darling. Your mother is oblivious to the fact. Ahunna’s husband died, Anaborhi. There is no avoiding the curse. It claims them all in the end” she said, turning back to the bee hovering over the flowers as both women sat in silence. The irony-filled Anaborhi with sadness. The insect as the only free one in their gathering
To be continued….