#11: OF GOOD DESTINY BY TAJMAO

 

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Her walk back down the path was harder than when she had been heading the other way a few hours before. It was odd that they had spent hours in each other’s company and it felt like mere minutes. Not much had been said but Anaborhi felt Apunanwu’s sadness without the need for words. Soon she was back at the clearing and standing over the white cloth that she and Akuada had sat earlier.

Akuada was nowhere around. Anaborhi looked around and sighed. She didn’t have the will to start looking for any one.

“Akuada, I am back. You can come out now” she called out and waited. The only answer she got was from the birds in the trees and sky above. She looked around and sighed deeply again. Then something caught her eye. She walked back to the sheet and bent down to pick up the white dress she had not observed before. It was the same one that Akuada had been wearing. Her absence and the presence of the dress made things clear to her.

The curse was broken. Akuada was free. She was gone. Finally free of her curse. Anaborhi sat down and smiled. Despite her anger towards her ancestor, she was glad she was free. Looking up, she shut her eves and let out a long breath. Then she heard it, on the wind around her. First it was a warm, Akuada’s presence which made her look around. Then it was her voice carried on the same wind.

Thank you, Anaborhi.

Her eyes brimmed with tears, filling her with joy and sadness at the same time. Getting to her feet, she thought of what to do with the dress and then, having decided, wrapped it up in the white cloth. She turned and started walking down the path back up to the main entrance. There she met the old man who, seeing her with the cloth, nodded slowly.

“It is all done now.” He said as he got to his feet and started walking away slowly with the aid of his cane.

“Are you some ancestor as well?” Anaborhi asked. “An uncle, Akuada’s son? One of Apunanwu’s other children?”

The man laughed but did not stop walking. “I am nothing of the sort child. I am however happy that all this is over and my watch is done”

Anaborhi did not understand his words but had no strength to ask any further questions. She continued up the slope, getting further and further away from the gates she had just passed and as she turned a corner Aruegodore came into her line of sight. He sat in the car and was busy fiddling with his phone. Anaborhi smiled, happy that at least she was certain that her uncle would finally be able to live a good life. She stopped and thought of her brother as well and of her aunts before finally thinking of her parents.

“Anaborhi, are you ok?” Aruegodore asked. He had looked up from his phone to see his niece standing there as though in shock. “Did something happen?”  He got down from the car and walked towards her concerned.

“A lot happened” Anaborhi said as she finally started walking towards him. Meeting him half way she fell into his embrace. After a few seconds, he pulled her away from him and held her there, staring into her eyes.

“What happened? Are you ok? Were you hurt?” he asked in quick succession “Who did you see?”

“I will tell you everything before we get back to the house. But in summary uncle, the curse is gone, free” she said. Her voice seemed to betray the joy she was trying to portray because Aruegodore did not seem to believe her in entirety.

“At what price?” he asked. She shook her head and freed herself from his grip. The question caused a shiver down her spine and when she got to the car she looked down at the bundle she was holding and started to shake her head.

“I don’t know” she said.

Aruegodore shook his head. He leaned on the car and sighed deeply

“So how do you know for sure that the curse is broken?” he asked in anticipation.

“I met our ancestor, uncle. Akuada, the source of all of this trouble”

“No way. Are you serious?!”

“Yes uncle and I also met Apunanwu, she who laid the curse in the first place”

“Well, you do have a lot to share.”Aruegodore said smiling “Get in, let’s get back to Barwi before it gets too dark”

The drive back was a quiet one. Aruegodore glanced repeatedly at his niece either smiling or frowning. He had more than a dozen questions for her but he did his best to not say anything. In 45 minutes they were back at Barwi and driving into the compound.

“Maybe I should just head to my room and sleep.” Anaborhi said. A few seconds passed and neither of them moved from the car.

“I do not know what the price you will have to pay is but I am grateful. Your singular action has saved us all.” Aruegodore said and when Anaborhi turned to look at him she found him crying. Anaborhi nodded and at the same time both of them stepped out of the car and into the house.

Upstairs they met Akunna and Adankwo having dinner in the old woman’s room. Adankwo  had requested that a part of the room be cleared so both of them could sit and wait for Anaborhi together. Adankwo did not want Akunna to wait alone and so they had eaten together till Aruegodore and Anaborhi walked through the door.

“Welcome back” Adankwo said. She had seen them first because Akunna’s back was turned to the door and as she greeted, Akunna turned quickly, almost toppling off the chair where she sat. Rushing to her feet, she embraced her daughter tightly allowing the fear she had been holding in to seep away, grateful for her safe return.

“I was so worried about you” Akunna said when they finally drew apart and stood staring at each other. She had a smile on her face as she looked Anaborhi over and by the time her eyes drifted over to Aruegodore the fear returned. His bloodshot eyes brought the worry right back.

“What happened?” Akunna asked “Are you ok?” she said turning to her daughter and then back to her brother “Aruegodore why are your eyes red?” She was starting to shake now and Anaborhi held on to her mother.

“Nothing is wrong mum. Everything is fine I promise” she started to say in a bid to calm her down.

“Then why is he crying?”

“Because the curse has been broken” Aruegodore said where he stood still in shock at the reality of what he was saying. He turned from his sister to Adankwo. He ran up to her and knelt beside her chair. Taking her hands in his, he repeated the words louder “She did it; she lifted the curse Tsohuwa Dada. We are free”

Akunna shook her head and turned back to face her daughter “Is this true?” she asked as tears threatened to fall. Anaborhi nodded and guided her mother over to a couch where they sat.

“I first met Akuada and she told me most of what Tsohuwa Dada said and more. She mentioned her own curse. She had been alive since that time, cursed to watch the fate of her descendants play out back to back.”

“By the gods! She has been alive for so long. How awful that must have been” Akunna said.

“She gave me three items to present to Apunanwu by the river where she had her baby.” Anaborhi continued.

“Wait” Adankwo said “Are you saying that you met Apunanwu as well?”

“Yes. I took the items,” Anaborhi said, and started counting off her fingers “A gourd of palm wine, white beads signifying marriage and a white baby shawl” she looked up at Adankwo, “I placed them in a clearing by the river, said a prayer and waited. She came to me”

Aruegodore, now seated on the ground beside the woman and still holding her hand, looked up at her “What was she like?”

“Beautiful and sad. She listened to me and then said it was ok but only for me and those that would come after. Nothing for anyone that the curse already took effect on”

“And you could not let it be? You asked for more didn’t you?” her mother asked grasping her hands tighter. Anaborhi nodded.

“You, my father, aunty Akpobome and Ahunna, uncle Aruegodore” Anaborhi said pointing at him where he sat “I couldn’t let you all just continue like this. If it was a clean slate that it should be out rightly clean”

“Child, curses lifted for generations unborn is the easiest. For those past affected, it will come at a cost. A sacrifice to be taken and not given” Adankwo said leaning forward “Did you accept this?”

“Yes I did. If it must be lifted then it should be lifted for all” Anaborhi said. “Everyone should have the chance to pick up the pieces of their lives from where the curse left off”

“So I am free to marry and have children?” Aruegodore asked. More tears streamed down his cheeks when he saw Anaborhi nod.

“Everyone is free to live now” Anaborhi said.

“But at what expense Anaborhi?” Akunna asked “What price have you paid for the freedom of everyone else?”

To be continued….

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#10: OF GOOD DESTINY BY TAJMAO

 

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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”

“A price?”

“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.

“I accept.”

“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….

#9: OF GOOD DESTINY BY TAJMAO

 

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Akuada watched Anaborhi for a while as she sat still staring at her. She tried to maintain a smile as much as she could even though her heart was thumping hard and fast. She had waited so long for this and was terrified that the girl’s hatred would cloud her mind and hinder her from doing what was needed to break the curse and set them all free.

“How did you come to be here?” Anaborhi finally asked. It was obvious she was holding herself back from what she really wanted to say.

“In the years after the initial incident things were not clear. We were at a loss as to what exactly was happening and not one dibia seemed to know what to tell us” Akuada said.

“Tsohuwa Dada told us that your husband traveled in order to get to the root of the problem.”

“Yes, he was the one that found out what was happening but even he was unaware of mine. It was not until much after, in my old age that I came to fully understand. You see I died one night, while it was raining heavily and by morning I was in flesh again, but I awoke in the forest. When I returned to the village I found out that my grandchildren had dumped me there, unworthy of a proper burial”

“I am guessing that they did not take your rebirth lightly?” Anaborhi said

“No one knew and I did not tell them. I acted as a newcomer, a traveler, and blended into the village eventually marrying but unable to bear children. I was to just watch then as our paths would always cross and I thought I was never going to live it down, till now”

“I am here to break the curse on my family and not the one on you. You can continue to live in it for all I care” Anaborhi said

“I do not doubt your words or intentions and yes I want that. I, however, do not doubt that you would also not be helping me with my predicament when you meet with her”

“Do you know how to summon her?”Anaborhi said eager to divert attention from the woman in front of her at that moment “Is there a rite or sacrifice or something I am to chant?”

Akuada turned to her side and lifted the edge of the cloth that they were sitting on. She retrieved what was there and placed it in the space between them.

“After years of being alone and watching my children’s children run mad and die, I withdrew here.” She said gesturing at the surrounding forest. “I sought her face and cried many nights for her mercy. She did not respond. I met her father one night though, by the river down the way and he laughed at me.” Anaborhi watched her wipe a stray tear that had escaped down her cheek.

“What was he like?” she asked as she looked down and wondered what was wrapped in the bag in front of her.

“For a minor god, he was only of average height. Eyes some sort of grey, very even teeth and bald. His black skin glistened in the moonlight as though something was rubbed on. And he laughed at me while he drank from a container.”

She unwrapped the bag and revealed its contents as she continued to speak

“He said she was angry and her anger was just like his, fiery and vengeful. He said she was even merciful because he would have done worse to me” she paused to lay out the contents of the bag. “He said he would tell me one thing, that she must be appeased by what she liked” she placed a gourd down “What she lost” she placed a white baby shawl beside the gourd, “and what she longed for” she placed white beads down beside the other items.

“What’s in the gourd? Anaborhi asked.

“Palm wine” Akuada smiled when the expected expression of surprise filled Anaborhi’s face. “Her father was the minor god of alcohol and his particular drink was palm wine. She took after him in that regard.”

Anaborhi nodded and pointed at the lace “What are the beads for?” she asked. Akuada’s face fell.

“In our tradition, a married woman is recognized in the community by her white beads. Recognized and respected.  These are her beads, ripped off her by my brother when she was carried away into banishment.” She paused, picking up the beads and shaking her head.

“I gathered up the beads because I wanted to keep them as my victory trophies but after I met him that night I realized that they were of more significance”

“Is the shawl from her child? The one that died?” Anaborhi frowned “The one you killed?”

“I did not kill any child. I swapped the baby with one from the slaves. She had come to tell me that her baby had died from a fever and that was when the idea came to me. So I had her take Apunanwu’s baby and drop her dead baby in its place.” She said, closing her eyes as regret flooded her body once again. The same regret she had been living with for centuries.

“So what happened to the baby?” Anaborhi asked.

“I wish I knew. After the whole thing, I had asked my brother to send the slaves away as they were her slaves and did not want my friend, his new wife, to be stuck with anyone loyal to Apunanwu” she stopped and returned the beads, placing them on the shawl. She ran her hand over the shawl slowly.

“The slaves were let go. I don’t know if sold off or freed but I searched for him with my brother, and he died a sorrowful man. I continued to search after he was dead. I searched to no avail although I did not and have not stopped”

Anaborhi shook her head “So what do I do now?”

Akuada pointed down the path behind her. One that Anaborhi WAS sure was not there a few minutes before

“The path will take you straight to the groove, beside the river. There you are to lay them out where your heart says you should. Then you call on her. You must appeal to her with a genuine heart”

“And then?”

“And then, Anaborhi, you wait. You must wait”

To be continued….

#8: OF GOOD DESTINY by Tajmao

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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……

#7: OF GOOD DESTINY BY TAJMAO

 

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Breakfast was served in a large dining area and the spread afforded mother and daughter more than enough to fill themselves up with. They had been woken up at 7.30am by a maidservant who barely said a word, and had not set eyes on Aruegodore at all.

“So do we go knock on her door?” Anaborhi asked. Akunna shook her head.

“I am sure that she will call for us when she is ready,” Her mother said as she stirred her tea. The silence that descended was thick.

“So this is over 300 years old,” Anaborhi said “I cannot even start to imagine how many generations have gone through this because of the selfish and wicked act of one person”

Akunna smiled sadly “The action of one person has a ripple effect. Even the bible is known to say something about the sins of the father’s being visited upon the sons”

“You read the bible?” Anaborhi asked as she has never heard her mother use any religious reference at any time.

“In my years of trying to find out what was happening, I tried many options. Only one pastor in Osun mentioned that I could be a part of a deep-seated generational curse. By the time he listed the items needed, I ran. I could not afford it and I never went back” Akunna said as her eyes filled with tears.

“You tried and I respect you for that. We are here now and since we have confirmed that it is a generational curse, we just need to find out more and hope that the story comes with a very detailed instructional manual on how to get solved, once and for all”

Akunna looked up at her daughter and smiled “I hope so too”

They soon realized they were no longer alone when the maid that had woken them up stood at the door.

“Tsohuwa Dada will see you now” she announced before turning to leave.

Anaborhi and her mother stood up to leave but not without first gathering a few items to take with them. Back in Adankwo’s room, they noticed a difference in the atmosphere. The sun was peering in with full force and the woman was seated in a wider rocking chair closer to the balcony.

Anaborhi took in the woman’s frame as she approached the chair, in awe of the fact that despite how old she knew the woman to be, she did not look over 90.

“It is rude to stare young lady,” Adankwo said smiling. Akunna had already taken one of the two cushioned cane chairs opposite her great grandmother and was shaking her head as she listened to their exchange.

“I am sorry. You look good for your age and your floral dress, its beautiful” Anaborhi said as she sat down, placing the food and drink in her arms on the table next to her chair just as her mother had done on the other side.

“You are making an old woman blush like a teenager but thank you for the kind words. I am flattered my darling. I trust you had a good night’s rest?” Adankwo asked.

“Well rested. This place is just as calm and peaceful as I remembered” Akunna said as Anaborhi nodded beside her.

“And the breakfast this morning was grand. Hope you have had yours?”

“Oh yes, as early as 7 am.” Adankwo said still smiling and pointing to a table behind them that held the remains of a meal. “I asked them to leave what remained in case you wanted to eat more while we talked. But I can see that you came prepared already”

“It won’t go to waste. We will still indulge in the meal before lunch.” Anaborhi said with a glint in her eye. She never bothered to hide the fact that she was a foodie and Adankwo beamed ear to ear at the realization of that fact. Anaborhi watched in awe again at the fact that the woman’s dentition was intact. The woman right in front of them was obviously in good shape.

“Now, let us continue,” Adankwo said.

“Yes but I have a question. You said that Apunanwu alleged that the child was not hers. Did anyone bother to check her claim at all?”

“A dead child was buried very quickly back then and the circumstances of death made it even more urgent. Mama said the child’s body was whisked away very quickly and there was no reason for anyone to be suspicious. Akuada covered her tracks well enough and achieved her aim. No one thought about Apunanwu until when issues started to surface.

Many years later, Akuada’s first son was getting married. Mama said that it was a beautiful ceremony and that the new wife Adaku was a beautiful and pleasant young girl that everyone liked and loved. So when the boy started to act funny and eventually run mad, it was heart-wrenching. In no time, the other boy got married and the same thing happened. When the last child, a girl got married, her husband went mad as well. Her husband visited the village dibia and his wife’s can of worms opened up”

Anaborhi was shaking her head “No no no. That would have been decades after Apunanwu was chased away. No one suspected or investigated anything before then?” she asked distraught.

“No one had any reason to suspect anyone. Over time, Akuada had changed. She became warmer and kinder even to Apunanwu’s two children that her best friend was raising as hers. Her brother’s second wife could however not have any more children of her own after losing one to a fever. By the time her husband returned from the dibia, things changed. Achojah came back angry and requested an audience with the King.

Mama said that she had never seen the man raise his voice but at the meeting, he was shaking and shouting. The dibia had told him that his wife had offended the child of a god, even though it was a minor one. That a curse had been placed on his children because of her actions and that it would not go away. They pressed Akuada for the truth and after a few denials, the confession started. My grandmother said that Ataikiru was a broken man as he listened to the confession of his sister and that his wife, his sister’s best friend threw herself on the ground, at the mercy of the king yelling that she had nothing to do with her actions. Achojah did the same, lamenting that his entire life was in a mess because of her actions.”

Adankwo smiled sadly at Anaborhi before she continued “The King asked Akuada where the child she stole was and who’s the dead child that was placed beside Apunanwu belonged to. Her answer was that the dead child was that of a slave and that they simply swapped babies. When asked what happened to the real child, she broke down in tears that the boy had died and that she started to regret her actions from that point onward. She had tried to save the child and failed.

“Mama said that the King and elders became worried that the same curse was upon them all because of their roles in the Apunanwu’s exile. They summoned the dibia who confirmed what Achojah had told them stating that Apunanwu was indeed the daughter of a minor god and a priestess with whom he had fallen in love. He went ahead to state that she had laid the curse as she delivered her child in the forest and at some point had been taken by her father”

“Taken by her father?” Anaborhi asked looking over at her mother in confusion.

“If her father was a minor god, it is safe to believe that at some point in her misery he came for her and took her away,” Akunna said. Adankwo nodded.

“Yes. Sadly in all our research, we could not find the name of the god as it must have faded with lost bits of our culture. Asaroyoma and I did visit the dibia’s descendant who asked that several rites be performed to break the curse” Adankwo hung her head and then started to cry.

“What? What happened?” Anaborhi asked as her mother went on her knees beside the woman, taking her hands in hers.

“Asaroyoma died at childbirth and her husband followed soon after. His sanity faded much faster after her death as he could not cope much longer afterward.” The woman sighed sadly turning to look down at Akunna.

“You both are descended from Akuada’s line and bound to live the curse until it is broken or your line dies out. Seeing that your lineage fading out may never happen, the only hope is to break the curse” She reached for the folder on the table on her other side, handing it over to Anaborhi.

“The minute you stepped in yesterday night I saw you as a reincarnate of my sister come to complete what she started. You may be the only hope of your lineage Anaborhi. It may just end with you.”

Anaborhi collected the file with shaky hands and sighed deeply. Flipping the file open, she took in the long list of ritual items needed. “Where is Arorisa?” She asked.

“Risa is a river to the north. Arorisa is the sacred grove of the river, it is where Apunanwu is believed to have given birth and also where her father is thought to have taken her” Adankwo said as she silently asked Akunna to return to her seat.

“And no one knows what happened to the child?” Akunna asked as she dusted off her knees and sat back down “Can’t believe that the child would have been left by a river by her mother and the god”

“No one knows. The dibia could not give us any information on what happened to the child. All he told us was that she gave birth to a son” Adankwo said softly. The woman watched Anaborhi take in the contents of the file and her heart skipped. She was worried for the young girl yet hopeful that there was a chance that in her lifetime she would see the curse broken finally.

 

To be continued….