“I trust my brother!” Ijeoma said boastfully.
“Obinna! Drink it! Drink it and shame these people!” Ijeoma encouraged me.
I had nothing to fear.
No secrets to hide.
So I drank…
The place was suddenly quiet. I was in a thick bush, none like I had ever seen before. The moon was barely out. How was I supposed to find my way? Where was I and what was I doing here? I heard voices but I saw no one. I tried to toughen up as a man but I knew not what would befall me. Using the side of my right foot to pave way in the dark, I heard a sharp cry from afar. I was startled. Was that human?! What would anyone be doing here? As I pondered in fear, the question, “What would anyone be doing here?” stuck in my throat like a fish-bone. What wouldn’t anyone be doing here? I asked rhetorically. I hadn’t even explained what I was doing here myself.
Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee…
I heard that sharp cry again, this time, few steps away. Turning to my right, I saw Adaobi in a pool of her own blood. I had screamed out loud her name before I realized she had been gesturing to me to be quiet. Seeing that I had yelled her name, she gave a loud cry and started to walk away. I was confused and kept on screaming her name.
I tried to run after her but my legs were weak. I could hear voices again now. Extremely angry voices.
“So you killed that innocent girl!”
“I am disappointed!”
“Tufiakwa! This is an abomination! Amadioha must punish you”
My vision was becoming clearer again and I could tell I was in front of the shrine. Ah yes! I just took an oath so that the murderer of Adaobi would be revealed. She was a sweet girl, one I was hoping to get married to.
Why were people cursing me?
“God will punish you Obinna! May the spirit of my daughter deal with you!” Ada’s mother said to me as she wept.
What was happening? Why was I on the ground?
I turned to my left and saw Ijeoma’s beautiful toenails. I could never mistake her toenails for any other in the world. I hoped in my heart that if I looked at her face, I would find some reasonable answers or better still explanations. Gathering up energy to look at Ijeoma’s face…
I saw in slow motion how the thick saliva left Ijeoma’s lips. I never imagined how it would score a “three pointer” in my right eye. I shut my eyes in disgust but that was just the beginning.
“What a disgrace!”
“You deceived that innocent girl”
More saliva rained on me. At a point I could see people purposely drag spittle from the depths of their throats; even Papa Chukwudi spat at me through his rotten teeth. That I was being dragged about the village square, seemed fairer than wiping saliva off my face from mouths with bad odor. I felt like I was in a pit latrine with maggots climbing the walls.
A NIGHT BEFORE
“Agwu you have to help me! Anything you need” Chike said pleadingly to the oracle.
“Hmmmmm do you know what you are asking of me? To blame an innocent man for your sin?” Agwu asked, alarmed.
“I know… but… but I can’t bear the humiliation. I can’t!” Chike pleaded.
“Alright” Agwu said calmly,
“I’ll make sure you take the oath first. Whatever you do, be sure not to call her name”“Call whose name?” Chike asked
“The woman you killed of course!” Agwu said without any emotion.
“But beware! The aftermath of this is terrible” Agwu warned, pointing his bony finger between Chike’s eyes.
“You better pray the villagers don’t request for his head or you are doomed!”Agwu concluded as he hit his sacred staff on the earth and slowly walked into the dead of the night.