He walked through the pathway like a grasscutter as he made his way through the bushes. His face as that of a man who had just wrestled with a lion, as he grunted his own misery. He wore the once beautiful and priceless hat which he inherited from his father and now had become torn and tattered – it happened to be the only gift he could inherit from his father before the gods took his life away. He was that proverbial prodigal son, he spent little time with his father and he felt great regret for this. Deep in thought, he picked up a muddy pebble from the sandy ground and threw at a palm-kernel tree, after a time, having had not much success, he gave up and walked on. He had ended up his life this way – as a nonentity and worthless fellow who went hungry always. But the god of luck seemed to smile upon him for he caught sight of an apple tree in that instant. “such is the wonderful works of the gods,” he thought to himself, “they work wonders.” He chewed and bit with such fervor that he failed to notice a passing shadow. For a moment he felt something but decided to shrug it off. “Its just the wind” he muttered.
And that was only a part of his ill reward in this poor village. A village filled with fear and misery. They lived their lives under a certain fear; Fear of the gods and fear of the unknown. But what’s more – they lived in misery and poverty but hoped that one day, their prayers be answered. The name of this village is Umali! They called it the land of milk and honey. According to the elders of the land, it was the land were creation started from, It was the mystery land nobody knew about or would prefer not to talk about, It was the paradise valley which their forefathers tread.
But it seemed ironical. Almost seemed like a false claim. Umali was more of a land of sour, the inhabitants lacked a great deal and had one of deadliest of people, Justice waited in the hands of the unknown and this wasn’t something they feigned upon. The problem was that, like a little child who can’t tell right from wrong, they had trespassed. They overused their privileges and had to suffer for it. But here comes both the thrilling horror and mystery,the secrets of the gods lies in the hands of the inhabitants themselves. The puzzle can only be solved by them and yes! By them alone for the gods lives amongst them and not as a god but as a common villager.
But here was this commoner. This drifter walking past a corner of the street and pondering upon what might be his portion in this unfair world.
Revenge had always been the anthem of the gods in the land and he only wished this whole thing stopped. He had once vowed that if anyone should know the secret of the evil befalling the land of Umali, he personally would get such a person killed. That claim didn’t mean much at the moment – he hardly even could provide a single meal for himself.
His name was Ebuka, no one knew his surname, and no one cared for he was just another nonentity anyway. They referred to him as that vagabond for he engaged in the major village crimes, even the law got weary of him and left him alone.
Ebuka walked towards a place called shrine. A shrine as it is called in some parts of Africa could mean a place where varieties of alcoholic drinks and marijuana is being consumed on a grand scale and without worries of the law’s intervention. But as the careless man passed by, he didn’t notice the caretaker of the shrine; a tall, strongly built Igbo man of around forty, bald headed, with a face that was good natured on the whole, but that showed signs of strong determination and no weakness. His name was Odumegwu, and he was a man worthy to be feared in the city.
Chief Odumegwu stood with his hands on his chin, watching the careless man pityingly, “Nwoke a na-ara ara (this mad man),” he said, shook his head and turned back – He then turned suddenly back again. There was something about this man that caught his attention;
“Hey Ebuka” cried Odumegwu wavering his hands as he immediately recognized the moving figure.
Ebuka stopped dead in his track and turned back with sudden recognition. “Wow Odumegwu,” he cried excitedly as the two men hugged, “I can tell from the look on your face that you haven’t changed a bit , but I promise you that age would begin to tell on you very soon.” said Ebuka and they both laughed. “How about your child” he asked, “I’m sure a big man like you will have one or two kids running around the village square by now.”
“Nna,” said Odumegwu sadly, “I haven’t a child yet o. I pray the gods answer our prayers for a child. How about you my friend, what have you been up to?”
The man called Ebuka, answered him with the same dialect as supposed as an Igbo man, “I have been up to nothing my friend, Nothing! I am still that same drifter you knew years ago.”
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