Chapter 4: The Evil Strikes Again
There was a significant progress in the academic activities of Obi. Already in primary five, he could read and write. He was like a growing star in his vicinity. Many children of his age respected him, not because he was physically stronger than them, but because he hard working, jovial and does not joke with his studies. He played when it is time to do that and when it was not the time, his friends will never see him. He usually taught his friends and used to put them through in difficult home assignments. And this was the only thing making his friends to feel intimidated in front of him.
Obidiya was very proud though in humble way with the academic progress of her son. She always made sure he had enough time more with his book than going to the market to assist her. She made up her mind to sacrifice whatever she had to make sure that she gave her son a conducive learning environment and opportunity in his academic journey. Many of her friends had scolded her why she stopped her son from coming to stay in her shop. For them, she was over stressing herself, and she was not supposed to do so since she had a son at home that could be staying in her shop and be give a helping hand. Obidiya respond to them was like a blow and a shock to many. Though some of the women supported her argument and saw sense in what she was saying, while some saw it the other way round.
Finally the young men Ani asked to help him look for means came up with two suggestions. One evening, while Ani was having a good time with some friends with two kegs of palm wine, the two young men came to see him. After the greetings, the men joined the others in the feasting. “This palm wine is from the neighbouring village,” one of the men said. “How do you know? You are right. I don’t know what is wrong with our palm wine tappers in this village. Must they add plenty of water in their palm wine just to increase the quantity without knowing the side effect?” Another asked. “They don’t know that they are doing themselves more harm than good,” Ani said. “But come to think of it. There in the market, they are really make enough profit. People go there to drink themselves into a stupor,” another man said. “Yes, because it is very cheap and only the poor can afford it. Mazi Ani is not a poor man, so you don’t expect him to buy such for himself,” another man said. “There you are. Long live Mazi Ani! May your days be long on earth,” another said. “Iseeee!!!” the whole responded.
Later the all departed except the other two men who came after the others. “Now it is time for business,” Ani said. The men gave him their two suggestions. One of the suggestions was that Ani should go and see a witch doctor that could help him eliminate Eke and his entire family members. The second was that he could still hire some killers just as he did with Eze, to go and kill Eke and his family. They all deliberated on the two suggestions, trying to take the one that would not fail them at the long run. According to Ani, going to a witch doctor was the best option but there was a problem. The problem was that should in case, Eke was having a charm stronger than his, he might not kill him but might rather ended up killing himself because definitely, Eke would fire him back. Finally, he made up his mind to use the same means he used in the case of his brother Eze. He asked the men to get every information needed and the cost of the job. There and then, he settled all the financial demands involved. But remember he said to the men: “Last time, there was a mistake. It seemed as if one of those men who did the last operation mention my title name somehow, that was why my late brother’s wife Obidiya was convinced t a large extent that I was responsible for the death of her husband. This time, such mistake should be avoided at all cost. If not… I reserve my comment.” They thanked him, hailed him and left.
Three men were organised to go for the deadly act at Mbu where Eke was living with his family. The two men were now the middle partners in the deal between the killers and Ani. They organised everything for the operation and fixed a date for execution.
Then Mbu was a village that was less populated. The house were sparsely built. Eke was occupying a single mud house with his wife and his last son.
After night meal, Eke and his wife sat outside, admiring the moon and the chilled breeze. He told his wife of his plan to travel to Onitsha to pay his children a visit. Two of their sons were learning trade there and their only daughter was married by a man from Anambra State, still in the eastern part of Nigeria. His wife was very happy of his husband plan. After their long discussion, that date for his journey was fixed. He was to spend just a week in Onitsha and returned. The next morning, Eke decided to change the date of his journey. He supposed to travel a week after but decided to shift the date backward. His wife was taken aback by the sudden change of date. Why? He could not tell his wife his reason for changing it. Since the only difference was three days, there was no cause for alarm. She gave in. All was set for Eke to travel. He bade his wife and son farewell and took off.
The dreadful night came when it all happened in his absence. His killers made a wrong calculation. After meal one night, Eke’s wife retired to her room with his son to sleep. In the middle of the night, a noise was heard on the door as if someone was trying to open it with a gentle application of force with a small knife. “Open the door,” of the men said to the other two. “That is what I am trying to do,” the one struggling to open the door replied. “Then do it fast please,” another said. She heard the noise on the door but was afraid to go and see for herself. “Should she ask who the person was? No, that was not the best option. Should she scream to attract the attention of neighbours even though they some metres away from her house? What to do?” These were the thoughts going on in her mind. Totally confused of what to do first and how to do it, she took her son and hid him inside her big box that was under her bed. The child nearly suffocated and was tempted to come out but had no choice than to stay because the last order from her before closing the box was: “Don’t come out until I say the contrary!” as she moved in confusion towards the window, her door was finally opened. “Nwanyi ke digi? (woman where is your husband?” One of the men asked. “My husband is not around!” The poor woman replied. “Okay you don’t want to tell us where he is. Don’t worry, we will give you what we suppose to give him,” another different voice said. “Please, he travelled to Onitsha just yesterday,” he said in fear. The men paused for a few seconds and looked at themselves in surprise. “What do we do?” One of the men aske the other two. “Kill her and let us go. There is nothing we can do now,” one replied in anger.
“When you get there, send our greetings to them,” one of the men said. “Where? Please don’t kill me. If you kill me, who will looked after my son for me?” the poor woman pleaded. “Oh! You even have a son here with you. Where is he?” The voice asked. The poor boy that was inside the box heard how things were be thrown here and there, like one angrily searching for a missing item. “Bullet finish her and let’s go, there is not time to waste.”
Later, the whole room was quiet. The little boy was already struggling with breath. He decided to go against the order. He forced myself out, only to see his mother lying on a pool of blood. Her hands were still shaking. As he moved close to her, she stretched her left hand like a blind person searching for an item, and held his thigh. “Nwa.” That was the last word the little boy heard from his mother before she gave up the ghost.
The next morning, there was total confusion in Eke’s compound. Many gathered to the scene to see for themselves what had happened. The little boy narrated the little ke could remember to sympathisers. From his story, it was understood that some evil men committed the atrocity. It was suggested that her body should be embalmed and kept in her house till her husband returned since he would be back in two days’ time.
One of the painful things that could happen to family man was to be welcomed with a bad news after being away from his home for some time. This was what happened to Eke.
When he came back the following day in the evening, he saw few persons which were mostly women sitting in front of his mother’s hut. They greeted him sorrowfully except one who tried to put on a false smile to him. He responded to their greetings and walked in to see his mother first because the door to his own hut was closed. When he entered he saw three women sitting very close to his mother in a sad mood. “Mma Ala,” he greeted his mother. No reply came. He sensed a danger, and went outside. As he was heading towards his hut, two men came and stopped him, took him by hand and went with him to the back of the hut. There the sorrowful news of his wife’s death was announced to him. He couldn’t believe what he heard because he lest expected that to happen, not when he was away just for a week. The men tried to console him and give him the courage and morale to withstand the shock. As he was about to move with force when one of the men held him back and said. “You can’t go alone, we have to accompany you.”
Together, they accompanied him to his hut where the lifeless body of his wife was laid. At the sight of his wife’s dead body, he had his heart in his mouth. Fear came over him and he started sweating and shivering. The men with him held him and brought him outside. They made him sat on a small stool and gave him some liquor to drink.
Eke was really touched by the death of his wife. His son narrated everything to him, how it happened. From the facts gathered, he suspected his rival Ani. The wife of Eke was finally buried. He was cautioned by many to be very alert and careful in all his doings because the killer might come for his life again.
Ani was furious when the men he entrusted the devilish act came back with a negative feedback. His aim was not achieved. And taking any further step to rectify and complete his intention might be too risky and deadly for him. He was assured by the men that they would look for alternatives and solutions for a next plan of action. He gave them a week to come up with something feasible and concrete.
Ani is a man who one could say had sole his conscience, maybe to the devil or tome to mystic powers. As days passed by, he grew stronger, influential and powerful in his village. Even the king of his village respect him not because of anything but because of his wealth and possession of some mystical power or force which many believed he might have gotten from his maternal grandfather who was then a strong witch doctor when he was alive.
Eke deemed it wise to send his last so to Onitsha, to stay in the house of his in-laws. He refused to leave and go to the city where his sons were. He thought how a man like him would be running away from his fellow man. For him, he saw it like an insult on his face. First, he was sent on exiled from his own father’s land and secondly, now that he had finally come to settle down in his own mother’s place he had to relocate to the city because of his fellow man. His children, friends, and even some of his relatives pressurised him to leave but he declined their demand. The last replied he gave them was that nothing on earth would make him leave his mother, that he would be close to till death. It would be after the death of his mother, that he could start thinking of relocating to the city.