At The End Of Wonder's Tether
“Ugonma, dearest sister of mine.” Nwanyinma did not have to hail Ugonma from across the dwarf walls of her compound, this time around. Ugonma had been walking briskly to the market, oblivious of any other thing but her destination when the call saw her face to face with her perfunctory 'sister'. Though it was not a market day, those with essentials to vend still displayed them to possible customers mornings in a little section set for the purpose. Though Ugonma was even a little late and would do without the distraction, she did not react any indifferently to the greeting, laden with endearment as it was.
“This sisterhood that needs reiteration on end,” Ugonma replied, “I hope all is well o!”
“Ugonma,” Nwanyinma continued with a pout on her lips, “when shall you accept me for what I am?”
“And what do you happen to be?”
“Your sister, of course.”
“And what do you think I take you for?”
“An enemy, an arch enemy.”
“And we are here talking?”
“Are we? Ugonma I say are we? Is this how sisters talk?”
“How do they talk, if I may ask?”
“With conviviality and not disdain. Ugonma are you not a human being like me? Why is it that each time I come to you we have to go over this all over again. The other day I had to come to your house to give you very crucial information and you abandoned me and ran to your father’s house like a toad in daytime. Yet you had refused to answer to my greeting from across your wall...”
“Nwanyinma that was a long time ago or do you mean we have not seen since then?”
“We have seen and seen it is true, but why each successive time you have still treated me as if I were a stranger?”
“Nwanyinma,” an exasperated Ugonma called, “it’s like you have nothing else to do today. I don’t have all day.”
“You have seen a loafer. Yes, Ugonma, call me a loafer if that is what you feel and stop putting it as an idiom.”
Ugonma was taken aback by the latest turn of their chat. She was still at a loss for words, looking critically at Nwanyinma for a possible clue to her unwarranted annoyance when Obidiya the village‘s oil-bean seed merchant squared up to them. She sat side by side with Ugonma in the market. Laden with her wares en route the market, she greeted them as if she did not hear Nwanyinma’s raised voice.
“Neighbour!” Ugonma called out to her as she walked on, seizing the opportunity to join her to the market. They left behind a perplexed Nwanyinma who silently nursed her punctured overblown balloon of anger.
***** ***** *****
“This one you are late to the market today,” Ugonma said to Obidiya as she squared up to her. "I hope all is well?”
“All is well,” my dear, the soft-spoken lady of means replied. “I had to do some household chores before setting off.”
“I would have been left wondering, for you are always first to the market.”
“There is no need to wonder; all is well. By the way what was that newsmonger selling to you this early morning?”
“Newsmonger indeed; nothing, she was just cross with me for not letting her.”
“I can see. She’s been going round informing all that Chinelo that cheating wife of Okafor sent back to her father nine moons back has put to bed a baby boy.”
“A baby boy? Awawawa o! The man must be regretting sending her back by now.”
“But he has. Perhaps, he is not destined to have a heir in this world.”
“How come it is Nwanyinma who heard it first?”
***** ***** *****
When they got to the market, it turned out the news of the day. Apart from the hardcore of it, some other addendum were padded unto it to present a clear picture of a man doomed by the gods to a life spent without a son to take his place when he does leave the earth.
“What shall become of the boy now?” Ugonma asked Obidiya as the day’s session lulled to a whimper.
“What shall become of him? Absolutely nothing. The man has missed a unique opportunity to have a heir – be he of him or not.”
“But whoever said that a woman cannot conceive after just a visit by her husband?”
“Do I know for them? Perhaps they want huts built for them to live there forever to make for a conception to be made possible. Goddamn he goats!”