In Ignorant Bliss

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A Prayer Too Many

Okafor could not bear his 'adulterous' wife another day. Day had hardly broken on the day she was returned to her people when he jumped out of his bed to see the arrangements through. He was however perturbed by an announcement of rain that hung overcast on the face of the sky. He discountenanced it all the same as he went about the household aspects till it changed to a rather heavy patter that awoke the rest of the town before, again, petering down to a persistent drizzle.

When its intent on the day’s activity became more manifest to Okafor’s agitated mind, he braved it to the wine tapper’s to make sure the usually overworked man did not disappoint. Discarding the rains halfhearted piddle, he had hit the road armed with a wide cocoyam leave for umbrella. How relived he was to learn that the man had met his order. The twin demijohns of up wine were already lined up for his collection as he left his head protection on the roof of the low hut to run under the eaves of his house.

With no time for pleasantries, he collected them and headed for their point of departure. Omemgboji was sitting on the veranda of his outhouse observing the hardly visible showers of the falling rain when Okafor came calling.

“Do I meet you well?” he said in greeting as he virtually ran into the house. Having done away with his rain guards on account of having to lug the containers of wine along, that was the only option left him. Shaking off the droplets of rain that had percolated on his body, he sat down on the pavement that presented itself where he currently stood.

“I am as well as my joints will let me be,” the old man replied. “You are welcome. Are you worried this rain could thwart our planned trip?”

“Nothing can stop it,” Okafor retorted. “I stopped by at Okeanu the rainmaker’s.”

“When was this?”

“Not long ago, as I went to bring these jars of palm wine.”

“That crook.”

“I don’t have a choice. We won’t stop swimming because the river swallowed a soul.”

“That is very true but I still rue how he ruined my son’s wedding festivities by getting drunk on the wine he made us give him. I’ll not enter into any negotiations with him ever.”

“But your son’s wedding took place in the middle of an unusual rainy spell that fell on us that year.”

“Was he not the one who said he could do something about it?”

“Perhaps, he did; no one can tell.”

“Let’s pray he does about the present, otherwise you will have to bear her majesty for one more night.”

He then reached for his goat-skin bag that sat there by his side, rummaged its contents noisily with his right hand which subsequently emerged with a weathered kola nut. Holding it to his lips in the local ritual of honesty, he presented it to Okafor.

“Is it not too early for kola nuts?” Okafor asked.

“How old are you to tell me what to do in my house?”

“I don’t mean it so, old one,” Okafor begged truly remorseful.

“Never mind,” Omemgboji reassured him. “Was only pulling your puny legs...

Kola has come,” he concluded, making at handing it over to Okafor.

“Thank you for the kola,” Okafor replied, pushing the upraised open palm of his right hand towards him. “It is already in your hands.”

“Yes,” the old man agreed, “but I’m handing its responsibility to you. I have already broken one this morning.”

Reluctantly Okafor accepted the duty. After the normal preambles he asked for the protection of the gods over their heads and journey mercies as they head for Chinelo’s village and back. He also implored that they do something about the present debacle that appeared bent on postponing the trip. In addendum he asked the heavens to help reveal the perpetrator of her estranged wife’s pregnancy in due cause.

As they ate the nuts and diverted to smaller talk, the sky put up a smiling face for the first time since the break of day. Slowly a hint of sunshine suffused the hitherto overcast sky that had hung over Hometown since the break of day like a the face of a scorned woman.

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