by John Chizoba Vincent
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The black cat came again. You know Grandpa told us last time that black cats especially, symbolise evil. When it came, it went towards the shrine. It looked at the tallest wooden goddess, then to the gods at the dark side of the shrine where grandpa usually sit and later to the oil on the wooden bowl. It dipped it’s tongue into the bowl and licked the red oil. It looked back and returned to the back yard. I followed it gradually, then, I saw it stood tall and skinny; eyes flashed and terrible. I became afraid. I remembered grandma. I remembered she told us how a black cat appeared in their backyard before the death of her mother. I prayed that nothing happens to any of us.
I was timid. I ran inside and looked at grandpa who was lying on the wooden bed. He was fine. He was breathing fine, although not loud but he was very fine. He had fever in the morning and Chike got some herbs from Ubakala bush for his treatment. You know Chike learnt how to prepare herbal medicine from his father, Onwukwe. He prepared the Herbs and gave it to him. I watched him sneezed severally and later, he cried of severe headache and Chike led him to his room where he laid on his bed. He saw his grandfather’s ghost walked pass him the night before. He saw him with some ancestral spirits came visiting. According to him, they complained that he has failed them righteously. He has not been faithful with his libations and sacrifices. After they left, he fainted. Chike rushed to where he was lying down lifelessly and carried him to the shrine with the help of Nduka, Mazi Onyebu’s son. You know Mazi Onyebu, the palmwine tapper who fell down from the palm tree last four years. Do you remember him? Uncle Ewelewe, it was frighten to see him on the ground lying lifeless. it was heartbreaking to hold grandpa on the ground fighting for his life. Chike assisted me to carry him inside. I know what my father could have done if he was to be alive. I know he would have fought those ancestral powers with his music and magical wand. I know he won’t allow his father to be humiliated just like that.
Uncle, I made an attempt to chase the cat away but it stood strong. I would have run away from the spot I stood but Chike came. He was braver than before. He told me that we must not stand there to watch a strange cat stand looking at us eyeball to eyeball. We could not see his whole body but his eyes. Chike ran into your room and picked up your machete, he chased the cat away. The next we saw was smoke rising up from the forest. We stood amazed. Then, the Ikoro sounded. Grandpa ran outside upon hearing the sound of the Ikoro. Something has happened. The Ikoro wouldn’t sound for nothing. Grandpa asked us to go inside. And we could not leave him all alone, Chike hid behind the door while I followed him behind without his notice. I saw him communicating with people I could not see. Uncle, he called the name of my dead father and mother, he called the name of Uncle Uche who dead in the riverbank last year. He called Auntie Ifeoma whom the Oracle struck dead two years ago, then Auntie Ada and uncle Andrew who died during the Civil War. I heard him talking to them. He pointed at the trees, I never knew those trees represented each members of the family. He spoke to those trees in the compound and called each of their names representing each members of the extended family. May we always remember that the dead are always around us.
After talking to them. He collapsed and that was the end, Uncle. Grandpa died without saying goodbye to any of us. He has gone to meet with his ancestors. He didn’t tell us goodbye but the only thing he told me was:
“Ivara, tell my kindred and my kinsmen that I wasn’t weak when tomorrow comes.”
That was his statement before he took his last breath. Uncle, I became afraid of losing myself. Chike ran to me and held me tight in his arms and took me inside. We carried Grandpa dead body to the house. We waited till the next morning afraid until Chike let out the first scream when it was dawn. People gathered to pay their last respect. And that same morning, we had that Okonkwo was dead. Maybe that was why the ikoro sounded last night or it sounded for another reason. Uncle, we are waiting for your return for grandpa’s bury. Come back let’s cry out together the tears left in our eyes. We are just three left in our bloodline.
Ucle Elewele, I met this guy, his name is Ugochukwu. We became so close and he saw me as the perfect woman whom I wasn’t, but in his eyes, I was his woman- the symbol of perfection and he would do anything for me, not everything. He saw through me and showed me my weaknesses and strengths. my flaws and imperfections. We saw every time we could and never got bored. Emotions crawled in, we became lovers but weren’t dating because he had other girls he was interested in who equally had interest in him, same with me. He became really jealous, infuriated, possessive and wrapped up in love he thought he was more powerful than anyone out there and could control things around. I broke him in a good way. I made him shadow of himself holding pleasures of my life to himself. His conscience was now at work and he was in love, but it overwhelmed him. His attitude towards me so much changed, but to him, I ended him. I made another man that he never wanted to become. Now, I see a part of him I don’t like and can’t talk about it and much more… the thing is, love faded as a result of over anxiety in the moment, rules, expectations, and we became strangers.
And as for the love you found over there, I think you should be patient if she’s really worth it, the excitement alone you’ll derive from finally talking to her, touching her skin, watching her lips move simultaneously and much more could completely overwhelm you. The happiness, peace, excitement and fun will be there if she says yes now, but you’ll want to eat all your cake at the moment without knowing you have. Be patience in all honesty and don’t go in a hurry to get her by all means because sometimes, love doesn’t seems to be what it meant to be. You should give it time. You should give it hope and faith entwined sweetness and build the friendship before going into the relatioship. Sometimes, Let it warm up.
I experienced same. She’ll pour out her life to you as well in return, but things will change. Let the infatuation go. Groom kindness, friendship and it’ll grow into love. Don’t rush it. A tree with fruits grew from a seed that was cursed with patience and perseverance.
I still remain seated in front of the door waiting for your return until then, let’s keep our soul longing for the good things of life. May We always remember to keep to faith and hope.