AMARACHI THE BEAUTIFUL POOR CHILD (And Her Journey to Destiny-Discovery) By Erasmus Ugochukwu Okafor
It was about one month after Akunna’s disappearance. The students of Nnamdi Azikiwe who never knew that she had been sacrificed kept waiting for her return, though with lost hope and sorrow. It was a big lesson to the entire students to get it into their head the fact that joining illegal and treacherous fraternities could only lead them to doom. Amarachi was ready to go back to school after Dave had made every arrangement for her; rented an apartment, updated her wardrobe and assisted in any way he could just to get her back to her first-class position. In addition to his efforts in making her comfortable, he met with the lecturers and fulfilled Amy’s wish to rewriting the entire exams to make her grades without help.
The entire lecturers agreed to the terms except for Professor Nwoko who for no reason insisted that either the old grade remains or Amarachi would fail his course if she writes another exam. He was the youngest professors in the school but very principled, tough and unsmiling. When it was time to go back to school, Amy got her luggage into the trunk of the e-vogue but was so reluctant to resume school with such an exotic car. Her innate humility couldn’t allow her to master the life of the rich.Ego Oyibo who had already become the chief cook of the house because of her professional cuisine was so happy that her daughter was finally going back to school. She knew that Amarachi would always do her proud but at the same time she was sad because she’d miss her dearly.That clement morning, Amy who was supposed to be happy was so sad because of the neighing of the horse next door. A rich man that was neither seen nor heard who lived adjacent to her residence had a horse that always makes Amarachi have the imagery of Akunna being taking away as she mounted on that horse.
Due to this, Amy was always uncomfortable whenever the horse neighs.The habit of going to her mom had already been mastered by Amy, so she, after dressing up and getting her luggage ready in the SUV; she went straight to her mom’s room. Getting there, the door was already open unlike her mom’s usual way of getting the door closed and bolted. She pushed the door wide open and scouted around to know if Ego Oyibo was there. Lo and behold, her mom was still in bed and weeping furtively.Seeing her daughter, she quickly wiped her tears and feigned a smile. “My beautiful Mkpulumma,” she called in a husky tone, and then cleared her throat, “are you ready to leave?”Amarachi already knew that her mom was crying before her entrance, making the feeling mutual. The contagious tears got immediately announced in her eye but she didn’t just want to show it but remained strong so that her mom wouldn’t lose it.“Ego Oyibo, Nnem,” she called and held her mom. At this time, tears couldn’t be fought back because it was an emotional moment for them. Amy felt like leaving without a goodbye but that wouldn’t help at all because of the hollowness it would create if she dares.“My daughter, God will surely bless you,” she said and held Amy by the shoulder but Amy preferred to kneel, so she did and held her mom closely by the thigh, “I pray that goodness and mercy of God would never depart from you,”“Amen,” she responded with her eyes wide shut.
“The angels will guide you, keep you and not allow you to go where the mercy of God will not protect you,”“Amen…amen,” she kept responding with rapt attention and dedication.“When you come back,” Ego said and pulled her up, and made her sit beside her, “I will tell you about the Urhobo people that would come for me. In a nutshell, they’re already around but yet to locate me. It is twenty years already,”Amarachi got more tensed with that cliffhanger but had to be patient until her mom reveals the real truth about Urhobo that kept her mind troubled. She kissed her mom’s forehead and left in a flash to avoid weeping before her. When she got to the hallway, she burst into inevitable tears because she was finally leaving her mom to continue with her education. As the tears lasted on her, the good feelings of the school life she’d missed suddenly overtook her; the feelings came with it an ecstasy that she couldn’t just explain. Amy was once again happy to reconnect with her friends in school, especially being assured that Uremma who was meant to be the cause of her woes had become a friend.Dave was already prepared to leave too, but he had his driver already waiting. He couldn’t just understand how he suddenly became a gentleman around Amy, unlike the hit-man that used to have any girl at his beck and call. His life was suddenly and speedily metamorphosing into a responsible one even against his wish.
Even his friends started noticing his constant withdrawals from a normal guy’s hangout and group nefarious activities. He was transforming and it was glaring to all.Amy in the secret chamber of her heart was already deeply in love with Dave but she never showed that she cared about him much because she lives with him in the same house, and her mom was present too. She felt it would be kind of disrespectful to get intimate with a man right under her mom’s nose. But aside maintenance of some etiquettes and principles, she wasn’t assured that Uremma wasn’t in Dave life anymore because Dave never for once told her that he wasn’t dating her anymore. For the aforementioned reasons, Amy kept her feelings in check to avoid missing the track and the story that touches the heart.Oji isi who travelled for a while suddenly entered the compound. He’d been on a supervisory role as an architect in charge of the duplex that Dave was erecting for Amy and her mom. He exchanged some pleasantries with Dave’s driver and entered into the gym for some morning exercise.As Amarachi wanted to leave the house, she realised that Dave was about to leave too, so she went to him and pulled him to a corner.“I want to ask for your permission,” she said wrapping her hands around his neck.Ujunwa observed on a sly because she was eager for her brother to propose to Amy but they seemed to be wasting some time she couldn’t understand anything about.“What’s the permission all about, Nneoma (Good woman)?” Dave asked and held her by the waist, “I’m sure there is nothing you’re lacking, and if any, just mention it,”“No…No, I lack nothing at all,” Amy said and gave him a surprise kiss.“Hey, please, can you do that again?”
Dave pleaded feeling so taken unawares, “I enjoyed the kiss but you didn’t add some salt to it…”“Hey, you’re not serious,” Amy said shyly and stroked his curly hair that could be compared to a lady’s, “the permission I’m seeking is that I don’t want to go back to school with this big car because…”“Permission not granted,” Dave broke in and shut his eyes so that Amy’s charming eyes wouldn’t make him spellbound to accept what he’d already rejected.Amy waited for him to open his eyes as she kept admiring his alluring face. She couldn’t imagine how the world would have been if there was no Dave in it. She was drunk in love with him and was ever ready to accept his marriage proposal if he ever made the advancement. “Please, I have my good reasons because I know that you wouldn’t want me to have a poor result. Would you?” she asked and waited for a reply but got none, except for a shut eyes and smiling face from him, “Dear,” she continued, “You’re in my life and making it more comfortable and blissful. Even though every woman wants that but you’re making me too relaxed in my comfort zone. I am naturally the workaholic and industrious but your presence is making me indolent,”Dave opened his eyes slowly and saw those charming eyes fixed on him. He was so overtaken by passion but didn’t want Amy to know that he was into her that much, so he shifted his gaze from her and said:
“Permission denied,” and then held her by the hand to the e-vogue but Amy was reluctant to hop in.As the drama was going on, they heard a horn honk at the gate.When the gatekeeper wanted to check it out, Dave stopped him and went to check out the person by himself. Lo, it was Chike and Ugwunwa.“Open the gate for them, please,” he instructed the gatekeeper, “shift the car a bit out of the way,” he ordered his driver so that Chike wouldn’t find it difficult driving into the compound.When Amy saw Chike and his fiancée she was so happy that her dream for them finally came through.“This calls for a celebration,” Amy said and rushed at the incoming car.Chike and Ugwunwa alighted with smiles all over their faces.Ugwunwa rushed to Amy and embraced her.“You’d never ceased being the prettiest tall model that I know,” Ugwunwa complimented and pulled her closer to feel the warmth and beating of her kind heart, “May God keep blessing you for me,”“Hey, don’t mention it,” Amy said and dragged her by the hand to Dave’s side where he was exchanging pleasantries with Chike.
“Look at who we have here!” Chike exclaimed and embraced Amarachi, “I’m glad for your efforts. I’d been seeking for an opportune time to appreciate your role in getting my woman back to me,”“Hey, please, it’s okay,” Amy blushed and waved in the air with a touch of shyness, “women watch each other’s back, you know,” she added and winked at Ugwunwa who was admirably looking at them joyously, “before you appreciate me, think of the troubles I invited for you guys,”“Sure, women know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Ugwunwa supported Amy’s point, “but we still owe you because if you didn’t shake the table, I may have completed my mission and my baby could have been in trouble with that riffraff,”“A huge point there,” Chike complemented wordily, “and we still owe you the 180k. The signed cheque in your name is still valid,”“Ha-aha, the bribery cheque?” Amy said and laughed aloud, “You guys are funny,”Dave took Chike to the poolside while the two ladies followed. He loves the cool breeze he enjoys whenever he’s at the pool’s bar.When they got there, they made themselves comfortable.
“I just remembered when we were kids and you took me to Nkisi River to teach me how to swim,” Chike reminded him. They all started laughing as the reminiscence lasted between the guys.Even though it was the first time that the girls heard the story, they joined in the laughter because it was a joyful moment for them all.“I could imagine how my baby would be shivering when that happened,” Ugwunwa said and sat beside Amy while the guys relaxed on the deckchair.“You can’t imagine how my guy almost drowned when he was left there without help,” Dave said and continued laughing until tears accompanied the laugher.“But seriously,” Chike entered, “that experience was the sole reason I dread water till today. The aqua-phobia that the near-death experience in Nkisi River got into me was the reason why I vowed not to have a swimming pool in my house no matter the reason,”The chorus of laughter continued and boos for Chike’s unadventurous childhood life.Amy was not only felicitous but admiring the union that would have been marred by her inquisition if she didn’t later discover the real man behind the mask.“But I love water and you may have to provide one,” Ugwunwa jested knowing full well that Chike wouldn’t oblige her request.Ego Oyibo, even though she was eager for Dave and Amarachi to leave for school because of time lag, she was secretly enjoying the union. She remained behind the curtain in her room and eavesdropping at their conversation furtively from her window.
She was so full of wild imagination about Dave and Amarachi being fiancé and fiancée just as Chike and Ugwunwa were. If she could have her way, she wouldn’t mind borrowing that golden ring from Ugwunwa and giving it to Dave to put on her daughter’s engagement finger.At the poolside, drinks were served with lots of sumptuous edibles to make the union celebratory and festive. It was as if the part of going back to school was put to a halt for the merriment to have its way among the best friends.The cool wintry breeze from the pool got the sunny weather soothing, with the colourful birds chirping around the nectarous flowers; somersaulting in that entertaining anaerobic and making nature to be appreciated unwittingly by the audience. It was simply a wonderful and beautiful poolside to appreciate nature as Amarachi’s attention was caught between two flowers dancing to the unseen drumming by the wanton breeze. She smiled as she imagined Dave taking her out for a ball dance. As the fantasy lasted, she didn’t know when her lips curved into a smile, and her attention left the present to the future.As the chitchat was going on, Dave noticed that Amy was inadvertently smiling; he cleared his throat to alert her attention but his efforts ended in futility, so he became more interested to know why.“I think someone is in love here,” Ugwunwa said and nudged Amarachi to reality.
Amarachi was a bit startled when she was sent back from the realm of the imagination but she pretended to be present-minded. “Oh, sorry guys,” she apologised with a blush, “In love with who, biko?” She defended in pretention to trick her audience but Ugwunwa wasn’t tricked because a woman understands a fellow woman.Amarachi’s reply (in love with who?) got Dave a bit dispirited, but being a guy who had had the superfluity of women’s attention, he knew that she was simply bluffing about not having some romantic feelings for him.“Can we have a toast now,” Chike said and brought them back to the merriment in progress.“May I use this opportunity,” Ugwunwa said and raised her glass of wine, gulped it and smiled, “I wish to announce that the wedding day is fixed, and …”Lots of cheers from Dave and Amarachi didn’t allow her to complete her statement because there was prolonged applause; with animal-like noises that accompanied the joyous moment.“And I also want to thank my best friend, Dave,” Chike said and stood taller beside Ugwunwa, and then held her close to his side, “Agwanti who had been using my bride-to-be to trail the buried treasure has finally surrendered because Dave intervened. I have settled him financially though.
Let him take it as a bride price I paid to covert his girl’s mission to wife’s mission,” he added playfully and continued: “I am so happy because I won the battle at last. His girlfriend…or rather his ex-girlfriend whom he used against me turned to be the best woman I’d ever met. Fate can be crazy and does things in its way. I appreciate God for making Agwanti send my girl on this mission.”Clapping and deafening cheers continued as they kept being thankful to God for the reunion of the lovebirds.“What are friends for?” Ami said gleefully.“If not for inconveniences,” Dave and Chike replied in unison and burst into laughter.Amy and Uguwnwa joined in the laughter because the completion they gave the statement was funny, true though.“You guys won’t cease to amaze me,” Ugwunwa said and winked at Amy.The enjoyment lasted till almost the evening but they weren’t much bothered because they had no lectures the next day because it was a weekend.
It was obvious that they’d be taking a night journey to Awka after the fun.As they continued the enjoyment, Amarachi looked at her mom’s window to see if she was still there; though Ego Oyibo never knew that Amy knew she’d been hiding behind the curtain and enjoying the party. When Amy realised that Ego wasn’t there anymore, she was a bit worried. “Sorry, guys. Excuse me,” she said and left but before getting to her mom’s room, she saw her weeping by the threshold of her room and leaning on the wall.Amy rushed to her mom to know what was going on but her mom couldn’t stop but continued crying and repeating verbally: “I need more time. Twenty years seemed like twenty days,”Everything was in a fiasco for Amarachi because she didn’t just understand what her mom was saying and why the sadness and sorrowful weeping.“Mama, can you talk to your daughter, please?” Amy said and took her into the room to make her sit and talk.“No need sitting,” Ego said tearfully, “They are here already and my time with you in Onitsha just ended,”This statement raised so much concern because it was mind-troubling. Amy began to grope because the entire statement was more confusing than she thought.
“Mom, I’d be so angry if you don’t…” she hung her statement there and began to pulsate with confusion.“I’m Urhobo woman and not an Igbo (Ibo),” Ego said, releasing the first shock to Amarachi.Amy couldn’t wrap her head around that thunderbolt as the statement kept rumbling in her head and repeating in her mind. She was numb as if she’d been enchanted by an ominous strange force.“Mom, what did you just say?” Amy asked as she remembered when her mom talked about Urhobo clan coming for her, “Does this have anything to do with…”Dave suddenly knocked and showed up, making Amarachi pause because of the sensitivity of the discussion. “Dear, aren’t we leaving for school?” he asked and knitted his brow into a frown when he noticed the mood.
He grimaced seeing that Amy and her mom weren’t looking happy, “Mom,” she called Ego Oyibo in the usual way he calls her, “I hope you’re not sad about Amy’s departure,”“I am,” Ego replied abruptly, “but that’s not…”“Yes, it’s because I’m going back and she’d miss me,” Amy entered sharply so that her mom wouldn’t divulge what should be left as a family secret; at least for the time being. “I’m sorry that I may not be going back this weekend anymore,” Amarachi said and dropped her handbag on the bed to assure Dave that she was serious about it, “I want to stay with my mom for this weekend,”Dave got gloomy because he planned on proposing to Amy at Love Garden in the school that very evening. He wanted to make it a surprise that same weekend but Amarachi’s change in decision got his entire plan crippled in a wink.“I wish we’d still go so that I can meet Prof Nwoko for…”“I don’t need to go, please!” she screamed, and then realised she was losing it.
All she wanted was for Dave to leave but he was a pain in the butt. “Sorry if I sounded harsh, but see, Dave,” she said in pretention to disguise her tensed feeling and went to him, then kissed him in the presence of her mom. “At least I added salt to this one,” she said smilingly, making Dave feel wowed and better.“I…I…I don’t know what to say, but thanks,” He said falteringly and felt his lips with his finger and smiled, “Salty indeed,”“Naughty boy,” Amy said and jostled him slightly, “Oya, go back to school, my son,” she jested, “I’ll be coming back to join you,” she promised.
“Sorry to disappoint you, ma’am,” Dave said as he started leaving. Getting to the door, he held the knob, turned back and said: “I think I’m postponing mine too till you’re ready for us to go back together,”“That’s the spirit,” Ego Oyibo murmured smilingly with an ecstatic feeling that her dreams were coming through.“Fine, I accept,” Amarachi said with smiled for him to leave but he still stood there. “Dave, what again?”“Chike and his girl just left,” he added, smiled and left the room.Amarachi heaved a deep sigh of relief that he was finally out, went to the door to shut it, but her mom stopped her. “Keep it open because they’re already by the gate and had been calling me on the phone,” she said, bringing back the tension that was just subdued by a brief comic relief.
Amarachi pulled off her high-heeled shoes and rushed towards the balcony, then saw two tall guys; one fair and the other dark. They looked handsome and cute but for the fact that her mom dreaded their presence, she disliked them too.She hastily rushed back into the house and saw her mom feeling gloomy and packing her bag.“Mom, please stop packing. You’re not going anywhere,” she hollered. “I’m going downstairs straight to meet them. Since you don’t want to tell me more about these unwelcomed visitors, they must tell me or have Dave to face. If they try to take you away from here for a reason you don’t want to disclose to me, then I’ll remind them that we’re in a civilized world where the jury still exists,”That was bold of Amy and her mom was proud of her but she knew that she was simply trying to be obedient to the family tradition and not thinking of anything legal or civil at the moment. Ego Oyibo tapped on the bed and said: “This house isn’t ours, we are just visitors, so I don’t want Dave to feel embarrassed by their presence,”Amarachi acted just under the dictates of her instinct.
Went to the gate, asked the gatekeeper to open it and waited for the men to come and take her mom away. She was ready for anything that comes from it.Ujunwa saw this and rushed to Dave’s room and informed him that some men were at the gate to kidnap Amarachi.The misinformation got Dave so pissed that he rushed for his Revolver, loaded it and got it engaged for action.When the two guys entered, they didn’t look as dreadful as Ego Oyibo made them seem, so Amarachi’s anger suddenly dwindled though she was clever enough not to allow the gullibility of an average woman caught hold of her senses. Seeing Dave as he rushed towards the men with his gun handy, Amy blocked him to avoid violence and bloodshed.“Allow me to send these guys to their early graves,” he yelled like a marauding beast, showing the real character of a Capone.
The two guys were calm and didn’t even bat an eyelid as if they weren’t afraid of the gun. “Calm your nerves, let’s hear them out first,” Amarachi said wisely and held Dave so that he wouldn’t act impulsively and get himself in trouble. “Still water runs deep,” she added idiomatically.“Who are you guys?” Dave growled as his heart pounded heavily with rage; his finger still firm and well-positioned on the trigger.“We’ve come to tell our mom that we’ve fought the good fight as grown men, no more as kids that could fight for her,” The black guy said and remained calm and unsmiling, “We’re, therefore, ready to take her back home,” “I am Ogheneruno Oghene, and this is my elder brother, Erhimeyoma Oghene. We come in peace,”Amy was surprised to hear her mom shout and started rushing downstairs.
When she came down, she rushed to the guys and embraced them, with tears all over their eyes.Amarachi and others were surprised.“Mom, what’s happening,” Amarachi asked looking more confused, “a few minutes ago you were crying that you didn’t want to see the visitors but now you rush to them and welcome them. Please, start talking,”The entire people in the compound suddenly gathered; even the menservants and maidservants. Ujunwa and Oji Isi ebu mgbo were not left out.“Mom,” Dave called and went closer to Ego whom she believed could be under a spell, “Your daughter asked you a question but you seemed lost in this long embrace,”Ego Oyibo turned to Amarachi, beckoned her forward to join them, but Amy was reluctant to do that.“Ego Oyibo, Nnem,”
she called sonorously, “you’ve left me in the dark for long, getting my mission to know the truth thwarted and wouldn’t even explain things. For the last time, what is happening here?”“Her name is Akpenvwe Oghene. She is our mother,” Erhimeyoma, the fair elder one said.“Mom, is this true?” Amy asked and came closer to have a better understanding, “Is Ego Oyibo not your real name?”Ego Oyibo smiled and nodded. “I’m not an Ibo but from Urhobo tribe in Delta state,” she said and kept waving at Amarachi to come closer but she didn’t. “Mom, keep talking,” Amy said and hissed, “I can hear you from here,”“I was accused of killing my husband twenty years ago but I was innocent,” Ego began in a sorrowful tone while others listened and maintained absolute silence,
“According to our tradition, I’d be exiled for twenty years if the evidence wasn’t too concrete, but if it was, I would be sacrificed to the gods of the old religion at the forest of Oblivion, and that would be my fate. No one who had gone there ever returned,”“Mom,” Ogheneruno called, interrupting the story, “those things were a fetish and have been abolished, so we have to go home now,”“Even the chief priest that connived with Eserovwe, our wicked uncle, to frame you up in the same crime he committed have confessed and died later, some years back,” Erhim added.“God, I thank you,” Ego Oyibo said and raised her eyes to the sky, “I was accused wrongly but now, my sons that were denied their motherly love still came back for me. Be praised, the almighty Supreme Being,”“It may interest you to also know that our wicked uncle is bedridden for some years now,” Erhim announced to Ego Oyibo with joy,
“he’s been begging for death to snuff like out of him but the request is still far from being granted because death is nowhere around him yet, but he still suffers without anyone to take care of him,”“I think I got it now, mom,” Amy said and went closer to her mom, “so you later came down to Onitsha and remarried, right. But I’m 22, so how come?”“Mom couldn’t have remarried because it’s against our tradition,” Ogheneruno said an kept looking at Amarachi as a total stranger, “She’s even forbidden from having any child out of wedlock during the period of the exile and after,”Amarachi looked at her mom and asked: “Mom, I think you should be the one talking and not these two strangers that could cook up a story,”Ego Oyibo knew that Amarachi was getting more impatient and angry, so she pulled her closer and said:
“I am not your mom, my sweet daughter but I wish I am and I still assume I am because wherever Mkpulumma is now, she’d be happy that I saved her daughter,”This news threw the entire place in confusion and incessant shouts and snapping of fingers; even Amy couldn’t stomach the blow. She became giddy and about to faint but Dave rushed at her and held her, and then took a seat and made her sit.Oji isi started aerating her so that she wouldn’t blackout.Ego rushed to Amy and held her to give some motherly comfort but Amy was still in shock and couldn’t utter a word. After a while, as she tried assimilating the mind-blowing announcement, she quietly asked:
“You’ve always addressed me fondly as Mkpulumma (grain of beauty) whenever you’re in a good mood. I took the name as a pet and I loved it. Now you still mentioned the same name saying she was my mother. If I’m right, she’s now late; for you to say she was my mom,”“Yes, Nwam,” Ego replied.“Jesus!” Amy exclaimed with tears and began to shake her head in dismay.“Yes,” Ego replied, “Mkpulumma had two daughters but one died,
so I couldn’t allow you die too,” she continued, “Something strange happened that made the beautiful woman die the way she did. Maybe nobody knew the truth of that but I did because I was close to her and used to take food to her those days whenever she’s in the Datsun truck; the same truck I lied to you that belonged to your dad,”A new revelation just crept up. Amy was getting more dazed at the entire discussion that seemed like they were in a dramatic rehearsal.“But you told me the truck was left many years ago by my dad before he died,” Amarachi queried, sounding bolder this time and ready to take more surprises, “where is my dad then?”Ego Oyibo took a seat and sat beside Amarachi because arthritis was getting her legs inflamed for standing too long.Dave and every other person present were all surprised as they all listened and got glued to the discussants.
“You have no dad and nothing like dad ever existed in your life with me,” Ego Oyibo said and nodded in affirmation, “Since Mkpulumma who used to sleep inside the truck with her child died, I decided to use a tow van to bring the truck home to keep that memory. When you grew into this woman you are, I saw you like a replica of her. I was surprised you suddenly developed an interest in that same truck and used the money realised from your Akara business to fix it. Whenever I see you, I see her. I fondly call you Mkpulumma because you took after her both in tallness, fairness, and prettiness. You’re just a chip off the old block,”Amy couldn’t understand why her biological mom would be sleeping in an old truck. The story wasn’t adding up because it sounded like fiction.“Please, Ego,” Amy called formally, “why would a mom sleep inside a truck with her baby.
Where was her home, and where was her husband?”Ego took a deep breath because of how hard it was to tell her the truth about her mom’s status before her death. She shook her head and said: “Your mom was Mkpulumma the most beautiful madwoman,”Amarachi began to cry on hearing that her biological mom died a madwoman and it was possible that one of the loafers and drunkards in the street impregnated the vulnerable woman to give birth to her.“So I’m a bastard after all,” Amarachi said sorrowfully as she tried to have a mental picture of being born by an insane helpless woman roaming the streets and scavenging the garbage for food.
To be continued…
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