PRINCESS AMARACHI Episode 18 by Okafor Erasmus Ugochukwu
All efforts to stop Amarachi from crying at the hospital never yielded something positive, so Chisimdi knowing full well that the twin sister she knew so well wouldn’t stop, angrily dropped the already tilted Isioma flower beside her dad’s bed and left; according to the direction of her spirit. She took Akilika and the flutist and went to the car park but still waited for Amy there in melancholy and gloom.
After a while, as the Amarachi kept weeping, one of the nurses came around and said: “Madam, I feel your grief and we see these kinds of cases on daily basis, but I suggest that you go to the common room so that you wouldn’t disturb your dad that is resting in the private ward,”
Looking up with teary eyes blurred by the thick tears, Amy said to God even without heading to the voice of the nurse that came to distract her cries to the supernatural being: “God, I’ve done all I can but seems all hope is lost. I know no one by the name Quintus, and the task is becoming harder for me. I hand over everything to you but the truth is that I’m going home to rest and won’t search any further. If it’s your wish that my Dad would die, so be it. If not, let the Pastor Quintus come to me because I’ve lost the strength to locate him…”
There was a knock at the door, showing that someone was coming, so this cut Amarachi’s prayer short.
The nurse that wanted to hold Amarachi and take her out of the roomy private ward stopped too so that they’d know who was coming.
It was to Amy’s greatest surprise that she saw Chike opening the door halfway as he tried to enter the ward.
Amarachi quickly wiped her tears and pretended that she wasn’t crying but it was obvious that she couldn’t hide it from her old friend.
Chike felt so concerned, and then rushed to her and held her. “Nurse, what’s happening here and why is she crying?” he queried looking confused and worked up.
“Her dad is in a coma and wouldn’t wake up,” the nurse replied and left to avoid interfering in the discussion.
“I think we need to go outside so that I’d hear your story because since I met you as we grew on the streets,” Chike said as he held Amy by the shoulder, “I knew no one to be your dad, even though I got an info from Dave concerning what happened later in your life and how you reconnected with your family,”
“What are you doing here in the hospital holding this voluminous bible, Chike…?”
“Pastor Chike,” he corrected smilingly, “are you surprised?”
“You…pastor?” Amy asked looking surprised, “I’m sorry that Dave and I couldn’t come for your wedding with Ugwunwa because…”
“The wedding didn’t hold anymore,” Chike said with sagged eyelids showing he was pained to talk about it.
“I don’t understand,” Amarachi said looking confused, “I thought that everything was resolved and you settled Agwanti in cash instead of the gold so that he’d allow you marry his accomplice who had fallen in love with you…”
“Agwanti never stopped coming, even after I paid him handsomely,” Chike reported, “the worst was that Ugwunwa still found it hard to believe that you and I weren’t dating, so she went ahead with the laid down plans and reconnected with his ex-boyfriend, Agwanti. They ended up waging a war that ended in pulling down my house just to get to the gold they came for but glad that they didn’t succeed, even though the destruction had been done, leaving me with lots of repairs to be done…”
“Ugwunwa is so greedy and wicked,” Amarachi said and watched the vital signs monitor and it gave her some hope with the beeping, showing that it was still normal and her dad was still alive somewhere inside of him, “It wasn’t just because she suspected that you and I were having an affair but she was so greedy to have gone back to the riffraff instead of remaining with you; a prudent move that would end up making her the owner of the same gold she was eager to steal,”
There was silence after Amy’s speech, making everywhere quiet as they remained still and speechless.
After a while, Chike cleared his throat in a bid to bring Amy’s attention back to the present. “But the truth is that I never stopped loving you even though Ugwunwa could be greedy…”
“Loving me how?” Amarachi asked looking confused, “we’ve settled this and…” after a while as she stopped her statement at a juncture, she heaved a sigh and said: “I’ve told you to move on but you chose to keep professing this love that isn’t mutual…”
“You offended me, Amarachi, even though love isn’t by force or sympathy,” Chike said with tears blurring his eyes, even making Amy confused but she just had to listen to comprehend, “I started loving you since I was twelve,” Chike went on as Amy listened, “and even till date I never stopped but I just had to let you go because you’re about to marry my good old friend,”
“I’m glad you just acknowledged this,” Amy said and tried to clean her tears but Chike stopped her.
“Dave would have known about what transpired between Ugwunwa and me; ranging from cancelation of the wedding and the gold theft but being that I’d been finding it hard to forgive him or you for making my life a living hell because I couldn’t have you as my wife, I didn’t have to inform any of you,”
“A living hell?” Amarachi asked rhetorically and took a napkin to clean her drying tears to avoid that facial blemish it was already causing but Chike still stopped her from doing that.
“Later, I discovered that all these happened within these few months because I had a divine call from God, and that was to be a pastor,”
“Chike, a pastor?” Amy said thoughtfully trying to connect the dots but none making any sense because Chike had always been known for his wayward and careless life while growing up.
“I kept dreaming all the time; seeing myself preach to congregations but I kept ignoring the call. These dreams started since I was seventeen but never stopped until I answered. I discovered that the more I run from answering that call, the more life was being too hard for me. The day Ugwunwa caught me proposing to you, I was damn serious to do that but you didn’t accept. It was that day I made up my mind to allow you go but that never stopped the grudges in my heart against you,”
Tears were in Amarachi’s eyes at this point, so she pulled him into a hug and said: “I’m sorry to have put you through these, but as you can see, it was your destiny calling and not about Amarachi not returning the love you showered on her,”
Chike knew Amy was right but the human part of him kept feeling bad. After a while of thinking about it, he said: “From this day, I have forgiven you; even though you never knew that you hurt me badly. But suffice it to say that I met you today for a reason because seeing you made an inner peace to be restored in me. Ozioma and I can now go ahead and marry since I assume that I already have your blessings even when you never knew that you’ve given me one already,”
Amarachi smiled and patted his back and then made him sit. “Ozioma? That sounds like the newly found love,”
“Of course, yes,” Chike said and smiled, “Ugwunwa is now having difficult times and trials in life but couldn’t come back to me anymore due to shame. Well, let’s say that everything went just as God planned it,”
“My thoughts exactly,” Amy concurred, “But what brought you to the hospital?”
Shaking his head and feeling wowed about the miracles that God has done for him, he said: “I resolved that I’ll always come to pray for the sick as part of my pastoral work. I’ve dropped the loafing part of me, even the gold I inherited as the descendant of Obi-Ajali of Onitsha, I have dropped too…”
“Please, wait,” Amarachi said and remembered when Dave gave him a brief history of how Onitsha ended up having two traditional rulers (Obi of Onitsha and Obi Ajali of Onitsha), “Is there any relationship between Obi Ajali and Ajalindu because I can observe that the two names have Ajali attached to them?”
Smilingly, Chike said: “The main pronunciation is NduAjali meaning the life of Ajali people that migrated to Imo state since they couldn’t stomach the shame when the title of kingship was stripped from us, taking us away from being called Obi of Onitsha to Obi Ajali,”
“This is amazing,” Amarachi said and stood, and began to saunter in the spacious ward as she meditated deeply. After a while, she came back and sat beside Chike. “Can you refresh the history that brought about Obi Ajali thing? Dave told me everything but I have lost some lines because I didn’t pen them down. Remember that the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory. There is something I aim to find out with this, so I’ll need your help and attention,” she added and looked at her sleeping dad and then smiled with hope. “We’ll soon fix you, dad,”
Clearing his throat and trying to collate his points mentally so that it would make the explanation easier, Chike began: “Obi of Onitsha is known to be hereditary, but the rule is that he must have a male son to succeed him but my forefathers got to a point when the Obi couldn’t have a male son even after taking up the seventh wife to help salvage the situation. Being that the king was very sick and dying, one of the Obi’s daughters, Ifenkili by name became so eager and desperate for the immortalization and perpetuation of the sequence of powerful leaders in her family for her dad’s name to be retained. Ifenkili knew that if she didn’t take the bull by the horn, the royalty would leave their lineage and they would be stripped of that title that had been staying with them for centuries,”
Amy nodded at this point because her mind was becoming refreshed. “So Ifenkili went to Ajali in Anambra state,” Amarachi entered with smiles to know if she could remember the full story, “she met with the prince who was her friend; got him drunk and forced him to impregnate him…”
“Exactly,” Chike said and smiled, “you have a sharp brain,” he complimented.
“When Ifenkili came back,” Amarachi continued, “I think she then explained everything to her mom when she discovered that she was with child, and then told her mom to pretend that she was pregnant while Ifenkili ran away to a distant place to conceal her pregnancy. I’m trying to remember the name of Ifenkili’s mom but I know it starts with Ugb…”
“Ugbana,” Chike pronounced in a soft tone.
“Yes, Ugbana, correct,” Amarachi said happily, “the long and short of the story is that when Ifenkili gave birth, the mom pretended to be in labour, so she conspired with a midwife that made everything seem as if it was the queen that delivered the baby boy but it was her daughter, Ifenkili. The felonious intent of the daughter made her to later kill the nurse even without consulting the mom but she never knew that the nurse; being from a lineage of wisdom passed the secret to her first son…”
“You already know it all,” Chike said and nodded approvingly, “the child born out of intercourse between the prince of Ajali and the princess of Onitsha became the king and it continued; without anyone knowing that the king had the blood of Ajali people and not fully Onitsha blood. This continued until many centuries when one of the descendants of Asa Amamihe, the nurse, divulged the secret which was verified and found to be true, making the kingship to be transferred to another family in Onitsha; stripping the former Obi who came from Ajali lineage of the kingship…”
“But to avoid shame since they still have royal blood in them,” Amarachi grabbed back the history, “the descendants of Ajali were named Obi Ajali of Onitsha instead of Obi of Onitsha since they have the blood of Ajali in them, and you happen to be from this Obi Ajali, the reason why you retained the gold that Ugwunwa and her cohorts came for…”
“On point,” Chike said, “you’ve completed the story already,”
“So how did Ajalindu people come to be?” Amarachi asked looking so impressed with herself.
“After stripping my ancestors of the throne and giving a lesser kingly title being Obi-Ajali of Onitsha, there was a revolution by twenty persons among the descendants of Ajali that formed a group known as the Ogu-madu group because they didn’t want to lose the title as royal blood. That revolution birthed a full-blown war,” Chike continued, “but Ajali descendants didn’t win, so those who engaged in the fight that survived the war fled to a remote village in Imo state, though in those days it wasn’t called Imo state…”
“Ubulu precisely,” Amarachi reminded him as she hugged him with great joy, “they fled to my village, Ubulu and were known as Ajalindu clan,”
“You are right,” Chike shouted and covered her mouth with his palm remembering that the sick man was still in bed, “Oh my God! I just remembered that you’re from Ubulu according to what Dave told me,”
“Yes, I’m from Ubulu,”
Amarachi said with joy, “my dad here can only be revived by the use of the flower called Isioma flower; a sweet-scented red flower that grows at the path leading to Eke Ubulu stream in my village. But unfortunately,” she added feeling a bit sad; “the Ajalindu people had been banished many years ago. Now no one can locate them. The prophecy was that I must find one Pastor Quintus but I don’t even know him…”
“I am Pastor Quintus,” Chike disclosed looking perplexed.
Amarachi was shocked because she never knew Chike to be Quintus. “I don’t understand, please,” she said looking bewildered.
“When I became a pastor,” Chike explained, “I took the name as my second name because in Roman praenomen, the name is from the word ‘fifth’, and it became popular that it’s usually a name for the fifth child in a family born in the fifth month of the year. Being that I am the fifth child in the family of Obi-Ajali, and born in the fifth month being May, I took the name, Quintus,”
Amarachi was so surprised, making her kneel and began to cry thankfully to God for his mercies on her. She couldn’t just believe it because everything was happening like in the movies for her to end up knowing that Pastor Quintus was Chike, her childhood friend, and admirer. She was taken aback and filled with goose pimples thinking about everything. As the thought progressed, she remembered that in Oduenyi’s prophecy, he said that the person to revive the king must be of Royal lineage and from Ajalindu clan. Secondly, the prophecy became clearer stating that it would be Pastor Quintus. It was then clear that everything about Chike met the requirements and prerequisites for reviving the king.
Without hesitation, Amarachi knelt before Chike and said: “You’re the only one to wake this man lying in a coma. The prophecy had been pointing at a descendant of Ajalindu, even though you said it’s meant to be Ndu Ajali,”
“Yes, they gave themselves Ndu Ajali because the war was suicidal, and the Ogu –madu group never knew that they would survive the great civil war in Onitsha. That was why they gave themselves the name Ndu Ajali meaning the Life of Ajali clan, or simply put; the survivors left of Ajali fighters in the war. I can’t explain why they decided to make ‘Ndu’ the suffix and ‘Ajali’ the prefix by being known as Ajalindu,”
“History never captured that but it’s now obvious that the Isioma flower will be effective in your hands,” Amarachi said and looked at the tilted flower that Chisimdi angrily left beside the king’s bed and discovered that the dead flower was blossoming and alive once more.; even without being watered or buried in the sand.
It was as if a light shone on the flower, attracting Chike’s eyes, so he looked at it and felt a connection with the flower. Without wasting time, he went to the location of the flower; opened Psalm 91 of the bible and read. After that, he read Psalm 23 and 35.
After reciting the words of the psalmist, he held the king by the head, opened his mouth, and then squeezed the flower; extracting some oil from it. He allowed some drops of the oil to enter the mouth of the king, making the man sneeze.
Chike at this point remembered that there had been a puzzle that had been disturbing him since he became a pastor, so he said: “I think I now find the answers,”
Amarachi, who was still jubilating silently as she saw the eyeballs of her dad moving for the first time in that sleeping state, didn’t even notice that Chike was startled until Chike touched her to keep calm.
“He’s moving…oh my God, my dad is moving his eyes,” Amarachi shouted but Chike held her mouth so that attention wouldn’t be drawn to the private ward.
“I was sleeping one night and suddenly began to have strange dreams,” Chike began to talk, making Amarachi attentive amid the celebratory mood.
“Go on, biko …ooooo” Amy said with great hilarity.
“I think I have the staff of the king,” Chike said, getting Amarachi confused.
“Wait…did you say the staff of the king?” Amarachi asked.
“Yes, I have it, and it’s in my house hiding where no eyes can see it,” He said and nodded assuredly. “When I woke up from the nightmare, I found the artefact beside my bed. It was then I knew that what I saw in my dream was real. I was afraid to touch it but still had to hide the staff because I knew that someday, the owner would come for it,”
“Holy God!” Amy hollered, “I have heard about the staff of the king and the Oji being kind of identical but it was said that the staff is self-sufficient, self-defending, and self-protecting according to what Olaedo my sister said to me, even though she couldn’t complete the explanation before my mom interrupted,”
“Yes, they are identical but the Oji is under my bed,” the king said and opened his eyes, making Amarachi rush at him with tears in her eyes and embraced him, “I’m still weak from this long journey,” the king said and tried to stand but couldn’t.
“Sir, you need rest,” Chike advised, “I’ll consult the doctors to attend to you shortly,” he added.
“Let me rush and call the doctor immediately!” Amarachi yelled and tried to rush out but the king held her back.
“My daughter, I’ve been seeing you in my dream and I knew that you were my blood,” The king said and pulled Amy close and planted a kiss on her forehead, “I had no male child but I found more than thousand of them in you,” he continued while the crying daughter remained glued to her dad’s body in a warm embrace, “I never saw any of you clearly until I went into Odimegwu forest to hide; even though it became a place of agony instead of refuge,”
“Where is this forest, papa?” Amy asked looking so happy and curious to know more.
“It only exists in the mind, and can only be located by the king,” he replied and smiled, “some things are best understood by the king alone, so don’t dig into the details because from what I saw in you as I was sleeping, you were the dogged one who doesn’t give up easily just like your dad,”
Amarachi smiled shyly and nodded in acceptance. “But you’re safe now, dad,” Amy said assuredly and kissed his forehead, “It would be interesting for you to know that Mkpulumma, your darling wife is alive, even my twin sister…”
“I knew about all these, but not until I entered into the forest,” The king said in a sonorous tone, “I was there and waiting for you to bring me back. I’m glad that finally, I’m back and alive. The evil people that chained me must pay,”
“Dad, let’s go home, please,” Amy said impatiently with so much joy as she kept crying with joy.
Chike left immediately to rush home and bring the staff but was surprised to see it in his car, so without asking questions, he took it quickly and rushed back to the hospital bed and handed it over to the king. “This is the staff, I guess.” He said and watched the king grab it by force after some silent prayers he said.
Immediately the king held the Staff, he became energized as if he had never been sick since he was born. He suddenly removed the entire syringes and cords plugged to his body, pulled up the mattress and brought out the Oji.
Being that the identical instruments of authority were complete and intact, he held the staff with the right hand and the Oji with the left, and then raised them and began to sing, attracting many people into the private ward to listen to him: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, he has visited his people and redeemed them. He has raised for us a mighty saviour,” he chanted and pointed at Amarachi who was listening to the lyrics and crying and then continued, “In the house of David his servant. Through his holy prophets God promised us of Old,” he sang and remembered Chisimdi, and then continued, “to save us from our enemies, and from the hands of those who hate us,” and then he knelt before the people holding the staff and Oji up and concluded the song saying: “Glory be to the father and the song, and the holy spirit. As if was, in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; world without end…”
And the entire crowd roared: “Amen,” and began to clap.
“A wonderful song of Zachariah,” Chisimdi echoed and entered with tears in her eyes dispersing the crowd to see the face of her dad for the first time.
“A powerful rendition of the Benedictus by our lovely daddy,” Amarachi yelled and pulled Chisimdi out of the crowd into the ward to meet the king.
The twins knelt with the king, embraced him, and then pulled him up while the embrace continued among the blood.
“Finally, Amy did it,” Chisimdi said joyously and welcomed Akilika who, amid his old age jostled within the crowd and began to mesmerize the king with the melody of the flute.
The songs and dance steps displayed by the old man was his best more than he had ever done in his lifetime, making everyone to be astonished and surprised.
It was surprising that the more he used the flute, the older he became even to the point that he couldn’t stand anymore because his real age just appeared on his outlook, so he handed over the flute to Ogbuoja and instructed him to continue and whispered in that weakness: “Fuwa Oja Nwam (blow the flute, my son)”.
Ogbuoja suddenly got possessed by the double spirit of Akilika in handling the flute and then began to thrill everyone while he watched the king rush at Akilika, his old friend to know what was happening to him.
As the flutist chilled everyone’s body with goosebumps using the nostalgic dirge, the old man began to die in the hands of the king looking into the king’s eyes, with tears of joy raining down his cheek as he departed in peace.
“Finally, my assignment on earth is complete and the supernatural can now accept my soul in peace,” the old man managed to say and then became dumb; looking with his eyes open but not talking anymore.
The king watched Anyamuo (the eyes of the spirit) die in his arms, and then slowly closed the weakened lifeless eyes of the greatest flutist that ever lived.
Ogbuoja, the little boy cried so loud but never stopped playing the flute.
The cloud suddenly became so dark as if there was an eclipse, leading to jubilation by the birds to the point that the people all knelt and began to cry.
“Go home, and go in peace, my protector, my guarding, and my friend,” The king said in that sorrowful tone and then laid the man quietly on the floor, stood up and began to dance the dance of the spirits known as Surugede. The king is the only one in the entire Ubulu kingdom that can dance the Surugede dance and still be alive.
As the king engaged in the Surugede dance to welcome Anyamuo Akilika ndi muo into the afterlife, the flutist watered every soul with the melodious tone that bid the oldest man adieu into the spirit world.
At this point, it became cloudy in Ubulu kingdom as if it was already night; notwithstanding the distance between Ubulu and Onitsha, making the entire animals in the village be in turmoil while different kinds of birds hovering in the air began to make a series of noises according to how they are created.
Different kinds of birds were present except the evil crow that had been defeated.
Mkpulumma on seeing what was happening already knew that the king had been found and revived. Shouting: “Ubulu gbazuonu oooo (Ubulu people gather in numbers)”, she dropped everything she had with her, rushed into the palace and then saw the staff of the king that was lost as it was sitting with valour and glory on the throne of the king and waiting for the first citizen of Ubulu to come home and take over the kingship. On seeing this, she shouted again and fell on the floor; crying and jubilating because she already felt the presence of the king that would soon come home as the protective lion of the people.
PRINCESS AMARACHI episode 18
Drop Your Comment