BOOKHOUSE PRIZE-GODS OF A WIDOW
GODS OF A WIDOW BY IFEANYI IWEGBUNA
Gods of a Widow tells of the sexism and abuse suffered by young widows in a patriachal society in the hands of greedy and conniving in-laws. Nwachenwa who lost her husband was comforted by a son few months into her mourning. That would turn out to seem as a spur for unbearable animosity from her brother-in-law. As the drama progresses, we see that the gods of this widow have a tricky ace up their sleeves as the twists in conflict between good and evil becomes a daring spectacle.
Two weeks later. Nwachenwa still trying to orient herself in her new status. She sits on a stool comfortably, and before her is a table that suites the stool. All her attention is on what she is writing, a brief story about her late husband. Also resting on the table, are some books on rats and lizards. She cannot stop reading those books. She also had her husband’s photographs on the table and she glances at it and then write more about Akachi. all her attention is on the desk, writing, until Achunike’s appearance.
Achunike comes in, suspiciously looking here and there, his aloof visitation does no good.
She’s writing again. [Achunike murmurs to himself]
Nwachenwa [Humbly greets] Welcome, my husband.
Nwachenwa [Clears her throat, softly] my hus….
Achunike [Roughly interrupt] I heard you. Did you see grey hairs in my ears?
Nwachenwa[ With a quizzical expression] My husband, have we become enemy?
Achunike You have said it, and you are the only one that knows what you have just said. I believe you know, no matter how gentle a fisher sploshes to catch a slumbering fish, the water itself cries first.
Achunike Meaning what you know but refuse to understand.
Nwachenwa Achunike. You have started again. When have I become the rat that challenges the cat to a combat.
Achunike Ignores her.
NwachenwaMy husband, Akachi left our unborn child and me in your care, to cater for us. Why do you start now counting on my trespasses? Our elders say, the monkey spits and pees on the trees it climbs, yet the trees don’t take offense, instead, they hold the monkey’s hand so it doesn’t slip in rainy season. My husband you should be like that tree.
Achunike Ha, ha, ha. Only a child would thankfully nod to your story. Do you think that I am not an old soldier? A man o’war man is a soldier and a soldier man is a man o’war. I am a retired lieutenant [gesture as his proud lead]. You only study rat and lizard. But we the man o’wars’ walk like lizard and eat the rat that dare us in the war field. So, just know that you cannot trick me into dancing around a pepper tree.
Nwachenwa And who told you that the women of Isiuzornabu kingdom have crowned me Oti igba ijele. I said it, no matter how colourful the chameleon claims to be, it can never have the kind of back the tree has.
Achunike Do you think that I am blind? All these book, here and there.
Nwachenwa Only the gods know what you are trying to insinuate. The gods of Isiuzornabu are wise, the gods know that behind your name, there is a scorpion’s tail so…
Achunike Yes. Fearful scorpion’s tail that stings a corpse and wake him up to forage for an onion, and then, when he found the onion, he chews it and then dies again.
Nwachenwa Achunike, you are just making a rough bed, you are tempting my husband’s spirit.
Achunike How dare you woman? How can Akachi’s ghost snore like other ghosts, when you, Nwachenwa, have started writing names here and there. Who knows when you will erase my father’s name and replace with your father’s name. Let me warn you, adighi eji gidi gidi echi uzor (one does not get uzor title by mare strength).
Nwachenwa [Keeps silent]
Achunike Yes. You can shut your ears to what I am saying now but later, your conscience will judge you.
[A knock at the door. Nduaku comes in]
Nwachenwa May the eyes of the gods continue watching over their children, Nna ayi [to Nduaku] you are welcome.
Nduaku [Sitting down on the seat before Nwachenwa’s table] my daughter, thanks. Achunike my son why are you not sitting down is this household, is it not yours as well? Or, are you still practicing your man o’war?
Nwachenwa [Chip in] Nna ayi he says my seat my seat… [She felt a quiver of sorrow run through her]
Nwachenwa [Continue] my tears gladden his heart, and he feels younger each time he sees them.
Nduaku [To Achunike] My son, is it true?
Achunike [look of exasperation]
Nduaku My son, is it true?
Achunike [To Nduaku. in an irrespectible manner] Nduaku, since when have Isiuzornabu kingdom crowned you, a chief judge? Leave us alone. I and my brother’s wife know how we sort out our differences.
Nduaku My son, what an elder saw while sitting, no matter how many height, a child jumps, he will not see it. Your mood says it all, Nwachenwa your brother’s wife suppose now to be the bee in your bonnet. You should be thinking of how to welcome the child in her…
Achunike Who told you that I, Achunike, I’m not ready? When have you become the gods that see everywhere? How did you know, if my jars are yet to fill up with palm wine, or…
Nduaku Achunike my son, all, am asking you, learn how to live in peace with Nwachenwa.
Achunike And if I may also ask you, is it right, for an elderly man like Nduaku to gives ears to a gossip? I Think what should be your concern now is how you can reconcile with the youth of Isiuzornabu for the issue you have found in.
Nduaku Are you praying for my death?
Nwachenwa Nna ayi the righteous shall see the end of his foes. The kite that says the chicken will not have rest, he too will not have rest because he will dive and dive till his wings weakens. Anyone who says death is sweet should first test the endless sleep.
Achunike Who is praying for death? [To Nwachenwa] Well, I can no longer stand here, and continue feeding my ears with sick tales. I have delivered my message, Nwachenwa, you are summoned.
Nduaku The gods are wise, the gods are indeed, wise. My daughter, I shall be on my way. [Stands up, ready to exit] The gods never ignores a cry, that I know and that I am sure of.
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