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AND SHE CRIED SOME MORE


The alarm startled Adaugo awake. She didn't want to wake up just yet so she burrowed deeper under the duvet and let it ring. When it kept ringing, she groggily opened her eyes. "I don't know how Obiora is able to sleep through his noisy alarm even when it's right beside him," she muttered to herself.
The lights in the room were all off but Adaugo could see the offending phone because its screen was lit as the alarm blared. She got down from the bed and slowly made her way across the room to shut off the alarm. She always hated waking up this early but she knew that, for her, the day had begun. So, Adaugo went into the bathroom to ease herself and after she was done, she turned on the water heater. When she came back into the room, she realized that Obiora was still asleep and she decided not to wake him yet.
He really needs to rest more. He works too hard
Last night, Obiora had come home late because he had been in a meeting that had gone on for a long time. He had declined his wife's offer of a hot meal and had, instead, gone to bed immediately without taking a shower. Adaugo knew then that he was exhausted so she had just covered him up with the duvet and let him sleep.

She left their room now and made her way down the hallway to their children's room. Opening their door, she took a peek at them. Julian and Joan were still sound asleep. As usual, they had kicked off their duvet so she went into the room and covered them up properly. Four-year old Julian stirred as his mother placed a kiss on his forehead. Adaugo waited to see if he would wake up and when he didn’t, she turned her attention to her seven-year old daughter.
She smiled gently. She’s such a beautiful girl and is growing very rapidly too.
Looking at both of them now she was grateful for her life and the blessing of her family. She and Obiora had been trying for another baby since their son turned two but that hadn’t happened yet. That had made her sad for a long time but lately, she had accepted that they may never have another child and had made peace with that. She was very grateful for the fact that she had these two.
If we have another child, it will be God’s will, she thought now as she left their room.

She walked briskly down the stairs. As soon as she was downstairs, she heard sounds from the kitchen. Patience is such a hard-working girl. I rarely ever have to wake her up.
Twenty-year old Patience had been their help for over three years. They paid her a salary but just last month, she had been enrolled in a fashion institute. So, every morning after taking the children to school, she dropped Patience off at the institute before going to her shop. That meant that besides getting breakfast ready and making sandwiches for Obiora to take to work, Adaugo had to get lunch ready before they all left so that they could all eat immediately they came home in the afternoon.
After exchanging pleasantries, Adaugo and Patience got to work. In about an hour, they were done and Adaugo quickly went upstairs. Obiora usually left the house before the rest of them so, Adaugo went in to spend some time with him before waking the children so they could get ready for school.


Adaugo opened the door, smiling. Obiora loved it when she hugged him from the back, as he dressed. That was like a ritual for them, one that had begun when they still used to go to work together.
She was surprised to see that the room was still as dark as she left it. Flipping a switch, she saw him still huddled under the duvet. That’s strange.
Alarmed, she quickly went to him.
Laying a hand on Obiora’s shoulder, she tapped him and spoke softly, “Wake up, sweetie. You’ll be late for work.”
There was no response from him so she tapped him harder. She noticed then that he was strangely still so with a thudding heart, she shook him instead.
“Obi, sweetie, please wake up, love. It’s not a weekend so you can’t sleep in. There’s work today, Obi.”
“Obiora, o gini? Is this your idea of a joke?” she asked frantically when all she got from him were involuntary movements as a result of her now desperate shaking of his body.
In a few minutes, it was clear to her that Obiora didn’t need to go to work. He would never be waking up again. So, with her arms around her body, she wailed.

Thirty minutes later the doorbell rang continuously, like whoever was at the door was impatient to get in. Patience left the children’s room in a hurry and ran downstairs to open the door. As soon as she saw the visitors, she burst into tears.
Ewo! So, it is true, then. The worst has happened!” Ijeamaka yelled. She hadn’t wanted to believe Adaugo’s hysterical call and had prayed continuously, all through the short drive to the house. Her husband, Nnanyelugo, tried to put an arm around her but she took a side step away from him and entered the house. Shoving Patience away, she ran upstairs, to the room her brother had shared with his wife.
Ignoring Adaugo, who was sitting on the floor and crying, Ijeamaka ran to her brother’s side. She shook him very hard and cried, “Nnaa, wake up, biko. If this is some horrible joke, it is, in no way, funny. Obi, what do you want us to tell Mama? Please, wake up.”
She joined Adaugo on the floor and they both wailed together. Nnanyelugo came into the room then and taking in the scene before him, he shook his head, retrieved his mobile phone from his pocket and made a call. “Izunna, you need to come over to your brother’s house immediately. Alu eme go.”

“I hope you know where all Obiora’s important documents are.”
Adaugo was still in a daze. It had been two days since he died but she still couldn’t believe that Obiora was lying in a morgue at the moment. He had not been ill at all, she thought to herself for the umpteenth time.
“He had only been tired,” she said aloud. “People get tired all the time. Yet, they don’t die.” As she started crying again, her mother, Agnes, who was sitting beside her, pulled her into her arms.
Ijeamaka looked around the room till she settled on Izunna. Getting the barest of nods from him, she repeated her question to Adaugo who was still crying.
“Ije, this is hardly the time for such questions,” Agnes said quietly. “I’m sure that’s the last thing on Ada’s mind now.”
“Mama, there can’t be a better time than this,” Ijeamaka said tersely. “Obiora is already dead. We have to make sure his property and any other investments he may have made are in good hands,”
“Ijeamaka is right, Mama Ada,” Izunna said. “While we await the autopsy results of our brother, we have to make sure that everything else is in order.”
“Oh, I see,” Agnes said slowly. Turning to her daughter, she said, “Nne, please tell them what they want to hear.”
Drying her tears with the back of her hands, Adaugo said in a tremulous voice, “Yes, Ijeamaka. I know where all the important documents are.”
Izunna leaned forward on his chair and stared at Adaugo. “We would like to take a look at them.”
Adaugo looked from Izunna to Ijeamaka and then turned her attention to Nnanyelugo who quickly looked away. She then turned to her mother and a look of understanding passed between them.
“I see,” she replied in a stronger tone. “May I know exactly why you feel there is a need to see those documents?”
“Listen, Adaugo,” Izunna said, raising his voice a little. “We can either do this the easy way or we do it the hard way. The choice is entirely yours. We are sure that our brother made some good investments in his lifetime and we want to know what those investments are. He has children whom should be looked after with all he left behind. He has a mother whom he made sure to take care of while he was alive. He was a generous man; so, I’m sure he would like to see every member of his family taken care of. So, in one way or the other, we all have a stake in Obiora’s estate.”
Adaugo was shocked. “I can’t believe you all. My husband has been dead only two days and already, the vultures are circling…”
“Vultures, you call us?”
She ignored Ijeamaka’s high-pitched shriek. “If my husband had wanted you to know the extent of his investments, he would have disclosed them all to you while he was alive. Obiora has two young children...”
“Who are not old enough to handle their father’s estate themselves.”
“Izunna, you are right. My children are too young to take care of themselves. But, they have a mother who would do everything possible to protect them. They are yet to understand that they would never see their father again and that, to me, is the most important thing right now. Like my mother said, this is not the right time to have this discussion.”
“Like I told your mother earlier, there is no better time than this,” Ijeamaka said heatedly, shrugging off the restraining hand Nnanyelugo laid on her shoulder. “It’s not even clear how Obiora died. I spoke with my brother the day before that and he sounded hale and hearty. While we wait for the coroner’s report, his family would want to safeguard his assets.”
“Ijeamaka, you seem to forget so quickly that the children and I are Obiora’s immediate family and that we always came first with him. Why do you think that I would relinquish all that my husband and I built to your greedy hands? As for how Obi died, I am as interested as you are in finding that out. You only spoke with him the previous day while I was the last person to see him before he slept and never woke up.”
Izunna rose from his chair, coming to stand before Adaugo. “Adaugo, how dare you call us greedy?”
She stared at him, eyes flashing. “Izunna, it can only be greedy hearts that would motivate this sham of a meeting. When you all asked me to meet with you in the living room, I thought we were going to sit as a family who had just lost a loved one. I thought we were going to make plans together about a burial or something similar. I wasn’t ready to start such plans yet, considering that he just died. But, I was willing to hear you out. Unfortunately, all you seem interested in right now is to lay your hands on the wealth you perceive that your brother amassed before his death. I will say this to you now and I will repeat it for as many times as I have to till you understand exactly what I mean; I will not hand over any documents to you.”
Nnanyelugo came over to Izunna and holding him by the arm, led him back to his seat. An uneasy silence fell on the group which Nnanyelugo broke by noisily clearing his throat.
“Ada, biko, calm down. My sister, it is not greed that motivates your in-laws. They are only looking out for everyone’s interest. It is not possible that we would allow Obiora’s children to suffer after his death. We are here to make sure that…”
“Make sure that what happens, Nnanyelugo? You miss my point entirely. Obiora has only been dead for two days! Could this discussion not have waited till we found out why a previously healthy thirty-nine year old died so suddenly? His mother has not even been told that he is dead and already, there’s this mad dash to lay hands on his estate. Why would any of you use the excuse that you are looking out for his children when I can see through that very easily? Am I dead too? I am their mother and would take care of my children better than any of you can. Nnanyelugo, what is your own in the matter, even? You were only my husband’s brother-in-law…”
Ijeamaka stood up and raising her voice said, “Leave my husband out of your ranting, Adaugo. He is here because Obiora was my brother. We are all crushed that Obiora died so suddenly but no amount of sentiments will bring him back.”
Lowering her voice now she said, “No one wants to deprive your children of their father’s assets. God forbid that!”
She looked around now and getting nods from her husband and her brother, she continued, “All we are interested in, Ada, is making sure that everyone is taken care of, the way Obiora would have wanted it. You and the children were his immediate family, alright. But, he had us too. He had an aged mother. He always was generous to us all. So, we only want to know the extent of his investments so that everyone benefits from them like he would have wanted.

When she sat, Adaugo shifted in her seat to stare at them one after the other. Again, Nnanyelugo averted his eyes. It was almost as if he was ashamed of being a part of the unfolding drama.
“I still insist that now is not the time for this discussion. It is interesting that no one has asked if my husband made a will before he died…”
“Oh shut up, woman. You have no understanding of tradition, do you? You speak of a will. That’s so laughable. Obiora’s first son, by tradition, inherits all his father owns. Julian is only a little boy so he cannot handle the responsibility of that. Therefore, the oldest male among his father’s closest relatives has the responsibility of taking care of those assets till he becomes an adult. In this case, that would be me.”
It was a dry and mocking laughter that erupted from Adaugo as she slowly rose to her feet. “Now, the drama unfolds. I was right, after all. Izunna, asi ka i na-asi, you lie! Never will I let you get your thieving hands on our property. Where were you when Obiora and I stayed up late at night dreaming about how we wanted our lives to be? Where were you when we scrimped and saved to make the investments that built this house and to make some of our other dreams come true? Where were you when Obiora had to work long hours at the office to provide for his family? You always had it easy, Izunna.”
Izunna put his left hand on his jaw and looked away from her. The only sign of his rising agitation was his right foot, beating a fast tempo on the tiled floor.
“Obiora was only two years older than you. Yet, all you needed to do was come to your brother anytime you had a need and he would solve your problem for you. Almost every year, he paid your house rent. Money for your business, he supplied, no matter how many times you came to him. Your children’s school fees, he paid, more often than not.”
Mechie onu, Adaugo! Shut up! He was our brother and had to do all those.”
She turned to Ijeamaka and laughed derisively. “You shut up! You speak as if you were entitled to all he did for you. He didn’t have to do a thing for any of you! It was his love for his family that propelled him.”
She looked around the room. Izunna had a look of pure venom in his face as he stared at her. His left foot had joined in the fast taps on the floor.
"Did any of you ever stop to wonder how all that was possible? Your brother was a very good man. He was generous to everyone even when it meant that he had to make personal sacrifices and I never tried to stop him. You desecrate his memory by coming here, while he still is on a cold slab, to hustle me for his assets. Shame on all of you, Obiora deserved better than this!”
Izunna jumped up from his chair again and sprang to Adaugo. Drawing his hand backwards, he gave her a slap.
Ewoo!” Agnes yelled, pulling her daughter away from Izunna.
Nnanyelugo stood and pulled Izunna away as well. “Nwoke m, hold yourself together. You shouldn’t have hit her.”
“My daughter has only been recently bereaved. Yet, you all come here with no intentions of sympathizing with her,” Agnes said, waving her finger at Izunna. “How dare you slap Adaugo for calling a spade a spade? Obiora was a very decent man. He was good to all of us. My daughter was right, he doesn’t deserve this. The only thing I will contribute to this discussion is that this is not the right time for such a conversation. It is inappropriate because, we all should still be in deep mourning.” Turning to Nnanyelugo, she said, “Nnanyelugo, I’ve always respected you so I don’t understand how you would allow yourself to be dragged into this kind of mess. You are older than Izunna and should have been able to give him good advice.”
Sitting, Agnes turned to her daughter, who was sobbing quietly on her chair, “O zugo, nwa m. Don’t cry anymore.”
Looking up, Adaugo quietly said, “Leave my house immediately or I would call the police.”
“The police, you say?” Izunna asked. “You are a joker, Adaugo and I will teach you your place. By the time I am done with you, you will beg me to take the documents, anu ofia.
Taking her brother’s hand, Ijeamaka said, “Izuu, come let’s leave. Adaugo will learn pretty soon how things work.”

Izunna turned his body in Adaugo’s direction, raised his right arm and pointed his extended forefinger at her. “My elders, this woman is as stubborn as a mule. She blatantly refused to accede to our request that she provides proof of our brother’s financial position at the time of his death. When we insisted, she chased us from Obiora’s house and threatened us with the police.”

Adaugo’s plans for the burial had met with great resistance from her husband’s family. She had still not agreed to relinquish all the documents for her husband’s investments to them so they were bent on making her miserable.
She had been informed that Obiora needed a ‘befitting’ burial and his extended family insisted that she foot all the bills for his funeral. Their argument had been that he had been a wealthy man and should be buried in a lavish ceremony. She had argued that Obiora had been a simple man who wouldn’t have wanted all that fuss but they had insisted that he must not be buried like a chicken. When she had asked them to contribute financially for such an elaborate ceremony, they all had refused because, in their opinion, his bank accounts had more than enough money to take care of the incurred expenses. For the sake of peace, she had no choice but to acquiesce to most of their demands.
In the weeks since Obiora’s death, Izunna had spoken to some of the elders of the family and had got them on his side. This morning, three days after Obiora’s burial, his late father’s three brothers had summoned Adaugo to a family meeting.

He turned back to his uncles, spread both arms and shook his head twice, as if in confusion. “Adaugo is still young and would most likely re-marry. What would become of Obiora’s properties, then? Should she be allowed to deprive our family of everything my brother worked for?”
He paused now and brought his hands down. Then, he raised his right forefinger. “Obiora built a big house in Lagos.”
His middle finger joined the other. “He had two cars.”
His ring finger came up as well. “I’m sure he had a lot of money in his bank accounts because they lived very well and his children went to expensive schools.”
He made a slash in the air with his palm facing upwards and all fingers extended. “Is it right that Adaugo inherits all of that? Obiora took care of all of us when he was alive. Why should his death change that when there’s enough for all of us? Adaugo refuses to share because she simply wants it all for herself.”

Abruptly, he ended his speech, turned away from his uncles and went back to his seat. In the ensuing silence, Mazi Eche nodded his head vigorously, while Adaugo stood to her feet. “Izunna, you are fighting for property you know nothing about,” she said, with a dismissive wave of a hand. “Extracting a palm nut is exactly that and nothing more; but, to take the entire bunch of palm nuts is stealing. The story I will tell you now is none of your business but maybe, it just might disabuse your mind of some notions you obviously have. Almost…”
Izunna sprang to his feet and moved towards her, causing her to pause. Mazi Izukanne raised his right hand, his palm facing forward. “Halt, Izunna!”
He stopped in his tracks, chest heaving and eyes blazing as he turned to his uncle. “Nna anyi, this is not the first time this woman is referring to me as a thief and I will not take it any longer. I will…”
“Calm down, my son,” Mazi Ukandu said. “This meeting was summoned to make peace. Our family has suffered a huge blow and we cannot afford to tear at each other.”
Izunna stood for a while looking at her and snapped his fingers once, in her direction, before returning to his seat. Mazi Ukandu turned to her then and spoke sharply, “Nne, your elders are here. Be mindful of that as you speak.”
She knelt and pleaded with the three men sitting side by side on a long couch. “I’m sorry, nna anyi Ukandu.” When she turned her eyes on Mazi Izukanne and Mazi Eche and proffered the same apology, they looked away, without a word.
“You may stand, my daughter. We are interested in what you have to say.”
“Thank you, nna anyi Ukandu.” She stood, facing the three men. “Almost immediately after our marriage, Obiora and I took personal loans from our respective banks. With that money, we bought a lot of shares in various companies and over the years, we watched our investment grow. Luckily for us, just before the stock market crashed three years ago, we cashed in on some of those share certificates and paid off what was left of both loans.”
She took a glance at Izunna who was sitting on her right, two chairs away from hers. He sat with his legs apart, tapping his feet on the floor. She turned her attention on the elders again.  ”My elders, the house Izunna talks about was then built, from the proceeds of that sale, on a piece of land Obiora bought before we got married. Their title deeds are in both our names. He also talked about cars. When Obiora sold his old car last year, he bought a new one with a loan from the bank he worked in. He hadn’t even paid half of that off before his demise. Izunna wants the car, obviously. Is he willing to pay off that debt? The second car is my car and has always been in my name. It is not Izunna’s business how much my husband left in his bank accounts. It is also not his business the school our children attend. I don’t buy his excuse about needing to know our financial position so that he would take care of his niece and nephew. I am their mother and will certainly take care of my children.”
Mazi Izukanne brought his hands together to form a steeple. Moving his palms away while his fingertips remained touching, he leaned back on his chair and smiled sardonically. “My daughter, you speak very eloquently and you seem to have facts and figures. But, in all you have said, there is no mention of our tradition. If this had happened when I was a boy, Izunna, as your husband’s immediate younger brother, would have inherited you as his second wife and you would not have had a say in the matter. “
“No say at all!”  Mazi Eche interjected, nodding his head. “These children have no respect for the customs and traditions of our land. Tufiakwa!” He started coughing.
Mazi Izukanne glanced at his brother and when he stopped coughing, he continued, “However, time and the coming of Christianity altered some of our customs. So, while Izunna may not marry you, because of his position in your husband’s family, he has rights to Obiora’s estate since your only son is a mere boy. We may all be educated men but our traditions hold sway over our lives.”
When he fell silent, Mazi Ukandu gently said, “Adaugo, nwanyi oma, your husband always spoke highly of you. He was a generous man and anytime I thanked him for any favour he had done me, he was always quick to let me know that he was able to do so much for everyone because he had married a good woman. If Obiora didn’t have enough, he wouldn’t have had any to spare. I appeal to your good judgment, my daughter. All your husband’s family needs is a continuation of his legacy of giving. He would have wanted his family to still benefit from all his wealth. I nugo?
Nna anyi Ukandu, how can you appeal to her? She is a woman of this family and should be made to obey our traditions. She may be very educated, as we all are, but she is a woman, nonetheless. Rather than appealing to her, I suggest that the elders give her an ultimatum so that things are done right immediately. Someone needs to let this woman know that the grasshopper that runs into the midst of fowls ends up in the land of spirits.”
“Izunna, you have always been a hot-head. Some things are better handled diplomatically…”
Uzoamaka rushed to her feet. “Nna anyi Ukandu, diplomacy would get us nowhere in this matter! Adaugo informed my mother that she would be leaving for Lagos tomorrow. This is against the orders of the umuada, who have instructed her to stay a full month in the village before returning to Lagos. She insists that there is nothing for her to do here any longer. She also insists that her children have to resume school while she goes back to the running of her business. She has not mourned my brother in any way, yet she is intent on resuming her life. That is preposterous!”
Mazi Izukanne frowned and slapped his right hand on his right thigh. “That is completely unheard of! Listen, woman, there are rules you must obey. You are a woman and when the umuada speak, you must obey. It’s as simple as that.”
“Tell her, nna anyi. If the coroner’s report had not ruled that Obiora had died as a result of a massive heart attack, I would have said that she killed him.”
Adaugo gasped at that and started sobbing gently. Turning to her left to face Ijeamaka, she said, “Ije, I did not need to wail as many times as the umuada forced me to, over these past days, to show that I mourn my husband. I was made to wear filthy rags to emphasize that I was in mourning. Ijeamaka, you stood over me yesterday as my head was shaved with a sharp razor. You kept telling those women to cut off my hair, as I had no need for it anymore. When one of them said that I was lucky that it was a razor and not a broken bottle that had been the tool of choice, you laughed heartily.”
She removed the black scarf on her clean-shaven head and bowed her head. “I have cuts on my head to show just how brutally they cut my hair off. It didn’t occur to you that the scars Obiora’s death left me with are deeper than your eyes can see, did it?”
She placed her right hand on her left breast and raised her head to look at her sister-in-law. “He was your brother but he was my husband. I saw him everyday and we shared a life. It’s been six weeks since he died but I’ve cried myself to sleep every night. I’m filled with guilt that he must have died while I slept right beside him. I keep asking myself if I could have done anything to save his life had I been awake. How can you even suspect for a second that I would kill my husband?”
Ijeamaka looked away from her unflinching gaze and sat. “All these are stories that are supposed to touch the heart. They’re not working, though.”
Adaugo spread both arms to her sides; then, brought her hands together to the middle of her chest. "Why have you turned on me in this manner, Ije? I was married to your brother for eight years and you saw first-hand how close we were. Your brother was the love of my life and I never hid it from anyone. Obiora loved me very much too so why would I want him dead? Why would I deprive my children of their father? Ijeamaka, you are a woman. How would you like it if you were in my shoes?”
Alu! Abomination!” Mazi Eche, yelled, spitting on the tiled floor. “Do you wish Ijeamaka’s husband dead, then?”
Izunna snapped his fingers thrice. “God forbid! She will not succeed in killing another person.”
Nna anyi Eche, I do not wish Nnanyelugo dead. I only asked Ijeamaka to think about what pain I must be feeling now. Izunna, I didn’t kill Obiora and you know that.”
“I know no such thing, Adaugo!” Izunna countered, amidst murmuring from the rest of the group. “Obiora was hardly ever ill all his life. How come he suddenly died? There are poisons that induce heart attacks, you know. I’ve done a thorough research.”
Nodding her head in agreement, Ijeamaka folded her arms on her chest, extended her legs in front of her and crossed her feet at the ankles. “Why exactly are you in a hurry to get back to Lagos? Do you not know the meaning of that black dress you wear? Our tradition states that you have to be in seclusion for one month to mourn your husband. What better place to do that than the village? Don’t blame anyone who thinks you killed Obiora. You have blatantly refused to state exactly what he owned before he died. That shows you have no intention of sharing them with us. You must have killed him to have all he owns to yourself.”
At a loss for words, Adaugo started crying harder.
Izunna sneered. “Please, quit being so melodramatic, Adaugo. You haven’t started crying. You are only warming up for the torrent of tears you will shed. I warned you not to cross me, didn’t I? Hand over my brother’s estate and be on your merry way.”

Adaugo remembered now when she had been conflicted about resigning from her bank job to start a business two years ago. She had wanted to have more time to devote to her family but had been worried that the business might not be a successful venture. She had also thought then that resigning from the bank would result in the loss of a good and regular income. She had worked for a long time and was used to the financial independence she had. One day, while expressing her fears to Obiora, he had listened to her in that quiet way that he had.
After she was done speaking he had said firmly, “You are one of the strongest people I know, Ada. When you start your own business, it will be a success because you will not let your dream die. You are doing it for the right reasons so I know that you will put in your best to make it work. I want you to soar like an eagle, sweetie. Don’t ever listen to anybody who says you should flap your wings about like a chicken. You will rise above adversity and you will succeed.”
She thought she could hear him say that to her now and smiled as she realized that he had been right. She was happy that he had been alive to see her little gift shop become a viable business that now regularly supplied corporate gifts to various establishments. It had been hard work, establishing a good brand, but she had done it.

She dried her tears now with the black scarf in her right hand. She blew her nose in it and bunched it up in a fist. When she looked round the room, she found each of them looking at her strangely. “I told Mama this morning that I would be leaving tomorrow but I have changed my mind as I see that I’m no longer welcome here. I will leave for my own village this morning with my children.”
“You are a joker, really. You must be under some sort of delusion if you think that we’ll let you leave here with our brother’s children and property.”
Adaugo laughed dryly. “The joke is on you, Ijeamaka. Before coming for this meeting, I called my elder brother, Nduka, because I had anticipated a charade such as this. He’s on his way from my village with other members of my family, as well as members of the police force. They should be here soon. Let’s see which of you would stand in our way, as my children and I leave here.”
There was a stunned silence for a little while till, standing up to leave, Mazi Izukanne said, “This is a family matter, woman! There was no need involving outsiders. I have always known that 'over-educated' women were nothing but trouble. Marry a humble woman from the village. Mba.” He hissed and shuffled out of the room.
Mazi Ukandu slowly picked his walking stick from where it leaned on the chair and stood to leave too. “I told you all that this could have been settled more amicably. Our people say that it is the head that disturbs the hornet's nest that the hornet stings.
Shaking his head and without uttering a word, Mazi Eche left the room with his two brothers.
When the tapping of Mazi Ukandu’s walking stick had grown faint, Adaugo tried to leave the room to start with her packing and to say goodbye to her mother-in-law; but, a livid Izunna stood and pulled her arm, “This is not over yet.”
Adaugo yanked her hand away and looked from Izunna to Ijeamaka. "Oh, it is.”

Just before Adaugo entered her brother’s car, Obiora’s mother, Theresa, called her to hug her one more time. “Please forgive my children. They were blinded by greed and refused to listen to my advice. They chose, instead, to add to the grief in my heart by trying to destroy the family my son had cherished so much. My daughter, your children are as much a part of this family as their late father was. You are also still my beloved daughter even though Obiora is no more. Please do not deny us the joy of you all because of the foolishness of my children. Don't throw away the baby with the bath water. I nugo, nwa m?
Adaugo was crying as she hugged her mother-in-law again. “Mama, you are my mother just as you were Obi’s; so, it would be an abomination for me to forget that. I will continue doing for you all that Obiora did for you. I promise you that. I have to go now, Mama. As soon as you think you can travel, please come to Lagos. My home has always been your home and that will never change.”

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“He looks so much like his father,” Theresa said, with tears in her eyes.
“That was also my first thought, as soon as I set my eyes on him. If I had ever feared that I would forget what my Obi looked like, I don’t anymore,” Adaugo replied cradling her two-day old son.
She had found out a week after Obiora had been laid to rest that she was going to have another baby. His death and all the events after then had put her through a lot of stress so she hadn’t paid attention to her body earlier. By then, she had been over two months pregnant. That had been a bitter-sweet discovery for her. She was sad that Obiora had not known about the baby before he died but she had been ecstatic that he had given her this final gift. For that she was very grateful.
"Here, Mama. I know you're itching to hold him."
When the baby was settled comfortably in the crook of Theresa's left elbow, Adaugo leaned over and dried the tears on her mother-in-law's face with the palm of her right hand.




Comments

  1. adanna11:48 pm

    Great! Am happy Adaugo showed strength.Good one Ola.

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  2. weldone dear. this is another demonstration of the strength of a woman!

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  3. Colettooo5:06 am

    This is a woman who knows her rights and a wonderful mother in law too! Ola this is great! Keep it up dearie!

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  4. Anonymous8:46 am

    Well done for dis nice one. Which every widow cls show such strength like Ada. Some relatives re so greedy and heartless

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  5. adaobi11:28 am

    With inlaws like Izu and Ije,who needs enemies?,but with moms like Agnes&Theresa,the woman remains dignified whatever may come her way,well done adaugo,make dem come carry property ndi oshi>:O +mazi eche and mazi nduka join sef,village head masters

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  6. This is a typical event for women who lose their husbands in Africa. If women are not strong like Adaugo was,They are left in penury without resources to take care of their children. It happens even in educated families. Women need to discuss these issues with husbands so as to guard against this societal wickedness. We must protect ourselves. Nobody will fight for us. Ck

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  7. Anonymous10:44 am

    Soyinka and chimanda couldn't have done a better job of portraying the realities of our time. This is an excellent piece as always..Keep them coming..Oyiks

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  8. Anonymous10:56 am

    Looking forward to the first edition of a book by you very soon

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  9. Anonymous6:22 pm

    Ola well done.This simply demonstrates the need for a strong bond in marriage. Be aware of all that your family owns and have your head above water. To be clouded by emotions can only lead to procastination of the needful. This piece is a learning on how to draw strength from within. Omalichabeke

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  10. Adanna; Thank you :) I'm glad she did too. Why should those vultures reap where they did not sow?

    Rowzlyn; Thanks, dear. You know what they say about being strong when that's the only option you've got :)

    Coco; Thanks, love. Adaugo not only knew her rights as an individual, she stood firm by them even in the face of such intimidation. I'm giving her a high-ten right now ;);)

    Anon 08:46; I couldn't have said it better. Thanks for dropping by :)

    Adaobi; Nne eh, your 'village headmaster' still cracks me up as much as it did when you posted your comment. Thanks, dear :)

    Chinwe; You summed it up really nicely: no one can do a better job at taking care of you than you can yourself. Thanks for dropping by :)

    Oyiks; Such high praise! Coming from you, I'm humbled. Thank you!!! :):)

    Anon; We'll be reading a few of those books real soon by God's grace :):)

    Omalichabeke; You're so right! Besides having a knowledge on assets owned and all of that, it is important to keep a cool head even while grieving 'cos there are always greedy people waiting in the shadows to pouce on their unsuspecting victims.

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  11. Brick's Momma9:32 pm

    How i hate this tradition thing that puts widows through hell, as if the hurt they are going through isn't enough. Thank God for her mother inlaw,cos i'm sure Adaugo drew strength from knowing she wasn't in support of her silly children....May God keep such a thing far from us all

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  12. Brick's momma; My sister, Amen!!! to your prayer o! I agree with you that Adaugo might have drawn strength from her mother-in-law's love but I bet it was her inner strength and her resolve not to let her in-laws steal from her family that sealed the deal for her. 'Cos sometimes, widows don't have anyone at all on their side, even though they are in deep mourning Sad reality for a lot of women.

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  13. I actually had tears in my eyes. The things women go through... Its very necessary for women to empower themselves always. Never depend on your husband alone. God gave us women brains to make use of to help our husbands. Lets not let God down ooo!

    Beautiful write up. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Sad story.but these things do happen.May GOd keep us and our spouse to a very ripe old age.Amen!Ola le!keep 'em coming.

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  15. Ema; Thank you, girl! Sorry about the tears :) You're right about the need for women to do as much as they really can.

    Noma; Thanks, dear :) AMEN!!! to your prayer o!

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  16. There is absolutely NOTHING better than a woman who knows her rights! Olaedo, great post… You got my blood boiling though :)

    Ps… Thanks for visitng and following!!!!

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  17. In the midst of her; Yeah, I wish there were more women like Adaugo :)

    I understand why your blood boiled hot, jare. It is a sad state of affairs when someone who's already suffered a deep loss is made to go through such horror by greedy people.

    Thanks for dropping by :)

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  18. Anonymous10:34 pm

    Memories it is well

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  19. Nice story. Had goose bumps reading this one

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  20. Lalah; Thank you! :):)

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  21. ngbabes752:39 pm

    thumbs up girl. welldone

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  22. Ngo; Thanks, dear :)

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  23. I enjoyed this. I am happy Ada was able to navigate her way wisely from the evils her inlaws had prepared for her. A woman suffers all through with the husband and inlaws come to lay claim to lives and property? In that area, tradition surely needs to be updated.

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  24. Samuel; Thank you :)
    I tire, my broda. Which kain rough play be that?

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