|Join Nairaland / LOGIN! / Trending / Recent / New|
Stats: 2,446,113 members, 5,509,481 topics. Date: Saturday, 04 April 2020 at 02:02 PM
|Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 1:48pm On Sep 12, 2016|
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2016 by Kelly Chikezie
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any actual resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental
5 Likes 2 Shares
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 1:55pm On Sep 12, 2016|
When Nena Nnaji was brought to St Andrews church in Umuahia to be baptized she wore an old christening robe that had belonged to her mother whose father had been one of the earliest to embrace Christianity when the white men came from continents away to talk about the potency of an unknown God. But this was 1958, the year of Catholic fervor among the heathen tribes around the Niger (soon to be known as Nigeria) everyone would expect fine lace on a baby who is being christened.
She was named Naomi Nnenna Nnaji on the eighth day of her birth and had only been known as Nnenna for six weeks. Then they all started calling her Nena. It had to do with her two year old brother Ebuka, of course. Ebuka who hadn’t been able to pronounce any name properly even one as simple as Nnenna.
On her naming ceremony, the old parish priest did say to someone that this was a baby girl not likely to be lacking in anything considering the life she was born into.
But priests didn’t know everything.
Nena's father and two older brothers were killed when she was eleven. They died in the civil war fighting on the Biafran side. Life for the Nnaji family as it were, was over. Her mother’s grief was great as weeping Niobe mourning the death of her children and husband.
When Nena was eighteen years old in 1976, there were so many things lacking in her life: such as any plan of what she was going to do; such as any freedom to go away and do it. At eighteen she was one of the teachers in the village's primary school that was enforcing the free primary education and helping in rehabilitating the nation after thirty months of civil strife. She didn’t move away from home like most of her peers did but stayed on to comfort her bereaved mother. But she often wondered if her remaining peers felt the same despairing emptiness in their lives as she did. At church on Sundays she would glance at the catechist’s son once a strapping young man now a one-legged cripple brooding over his memories in Enugu where Uche and Ebuka Nnaji had fallen. In the market she would joke kindly with Chike, who had been severely shell shocked and permanently deafened in Nsukka. These had been healthy young men that she might have dreamt of marrying before the war but were now damaged survivors of a war in which there had been no victors or vanquished. Now she thought of it, they had been the losers, her and her friends who were doomed to a bleak future with no husbands or children to cater for after years of careful grooming for those roles.
Some of the bereaved families had recovered sufficiently to get on with their lives but not Mrs Mary Nnaji. At thirty-eight she was settling into a premature decline towards old age as if she looked for death even though she still had her monthly inconveniences. Its depressing regularity was a constant reminder of the happy past, the agony and the joy of bearing her two lost sons. She kissed their black and white photographs by her bedside every night, for this was a house of perpetual mourning. And Nena wondered how she would get through the remaining thirty or so years.
She wasn’t left wondering for long however, as her mother got her wish to join her husband and sons when she was run down by a mammy lorry whose driver lost his brakes in the market. Nena would forever recall the sinking feeling of dread that washed over her like ice water on a harmattan morning, when her mother's lifeless body was brought home. She had left home healthy, promising to return before sun down but....
Once again tragedy struck the Nnaji household and the bubbly baby whose life long happiness had been foretold on her christening ceremony found herself, an orphan.
Cover by: Jeffreyjamez
34 Likes 20 Shares
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 2:04pm On Sep 12, 2016|
With her mother’s death came responsibilities that young Nena was not expected to shoulder. Everyone agreed with a sigh that if it were the golden years, someone as old as Nena would be in her husband’s house with one or two children but times had changed and the war had changed everything. Now young ladies like Nena went to school to become teachers, nurses or secretaries, those were the core female occupations. She had her primary education in the community’s primary school and went further till Class 3 in a catholic owned secondary school.
After her mother’s death, her maternal uncle took her to live with him in another village and that was the last that was heard of the Nnaji family in Mbom Ibeku. If she had friends who made her venture back to her father’s community, she probably wouldn’t have been forgotten but she had moved to Isiala-ngwa where her mother was from and was never heard of again.
On the night she arrived, her uncle left her in the care of his wife who elected to show her to her room, a small clean swept room whose only furniture was a short box spring mattress in a low, dark oak bed frame with no headboard, a small night table to its right, and adjacent to that, a wooden wall hanger.
“According to your uncle this room used to belong to your mother until she got married to your father.”
Nena set down her bag on the table and went to the bed without replying. Her mother was the last person she wanted to think of. She sat on the bed and heard the mattress squeak like a family of rats.
“I changed that linen myself today,” Ugochi bragged. “and I expect you to take care of everything in here and keep them in good condition, I huta go?” she asked, and Nena found herself gazing around, wondering what it was she was expected to take good care of: a small lantern and tiny furniture…
“Yes aunty,” she replied meekly.
“Good. Now,” she continued, folding her arms across her chest, “as to the rules.”
“Of course rules. Everything must be spelled out and followed to the T.
First and foremost, you are to wake up at 5am everyday and sweep the compound. You’re to go to the stream after that and fill the drums, you saw those big drums in the corridor when you were coming in okwa ya?” At Nena’s docile nod she continued. “Good, they must be filled everyday and all these chores you must do before 7am. I wont have you thinking this house is a five star hotel where you’ll be pampered because you’re an orphan.”
Nena felt a stab of anger at Ugochi’s cold remark and despite the fact that she didn’t know her uncle very well, she couldn’t imagine why he would marry such a cold hearted woman. Her eyes had the glint of polished diamond and her mouth looked like a thin line drawn down at the corner in a permanent scowl. She half expected to discover that her caramel face and body had no veins carrying blood around and instead of a heart in her bosom, there was Aso rock.
“Second,” she continued, “I will not have any secret male callers in my house and if you get stupid enough to become pregnant for any man outside marriage, I will toss you out of this house by your ear without a moment’s hesitation. Any man that wants to marry you should do it the proper way and come to your uncle first that’s how we did it during my time. He doesn’t have to meet you or get your consent.”
“I wont marry a man I don’t love aunty,” Nena said, her anger and indignation fueling her courage.
Ugochi let out a shrill peal of laughter and clapped her hand thrice in amusement.
“Eziokwu you young girls of today amuse me. You go to school and read books that fill your head with strange ideas. You think you’ll meet a man and suddenly there’ll be music and you’ll skip off into the sunset together. Adanne get your head out of those books because this is life and in life people don’t get married because they’re in ‘love’” she grimaced with distaste at love as if it were such a disgusting word. “People get married for more practical reasons as having children and an heir.”
“If that is so aunty, my uncle would have gotten himself another wife since marrying you has defeated the sole purpose of marriage.”
It seemed all the blood in Ugochi’ body drained as she looked truly shocked and stricken and Nena regretted pointing out Ugochi’s childless state in such a cruel manner.
“Aunty I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”
Ugochi raised a hand which effectively silenced her, “Don’t,” she croaked and left the room without another word.
Nena found herself adjusting to life in the Agu family fairly easier than she had expected given Ugochi’s penchant for discipline that bordered on cruelty. The Agu family in comparison to other families were both too well off and not too well enough to fit into the pattern of village life. Her uncle was a merchant and by some means had found himself in Ghana at the peak of the conflict. After the war, he came back to rebuild his father’s compound that had been left in a sorry state. He married Ugochi because she had appeared more sophisticated than her peers having been born in the city. But it seemed after close to five years of marriage with no children, Ekene was beginning to regret his decision.
When Nena wasn’t running errands for ‘the witch’ as she called her aunt, she was by herself in the large expense of farmland behind the family house. She didn’t have the job opportunity of teaching like she had in Mbom because the village school was in an even worse state and nobody was keen on repairing the damage. It was fortunate for Nena that she was a young woman who liked her company because she had so little of anyone else’s.
She was slim and willowy like her mother had been, but she had these curious pale hazel eyes and a light skin complexion. Her strange eyes gave her an enigmatic quality and her solitary nature made her seem as if she wasn’t a proper person.
And if anyone in the village had thought much about her, they might have come to a conclusion that she was jinxed especially after being the sole survivor in her family’s tragedy. So Nena found herself living at the edge of the community until Mrs. Oluchi had discovered her or more appropriately stumbled upon her in solitude in one of the dense farmlands her uncle owned.
She had thought it would be nice to belong to somewhere like Mrs. Oluchi did. She was a midwife and one of the most prominent daughters of the community. Anybody who didn’t know Mrs. Oluchi was either an alien or childless. But even childless couples like the Agus knew Mrs. Oluchi well because they hoped to have her deliver their children.
She greeted her respectfully like she had been taught and Mrs. Oluchi had looked at her speculatively.
“I think its time to get an assistant,” she said and at Nena’s stunned silence she added, “well what do you think? Should I talk to your uncle about it?”
Nena began to wonder whether the heat was not affecting Mrs. Oluchi.
“I think he’s a bit old to be an assistant,” she replied kindly.
“I meant you, Nena.”
“Oh. Of course. Yes, well…” Nena said.
It proved how little she had been planning her life. She had no immediate plans. Thankfully Mrs Oluchi had taken note of her and the very next day came to see her uncle concerning her.
Nena found nothing odd about her asking her uncle rather than her. It was still the 70s where women were expected to answer to one man or the other in their lives. Her uncle was her legitimate guardian until she got married and he handed over the reins of her care to another man, her husband. Besides it seemed like the sort of thing, Ekene Agu would have a view on. Perhaps he thought his niece was destined for far greater things than becoming an auxiliary nurse/midwife.
But her uncle thought it would be an excellent idea. He agreed it wasn’t a real career like nursing but still it was something and if Nena managed to learn the tips and tricks of midwifery as good as Mrs Oluchi, she would become as renowned as her too. Her aunt did bring up some objections as becoming Mrs Oluchi’s assistant would entail Nena being away for weeks or even months as she stayed on with Mrs Oluchi. But her husband had silenced her objections because he knew his wife wasn’t talking because she’d miss his niece but because she would lack someone to carry out her frustrations on.
26 Likes 14 Shares
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Laveda(f): 2:04pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Quickly takes seat!
Aunty Ugochi must be very lazy.
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 2:12pm On Sep 12, 2016|
1 Like 1 Share
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Ayoomolabake(f): 2:35pm On Sep 12, 2016|
*ghost mood deactivated*
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Shabib(m): 2:41pm On Sep 12, 2016|
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 2:46pm On Sep 12, 2016|
7 Likes 4 Shares
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by McBrooklyn(m): 3:43pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Lol, I'm present ma
Bar man, abeg serve 2 bottles of cold Orijin come here
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 3:59pm On Sep 12, 2016|
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by McBrooklyn(m): 4:01pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Let's set the ship sailing
1 Like 2 Shares
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by McBrooklyn(m): 4:03pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Babe, come siddon beside me now or rather still make ah come siddon beside you
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by elskillful: 4:03pm On Sep 12, 2016|
keep it coming,nice writeup
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Laveda(f): 4:43pm On Sep 12, 2016|
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by McBrooklyn(m): 5:06pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Yeah, I don tell the barman make E bring 2 bottles of Orijin . . . Hope you don't mind??
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by iykekelvins(m): 5:15pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Just like I always say...
Following back-2-back. Thanks for the mention Skarlett
But please, who's Mrs. Oluchi?
2 Likes 1 Share
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by eitsei(m): 5:16pm On Sep 12, 2016|
I must see to the end of this story... Following...
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Laveda(f): 5:24pm On Sep 12, 2016|
I don't take alcohol.
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by McBrooklyn(m): 5:26pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Hahaha, Babe why now?? The alcohol content of Orijin is low now, it will just ginger your body small
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by TheSociopath(m): 5:31pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Even before you called, I had pitched my tent here. Thanks. African literature at it's best. My English Mistress
2 Likes 1 Share
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Sleekyshuga(f): 6:21pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Two hands in the air for you !!
I dey follow you jejely @ Skarlett..
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 6:25pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Mrs Oluchi is the village's midwife, more will be said about her in successive chapters
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by iykekelvins(m): 6:27pm On Sep 12, 2016|
skarlett:Thank you. Please, ride on.
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 6:30pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Sleekyshuga:lol @ two hands in the air
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 6:33pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Laveda:how is miss twaci?
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Nobody: 6:39pm On Sep 12, 2016|
She started following Mrs Oluchi for house calls two weeks later and to her surprise, loved the job. She didn’t have the influence or confidence of Mrs Oluchi who was often referred to as the real midwife but she enjoyed being a front seat observer of one of nature’s wonders; childbirth.
Nena got accustomed to people asking for the real midwife when they came to Mrs Oluchi’s birthing home to be delivered and if Mrs Oluchi asked her to go before her and calm the patient down, the gravest doubts were expressed. She learned to say she was only holding fort for the ‘real midwife’.
Delivery in Mrs Oluchi’s maternity ward that was one of the rooms in her house with a mattress covered in mackintosh and a small stool as the only furniture was cheaper than home delivery. Some of the poorer women who couldn’t afford home delivery were delivered in this little room that Mrs Oluchi insisted must be kept clean at all times. So Nena’s duties consisted in cleaning the room and all the utensils used in giving birth with warm water. Her experience of life in domestic service made her a favorite among the patients; she was quietly respectful, quick to fetch and carry for them as required. She soon became a valued sitter among the women in labor when pain followed pain with no apparent progress. She learned to be patient and encouraging especially to those having their first baby, giving them the emotional support they needed to calm their fears. Under Mrs Oluchi’ supervision she got to know the signs of approaching delivery, and when the midwife invariably took over, she remained available to assist with the delivery. Mrs Oluchi, she noted, conducted deliveries with calm efficiency, making sure to always keep up her high spirits even in the most difficult births as this helped the mothers relax. Nena watched her tie and cut the umbilical cord, and had a warm blanket ready for the newborns.
Mrs Oluchi had once had a husband but like her mother had lost him in the war. She had been married to him only two years before he had to join the army and fight for Igbo autonomy like most of the healthy, able-bodied men in their community. He left and never returned. Unlike her mother, Mrs Oluchi didn’t wear her grief on her sleeves and look upon the future through gloomy glasses, she had mourned him for the customary period of six months and when it was over, had gone right back to living.
She had no child from her brief marriage and despite the fact that she was still young, elected to remain unmarried. It wasn’t like there were many men to go round anyway and maidens like Nena were lacking suitors not to talk of a widow like her. So she had faced her child birthing practice and ensured to bring smiles on the faces of lucky women like her patients who were to be envied for having a family of their own.
Sure the pangs of labor were hard but they ceased the moment they became mothers. They had husbands who would be pleased and doting especially if the child was a boy; comfortable homes and a level of financial security. But Nena was convinced women like her and Mrs Oluchi – especially Mrs Oluchi – would almost certainly never experience the natural fulfillment of motherhood, but would live out their lives attending to women more fortunate than themselves.
Before she joined Mrs Oluchi, Nena barely noticed the women in the community . Now she knew almost everything about them, the ones who were harridans like her aunt, the ones who were bossy, those whose husbands were wealthy, those whose husbands were not so well to do, those who were anxious to keep their husbands happy by producing sons instead of daughters. There were women who clung to her and confided in her about secrets in their marriage, and there were those who were aloof. In everything, Nena found herself learning a lot about families in her community and she soon began to earn herself admirers both male and female.
One of such male admirer was Mazi Okafor. She returned home one afternoon to see her uncle sitting with him underneath the huge almond tree at the center of the compound.
“Dede mmama nu,” she said greeting and genuflecting before them.
“Mma ma nwanyi oma,” her uncle replied.
She flashed a smile and started for the house.
“Nne please wait for a bit. Mazi Okafor has come to see me concerning you.”
“Me?” She asked startled.
“Yes dear, you, he said he’s impressed with the work you’re doing in the community and you would be a valuable addition to his household indeed. Have I spoken well Mazi?”
Mazi Okafor nodded, his round face beaming as his lips twisted up into a smile that made Nena wince inwardly as his rubber band lips revealed yellow tobacco stained teeth.
“You’ve spoken well Mazi Agu. You see when I saw your niece attending to my third wife in labor three weeks ago, I said to myself, this woman is a jewel and it’s a pity that her virtue is wasted in her uncle’s house. Mba! O ga di very very bad, she’s a beautiful woman and it wouldn’t be a bad idea if I marry her.”
“Marry me?” Nena said backing a few steps away.
“Sure. Why not?” Her uncle asked. “Mazi Okafor is one of the richest men in this community. His wives and children are usually the best dressed during the New Yam Festival. You can have a nice life and Mazi has assured me you will continue to assist Mrs Oluchi until you can stand on your own, he will even help you start up your own practice, too. That’s a good offer, gbo?”
“Mba,” she said quickly. “No.”
She saw Mazi Okafor’s smile evaporate quickly. He looked nervously at her uncle.
“I cant marry Mazi Okafor uncle, I don’t love him.”
Her uncle’s eyes grew round like saucers. “Love?” He scoffed. “What has love got to do with anything? Mazi Okafor is a rich man, he’ll take good care of you Nne.”
“No never! I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with a man old enough to be my grandfather.”
Her uncle’s fingers were twitching furiously and Nena recognized it as the telltale sign of his anger.
“Look here young lady, it’s my duty to find you a suitable husband whether you agree or not and I have. I already gave Mazi my word and I’m not taking it back. You’re marrying Mazi Okafor and this is the last we’ll hear of the matter.”
“Tufia kwa! Over my dead body!” Nena declared and ran out of the compound.
Like, share and comment
34 Likes 18 Shares
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by iykekelvins(m): 6:50pm On Sep 12, 2016|
This by-force marriage of a thing. They should let the young girl be.
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by johnwizey: 7:37pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Make dem free the girl o biko
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by Missmossy(f): 7:53pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Interesting piece, ride on. Nena has a strong spirit one which is so rare.
4 Likes 1 Share
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by doveda: 9:57pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Pleaee Scarlett continue to tow this path. You are very good. You will surely end up as one the best African writers of all time.
5 Likes 2 Shares
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by GoodieAmy(f): 11:50pm On Sep 12, 2016|
Loving the story. Keep it up
|Re: Secrets And Scandals by TheSociopath(m): 8:16am On Sep 13, 2016|
Miss Achebe's wonderful story written in flawless English
|Sections: politics (1) business autos (1) jobs (1) career education (1) romance computers phones travel sports fashion health |
religion celebs tv-movies music-radio literature webmasters programming techmarket
Nairaland - Copyright © 2005 - 2020 Oluwaseun Osewa. All rights reserved. See How To Advertise. 214