Thursday, October 6, 2011

yams where you come from?"Inwardly Okonkwo knew that the boys were still too young to understand fully the difficult art of preparing seed-yams.

Okonkwo was still pleading that the girl had been ill of late and was asleep
Okonkwo was still pleading that the girl had been ill of late and was asleep. He stretched himself and scratched his thigh where a mosquito had bitten him as he slept. or the teeth of an old woman. Uchendu's eldest daughter had come from Obodo. The fire did not burn with a flame. some of them having come a long way from their homes in distant villages. Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. hung above the fireplace. As Idigo had said. Okonkwo ate the food absent-mindedly. It was as quick as the other two. He still remembered the song:Eze elina. Although he had felt uneasy at first.' replied the young kite. Every market day."Ezinma ran in the direction of the barn and brought back two yams from the dwarf wall. "His shell broke into pieces." she began. His enemies said his good fortune had gone to his head." said Ezinma at last. And ten thousand men answered "Yaa!" each time. He had felt very anxious but did not show it. working feverishly from one drum to another. "I am an old man and I like to talk. And then suddenly she had begun to shiver in the night. It was a very good wine and powerful. It was only from Nwoye's mother that he heard scraps of the story.

He grew rapidly like a yam tendril in the rainy season. When he had swallowed them."Will you give Ezinma some fire to bring to me?" Her own children and Ikemefuna had gone to the stream. But it was as silly as all women's stories. Nobody knew how old. when they died. and her arms folded across her breasts." said Ezinma to her mother. It was therefore understood that Ekwefi would provide cassava lor the feast. and at the end he had been taken out and handed over to a stranger. We must fight these men and drive them from the land. He sat down again and called two witnesses. others said he was not the equal of Ikezue." he said to Ikemefuna. Only the word of our God is true. "The evil you have done can ruin the whole clan. The young ailing girl who had caused her mother so much heartache had been transformed. It was the dead man's sixteen-year-old son. "The people of Umuike wanted their market to grow and swallow up the markets of their neighbors. The next morning they were roasted in clay pots and then spread in the sun until they became dry and brittle. It was a day old." said his eldest brother. There was a drinking horn in it. She did not marry him then because he was too poor to pay her bride-price.But Ezinma's iyi-uwa had looked real enough. who had taken two titles." And he told him what an osu was.

" And he took another pinch of snuff. and most of them never did because they died too young - before they could be asked questions. although one of them did not speak Ibo. I married her with my money and my yams.But it was really not true that Okonkwo's palm-kernels had been cracked for him by a benevolent spirit." said Mgbogo's next-door neighbor. and earth rose. They scrubbed and painted the outside walls under the supervision of men. His actions were deliberate. She beckons in front of her and behind her." He put it down to his inflexible will.""But he had no wings. And she realized too with something like a jerk that Chielo was no longer moving forward. It looked like whispering. But the Christians had told the white man about the accident.As the broken kola nuts were passed round. more terrible and more sinister than the anger. Ezinma brought her two legs together and stretched them in front of her. It was not that they had been lazy. had gone to consult the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves to find out why he always had a miserable harvest. for he knew certainly that something was amiss. my hand has touched the ground. Ogbuefi Ezeugo was a powerful orator and was always chosen to speak on such occasions. in their proper order. Three men beat them with sticks. She was full of the power of her god. Okonkwo.

"Okoli told me himself that it was false. who would not lend his knife for cutting up dogmeat because the dog was taboo to him. He looked it over and said it was done. raised the pot on his left knee and began to pour out the wine. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. the third highest in the land. The neighbors and Okonkwo's wives were now talking. or playground. But her love of wrestling contests was still as strong as it was thirty years ago. She saw the other children with their water-pots and remembered that they were going to fetch water for Obierika's wife. unless it was one of the stubborn ones who returned. It was addressed as "Our Father. I know what it is to ask a man to trust another with his yams. It must have been a very long time. whom she called "my daughter. and the smallest group had ten lines. If a man kills the sacred python in the secrecy of his hut." said Uchendu to his peers when they consulted among themselves. She trudged slowly along.""I pray she stays." said Okonkwo. It was quiet and confident. and. through lonely forest paths. too old to attend Ndulue during his illness. When everything had been set before the guests." He prayed especially for Okonkwo and his family.

We are better than animals because we have kinsmen. children sat around their mother's cooking fire telling stories. You may ask why I am saying all this. He was determined that his return should be marked by his people. the top one.Suddenly Okagbue sprang to the surface with the agility of a leopard. where he built his headquarters and from where he paid regular visits to Mr.Okonkwo was also feeling tired.And the little church was at that moment too deeply absorbed in its own troubles to annoy the clan. who was the eldest of the nine sons."The missionary ignored him and went on to talk about the Holy Trinity.Mr. They painted their bodies with red cam wood and drew beautiful patterns on them with uli. mother is going. So much of it was cooked that.""That is why the drum has not been beaten to tell Umuofla. Tortoise looked down from the sky and saw his wife bringing things out. who was once the village beauty.The first cock had not crowed. if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man." said the old man. The conversation at once centered on him. That is a wise action. He was afraid of being thought weak. Now you talk about his son. When all was laid out. But no one who had ever crawled into his awful shrine had come out without the fear of his power.

" Ukegbu said. But it turned out to be even bigger than we expected. may Agbala shave your head with a blunt razor! May he twist your neck until you see your heels!"Ekwefi stood rooted to the spot. and when he got home he went straight to Okonkwo's hut and told him what he had seen."When they had eaten. Neither of the other wives dared to interfere beyond an occasional and tentative."Do what you are told. I clear the bush and set fire to it when it is dry. And what made it worse in Okonkwo's case was that he had to support his mother and two sisters from his meagre harvest. And so they killed him. But Chielo's voice was still a long way away. It was like a wedding feast. It contained other things apart from his snuff-bottle.Share-cropping was a very slow way of building up a barn of one's own. he burst out laughing. These court messengers were greatly hated in Umuofia because they were foreigners and also arrogant and high-handed. Even the greatest medicine men took shelter when he was near. sandy footway began to throw up the heat that lay buried in it. If it ended on his left. that was how it looked to his father. How could he know that his father had taken a hand in killing a daughter of Umuofia? All he knew was that a few men had arrived at their house. and the children who sang songs of welcome to them." said Obierika. Her heart beat violently and she stood still."Odukwe's body. Some women ran away in fear when it was thrown."Father.

even into people's beds. My case is finished. yellow and dark green. It filled him with fire as it had always done from his youth. But she had lived so long that perhaps she had decided to stay. I have already spoken to you about him. Elumelu. The white man was also their brother because they were all sons of God. And how is my daughter. Nkechi was the daughter of Okonkwo's third wife. his head pointing to the earth and his legs skywards. I have only called you together because it is good for kinsmen to meet. They only saw the red earth he threw up mounting higher and higher." A cold shiver ran down Okonkwo's back as he remembered the last time the old man had visited him."It was Wednesday in Holy Week and Mr.When the women retired. At the most one could say that his chi or personal god was good. She felt cold. "But I am greatly afraid. You know as well as I do that our forefathers ordained that before we plant any crops in the earth we should observe a week in which a man does not say a harsh word to his neighbor."Is this yours?" he asked Ezinma."Nwoye did not fully understand. but nothing like this had ever happened. He held a short staff in his hand which he brought down on the floor to emphasize his points. It is against the will of God. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. "Life to you.

Obierika was sitting outside under the shade of an orange tree making thatches from leaves of the raffia-palm. who stood beside her. which was part of the night.Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. But before they left each took back the feather he had lent to Tortoise. Thirty. "You are not a stranger in Umuofia. which had been dutifully eating yam peelings. like a mother and her daughter. He presented a kola nut and an alligator pepper. Chielo never ceased in her chanting.' said Mother Kite to her daughter. They set fire to his houses. It was Ekwefl's turn to tell a story. too old to attend Ndulue during his illness. Thelocusts had not come for many. only to return to their places almost immediately. a thing set apart??a taboo for ever. The fire did not burn with a flame. She was. He wore a haggard and mournful look except when he was drinking or playing on his flute. Ekwefi and her only daughter. She was particularly fond of Ekwefi's only daughter.The drum sounded again and the flute blew. Why was that?"Okonkwo shook his head. or took pity on their mothers. Ezinma had not wanted to cooperate with him at first.

he was told. It throbbed in the air.Ekwefi knelt beside the sick child. As soon as he left. and since he now had three wives his guests would make a fairly big crowd. Ukegbu counted them. Rain fell as it had never fallen before." They offered them as much of the Evil Forest as they cared to take. was a very exacting king."It is not our custom to fight for our gods. It was a cry in the distance: oji odu aru ijiji-o-o! (The one that uses its tail to drive flies away!). She stood for a while. and he sent his kotma to catch Aneto. It was an angry. Okonkwo's son. But it only lasted till the end of the service. He never stopped regretting that Ezinma was a girl. They were talking excitedly among themselves because the white man had said he was going to live among them."Who killed this banana tree?" he asked. a huge wooden face painted white except for the round hollow eyes and the charred teeth that were as big as a man's fingers. Maduka. and with him were his father and uncle.It was well known among the people of Mbanta that their gods and ancestors were sometimes long-suffering and would deliberately allow a man to go on defying them. It was the justice of the earth goddess. After such treatment it would think twice before coming again. when she had seen Ogbu-agali-odu. Ezinma's voice soon faded away and only Chielo was heard moving farther and farther into the distance.

nearly half a day's journey away. Kiaga."There was immediate excitement and those who were sitting jumped to their feet. talking excitedly and praying that the locusts should camp in Umuofia for the night.Ogbuefi Ezeudu."Ee-e-e!"The kola was eaten and the drinking of palm-wine began. a man asks his kinsman to scratch him. and did as you have been told. Okonkwo's first son. but he did not answer."Do what you are told. Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly. Every man of Umuofia was asked to gather at the market place tomorrow morning. The goat was then led back to the inner compound.' said Mother Kite.Okonkwo was sitting on a goatskin already eating his first wife's meal. and Ojiugo's daughter. in their due proportions. 'It cried and raved and cursed me. Some of these prisoners had thrown away their twins and some had molested the Christians. But if a man caused it. and was not given the first or the second burial.Okonkwo spent the next few days preparing his seed-yams." said the interpreter. I began to own a farm at your age. That was why Okonkwo had been Chosen by the nine villages to carry a message of war to their enemies unless they agreed to give up a young man and a virgin to atone for the murder of Udo's wife."Will you give Ezinma some fire to bring to me?" Her own children and Ikemefuna had gone to the stream.

When the women had exacted the penalty they checked among themselves to see if any woman had failed to come out when the cry had been raised. They just pulled the stump." said the medicine man. Ezeudu was to be buried after dark with only a glowing brand to light the sacred ceremony. When your neighbors go out with their ax to cut down virgin forests."The body of Odukwe. Amadiora or the thunderbolt. But his fondness only showed on very rare occasions. no one could kill them without having to flee from the clan.And then quite suddenly a shadow fell on the world. The birth of her children. and they no longer spent the evenings in his mother's hut while she cooked. Your duty is to comfort your wives and children and take them back to your fatherland after seven years. and sent for the missionaries. Uchendu ground his teeth together audibly. The story had arisen among the Christians themselves. such as befitted a noble warrior. They boast about victory over death." said Okonkwo as he rose to go."Go and burn your mothers' genitals. The world was now peopled with vague."Our father. killed his animals and destroyed his barn. He was reclining on a mud bed in his hut playing on the flute.Mr." said the interpreter. and washed away the yam heaps.

On her arms were red and yellow bangles. It was even said that they had hanged one man who killed a missionary. The law of the clan is that you should return her bride-price. beat me up and took my wife and children away. The medicine man ignored him.And so nature was not interfered with in the middle of the rainy season."No. There was authority in her bearing and she looked every inch the ruler of the womenfolk in a large and prosperous family.""Ee-e-e!""This is not the first time my people have come to marry your daughter. And when a man is at peace with his gods and his ancestors. When he finished his kola nut he said:"The things that happen these days are very strange. he took up the rag with his left hand and began to untie it. The custom here is to serve the spokesman first and the others later. sat on the floor waiting for him to finish. Nwoye. "Let us not presume to do so now. leaving what we are cooking to burn in the fire. Their wives also.All the umunna were invited to the feast. But you are still a child. to Obierika's compound. nearly half a day's journey away. led out the giant goat from the inner compound."Did she ask you to feed them before she went?""Yes. and drinking palm-wine copiously. Some said Okafo was the better man. go home before Agbala does you harm.

carrying the stamp of their mutilation??a missing finger or perhaps a dark line where the medicine man's razor had cut them.The youngest of Uchendu's five sons. who were putting the last delicate touches of razor to her coiffure and cam wood on her smooth skin. It was also the dumping ground for highly potent fetishes of great medicine men when they died."The village has outlawed us.Ekwefi went into her hut to cook yams. Somewhere a man was taking one of the titles of his clan. "If a man comes into my hut and defecates on the floor.Okonkwo's prosperity was visible in his household. and when he recovered he seemed to have overcome his great fear and sadness."That is the strange part of it. It was as quick as the other two. Was it waiting to snap its teeth together? After passing and re-passing by the church. And yet we say Nneka - 'Mother is Supreme.Everybody at the kindred meeting took sides with Osugo when Okonkwo called him a woman. She stood until Chielo had increased the distance between them and she began to follow again. He wanted first to know why they had been outlawed."Tell them.The festival was now only three days away. spears. When the moon rose late in the night. and in one deft movement she lifted the pot from the fire and poured the boiling water over the fowl. Ezinma? You are older than Obiageli but she has more sense. Their wives also. i fear for the clan. Nwoye's mother and Ojiugo would provide the other things like smoked fish. It had been early in the morning.

Anyone seeing Chielo in ordinary life would hardly believe she was the same person who prophesied when the spirit of Agbala was upon her."Come along then and show me the spot. children sought for shelter. The cloud had lifted and a few stars were out. whom they had asked to leave them for a while so that they might "whisper together. They were both Uzowulu's neighbors. my daughter. And then the locusts came. sang for mercy. men. when they died. We do not dispute it. They only saw the red earth he threw up mounting higher and higher. Ezinma went deeper and deeper and the crowd went with her. In fact he had not killed a rat with his gun. She rose from her mat. As soon as he found one he would sing with his whole being."Do you know me?""No man can know you.Nneka had had four previous pregnancies and child-births."I wish she were a boy. The seven wasted and weary years were at last dragging to a close. pointing with his finger." The crowd agreed. "It pleases me to see a young man like you these days when our youth has gone so soft. A child belongs to its father and his family and not to its mother and her family.""Some people say the Oracle warned him that he would fall off a palm tree and kill himself."Two years ago.

"How can I know?" Ekwefi wanted her to work it out herself.""You worry yourself for nothing. Then came the voices of the egwugwu. It was the fear of himself. The heathen say you will die if you do this or that."Umuofia kwenu!" roared Evil Forest. His mother's kinsmen had been very kind to him.The elders. which were passed round for all to see and then returned to him. passing back the disc. And she enjoyed above all the secrecy in which she now ate them. If I had not seen the few survivors with my own eyes and heard their story with my own ears. then. guns and even his cannon.The festival was now only three days away. greeted themselves in their esoteric language. He had felt very anxious but did not show it.""They dare not bring fewer than thirty pots. As soon as he found one he would sing with his whole being. "Are you mad?"Okonkwo did not answer. the wife who had just been beaten murmured something about guns that never shot. She was very heavy with child. The elders and grandees of the village sat on their own stools brought there by their young sons or slaves." said Okonkwo." he intoned. He could not take any of the four titles of the clan. elina!SalaEze ilikwa ya Ikwaba akwa ogholi Ebe Danda nechi eze Ebe Uzuzu nete egwuSalaHe sang it in his mind.

Ikemefuna was equally excited. called round his neighbors and made merry. "So he must have a wife and all of them must have buttocks." Okonkwo thought within himself."Once upon a time." he said. vibrating heat. The pot fell and broke in the sand." said one of the younger men.When all the egwugwu had sat down and the sound of the many tiny bells and rattles on their bodies had subsided. Ekwefi screwed her eyes up in an effort to see her daughter and the priestess. She has the right spirit. You yourselves took her. They called him the little bird nza who so far forgot himself after a heavy meal that he challenged his chi. Nwoye's mind had gone immediately to Nwayieke.As the last heavy rains of the year began to fall. and Maduka brought in a pot of palm-wine. She will bear you nine sons like the mother of our town. Where are the young suckers that will grow when the old banana tree dies? If Ezinma had been a boy I would have been happier."It is here. and many farmers wept as they dug up the miserable and rotting yams."Nwoye did not fully understand. Okafo seized it. Elumelu. He moved his hand over his white head and stroked his white beard. her mother and half a dozen other women and girls emerged from the inner compound. years ago.

when he was young. whom he had thrown away. He does not belong here. All the neighbors and relations who had come to mourn gathered round them.One day a neighbor called Okoye came in to see him. It is a bad custom which these people observe because they lack understanding." Then more pots came.""The only other person is Udenkwo." said Okonkwo after a pause. She rubbed each string downwards with her palms until it passed the buttocks and slipped down to the floor around her feet. He was in fact an outcast. The children stood in the darkness outside their hut watching the strange event." And after a pause she said: "Can I bring your chair for you?""No.The night was impenetrably dark. and many farmers wept as they dug up the miserable and rotting yams."Thank you. A steady cloud of smoke rose from his head."Yes. emerged from her hut. "They will put off Ndulue's funeral until his wife has been buried. After such treatment it would think twice before coming again. Okonkwo said yes very strongly. Soon after." said Obierika. Had she been running too? How could she go so fast with Ezinma on her back? Although the night was cool."Ask Akueke's mother to send us some kola nuts. woman.

But 1 thought you would need the money now and so I brought it. Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs. Okonkwo on his bamboo bed tried to figure out the nature of the emergency - war with a neighboring clan? That seemed the most likely reason. "That is the story. afraid of your next-door neighbor. Where are the young suckers that will grow when the old banana tree dies? If Ezinma had been a boy I would have been happier. the owner of all land. This was a womanly clan."I was coming over to see you as soon as I finished that thatch. Anasi was the first wife and the others could not drink before her. The elders consulted their Oracle and it told them that the strange man would break their clan and spread destruction among them. It was said that he wore glasses on his eyes so that he could see and talk to evil spirits. Instead of saying "myself" he always said "my buttocks. talking was the next best. who had taken two titles. She hit her left foot against an outcropped root. It was not the same Chielo who sat with her in the market and sometimes bought beancakes for Ezinma. Beyond that limit no man was suffered to go. the "medicine house" or shrine where Okonkwo kept the wooden symbols of his personal god and of his ancestral spirits. and he loved the first kites that returned with the dry season. It was a tremendous sight. They have a big market in Abame on every other Afo day and. And there were again only three. neither getting too near nor keeping too far back.As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete. "Bear no hand in his death. he was asking Unoka to return the two hundred cowries he had borrowed from him more than two years before.

armed with sheathed machetes. If your in-law brings wine to you. There were three men in one group and three men and one woman in the other. took the lump of chalk. And now he was going to take the Idemili title. But he has not come to wake me up in the morning for it. When all the birds had gathered together. It was clear that the bags were full of cowries. It was even said that they had hanged one man who killed a missionary." he said. Her deepening despair found expression in the names she gave her children. Only a week ago a man had contradicted him at a kindred meeting which they held to discuss the next ancestral feast. He was reclining on a mud bed in his hut playing on the flute. And the other boy was flat on his back. Such a thing could never happen in his fatherland. Ikemefuna was equally excited. machetes. who was Okonkwo's father.""You were very much like that yourself. Nwoye's mother swore at her and settled down again to her peeling. But it only lasted till the end of the service. 1 owe them no cocoyams."We shall be late for the wrestling. He was taking his family of three wives and their children to seek refuge in his motherland. Ekwefi muttered. only waking to full life when Chielo sang. They passed their cloths under the right arm-pit.

- they must be going towards Umuachi.There were twelve men on each side and the challenge went from one side to the other.Okonkwo remembered that tragic year with a cold shiver throughout the rest of his life. Dazed with fear.""Why?" asked Obierika and Okonkwo together. He is not my father. I am Dry-meat-that-fills-the-mouth. fifth and sixth years. The earth goddess whom you have insulted may refuse to give us her increase."Yes." said Uchendu to his peers when they consulted among themselves. "Amadiora will break your head for you!"Some days later."Agbala do-o-o-o! Umuachi! Agbala ekene unuo-o-ol" It was just as Ekwefi had thought."After the Week of Peace every man and his family began to clear the bush to make new farms. hungry swarm. and at the end of three years he had become very distant indeed. They chose to fly home on an empty stomach. These moods descended on her suddenly and for no apparent reason. One day as Ezinma was eating an egg Okonkwo had come in unexpectedly from his hut. The kola nut was given him to break."It is here." said Idigo. The next morning they were roasted in clay pots and then spread in the sun until they became dry and brittle. It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clansman."Come and shake hands with me. Then from the distance came the faint beating of the ekwe." They offered them as much of the Evil Forest as they cared to take.

The locusts settled in the bushes for the night and their wings became wet with dew. and she guessed they must be on the village ilo. Okonkwo walked behind him. unhappily. do not allow him a moment's rest. That also is true. His visitor was amazed. The oldest member of this extensive family was Okonkwo's uncle.During the planting season Okonkwo worked daily on his farms from cock-crow until the chickens went to roost. Then he began to speak. and within a short time all the birds agreed that he was a changed man. stopped them. He was reclining on a mud bed in his hut playing on the flute.""It is so indeed. and the women had formed themselves into three groups for this purpose. She could hear the priestess' voice." He waved his arm where most of the young men sat. Ezinma was always surprised that her mother could lift a pot from the fire with her bare hands. She explained to her why they should not marry yet.The confusion that followed was without parallel in the tradition of Umuofia. He was greatly shocked and swore to beat Ekwefi if she dared to give the child eggs again. Even the sacred fish in their mysterious lake have fled and the lake has turned the color of blood." he said.Ezinma lay shivering on a mat beside a huge fire that her mother had kept burning all night.The old man." said one man. and also a drinking gourd.

If they became more troublesome than they already were they would simply be driven out of the clan. They went back to their caves in a distant land. and Maduka brought in a pot of palm-wine.The drums were still beating. as most people were."When your wife becomes pregnant again. was passing by the church on his way from the neighboring village. might have noticed that the second egwugwu had the springywalk of Okonkwo. prophesying. I greet you. buoyant maiden." said Obierika. And when he did this he saw that his father was pleased. and they were merely her messengers. The clan was worried. He told them that they worshipped false gods. As Idigo had said. It is a bad custom which these people observe because they lack understanding. The conversation at once centered on him. It was a day old. He also took with him a pot of palm-wine. But he was not the man to go about telling his neighbors that he was in error. She was afraid of what might happen if Chielo suddenly turned round and saw her. Okonkwo stood by." said Ofoedu. At such times she seemed beyond danger. sang for mercy.

Nwoye. the white man began to speak to them. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. But in this case she ran away to save her life. "that I shall bring many iron horses when we have settled down among them. which was fastened to the rafters. In the morning he went back to his farm and saw the withering tendrils. Even the smell of gunpowder was swallowed in the sickly smell that now filled the air. "But I am greatly afraid."Perhaps I have been away too long. When they carried him away. The men brought their goatskin mats. Ukegbu. Ani played a greater part in the life of the people than any other diety. He therefore treated Ikemefuna as he treated everybody else - with a heavy hand. Nwoye passed and repassed the little red-earth and thatch building without summoning enough courage to enter. untouched by the ax and the bush-fire.The next morning the crazy men actually began to clear a part of the forest and to build their house. and within a short time all the birds agreed that he was a changed man. Sometimes Okonkwo gave them a few yams each to prepare. Her heart jumped painfully within her.The metal gong beat continuously now and the flute. egusi soup and bitter-leaf soup and pots and pots of palm-wine. are white like this piece of chalk.""Some people say the Oracle warned him that he would fall off a palm tree and kill himself. who was now the eldest surviving member of that family. And in all the nine villages of Umuofia a town crier with his ogene asked every man to be present tomorrow morning.

"Blessed is he who forsakes his father and his mother for my sake. The kola nut was given him to break. Work no longer had for him the pleasure it used to have." said Machi." they said to the women. Nwoye. his head pointing to the earth and his legs skywards. but six. dead. and you can teach us the things of the new faith. and piling up his debts."Before God. and each party brought with them a huge pot of palm-wine. In the end the fearless ones went near and even touched him. Okonkwo. picking his words with great care:"It is Okonkwo that 1 primarily wish to speak to." Okonkwo said to himself again. Unoka. Uchendu's eldest daughter had come from Obodo. He could not stop the rain now. more fierce than it had ever been known. It was not until the following day that Okonkwo told him the full story. "How dare you.Ekwefi was tired and sleepy from the exhausting experiences of the previous night. And so one Sunday two of them went into the church. their legs and feet. sat on the floor waiting for him to finish.

"He will do great things. and when he got home he went straight to Okonkwo's hut and told him what he had seen. He is not my father. ignorant of the love of God. but he went to the birds and asked to be allowed to go with them.""In future call her into your obi.But apart from the church. Uchendu. who stood beside her. They saluted one another and then reappeared on the ilo. Because he had taken titles. also carrying an oil lamp. the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves. But Ekwefi and Ezinma had heard the noise and run out to see what it was. But he had long learned how to lay that ghost. It was said that they had built a place of judgment in Umuofia to protect the followers of their religion." and on each occasion he faced a different direction and seemed to push the air with a clenched fist. "In those other clans you speak of. Obierika nodded in agreement. especially at festivals and also when an old man died."That woman standing there is my wife. not only in his motherland but also in Umuofia."That was all he had said. Nwoye's mother carried a basket of coco-yams. Another one was wailing near his right ear. Unoka was never happy when it came to wars. Obierika.

We put our fingers into our ears to stop us hearing.And then the storm burst. And she enjoyed above all the secrecy in which she now ate them. He then invited the birds to eat. Amikwu and his people had taken palm-wine to the bride's kinsmen about two moons before Okonkwo's arrival in Mbanta. after the rains. But you lived long. self-assured and confident.""There is no song in the story. Unoka."I do not know the answer. that the girl should go to Ogbuefi Udo to replace his murdered wife. she had said. Okonkwo's son. and he knew it was due to Ikemefuna.' said Tortoise. It was only then that they exchanged greetings and shook hands over what was left of the food. And that is why we say that mother is supreme. twenty-five. a vibrant silence made more intense by the universal trill of a million million forest insects.

It was the justice of the earth goddess. and men dashed about in frenzy. who suddenly gave up his trade.Umuofia had indeed changed during the seven years Okonkwo had been in exile." said Obierika. She was the priestess of Agbala. He still thought about his mother and his three-year-old sister. and they knocked against each other as he searched. thus completing a circle with their hosts. But as he flew home his long talon pierced the leaves and the rain fell as it had never fallen before." he said quietly to Ezinma.It was clear from the way the crowd stood or sat that the ceremony was for men. It was as if a spell had been cast."But Nwoye's mother dropped her pot of hot soup the other day and it broke on the floor. He held up a piece of chalk. Once he got up from bed and walked about his compound. Every man rose in order of years and took a share. Ani.But there was a young lad who had been captivated. "do you not grow yams where you come from?"Inwardly Okonkwo knew that the boys were still too young to understand fully the difficult art of preparing seed-yams.

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