Thursday, December 18

4

A Woman of Honour

by Daniel Nkado



If we had the opportunity to return for a second life, I will pick her again.

If we chose where we went to after life, I would be where she is. If I was given a chance to make a wish, I would wish she stayed with me for all eternity. 

1984, that was the year we got married. There were so many things that is done now that we didn’t do. I gave her no engagement ring. 

In fact, I never even asked her to marry me personally. We were just there, as we had always have been from the time we were young, and then Papa said she would make a good wife and that we should take wine to her parents before it became late.

I was so excited, the overwhelming joy of possessing something so valuable, so precious, so rare.

But that day, fear replaced my joy. What if she said no, that she wouldn’t want us to become one, that she preferred the special friendship we shared already?

When Mazi Akunechendo, her father, a wise man, asked her if she permits them to drink our wine, she’d smiled coyly, twisting her folded hands this way and that.

That was when my fear left me. In her eyes I saw yes already.

She avoided my eyes. I’ve never seen her so shy. ‘Papa, you people can drink the wine,’ she finally muttered and ran inside.

I felt a thud in my chest. I never realized happiness could be painful too.
We spent sixteen years together in the village, farming, hunting and trading.

Things weren’t so good, but she endured. ‘It will be well, my husband,’ she always said whenever I hissed. And it was very often that I did; each time I returned from the farm and came to meet her at the kiosk at Obe.

‘All will be well, my husband.’

My crumpled face would straighten out. In her, I saw hope.

We moved to the city in the year 2000 with our three boys. Obiora had introduced me to the cement business. She hadn’t argued when I told her about the business. She only advised we be careful and pray more about it. I liked it the way she always used we to refer to us. We were one.

She had helped raise the initial N100, 000 with which I rented the shop and stocked the first time. She had had to borrow from her uncle, Odunze, a short smiling man. A good man. He’d given us his terms of repayment.

It was still of her determination that it had all worked and we were able to pay Odunze back all his money, even before the stipulated time.

I never bothered myself with the kids. She’d raised them well. She was not one of those mothers that allowed their motherly hormones hinder her judgement.

 She was a disciplinarian. She needed to be, boys are difficult. She had done a wonderful job in the end. They knew this now and they appreciate every bit of it. They adored her, our three boys.

When she first told me the news, she was smiling about it. Something that serious, I nearly became mad. But it wasn’t easy to show anger for something so calm, so adorable. ‘Haven’t I tried, my husband, haven’t I?’ she asked me.

‘No!’ I didn’t know when that spilt out of me. I would not have her suffer. I couldn’t bear the thought at all.

As she advised, we didn’t tell the kids. We acted normal till the day she was to have the surgery. It had been the most difficult thing to do, smiling in sadness.

But she had liked it that way and I respected her decision.

A day to her operation we told the kids. We had called them, the three of them together in the sitting room, and she told them herself. The difficulty with which she pulled out the words broke my heart.

The last boy was first to drop the tears. He began to croak.

‘Will you keep quiet!’ the second one barked at him. But he hadn’t succeeded in holding back his own tears and they flowed down his face too.

The last boy stood and rushed to their mother. He clung to her tightly as if the tighter he held her, the more likely it was that she wouldn’t leave them. How even could she, when he has secured her tightly in his arms?

The second one came and joined them in the couch. But he didn’t hold her. He just buried his face in his hands while his shoulders heaved from the tears.

But the first boy didn’t show much reaction. He was twenty-four then. He stood and said, ‘Mum, all will be well.’ That had been her mother’s signature line in times of despair. He’d borrowed it from her.

He walked away, but he was never the same. His smiles became plastic, his greetings muffled. He probably had sensed the impending gloom.

When the doctor gave me the news, I did my best to swallow it, like a man that I am, thought I am, but I couldn’t. No way. It was a part of me that was gone. A great part of me. So I dropped on the hospital floor and wailed like a small girl.

But today, we remember her, not the sadness caused by an evil tumour, but the hope and life she had given us while she was here. That refreshing warmth nothing could replace, but in her memory lies adequate consolation.

We love you, Martha Ozuaga. You are a woman of honour.

4 comments:

  1. Cancer has killed numerous women and is still killing. It is one dreadful disease

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pls can someone just discover d cure already? So sad.

    ReplyDelete

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