I woke up slowly with a terrible headache,
I had mourning clothes on and my head had also been shaved.
Around me, were Emenike’s people, my children and my family.
I looked at Chukwudi’s face and he seemed to have aged. He wasn’t crying like the rest. I smiled.
Emenike’s father was talking and everyone turned to him with rapt attention.
I could see his lips moving but I couldn’t hear what he was saying even if I tried.
I pressed my hand against my forehead where it felt like someone was hitting it repeatedly with a hammer.
I didn’t like how I was feeling.
Yesterday, I had a bad dream that Umuazi was captured but instead of jubilation back in our village, Umukoro. There were cries because the bravest hunter and fighter, Emenike, my husband, had been killed.
My mother came up to me, her face streaked with tears as she cradled my head in her arms.
“Chinaza! Ndoo….. Eihhhhh! Emenike!!!!” she shouted as she burst into tears.
I looked up and smiled.
“Mama, it’s not my Emenike. He’s coming back. He promised me.”
“Naza! Snap out of it .He’s gone.”
I didn’t say anything but shook my head.
Her noise was worsening my headache.
Few days later, ( I couldn’t tell how long exactly, All I did was wait outside for my Emenike to return and smile sheepishly like he always did), I saw my Emenike stretched out in a coffin.
He was dressed like he was going for war and his sword was placed beside him.
The crowd was massive, everyone came out to pay their last respect.
The coffin was covered and was about to be lowered into the already dug ground.
The air was chilly and even the birds were silent.
Only wails of the people could be heard.
It suddenly hit me.
It wasn’t a dream.
He was gone.
I let out a scream from my lungs and rushed forward fighting madly with the men carrying his coffin, trying to lower him into the ground.
“No, No… let me go!!!!” I cried as I scratched and bit one of them.
He yelled out in pain and let me go.
I charged forward again, wailing, blinded by my own tears.
“There was no point living” I thought.
Unexpectedly, I heard a loud voice call,
I looked towards the direction of the voice and saw my eldest son, Chukwudi, shaking his head and walking towards me.
At that moment, I fell to the ground.
Chukwudi held me for a long time and cried with me.
“Mama, you have us, Papa would have wanted you to be strong for us” he said as he hugged me tight.
“But I’m not strong” I thought.
Emenike was my strength.
It was the worst day of my life.
In the night, when I had calmed down a bit,
Chioma, my good friend and Emenike’s younger sister came to the house.
She brought food and attempted to feed me.
I held up my index finger in warning and asked her to leave me.
“What is your problem Naza?!, He was my brother. I loved him too. But you have your kids to think of. Please eat.”she said softly.
I stood up and walked to the room.
The room smelt of him.
I sat down on the bed and thought of him as fresh tears sprung to my eyes.
How does one live when the one who used to give you life is no more?
How do I eat when the one that gives my food taste is gone?
“Chinaza, we know this is hard for you but we have to uphold tradition” my brother-in-law, Mazi Chiwetalu said.
I had always disliked him even when my husband was alive.
Now, it took a lot of self restraint not to slap him hard across his face.
He was seated in my compound with Emenike’s family members.
Chukwudi,my son had already told me to expect this.
Chukwudi was just like Emenike.
He was brave and strong but kind.
It was barely two months since Emenike died in the great battle and they were talking about his elder brother, becoming my new husband.
“Over my dead body” I thought.
Emenike was a man all by himself. He didn’t uphold certain traditions that were contradictory to his beliefs and principles.
I was determined to stand my ground on this matter .
I stood up with Chukwudi beside me and said,
“It’s not a heir you people want. I have two sons. Emenike is my husband and he is no more. No other man would ever see my nakedness till I die, Tufiakwa”
I heard them gasp at my audacity and I continued,
“Mazi Chiwetalu, if you ever try to come into my home, I will kill you and then kill myself.”
I knelt down and thanked the elders for coming and I stomped inside my room, Chukwudi closely at my heels.
Thank you for reading and I love you always.