THORNS IN MY BOOT 24

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24

After spending three weeks with mama and her husband, yes! Husband I said; in my home town, if a man and a woman are cohabitating, they are as good as husband as wife! And if there is a Child in the union then they are confirmed husband and wife, they can talk of paying pride price anytime they are ready, and in my mother’s case who would collect her bride price? It is me nah! So by virtue of being her only relative who did not abandon her, I pronounced then Man and Wife! I have given Babe Miko my mother free of charge. Though Babe Miko kept saying they will go home in due time to ratify everything with my Mother’s family, he said there is a traditional way to go about it. And the truth is that my Mother’s family had known and liked Baba Miko when he was wooing her before she blindly fell for my Dad.

I travelled to Ezamgbo to visit Oga Luke (Oga Inside). I stopped at Ezamgbo junction along Abakaliki-Enugu express road and took a bike to “Luke Umahi farms” as his farm of twenty hectare was called. There was a sign post bearing “Luke Umahi Rice Farm” at the junction of Ezamgbo community.

I was intimidated by what I saw. The expanse of land green with young rice plants was so wide I could not see the end from the beginning; it was like a green sea. The field was swampy and the plants flourished in it.

He was in a conference-like room at the farm house discussing with some Students from the Federal University of Agriculture Umudike who had come on excursion to his farm. My presence disrupted the session for a moment as Oga Luke rushed out of the hall to welcome me; he introduced me to the Students and the accompanying Lecturer as his friend in the Army. I joined the Student and listened to Oga Luke’s Lecture on rice farming, I enjoyed the Lecture so much that I contemplated setting up a rice farm some day. We went on a field trip with the Students and they left at 3.30pm for their School. There were some Students working already on the Farm as part of their Industrial attachment programme, while others were paid labourers.

Oga Luke then took me to another arm of the Farm that was for leafy vegetables alone, three plots of land was used exclusively for vegetables farming and it belonged to his wife of twenty four years. The three plot was divided into portions for various vegetable such as utazi, water leaf, ugu (fluted pumpkin) anghara leaf (Garden egg) pepper, onugbu, (Bitter leaf) Okra, Uziza, scent leaf, green vegetable and Okazi leaf. The plants were very plump and healthy. Oga Luke’s Wife was there with two girls plucking pepper into Baskets in readiness for the next day’s market, the next day was “eke owo” owo community market day, and she had gathered three baskets full already. She sells her vegetable on any of the Market days of neighboring towns such as Nkalagu, ezilo, eha-amufu, Ntezi, and owo. The market days could be Eke, Orie, Nkwo and Afor. In those days in Igbo land, a Child born on Eke Market day is named Nwa-eke pronounce Nweke (Eke’s Child) a child born on Nkwo Market day day is called Nwa-Nkwo pronounced Nwankwo and Nwafor and Nworie as the case may be.

She was happy to see me but the joy was short lived as a quarrel started immediately between she and her husband. Oga Luke had introduced me to her as Ojo onye Army (Ojo the Army man) and she replied; ehen! I know him nah! Is he not that Soldier man that was in Prison? The two girls assisting her in the farm had taken sharp glances at me then they started laughing.

To Be Continued

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