THORNS IN MY BOOT 25

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25

Oga Luke had chased them from our presence as he reprimanded his wife. They spoke in their Omalante language (Ohaozara dialect) I knew I was the subject matter so I told Oga Luke not to worry, I told him she was not lying after all but he had insisted that it was insulting for his Wife to have related me with the Prison and to worsen everything she did it in the presence of her maids! He did not like the kind of image she was portraying me in the presence of the maids, he said before I know it now, everybody in the farm will know that I was in Prison. I understood his point. Even though I did not like what the woman did, I did not want to be the cause of their misunderstanding. She later abandoned the basket and knife in her hands and walked out on us grumbling.

By 5.00PM, we ate fufu with onugbu soup (Bitter leaf) with roasted Anu Nchi (Grass cutter meat) and some other meaty proteins that I could not decode in the soup. Oga Luke’s wife later brought us a keg of fresh palm wine with two Calabashes to drink with, she poured her husband a calabash full and handed it to him with both arms stretched out, he collected it and took a long swing at the sweet liquid while I salivated as I watched the second calabash being filled by the Wife. She filled the second calabash and was about to hand over to me when her husband started with her again in their dialect, she withdrew her hands and while grumbling, she drank from the Calabash before passing it to me with her right hand. Oga Luke screamed at her again in their dialect pointing his fore finger at her in a warning gesture. She recoiled from me and filled up the Calabash to the brim before handing it over to me with both hands after which she stormed away grumbling only to return minutes later with a bowl full of assorted roasted bush meats spiced with Utazi leaf, palm oil and pepper. I was in heaven on earth at Oga Luke’s farm house.

Together with Madam Luke we ate up all the meat in the Bowl and drank up the keg of palm wine, even though she sat away from us as she gnawed angrily at her meat while stealing scornful glances at her husband who acted as if she was not even there. He was busy telling me stories about the Ezamgbo people and their culture and about his experience in farming.

After the meal some of the maids came and cleared the plates and bowls of water we used in washing our hands. Oga Luke called the girl that carried the bowl of water I used in washing my hands back and instructed that she poured the content on the floor away from us where I could see it. The wife got up at this point and started another quarrel in their dialect as she left our presence.

I followed them to their house in Oga Luke’s Peugeot 504 Pickup Van and the couple quarreled half of the way home. We got home and I was showed the room to sleep in. Their Children are grown up and were all at Enugu schooling at E.S.U.T, they have three Sons. They have two teenagers living with them at home, they are Madam Luke’s Nephews schooling at Ezamgbo boys high School.

I had already slept off at 8.00PM when the noise from the sitting room woke me up; it was between Oga and madam. I wondered what the problem was again and wished I was not connected to it. I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t. Madam Luke later came to knock at my door, I struggled out of the bed and opened the door, she told me that there was water in the bath room for me to take my bath, and then she turned back and slammed the door at my face. Oga Luke started to bark at her almost immediately, she came back and opened my door, and then she closed it gently and left grumbling. The two have lived with each other like that for twenty four years yet they are still together so I did not interfere in their bouts. The problem was that she could not bring herself to serve or respect an ex convict like me. I understood.

I spent a whole week with Oga Luke. We slept two nights at the farm house. On one of those nights, we woke up very early and went round the farm and retrieved six giant Grass Cutters caught by traps set in the farm. Oga Luke said some Villagers do come early to his farm to steal the catch from his traps. He recounted a scenario where he came to the farm in the morning and saw someone shoe and pool of blood on one of his traps, the trap had been pulled out of the soil and disengaged.

After a week at Ezamgbo, I had learnt a lot about rice farming. I went back to Abakaliki with enough food stuff and vegetables and eight smoked Grass cutters.

I was with mama till May 1998 I had spent over a month with them, I was enjoying myself and did not want to leave until Amaka came to visit us and she reminded me of my unfinished business with the Army in Enugu.

Amaka stayed with us for two days during which we went to Mama’s shop and she was surprised at what she saw, she was impressed to see that Mama had changed from the ragged Village Woman to a Modern and trendy City Lady, she was also happy to see that mama was making good money. She was also impressed at my dexterity at hair dressing; she never knew how good I was. I did not remember learning to fix or dress female hair; I simply grew up doing it because it was mama’s only source of income that guaranteed my meal ticket. I introduced Amaka to all our Customers that came to the Shop that day as my fiancée that I told them about. She promised to be coming more often to visit mama and to learn the hair dressing trade also.
Together we drove in her car to Enugu leaving a weeping mama and a sad babe Miko behind on a Sunday morning in may 1998. Mama EDD was in July

To Be Continued

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