He turns on his bed, awaken by the sound of the cong sound at night. , his heart begins to beat rapidly. .
Whenever that sound comes , even the peace of the dead is disrupted. .
He knew the sound meant something had happened in the village, something bad had happened.
But as always, it would be told in the break of dawn and so he goes back to sleep.
As morning comes, the news became a heavy weight as the elders of their village gathered around , a broken man in their midst. .He was in a sorrowful state as the people consoled him.
“What has happened ? why is a man reduced to the state of a child?” he had inquired.
“The one who have left home and cleaved to him, she has been taken away to the land of our ancestors ,albeit cruelly, in the market.that is why”
“How come , who has done this ..who has dared to do this?”
“the village that we share boundaries with, they had dared to do this..”
“Then we must go to war , we must show them that they do not take our women and kill them and expect that we bow down and thank them..we too would send them..he that did this and their entire clan to go early to the land of their ancestors, blood for blood. .so that the well of the earth shall not go dry and the wound they have cause on the one she left behind to be healed.”
“Yes, we must go to war”
Okonkwo stares at the man wailing “Be strong..men do not cry. do not show your weakness man, she has gone. Nothing can be done, except revenge on him or them that has caused this. surely that would bring you peace?”
“Yes it would bring me peace ” he wailed
“Then I will go, I will go and bring revenge for you …” And with that Okonkwo leaves…
He must show them that they cannot kill a daughter from their land and go free without punishment.
No..he must go and show them why they call him Okonkwo..why his name was feared amongst his people and people that had only heard of him tremble.
“What is it?what is happening?” the elders of the neighbouring village begin to shake
“He is coming, they are coming ..they will kill us all” The villages chanted
“Who is coming..who are they and from where ??”
“Umuofia. the one who is most feared. When he talks the heavens roars, when he clenched his fist he can break the skull of a child’s within his palm and when he fights…even the dead fear for the living. he is coming, to bring death to us all. Oh. .what thing have they caused us now…what sure death are we to face now…help us elders, save us from the calamity that is bound to save us..protect us. .do not let him walk into our village and leave us slain in our blood…elders, you are our fathers, protect us..protect you..we would surely be wiped out.” They cried.
“What must we do? ”
“we must pacify then..we must abate their anger. .or else. .we all shall die..even you..even you”
the elders are worried, Okonkwo is approaching. ..
“What would be a worthy payment for our sins..what?”
“We took a daughter from them…let us give them back another from our land, a virgin, never being touched by a man..surely that would appease the wound of the one whose’s wife was taken from him.. And then ..maybe we give him something else.., from the household of the one who have committed this grave sin…a son…”
“Okay, bring the virgin girl. . but the boy, he is just fifteen ”
“Yes ..but he is a worthy payment..they have taken a lie, it is only suitable to replace none with another.. He shall be removed from his home and place of comfort, from the warm bosom of his mother and the love of his sister and the pride of his father, he shall be given up as payment for the sins committed by the people of our land against the strong people of Umuofai, that is the only way we would be spared” They chanted.
Okonkwo had entered the village , his chest pumping and the matchet in his hand.
“Let them come out, those who have dared to touch the jewels of our land..let them come out so I can make their flesh kiss the earth and their blood the wetness the earth needs to continue to revive itelf.”
“My Lord. .great warrior. .we have sinned; we have done this thing to you..but please. .please. ..spare us. spare us” they begged, “spare us ”
“Why must I? An eye for an eye, surely a little darkness in the world isn’t so bad.”
“my lord…please…we offer these people to you, a virgin ..and then a boy. take them..take them. so that she shall have peace”
“I want blood …blood is all that would give him peace, the one whos wife was taken” Okonkwo thunders
“Then take her ..give her to him..she is a pure blood, a virgin,she is prefect. .she would be soft on his hard chiselled chest, warm on his bed and can bear him children ..she is healthy..she is indeed worthy ” They push her to him
‘And he…he is the son of the clan, from our land…he can be put to good use in your village. .please..take them..and spare our lives ” they begged “we don’t want a war, we know we don’t stand a chance, we know that even to the last man would be buried under. so please. .take them..take them and spare our lives.”
Okonkwo looks at them..For a long time he does, then taking the boy and the girl, he goes back home,. He is with the elders standing infront of them in the town hall .
“this is their offer of peace my brothers…this is their offer of peace so that their life would be soared.” Okonkwo says
they look at the girl and then the boy …and with a lot deliberation, they too accepted
“we would give her to him who have lost his woman..” they tell him
“And the boy?” Okonkwo looks at him,the boy who is downcast..
“His fate is yet to be decided ” they tell him.
“very well..untill then”
Okonkwo takes him home with him while he awaits the decision, he hands the boy to his first wife out of three to care for.
“What is your name?” Nwoye askes, he is the 12 years old son of Okonkwo. ..
“it is Ikemefuna”
‘why have they brought you here?”
“I do not know..I miss home, my mother and sister. .but they say I have to stay here..I have to live here from now on”
Nwoye looks at him, “Do not worry, I am here too. we shall be friends. you would like that?’
“Yes ” Ikemefuna smiles. .”Yes I would like that”
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it’s been three score years…A lot of things had changed in the land…
Ikemefuna had not only being the boy that was brought into their land to live with Okonkwo and his family years ago…he had suddenly become a part of his family, loved by people in the clan as well. .And Nwoye..he loved him most of all.
And ikemefuna had grown , calling him, Okonkwo father..
Okonkwo had always wanted a son who was everything his own father wasnt..soft and gentle, he wasn’t a man by Okonkwo’s standard and he feared , he feared ever considered as being weak himself.
so he ruled his household with the iron fist, the fact that his wives feared him gave him joy..
But whenever his son Nwoye came into his presence. .he was angered..
“You are too weak,you rather sit in the midst of women and listen to the stories told at bed time than to sit in the council of men and hear the gory details of blood and war and the fights of god’s. you are too weak Nwoye and weak men die..they die. come here and sit down..let me show you how to be a man”
“No father, I do not like to see blood, nor do i want to have a heart nor how to kill, how do you take someone’s life without remorse. . No father..Ikemefuna do not mind that..but me..I rather be left alone to my idle mind than frolick with old men and stone drinks and desires to play gods” He says.
Okonkwo in his anger strikes him…”A man do not run away from being a man..I must show you how to become a man and I would show you that only the weak would be put to the ground ” He grabs him and beats him
“my husband, my head, my strong one…let my son be..let him be please ”
“It is because of you that makes him tie wrapper around his chest like a woman and not his waste like a man. it is because of you he is as soft as a woman and cannot even kill the cock like a man. he is a man..he is a man..he should act like one ” he strike the boy again but his mother rushes to defend him
“woman, get out of my way” he pushes her aside ,hitting the boy to the ground. ..”I refuse to allow you become weak..not under my roof..I refuse. .I hope when you remember this beating you would drop your gentleness and become strong or I will make sure you never have to be amongst those you love again” he spat, walking away and leaving the boy crying.
“it’s okay my son, it’s okay” his mother console him
Ikemefuna comes home from the farm, and sees Nwoye downcast ,he knows that Okonkwo had been at it again…trying to make the boy strong.
“Don’t worry Nwoye, I am here..and I would make you better , so that father will be pleased. you would like that won’t you?”
the boy looks up to him..”Yes I will, very much”
Ikemefuna and Nwoye , become inseparable. .. Ikemefuna treats him with respect despite being older than him, Nwoye had grown to love him like an older brother . And soon, Nwoye becomes confident , stronger..and pleasing his father. .
And because he knows what he does pleases his father wanted. ..he began to act like the way he wanted, did things the way he wanted and spoke against women even the way he Okonkwo wanted. ..
but this never pleased him , Nwoye..but it pleased his father and Okonkwo was greatly pleased..
Okonkwo knew that Ikemefuna was a good influence on his son. ..And he should be grateful for the boy’s presence in his family. .
Yes in a way he was grateful. .He had succeed where he could not , in Nwoye’s life and he knew that it would be hard to separate them…