BY UGOCHUKWU SMART
Every day that Ego Oyibo’s pregnancy grew, Udoka became more depressed and withdrawn, she didn’t have time for herself, or her child. The king, Emelu couldn’t care less whether she left the palace or not. He pampered his new wife, and she began to feel too important, so much that she began to see herself as the only .
Ego Oyibo: “A queen who cannot bear heirs is no queen” she was heard talking to her friend.
Ego Oyibo: “As you can see, the senior wife is in no frame of mind to take care of this household, so you will revert to me for everything concerning this family” she was heard addressing the servants. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Udoka talked herself out of her reclusion, she began to dress up and appear more even if the king didn’t notice her anymore. Ego Oyibo had taken over her husband, but she wouldn’t let her take over her household.
Udoka: “Henceforth, I will be in charge of everything in the palace, as the Lolo and senior wife.” She instructed the palace servants, Ego Oyibo just scoffed and rubbed her big belly.
In all this, Adaku suffered the most, her mother neglected her, and so did her father. She started failing in school because she felt there was no need to it. Her friends in school kept telling her that a woman didn’t need education, all she needs are good cooking and bed skills.
Nine months later, Ego Oyibo went into labor. The king again, instructed the towncrier to sound the news everywhere. Udoka was among the women who were in Ego Oyibo’s hut to deliver her of the baby. But the other women made sure that Udoka stayed as far away from Ego Oyibo, she only ran errands and passed things.
Udoka: “Do they think I will kill the child?” she thought bitterly. Meanwhile, the men stayed in the throne room, waiting for news. The king was anxious; he could not wait to be told that his wife had delivered a baby boy. They drank fresh palm wine that the villagers who were sitting outside had brought.
Ego Oyibo labored from morning till night, crying and screaming in agony. At midnight, her child slipped into the world. The men in the throne room heard the piercing cry of the newborn, before one of the midwives came to tell them the good news.
Midwife: “The young queen has been delivered of a baby boy” she said with excitement, and the whole room erupted into applause. Many congratulated the King; his place on the throne had been secured. He sent boxes of gifts to his in-laws; they had given him a good product.
However, one day when the baby was three months old, the mother had left him on his mat and gone to sit with her husband in the garden. There was no doubt that she was the favored wife, but Udoka had resigned herself to fate. She was caring and most times cared for the new baby. But on this fateful day she had gone with her daughter, Adaku to the big market to purchase new clothes for her.
Ego Oyibo basked in the attention was giving her; she fed him berries that the men from across the Niger had brought with them.
Emelu: “My Ego Oyibo, you have brought light to my life, and drove shame from my house, tell me whatever you want and I will give you” he said as she fed him groundnuts from a bowl she held in her laps. Her eyes sparkled just like her skin, marrying the king had made her a very happy woman.
Ego Oyibo: “In no time, I will take in for you again, I will fill your palace with sons, my Emelu” she said
Emelu: “My Ego, I know you will not disappoint me” he kissed her and began to pull her towards his hut.
Ego Oyibo: “Oh dear, why don’t we use my hut today” she pulled him back towards her hut. Her hut was closer to Udoka’s hut, and she wanted to make sure that Udoka saw their husband entering into her hut, not knowing that Udoka was not in her hut. She giggled when she thought of the fact that Emelu had not been intimate with the senior wife, Udoka since she stepped her feet into the palace.
The king was the first who entered the hut, he saw the cot and walked over to it, the child had fast become The apple of his eyes. He carried the child up from the cot, but the child’s eyes were closed, his face had a strange hue to it.
Emelu: “Ego Ooyibo, what is wrong with our son. Why is he looking like this?” he asked as fear gripped him, because in his heart, he already knew what was wrong with their son. Ego Oyibo pulled the child away from his father and looked at him. His head was hanging wobbly, and his lips were turning blue. The child was dead. She had been dining and wining with Emelu, while her son was dying; she dropped the child on the mat and began to walk backwards, out of her hut.
Emelu: “Ewo, who did this to me, who has taken my joy. My chi what have I done to wrong you oh” he sat down on the floor of the hut and wept his eyes out. The people in the palace had heard the cry and gathered at the hut, they saw the lifeless child on the mat, and began to sorrow.
People: “ Ewoo, onwu oh (death oh)” they cried.
Meanwhile, Ego Oyibo had walked with bare feet to the river called Achaka, which ran through the village and fed into the river Niger. She stared at the river angrily;
Ego Oyibo: “Achaka, you are wicked! If you didn’t want me to have a child for Emelu, you would have said so. How can the great Achaka be my chi and yet this kind of calamity befalls me? Well since you have dealt so unfairly with me, it is time to finish what you started” she said and jumped into the fast flowing river. But as she did, a man jumped in after her, and grabbed her. By this time, she had swallowed enough water. He began to press down on her chest, in a bid to resuscitate her. He was giving up hope and wondering if he was too late, when Ego Oyibo spurted water out of her mouth and took in big gulps of air.
Man: “Queen Ego Oyibo, what are you doing? Were you sleep walking?” he asked
Ego Oyibo: “Leave me alone, who asked you to save me. Who made you savior?” she yelled like a mad woman, tearing out all the beads that decorated her hair.
Man: “I do not know what has made you this way, but I will not allow you kill yourself” he said and carried her off the ground, depositing her on his shoulders. He ran with his burden, straight for the palace, amidst protests from Ego Oyibo.
When they got to the palace, they met with commotion, the senior wife, Queen Udoka on the floor with her daughter. They were both crying, and the queen clothes were muddy like she had been pelted with mud. The king was standing with his chiefs and his eyes were angry. Ego Oyibo’s savior put her down on her feet. The king saw her and rushed to her, he looked at her wet clothes and then at the man who brought her and then he understood what she had tried to do.
Emelu: “If it is found out that you, Udoka killed the son you couldn’t even give me, I will bury you alive” he roared as his body shook with anger and pain.
Ego Oyibo: “Yes she killed my son! She was too jealous of me” she cried and began to roll on the floor.
Question: Did Udoka kill her stepson? If she did, what fate awaits her?
Episode 1 – http://multigist.com/2017/03/10/episode-1-the-travails-of-a-woman-a-breathtaking-story/~