At the Idemili shrine, Udoka was made to wear a black loin cloth. Her body was decorated with white chalk and a leaf stalk was put in between her teeth. She was given a carved face of Idemili to carry, and dance around the shrine. After which, she was made to kneel before Idemili.
Ezidemili: “Tell Ezidemili, if you killed the or was involved in the conspiracy that killed him, before the expiration of seven days, you shall begin to rot like a corpse” he said raising a staff over her head.
Udoka: “If I killed the prince, let calamity befall me in seven days, let me rot like a corpse” she said as the priest kept turning the carved wood over her head.
Ezidemili: “In seven days we shall know who really killed the prince” the priest said.
Emelu: “You will remain in the dungeon till the expiration of seven days” he said angrily and walked away. He had expected instant justice, not this wait.
Ego Oyibo had heard the declaration that the priest of Idemili made, she couldn’t be sure whether Udoka killed her son or not, but she was determined to not let her son’s death go to waste.
Ego Oyibo: “I must use this opportunity to send her out of this palace in shame and disgrace. I have to do something” she said to herself as she paced up and down her hut. She looked at the mat where her son usually slept. The prince had been buried without much ado, a small grave dug behind the palace. She was pained by his death, but she was confident she would take him and give birth to another son, that would take over the throne. Once this mess with Udoka was cleared up, she would start visiting her husband again, they had to make another son. Her reign as queen was at stake.
Ego Oyibo: “After Udoka is dead, I will be the only queen, and when I fill this palace with sons, my husband will have no need for another wife. Yes!” she quipped with excitement. She folded some money notes in her wrapper and set out for Adankwo, the medicine woman who lived on the other side of the Achaka River. She decided she would tell her husband that she was going to her chi to make prayers for another son. She was confident he would approve, the moment she mentioned “son”.
Azagba had also gone to Ezidemili, to find a way to destroy his brother. This was his weakest time, and he would not let the opportunity go to waste. Ezidemili was his friend right from their youth, when his father was Ezidemili, and his own father was the king. Ezidemili was also against Emelu for supplanting his brother, and becoming King.
Azagba: “Ezidemili, the only one who knows which mood Idemili is in” he greeted, as he entered the shrine where his friend was attending to the gods. His friend didn’t answer him; he was deep in conversations with the gods. Azagba helped himself to a stool in the shrine, and waited for his friend to finish. After a while, Ezidemili broke the silence;
Ezidemili: “I know why you have come. But I want to tell you to hold still. Everything will fall into place. The king is set on a path of destruction, and you need not do anything” he said and turned.
Azagba: “If you say so, I trust you. Ezidemili” he replied and they went out to break kolanut.
Ego Oyibo reached Achaka and prayed to her chi by the river, before she proceeded on her journey to the other side of the river.
It took her hours to navigate to the other side. She was exhausted when she reached the shrine of Adankwo. She sat on a log of wood to catch her breath when she felt a cold presence behind her, she turned and saw Adankwo. She had become older than the last time she saw her, when she had come to secure the King’s love.
It happened that, she had heard that the king was searching for a new wife because his first wife could not bear him a son. So, she had come to Adankwo, who did charms for her. When the king came to her household, she had dressed up elegantly, adorning her waist with coral beads and marking her body with fine patterns. Then she had rubbed the charm all over her body. The moment she got into the room where the king sat with her parents, he had fallen for her. He didn’t go to other households, but began preparations for their marriage rites.
And today she was back; to make sure that the woman she met in the palace was gone forever.
Ego Oyibo: “The all seeing eye, I am back again”
Adankwo: “I know why you have come, but you have to know that what you plan to do is dangerous, you are fighting with Idemili” she said as she walked, leaning on a stick.
Ego Oyibo: “I have no business with Idemili, only with Udoka. My son is dead, I want her out before she bears a son for him” she replied.
Adankwo burst into laughter, a mocking laughter. As she laughed, she whirled round in a circle, with her ears tuned to the wind, as if to hear something.
Adankwo: “While you were pregnant, and even when you just put to birth, your husband sought the solace of his first wife. So perhaps I understand why you want her out of the way” she said with a wide grin that showed her brown, plucked teeth. Ego Oyibo was shocked with this revelation, her husband had told her he detested Udoka, that she was a wilted woman whose time was almost midnight.
Ego Oyibo: “That useless man, how dare he deceive me” she said through clenched teeth. Then she turned to Adankwo and said ; “I want her to be made the culprit for the death of my son” she said with the veins sticking out of her head, and her eyes filled with fury.
Adankwo: “As you wish” she said and began to dance her weird dance.
Udoka and her daughter continued to stay in the dungeon; they were not fed food, but only water, and every day the king came to check if she had begun to rot. He would find her lying down weakly, while her daughter sang to her. He began to think that perhaps she was not responsible for the death of his son. He decided to begin to give them food. On the third day after she swore to Idemili, the palace guards brought her and her daughter, a bowl of hot porridge beans.
Adaku: “Mother, see, perhaps, father’s heart will be turned to our favor” she said as she ate the beans with her mother.
Udoka: “Don’t count on it my child. Your father is not thinking clearly because of his loss” she replied. But as she put the third spoon in her mouth, a nauseous feeling rose from the pit of her stomach, nd she threw up all she had eaten.
Adaku: “Mother, are you alright?”
Udoka: “I don’t know my child; it seems my stomach is revolting against the food because I have not eaten for a long time” she said as she wiped her mouth with water from the bowl of water they had given them. Then she started feeling queasy, and fell down.
Adaku: “Mother, mother” she cried as her mother laid on the floor, her eyes closed. Adaku began to scream on top of her voice, to alert people.
Adaku: “Help! Help! My mother!” she cried. The guards alerted the king, and he rushed down to the dungeon, with Ego Oyibo on his heels. They wanted to know if the gods had started dealing with Udoka for killing the prince. When they got to the dungeon, Udoka was already awake, she was hugging her daughter.
Udoka: “Nothing will happen to me my child, I am innocent” she said. Ego Oyibo’s eyes were wide open in shock, how dare she try to change the king’s heart. She turned to look at him, and saw that his countenance was no longer hard, he looked pitifully at Udoka. She wondered when Adankwo would strike, was it when Udoka got back the king? She wondered.
Udoka: “I am sick, please let the medicine man come to me” she pleaded still holding on to her daughter.
Ego Oyibo: “You can’t do that, it is the gods dealing with her, you cannot interfere” she said holding on to the king.
Emelu: “The gods do not strike step by step, I will send the medicine man to check on her, if it is the work of the gods he would know” he said in finality and walked away with Ego Oyibo running after him. The thing is Emelu was already beginning to doubt that Udoka was responsible for his son’s death, so he was reluctant to hurt her, peradventure, she was not responsible.
The medicine man came, with his bag of herbs; he took one look at Udoka and said;
Medicine man: “You are not sick, you are pregnant. The gods must be having a big laugh” he said and burst into laughter.
Question: Will Udoka’s pregnancy change the King’s heart, will it save her from impending doom?
Missed episode 3… Read it here http://multigist.com/2017/03/10/episode-3-the-travails-of-a-woman-a-breathtaking-story/