Amaka and her mother were seated at the shrine with the items necessary for the sacrifice; Odili’s cloth, strands from Amaka’s hair and a drop of blood from Soluzo’s big toe. It was the day of the traditional wedding between Soluzo and Odili and while they were both oblivious to the plans being hatched behind their backs by the one they called friend, the priestess at the shrine had begun the ritual.
Amaka and her mother sat still with pent up breaths as they watched the priestess mix the items for the sacrifice in small pot and placed it on top of a fire.  Amaka and her
mother watched the pot suddenly begin to boil and emit some kind of smoke. The
priestess made the incantations while the shrine suddenly enveloped in a huge
cloud of smoke.
“I summon the powers of the earth, fire and water to this gathering and as I invoke their powers, I ask that they come together as one and fight this battle with me.” The Priestess shouted.
Amaka felt at ease, she was so confident in the priestess plans and she was so sure that her friend’s union would be dissolved through the powers of the priestess and her evil gods. The priestess had promised that before the white wedding, the ties that bind Soluzo and Odili would be broken and she couldn’t wait to see that happen. The priestess continued shouting and calling on different gods when all of a sudden there was a clap of thunder and
a loud sound of rain. The priestess stopped the incantations and looked at mother and daughter seated before her.
“Someone tampered with this sacrifice!” The priestess shouted at them.
“Tampered? How?” Amaka asked.
“The rains are not supposed to interfere with the sacrifice.
Who tampered with the sacrifice?” The priestess asked, louder now.
“I didn’t…I did everything you asked me to…I brought the items….they are complete…” Amaka stammered.
“One item has been contaminated. Are you sure you brought the items belonging to Odili and Soluzo?” The priestess asked.
“Yes I brought everything…the shirt is Odili’s and the…err…the blood was taken from Soluzo and I did the extraction myself, same with the hair.”
“Ah ah…what could have happened?” Amaka’s mother asked her daughter.
“Hmmm…let me consult with the gods..” The priestess said as she took her sack of cowries and proceeded to empty its contents on the floor. She quickly began her incantations, shouting loudly and making animalistic sounds, after a while she spoke.
“It is here…the evidence is in the cowries! Something is wrong with one of the items.” The priestess said and she quickly held put her hand into the hot boiling pot without fear of being scalded. When she removed her hand from the pot, she had no burns on her skin and in her hand were strands of hair.
“This is our problem!” The priestess pronounced.
“That’s her hair! I cut it myself!” Amaka started.
“Yes…it’s her hair but it has been anointed.”The priestess said.
“Anointed? How do you mean anointed?” Amaka asked.
“Someone must have touched her hair with an anointed oil used in Churches and places of worship.”
“Does this mean that the sacrifice is useless?” Amaka’s mother asked in panic.
“Amaka has failed the test but all hope is not lost yet.
Tonight, she must journey to the river at the outskirts of this village, alone. She will carry a basket of eggs and a live female fowl. This is to appease the gods for leading them on a wild goose chase after which she would do the sacrifice on her own at the river.”
“Do the sacrifice on my own? I don’t understand…how can I do that? I am not a priestess!” Amaka protested.
“When you reach the river, you will throw in the eggs one after the other, proclaiming death to the union of Soluzo and Odili after which you will strangle the neck of the chicken and rip its head off. The blood which will flow from the neck of the chicken, will be rubbed on your hands and feet.” The priestess said ignoring Amaka’s outrage.
“Excuse me? Rub the blood on my body? Journey to the stream at night? How did this get so complicated?” Amaka asked in shock.
“You will rub the blood on your hands and feet to show the gods that you are not blameless in the destruction of the soul ties between
Soluzo and Odili. Thus, if at all any punishment is to come at the aftermath of this, it will be upon your head and those of your children.” The priestess said.
“Wait ooo…punishment? What has being punished have to do with this? I came here on my own free will to stop the union between Soluzo and Odili and not to receive punishment.”
“You have begun this sacrifice by wronging the gods! How could you bring a contaminated hair to this shrine? If you do not do this, you are looking for more trouble! However, if you do this, everything will be done according to your will.”
“She will do it…we can’t come this far to turn back now. She will do it!” Amaka’s mother said.
“At midnight, Amaka must set out with the items that I have asked of her and she must go to the river in order to perform the sacrifice.”
“But our village is far from here, how can she come this night to perform such task? Won’t it be dangerous?” Amaka’s mother asked.
“If you want something, you must be prepared to go the extra
mile for it. I am not usually this generous but she can stay here in the shrine
till midnight after which she would perform the sacrifice.” The priestess said.
Amaka was unsure that she could do what the priestess asked
of her but due to her resolve to end Odili and Soluzo’s marriage, she was ready
to go the extra mile.
******
It was the day of the traditional marriage ceremony and Soluzo was about to step out from her father’s house for the first time to greet her husband-to-be and his people as tradition demanded but stopped short when a loud crackling thunder struck the heavens. She was astounded at the strange occurrence as it was dry season and the skies hadn’t given any
signs of rain. Suddenly, as though on cue, the heavy rains started, pouring as
though in anger from the heavens and Odili’s family and well-wishers who had
come for the traditional marriage found themselves running to take refuge under
the shelter of the canopies. The canopies weren’t enough coverage as the rains drenched
everyone present except those inside the house.
“Ajo mmiri! Evil rain!” People said.
There was a slight confusion as people scampered about looking for ways to shield themselves from the rain. Soluzo stood at the entrance to her house with her sisters, female cousins and friends, they could not dance out as tradition demanded and they couldn’t go back inside either. They just stood watching the rains pour from the heavens in loud torrents.
“I said it! Ekwurum ya! It said it! My dreams do not deceive me!” Odili’s mother shouted aloud, she too was under one of the canopies.
“Madam…don’t worry, it is just one of those rains.” A voice said to her. Odili’s mother turned back to reply and her eyes widened in recognition.
“Oga Felix! I am glad you came…welcome.” Odili’s mother shouted, trying to be heard over the rain.
“I had to come….Odili is like a son to me. I started serving his father, your husband, when he was still a little boy, I couldn’t let anything take me away from being here today.” Oga Felix said.
“Thank you for coming ooo…God bless you. Let’s wait and see if these rains would have mercy on us and stop falling.” Odili’s mother said.
“It will stop soon.” Oga Felix assured. “Ehen…I saw Amaka yesterday at Umuahia, I was wondering why she was very flippant with me and didn’t greet me properly so, I am partly here to accost her and demand an explanation. I’m sure she’s amongst the ladies that’ll accompany Soluzo out to greet her husband and his people.” Oga Felix said.
“Which Amaka?” Odili’s mother asked.
“Amaka, Soluzo’s bosom friend.”
“Amaka is working in Lagos, she is not in the eastern part of the country at all.”
“Says who? I saw her with my two eyes yesterday at the bus park at Umuahia…”
“How come? She declined to attend the traditional wedding with excuses of having to work. What is she doing in Umuahia, if she can’t come for her friend’s traditional wedding which is taking place in a village not far from hers?”
“Maybe she’s going to surprise Soluzo because I’m sure that she came back for the wedding. It won’t make sense that Amaka would be in the east and Soluzo will be having her traditional marriage and she won’t be there.
Mbanu!” Oga Felix said.
“I hope she comes because it is some minutes past one pm and she’s not here yet!” Odili’s mother said glancing at her wristwatch.

 

Oga Felix stared at the rains and shook his head. The guests hurdled together in groups, each taking shelter from the rain. Soluzo who had waited for the rain to stop to no avail, went back into the house and started crying. Things weren’t going according to plan.
To be continued…

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