The market days were usually held on seven days intervals. Sixteen days later, Mazi Nduka thought it was the right time to go for the land he desired. He didn’t want to let the words of his mouth to go in vain. He also didn’t want Chika to think that he was a coward and feel that they were all still afraid of him like they had feared his father.
The farming season was drawing nearer and he really wanted to secure the land before it was too late. So he decided that he would pay Chika a visit and discuss the issue one more time, this would make the younger man know that he was serious.
Chika was just bringing in his cattle from the field when he heard the sound of somebody’s footstep behind him, he quickly turned around and saw Mazi Nduka. It was getting late into the evening and he didn’t like the old man’s visit. In fact, it made him feel more uncomfortable than he had initially thought, knowing what the outcome of his confrontation with Nduka might lead him to do.
“What do you want here Mazi Nduka, I don’t remember inviting you to my home. And I don’t think I have any business with you.”
“Is this how your father taught you to welcome visitors in your home? No salutation? Invite me in and offer me kola, I came here to discuss with you.”
“I think you should leave.” He wasn’t ready to allow the old fool into his house.
“Well, I will leave if that is what you want, I just wanted to tell you that come next market day, my family and I are going to clear the land we talked about the last time we chatted, we want to prepare it before the farming season comes. I won’t want us to argue over it.”
Chika gave scoffed, “Is that all? I will wait for you and your family and I will show you your doom. I will give you what you want. Now leave my house, I don’t want to see you around my home again!”
Nduka left the compound with a funny and confused smile on his face. What is this boy up to? Well, he was going to make a sacrifice of human blood to the great god. And that was the greatest sacrifice anyone could offer to the god. He was sure Chika hadn’t known about that yet. Even if he did, he would not have the courage to do it. But what has the boy got in mind? He had expected the young man to go on his knees and beg him. Maybe he was just trying to be brave, he must go ahead with his plans and he must get that land.
Chika was just sorry for the old fool; a big surprise awaited him if he continued with his threats. He had already heard about the threats Mazi Madu had been making; about his vow to get back his land, no matter what it took. Three days ago the village king had summoned him and asked him to let go of all the properties that his father had taken away from people. He had told the king that he should be given some time so that he could sort things out. He had already told himself that that would be the last time that he would answer such call.
Now he was just waiting for the right time to show all Durujians that they had more to fear than what they had experienced from his father.
A few days ago Chika had summoned up courage and had gone back to the shrine of Alaogbaga; he hadn’t been able to go on the appointed day he had promised to go. It had taken him three extra days to make up his mind. The chief priest had immediately smiled when Chika showed up and told him what he wanted. Just like his father, he had thought.
Sacrificing one’s life to Alaogbaga was just like one selling his soul to it. It would possess such an individual and use him to carry out its evil intents. The chief priest could not even understand why the god really appreciated this kind of sacrifice since there was no blood involved, knowing Alaogbaga as a blood loving deity. Maybe the fact that it allowed it to possess the individual had some important significance that was beyond his understanding.
“I am here so that I may make a life sacrifice to the great god of my father, great one. But great one, you alone can speak to it, I beg you to let him give me more time.” Chika was in a pleading mood. “You know my father was much older than I am when he made the sacrifice to the god of destruction. Tell him to give me fifteen more years before he takes my life instead of twelve like he gave my father for I have not yet seen my children.”
“I will have to speak to the great god about that. You must wait; I will be with you soonest.” The chief priest entered the inner chamber of the shrine. No worshipper had ever been invited in there. Chika could hear some strange sounds coming from the priest; he could not really understand what he was saying because he was not familiar with the incantatory language the man was speaking now. He was so tensed that he couldn’t wait for the whole ritual to be over so that he could forget about it.
After what seemed like a decade to Chika, the chief priest came out. He looked at Chika for some time and said, “The great one has accepted your plea. It is going to give you fifteen years. Are you ready now? If you are, we’d better begin for we have a long day ahead of us.”
Chika sighed loudly and said, “I am ready.”
“Alright, I will be with you in a moment, let me get the necessary items that will be used for the ritual.”
Once he was alone, Chika started to think again. This time, he was trying to console himself that fifteen years was still a long time and he would make sure that he made good use of the time. Durijians will see another side of Chika the son of Obi, he cheered himself up.
The chief priest came out with a black bowl made of clay. It contained a dark-coloured liquid with an unpleasant smell. “Take off your clothes.” the priest ordered and Chika immediately obeyed. He was washed with it and a sharp object was used to make some marks on the upper part of his body, another thick liquid was rubbed on his body and the chief priest made some incantation as he worked on Chika’s body, concentrating more on the parts that had been cut. A small amount of his blood was collected before he was asked to put on his clothes.
“You have just been washed with the water from a dead man’s body, and Alaogbaga will be at your service henceforth.” The Chief Priest started, “He will give you maximum protection and answer your call faster than all the other worshippers. You will enjoy so many more other advantages than others. And through its fierce nature, your desires shall be granted unto you. Your enemies will be crushed whenever you call on your god and all shall fear you. But have this at the back of your mind; you will deliver your life to Alaogbaga after fifteen years. Do not allow yourself to be persuaded; do not run so that the wrath of the god shall not be passed to your family. I will be there to remind you when the time draws near. Keep these rules and your life will be taken peacefully. Disobey them; you and your whole family shall meet the most miserable death. The god expects you to make a sacrifice of thanksgiving tomorrow. Go in peace.”
For the next three days, Chika suffered from a feeling of ambivalence about the new turn of his life. He became quieter than he used to, not sure if he had made the right decision by making the life sacrifice. Well, he thought, the deed had been done; from now on he would not spare any fool who came to tempt him and anyone who made any attempt to stop him from getting what he wanted.
Chima enjoyed hanging out with his friends at the village hall. These friends always met in the mornings and evenings to make plan for the next day. They spent the most of the day hunting bush animals. Whenever they got more than enough, they would sell some to those who ran bars and take the rest home for themselves. Chima was well-loved and respected among his peers, even though he did nothing to instigate fear in them like his father and brother. Earlier in his childhood days, the villagers used to be scared of him due to the information they heard about his father. But in the process of socializing with him, they found out that he was a very different person from his father. He could be ambitious and tough, but did not oppress them in any way. He could be very motivating, most times proving to be a very good leader with an atmosphere of tenderness in everything he did.
They came to understand that he didn’t like the way his father terrorized the villagers. Left to him he would have given all that his father had forcefully taken from the people back to them, but he knew that his brother who was just like his father was not ready to allow him to do that. But Chima felt very free among members of his community, he visited any home he wished and was welcomed. Through his lifestyle, it was obvious that he wasn’t in support of what his father and brother did.
The arrival of the rainy season reduced the time Chima and his friends hung out, since everybody was forced to go to the farm always. The first rain had just come and the villagers usually used that period to clear their farmlands and get ready for farming. Therefore Chima had remained at home using most of his time to prepare his farming tools.
Chima noticed the change in his brother’s behavior. He noticed that Chika had suddenly become quieter than before. Recently, he would be very lost in thought, unaware of all that was happening in his environment. And he seemed to look more evil than normal, something Chima could not explain. In his eyes, one could easily tell that behind the dark corners of his mind lurked evil intentions. Chima would wonder what was wrong with brother, what might be the cause of this sudden change in him? He could only hope that his brother had not involved himself in something dangerous and was not planning to hurt anybody.
Nkechi couldn’t also help noticing the change that had suddenly taken over her husband’s mien. She noticed that for the past five market days he talked less and seemed to keep to himself, lost in his own world. Another scary fact was that his appearance had suddenly changed into something strange; he was always looking as if he could murder someone and this made her very scared of him.
That night, after taking his dinner, he, in his quiet mood, said, “Tomorrow, Chima and I will go to that big plot of land near Madu’s big iroko tree since Nduka is planning on taking it from me. I will have to start farming on it before he makes any move.” He sounded very ambitious. He then looked at his wife and his voice became tender, “I will like you to have lots of rest throughout this period; don’t want anything bad happening to my baby.”
“Don’t worry about that, my husband; nothing will happen to your baby, I will be very careful.” Then she changed the topic. “But what if Mazi Nduka comes to fight you on that land while you are working with Chima? What are you going to do? I don’t want anything to happen to you, I don’t want to be a widow.”
“Hmm… the poor old fool is playing with his life, I wish he comes there to make trouble with me, I am well prepared for him. He would be surprised at what I would do to him.” He looked at his wife in an assuring manner, “Don’t worry about that, I have everything under control, the god of my father will protect and fight for me.”
She wanted to ask him what had been bothering him in the last few days but decided against it. Maybe with time he would come back to his old self. She excused herself before going to bed.
Very early the next morning, Chika and his brother set off for the big plot of land. They meant to finish clearing the land before the end of the day so that they would be able to burn the grasses before the next rainfall.
The farmland wasn’t very far from their home; in no time they were already there and without wasting anytime they began working. Both Chika and Chima were very hardworking; farming was the basic means of livelihood among Durujians and so every child was brought up in a way that they had to dedicate themselves to it. From the way the two brothers were working it was certain that they would finish with the clearing earlier than they had even anticipated.
They had barely worked for two hours when Mazi Nduka stormed into the farmland.
“Who is that? What is happening here?” Nduka demanded, “Who authorized you to come into this land and work? Oh! Is it you? Look, this little boy, you are just proving to be too stubborn, it is the stubborn fly that follows the corpse to the grave. For your own sake, leave this land and go home to your wife.”
Chika and Chima stopped working and were staring at him. Chima looked so confused; he was wondering what this was all about. He looked at his brother to see his reaction, but could not tell much from the cold and expressionless face.
“You are just wasting your time,” Nduka continued, “My family and I are going to cultivate on this land this season. You better go to your wicked father’s numerous plots of land and work, leave my land for me.”
“What is the problem?” Chima asked in a low tone. “I believe very well that this is our land, I don’t understand what you are talking about.”
“Shut up!” Nduka shouted at him. Then facing Chika, he said, “I don’t want to talk so much on this. You boys should just pack all your tools and leave here immediately; I am going straight to the king’s palace to tell him to send people that will stop you if you don’t want to listen to me. And I warn you, don’t come back here again.”
Before the old man could leave, Chika said, “You stubborn grasshopper, you can go and tell the whole villagers to come and stop us from working. Do anything you want to do, I must farm on this land, you can never stop me.”
This stopped Mazi Nduka from moving out. They continued to exchange words for a long time; making so much noise until many other villagers who heard them came around to settle the quarrel. None of them really liked Chika, so they were a little biased in their judgments. They wished Nduka could actually do something to stop him from farming on the land so that he could get a taste of what his father used to do to others. But eventually, they took Mazi Nduka away from the scene and he was asked by his supporters to take the matter to the village king. He went straight to the king’s palace and reported the matter to him before going home.
When he got home, he went straight to his animal house and brought out a matured he-goat and cut its head off. He spread the blood of the goat around his house as he recited some incantations, then took another goat and went to the shrine of Alaogbaga. He made a sacrifice to the god with the goat. He asked for protection from the god in the next few days and in whatever he was going to do.
He told the Chief priest that someone was stepping on his toes by trying to farm on his piece of land and he told the chief priest to ask Alaogbaga to help him in fighting for the land. The Chief priest accepted and asked him to go in peace after assuring him that his request would be granted by the god of destruction.
After Nduka left, Chika told his brother not to be mindful of what had just happened and that he should continue to work. He refused to answer any question from him. Chima continued to work, although he tried in vain to mask his confusion as he tilled the soil. After a short while, the king’s messenger came with a message from the king asking them to stop working on the land until the matter was resolved. And that they should come to the palace immediately.
Chika was furious, “I am not going to answer any call and nobody is going to stop me from working on this land, not even the king and his thugs. Just get out of here with your stupid message and leave me alone!”
Chima pleaded with him that they should obey the king and leave the plot of land. “Let us at least go and hear what the king has to say concerning the matter since we are very sure that the land is ours.”
“You stupid boy, what reasonable thing do you think he has to say? The best thing for you is to keep quiet about this matter. Nduka wants to see what I can do and I will show it to him. He wants to die and he will surely die.”
“Please brother, I won’t like you to start talking like that, I don’t think it has gotten to that, let us just look for a way to solve this peacefully.”
“Just continue to work; I will settle this my own way. Nobody dares try to take what is mine.”
Chima kept quiet and continued to work just as his brother had instructed.
That evening, after they had left the farm because Chika found out that he wasn’t in the mood to work any longer, Chika went straight to the shrine with four white cocks. He, through the chief priest, asked the great god to strike anybody who was trying to challenge him. He asked the god to destroy Nduka if he dare step his feet on that piece of land and that Madu meet his doom whenever and wherever he spoke of taking back his land from him.
The next day, after clearing a little piece of land at the back of his house, Madu went to the nearest palm wine joint to his house to relax his nerves with a bottle of palm wine. He met a friend of his and they got talking as they drank their palm wine. After downing a bottle, Madu made it known to his friend that he wanted more and so more bottles were ordered.
“Yes that reminds me, what are you planning to do concerning your piece of land that is in possession of the Obis?” His friend asked.
“That land? I must retrieve it back. I will show that boy that I am not a coward. I will make sure that he does not get away with it this time around especially now that his father is late. He thinks that his father had acquired so many things for him and wants to sit down and enjoy other people’s belongings. Well, even if it means fighting him, I will fight him to get back my plot of land. In fact, I even intend farming in that plot of land this season.”
“But you must be careful; I don’t know what back up you’ve got, you must realize that Chika could be protected by the …” He stopped and stared at Madu. Madu was looking like he was in pains. “What is the matter with you?” He asked, but Madu obviously could not answer him, he was holding his hand to his neck like something was trying to choke him. “Madu, talk to me, tell me the problem,” he suddenly became alarmed, something was happening to Madu and he was not even able to speak up. So he started to scream out for help.
Madu was gagging; he fell to the floor, with his hands clung tightly to his neck as he was struggling with an invisible being. Then he started to bleed from his eyes, nose and ears as he struggled with the pain. He began to roll carelessly on the floor. Something seemed to be tearing him apart and blood was beginning to flow from all part of his body.
His friend was astonished; he couldn’t bear the sight before him. He ran out of the bar alerting every person in the vicinity with his scream. People gathered to know what was wrong with him, he took them into the bar and behold a very strange sight welcomed them. The owner of the bar was already there and screaming at what he saw.
There was a horrible sight of blood everywhere in the bar. Madu’s body part had been disseminated to every corner of the bar; soon everybody started to scream with fear in their eyes.
This was the hand work of the gods and that meant that Madu had offended the gods, most likely the god of destruction.
Mazi Nduka’s wife was worried, her husband had insisted that morning that he must go and see if Chika would come back to work on the controversial plot of land again. She had tried to no avail to stop him from going there. She didn’t like the idea that her husband was struggling over a plot of land with the Obi, knowing how dangerous and desperate the Obis could be. But Nduka had proven to be impossible even though it was obvious that he was doing the wrong thing. The land didn’t belong to him or his great-grandfather.
Now it was almost mid-day and he wasn’t yet back home. Her anxiety was increasing especially with the news about Mazi Madu’s demise that morning. What was he still doing there? She thought to herself.
She called on one of her sons to go and check if he had stopped over at his best friend’s place, she told her son to tell him that she was waiting anxiously for him and wanted to go to the market. And in case he wasn’t there, the boy should check other possible places that he usually visited at his leisure.
But the boy returned twenty minutes later with the information that his father had not been at all places that he had checked for him. She began to panic, if her husband had not been to all these places, where else would he be? “Hurry,” she said to her son, “let’s go together to the big plot of land, the one that is causing problem between he and Obi’s son, he might be in trouble.”
On reaching their destination, they were faced with a very gruesome sight. The only reason that made her even think that the pieces of flesh she was seeing was her husband was the torn pieces of animal skin that was all over the land indicating that that was the same thing he wore that morning before he left the house.
Nduka was just pieces of flesh spread all over the land and his blood watered the land, while echo of his wife’s scream brought the land to life.
The whole villagers knew that the deaths and their styles was the handiwork of Alaogbaga the great god of destruction. It had struck again. Two men; one a non-worshipper, the other a dedicated worshipper had lost their lives, both were in a tug of war because of land with Chika, the son of the late and notorious Obi. This conveniently informed them that Chika still occupied the same position his father had held. Mazi Obi had not died and gone to the grave with his evil, wickedness and terrorism, he had left them with his son to continue from where he stopped.
Chima was perturbed because of the events that had taken place over the last few days. He didn’t like it at all. Yes, Mazi Nduka had asked for it, but to think that Chika, his brother, could go this far in taking both lives. He would have even felt more comfortable if Mazi Madu had gotten back his piece of land, it wasn’t just fair; his life had been taken from him just because he wanted to get back what was actually his. Now what would happen to Mazi Nduka’s family? The problem he had with Chika wasn’t beyond being resolved, but now he was dead, the problem had definitely gone beyond resolution.
He hoped that all these would not affect the relationship he had with his kinsmen; he had never been and would never want to be a part of these evil deeds.
Nkechi was not sure of how she felt about the whole issue. She was having a mixed feeling of joy and fear. She was now sure that no woman in Duruji would ever dare challenge her views again or try to disrespect her and her husband any longer. But the thought of the death of these men really made her uncomfortable.
Over the years, Chika terrorized the land of Duruji. He continued with the legacy that his father left behind. Not even the king could challenge his opinion; he collected the people’s land, trees and cattle. No one could do anything about it. He made them do whatever he wanted and they lived in fear of he and his family. Chika really enjoyed it all, his greed increased as he acquired more, he wanted to have everything to himself. He was possessed with the spirit of greed, evil, wickedness and blood.
Chima, not wanting to take part in any of these, disassociated himself from his brother after he got married. Chika also transferred his wicked deeds to him, but he wasn’t bothered, he enjoyed his simple and easy life.
Author’s contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 08027410988