Outcast - Episode 1
I found Mama bickering words with our neighbour. She had endured enough of their humiliation. Mama looked stressed from the mood written all over her face. The hurtful words got to her. Mama hasn't looked this pale before. Her face looked dim, her words looked calculated. I was five. I couldn't interfere to their exchanges. Papa wasn't at home. I called my grandmother Mama Nnukwu meaning Big mummy. She doesn't like Mama. She was in favour of the neighbour. The neighbour hurled abusive words on Mama and Mama Nnukwu cheered her on.
"Stupid woman. Your four children have died and you are not ashamed of yourself. I won't blame you, you have decided to join white man's religion to flatter yourself", she hurled invectives at Mama again.
"Don't blame me. I won't blame myself anyway. I still have the apple of my eyes here and your words won't get to me", Mama said pointing at me. I stared back, tears dropped from my eyes, watching Mama weep like a baby.
I was that five year old child. I sat at the entrance and stared. Mama Nnukwu gave me a scary look. It sent shivers down my spine. She gave me cold attitudes. I greeted her everyday, but leave to meet Mama immediately. I couldn't stand her sight. Mama Nnukwu stared at me once more and spat.
"Bia, leave this useless woman and her OSU child. She got him from the white man's religion. I can't wait for a female child", Mama Nnukwu yelled.
Mama and Papa had been married for fifteen years. Their first child, a male was birthed and he died when he was one. The second one died on his third birthday while Mama was pregnant for the third. She had a miscarriage due to stress.
After two years, Mama became pregnant again and gave birth to the fourth child. He became sick when he was three. Mama Nnukwu gave him two tribal marks by the side of his face, so he wouldn't reincarnate again or they will recognise him when he comes back again . He died after much convulsion. Mama and Papa wept bitterly. Mama Nnukwu advised my father to take another wife if the fifth child dies. They were idol worshippers and practiced traditional religion. By culture, Papa can marry as much wives as he deemed it fit. Papa loved Mama so much and she was endearing to his heart. Mama cooked his best soup which was bitter leaf with assortment of meats in a traditional way. Mama's food was tasteful. Papa praised her every time he had used mould of fufu rubbed in the bowl of soup, to swallow it down. Papa promised her that he wouldn't take another wife at expense of anything. Mama was everything Papa wanted in a wife.
"You will take another wife, if this OSU woman persists with their bad luck", Mama Nnukwu yelled. These words hurt Mama so much. She decided to visit her friend, who advised her to follow white man's religion. Mama's friend told Mama that she will give birth to any child worth more than death.
"Since I left this superstitious paganism to Christinaity, I have found a life more comforting. You see my children, this perfect religion gave them life. No superstition scares me anymore since my husband died. I'm in Christ", Mama Ebuka bragged. Mama was converted to Christianity. Papa loved her so much and accepted her new religion but didn't convert himself. Papa always vouched over his dead body that he won't convert to a white man's religion. He found them cunning, much.
While Mama was pregnant, she started attending church always. She attended St. Vincent De Paul's Catholic church. A reverend sister was assigned to her to guide a new convert. She had to be baptised by water through sprinkling. The parish catechist made her adopt a religious name. From Nnedi, she changed her name to Elizabeth. She didn't fail to tell people to address her as Nnedi, she stressed the syllable and pronounced it as Elizaaaabeth. The villagers joined hands in helping her to bastardize the name.
"Elizaaaaa", they all called her. Mama Nnukwu wasn't ready for the name. "You are Nnedi, in fact you are an OSU and no amount of name flattering will make me abandon it", Mama Nnukwu always said derisory.
With the help of a Reverend sister as the midwife, I was delivered and Papa called me ChukwuEbuka. Unlike the other children I was relatively big. Bigger than an average new born child. Mama wasn't happy that I was a boy, she had gone to the native doctor to help her make the child a girl. Mama was the queen of the river. The river goddess had told her that only a female child will bring happiness to the house and there won't be death again.
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