In the beginning, there were no humans until the God of the heavens, Chukwu, in conglomeration with lesser gods, decided to create a new being called man. The earth was empty and plain; numerous water bodies sprawled all over the surface. The gods and the goddesses lived freely. They had built their homes in the water, in the forests, in the air and in the sky. But once man was created, everything changed.
Humans understood the importance of deities. They understood the importance of faith and worship. It wasn’t long before they all from every tribe took to worship their own gods. Some worship the gods of the air, some the gods of the forests, air and sky and some the gods of the water bodies. Of all these gods, the most powerful remained the god of the two faced river; Ezemiri. He was the most powerful entity and second in command only to Chukwu. He proved to be too proud and ambitious for Chukwu and was bannished.
Ezemiri’s water dried up and his worshippers fled. The curse upon the river god could only be broken when he surrendered his pride and fell in love with a priestess.
Now that his home was gone, Ezemiri and the goddesses loyal to him, still resided in a forest which was close to the dried up river; but no one could see them. No one could hear them. They all waited for the special day that the priestess would be born. She alone, could save them all. She would be a mediator, and plead on Ezemiri’s behalf.
The Ezemiri deity was worshiped by the Mmirim community. Though most of the community dwellers had rejected their old tradition for Christianity; a few still worshipped and sacrificed to this river god, but in secret.
Mmazi Jidenna was one of such men. He was the patriarch of the wealthiest family in Mmirim, the Ikenna family. Though he went to church like the rest, his heart couldn’t forsake the god of his ancestors.
Jidenna had only one brother, Dike. And Dike was married to the most beautiful maiden in the land; but there was just one problem. He had been silent on this issue for a long time, but he had to confront his brother.
Dike was at home sharpening his machete, preparing himself for the next hunt. Most times when there wasn’t any farming to do, Dike would hunt bush meat. He was the richest farmer and hunter in Mmirim. And he enjoyed what he was doing.
His lips were pressed together as he whistled. He was a happy and successful man. Though his precious wife, Adaugo hadn’t conceived since they got married, he didn’t mind. He was in love with a good woman, and that was all that mattered. He wasn’t the type of man to take a new wife or maltreat a woman because she couldn’t bear fruit. He was patient and kind. He was a good man.
“My darling, wouldn’t you like to take some rest? I made you something special to eat.” Adaugo sauntered out of the hut with two calabashes. The reddish waist beads that she wore, danced against her waist as she marched towards her husband.
Dike was a very handsome man. He was a man of character. And she could never stop loving him.
“I must go now that the sun is out. Many animals love to hunt now, and rest in the evening.” A smile curled on Dike’s lips as he stared at the light skinned woman standing next to him. Her small eyes were veiled by a canopy of thick lashes. Her brows were well carved and suited her oblong face. She had light brown eyes and red lips. Adaugo was perfect in all things.
Gently, she dropped the calabashes next to his feet. She was about to sit next to him on the bench, when she noticed her husband’s elder brother storming towards their compound. From the look on his face, Adaugo knew that Jidenna was upset about something. And she didn’t like it.
Already, he had invited her to his house once. Jidenna had asked her to offer some sacrifices to an ancient deity, whose name was forbidden in Mmirim. She was a Christian, and she couldn’t involve herself in fetish things. Even if she wanted to offer sacrifices, she would do it for other deities but not Ezemiri. For in his anger, he once set the whole village on fire.
“Mmazi…” she bowed her head in greeting as Jidenna arrived at the compound.
The man eyed her angrily and ignored her greeting.
“Brother, you do well to visit me. You just crossed my mind.” Dike smiled and rose to his feet. He was surprised to see his brother. Jidenna hardly visited. Dike could sense that something was wrong with him. He didn’t look excited to be there.
Jidenna bit his lip angrily and stared at his younger brother and Adaugo. These two were big fools. How could a man be satisfied and confident in a barren woman? His brother had been married for ten years, yet there wasn’t any case of miscarriage. Something was wrong, and he had come to help them.
“Is something wrong brother? Please have a seat and tell me what it is.” Dike tried to find out what was bothering Jidenna.
Suddenly, Jidenna snapped.
“You both are fools! Do you ever think of what the villagers are saying about you two? Do you ever think of having children and continuing your bloodline? I have come with a solution that you may not like. If you refuse to do this my way, I shall renounce you as my brother today.” Jidenna waved a hand over Dike’s face.
Tears stung Adaugo’s eyes as she watched Jidenna’s heated display. She fell on her knees and grabbed her husband’s brother.
“Please Mmazi, keep my husband out of this. Dike is a good man. I have asked him to take another wife many times, but he wouldn’t. God will bless us with our own child, just like he did for Abraham and Sarah in the bible.”
Jidenna guffawed and pushed her hands away.
“Keep your false God away from me. You have served him diligently for many years now. Why hasn’t he blessed you with a child? Your God is dead. It is time for us to ask Ezemiri for help.”
Dike was stunned. He hadn’t expected this from his brother. It was obvious that Jidenna had only been pretending in Church. His brother was one of those men, who secretly worshipped Ezemiri.
“If you are done, get out of my compound. If refusing to offer sacrifices to Ezemiri will break our relationship, so be it!” Dike was angry. How could his brother be this insensitive?
Jidenna was stung by Dike’s retort. His younger brother had just insulted him.
“I only tried to help you, but you have humiliated me in return. You cease to be my blood today…” with these words, Jidenna spun on his heels and walked out of Dike’s compound.
To be continued…