“For the sake of your father’s house, Omada! Can’t I return from my farm, fetch a cup of water from the pot and cover the lid before you pour out your load of troubles? I am exhausted.” Aduma cried out. He was about to hang his hoe on a branch of the orange tree, inside their compound, when Ada’s mother called out ot him, as she set down the firewood she was carrying, at the entrance to her kitchen. Her dog, which she named ‘Ofu’ meaning ‘strength’, followed her.
Aduma entered his hut, took his tobacco and pipe, then sat outside under the orange tree. “Give me some fire.” He commanded but she did not attend to him. He shook his head as if a revelation had occurred to him. His wife disapproved of his smoking habit. He hissed, walked into the kitchen to light his pipe, inhaled his tobacco and blew the smoke into the air. No sooner had he sat down and rested his back on the tree than Ada’s mother left her cooking then drew a stool and sat near him. “If it is because I said that I needed to talk to you, that you called it rouble, then trouble shall it be.” Aduma continued smoking his pipe.
“This morning,” Omada began to lay her complaints. “You refered Ada as ‘Omada’s daughter’ simply because she was slow to deliver your drinking water after she served your morning food.”
“I don’t want to hear about that!” Aduma objected. She looked at her husband in disbelieve. “Alright then the owner of my head, I shall give you that honour. I won’t talk about this morning anymore.” He nodded his head. ‘Better.’ He thought.
“But will you allow me to report your brother to you?” His wife asked authoritatively.
“For your name sake. Omada! Which of my brothers has offended you this time?”
Omada bit her fingers. “Which of your brothers eat my food day and night apart from Akor?” She replied in question, feeling more offended. Aduma blew smoke into the air.
“I demand to be heard!” His wife shouted angrily.
“I am listening to you.” He heard himself say.
“I have been saying that Akor should leave this compound from the very night he was drunk and had poured my ‘okoho’ soup over…”
“Listen Omada.” Aduma interrupted her. “Haven’t I told you that I don’t wish to hear about the past? Beside have I not taken an oath that I shall pay for that loss?” he stared at her face. Omada frowned. ‘An oath that is as good as nothing after one year has passed.’ She mocked in her mind. “Who is talking about the past now. Is it not the small wound in the flesh that gives pain to the body?” She protested. She got up from the stool; their neighbours could hear her voice.
“Didn’t our pastor say that a work man is entitled to his wages?” Her husband agreed with his head reluctantly. “You better warn that brother of yours. Let him pay me for the meals he bought on credits for his prospective in-laws on the last market day. Otherwise this village will be too small to hear us.” Her husband laughed aloud. “I –A-du-ma- your husband-shall-hear you.” He told her.
“Continue joking with this matter.” She sounded serious. “I also over heard that he intends to sell my dog to the Calabar traders. The day I return from selling my food and ‘Ofu’ disappears, there will be big trouble since he has demonstrated that he wants to lord it over me. I am sure on that day he will surely beat me.”
Aduma stood up and entered his hut. She followed him with sparks of fire in her eyes. “Warn your lazy brother who is not man enough to feed himself to pay up my ‘one hundred and fifty Naira’. I don’t get my food items from the air. I pay for them.” she paused, looked out of the door and saw Ada who was returning from the market square. “Mama, today’s market was good. I sold everything.” Ada sounded excited. “The Lord bless you my daughter.” Her mother replied. She turned to face Ada’s father. “On that ‘Eke’ day when Akor approached me that I should entertain the six relations of the girl whose hand he intends to ask for in marriage, had I refused to honour him your people would have concluded that Omada was stingy.” Her husband covered his face with his palm. “Akor must pay my money at once! I want to add it to the little money I have and pay for Ada’s school fees.” She continued. “And warn him not to touch my dog. Your people should leave Omada, the last daughter of chief ‘Ojile’ alone. I am struggling to bring up my children or else when you touch the baby of a Lion, be prepared to confront the king of the beast.” Omada threatened.
Her husband laughed. “Alright then, the daughter of a lion, I will talk to Akor to pay you your money. He looked at her face to confirm whether sshe had received consolation. Her countenance proved otherwise. ‘When one has a bad dog, one cannot help but to keep on whistling.’ He thought about Akor.
“Another issue I want us to address is about my stand.” Omada brought up another matter. She was enjoying her mood. She had cornered her husband to the position she wanted. ‘He wanted to please her.’ Aduma scratched his baldhead.
“Now for the sake of your late father. What is wrong with where you are selling your food?” He queried incredulously. He removed the pipe from his mouth.
“It’s nothing other than your relations. They should stop using my stand as their meeting point. Tell them to find some other places to discuss their family matters, because when they occupy my benches they hinder me from selling.”
Aduma returned his pipe back to his mouth. “O-M-A-D-A.” he called her attention. “When your teeth are so bright learn to cover them with your hands otherwise the day they’ll fall out, your gum will be exposed and people will laugh at you.” He answered her in a parable.
She got provoked and replied angrily. I hear your judgement. You can keep on supporting your relatives. But as long as ‘my Lord’ liveth, my trade shall never fall.” She snapped her fingers over her head and left her husband. He laughed aloud again and continued smoking his pipe.