Over and over again
Mother’s voice tore through the buildings
Shaking the foundation of our compound
I could hear her voice even in Chika’s room
Which was the farthest Hut in the compound
I turned to Chika my step sister searching her face for answers
I could see a shadow of worry cross her face
Kachi go to sleep
She patted me on the back
Still I couldn’t
I could hear mama wailing and I shuddered
My better sense telling me it had happened again
They said mama was unlucky with her Chi
Was she really? Or was I the cause?
Morning arrived early bringing with it
The truth of last night
Papa sat in his obi
Eyes red and puffy, he hadn’t slept well.
Nnayi! She must go, she and that ogbange daughter of hers
I heard one of my step mother say
I was sure it was Unoma
I retreated in fear
Rushing off to Chika
I asked what had happened but she just stuffed an udara fruit as big as papa’s hands into my mouth.
Kachi! It is sweet eat it and then she walked off
Something was wrong I could feel it in my bones
I rushed to Mama’s Hut then I knew what had happened
Next to Mama was Gozie
My younger brother who was just four months old
He wasn’t nuzzling at her breast nor was his eyes open wide curious
Instead he was wrapped in a black nylon
His small body jutting out
The women held mama down and shaved off her hair. They talked fast in Ibo
And all I could hear was ndi amoosu
You have eaten all your children
Mama was not a witch
Surprisingly I knew the witch
She was standing outside with Papa’s other wives
She was Unoma, Papa’s third wife
She was the one that had eaten my brother
She was the one that had eaten all mama’s nine Children
She was the witch not my mother.
Mama’s eyes were solemn, even in anguish
She looked beautiful
She wouldn’t cower even in the face of death
My mama was strong and proud
A trait I had inherited from her
I could still see the faint wetness of her blouse
Where her nipples cradled
Gozie had suckled before he died.
Kachi! Go outside she said
Her voice breaking
Mama you are not a witch I cried
Stop shaving my mama’s hair, I kicked at one of the women
But they ignored me and Chika came to carry me out of the Hut
My Mama was a good woman
She didn’t deserve to suffer this way
I cried and Chika rocked me
Mama’s hair would be shaved and she would be paraded naked round the village as ndi nwoosu
The witch that ate all her children except the ogbange.
I jumped down Chika’s laps and rushed out to Papa’s obi
Papa, Unoma is the witch and not my mama
I said planting my hands on my small hips
I stared from one person to another
Till my eyes rested on Unoma the real Ndi Amoosu
Silence greeted my statement
And Unoma shook like a thief caught red-handed
Then she crashed with a heavy thud
Uttering a string of gibberish , turning, twisting and rolling in the dust
How did I know?
I didn’t know how I knew
But I was an ogbange they said
And Ogbanges knew this sort of things.
Later than evening I looked at mama
And though she smiled
Telling everyone I was her Saviour
I knew my mama had lost herself
Letting a piece of herself go with her previous nine children
Gozie’s death was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
She was holding on because of me
My beautiful, good mama would never be the same again.
She would grow old with this pain
Wasn’t that how all mothers lived ?
I hugged her tight and called her Ezi Nne(Good mother)