It was on an Affor day. The younger men were getting ready for the wrestling contest, the maidens stood by the corner on the last rehearsal of the maiden dance, each bare from their chest except for a tiny lace of jigida covering their womanhood. I sat by the corner with the younger wives, preparing the dishes for the great event.
I wasn’t helping much as my young son, the fruit of a decade of childless union lay in my arms, his tender lips suckling my partly firm breasts. My thoughts were ablaze: Is this how being a mother feels? I wondered. I saw my husband from across where he stood with the other young men trying out his prowess in wrestling.
He hasn’t changed a bit. He was still vibrant and watching him throw Ijele, the mighty wrestler to the ground reminded me of how strong he has always been. It was this wrestling that attracted me to him during such a similar festival years back. I’m so glad he still had the moves. Our eyes met and we smiled a knowing smile.
Obetea, my husband had been on the pressure to remarry from his family and the whole village. Maybe if he hadn’t been the one that stained the palmfronds with my virgin blood, just maybe he could have listened to them and remarried but he never did. He waited on until I took in many moons ago.
Mama Ada tapped me from behind to tell me that my baby was asleep.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, my attention turned back to him. I looked at him, love threatening to burst out of my heart. He looked so much like his father and I secretly hope that he would grow up to be stronger than him and a wrestler too.
Suddenly, my thoughts were interroputed by loud noise. Holding my son tightly against my bossom, I stood up. There was confusion every where. Men and women were running helter skelter. In the choas, I tried to search for my husband.
That was when I saw him at the other end, he was struggling with a strange man. I heard a sound so loud my eyedrums rattled. I saw a man fall, blood oozed from his stomach. He was dead. I exhaled knowing that wasn’t my husband.
The experience was traumatic. Holding onto my son who was awake now, and crying at the top of his tiny voice, I headed towards my husband. Just some feet to him, a brute hand grabbed me. Soon we were all bounded in chains. A lot of us who tried to escape were killed by the iron devil they all carried. My baby was crying seriously now and I wasn’t even allowed to breastfeed him. My husband looked at us with pain in his eyes.
“I have failed to protect you and our son,” he mouthed across to me. I reached out my arms vehemently to touch him, but a whip on my back sent me to the ground. My son hit the ground first. I heard my husband scream as he frantically tried to fight it out, even in chains, the whip on his back sent him falling forward.
He took my hand and for a moment I wished that this was a very bad dream and we would both get up from it soon. People were crying but no one was paying attention.
“It’s going to be okay,” my husband said to me just before he was pulled up and dragged away, maybe forever.