The widow's plight

'my husband please don't do this to me!' Ekemma yelled. She jumped and held his hand tightly. Her eyes were red and blazing with desperation. Uzokwe gazed at his wife and sighed. 'I do not think I can still bear the pain any longer' he lamented. He shooked his head and sighed again. He coughed and his breathing became faster. Ekemma rushed to get a cup of wator for him. On her way back, she heard a noise from the palm tree behind her house. The sound was very awry and scary. It was the sound of hooting owl. It hooted three times and stopped. Ekemma has been hearing the sound in the past but that particular one was different. It sent a cold shiver down her spine. It was a bad omen. Her heart began to palpitate with fear. Odour of death and decay filled her nostrils. She ran with the cup of water into her husband's room and her eyes went straight to the place he was laying. He was still alive; he was breathing. Ekemma sighed with relief. She gave the cup of water to her husband who took only one gulp and stopped. He held her hand and looked into her eyes. It was very deep. Ekemma returned the gaze. No word was uttered but it was a deep conversation. The type that exists between two hearts that are united by love. "Be strong, my lovely wife and i know that you will be." Uzokwe said and smiled softly. "I will be strong my dear husband but only if......" she could not finish the response. It was of no need again because just at that point, Uzokwe breathed his last and died. It was like a bombshell for Ekemma. With clenched teeths and eyes blazing with zeal, she shook with all her might. Such zeal and might can wake up one from a state of coma. But all was futile, Uzokwe was dead. Ekemma stood up and gasped. She felt a heavy sensation in her heart. It was like a rising billows surging up within her, trying to blow her up. The pain was very deep and scalding. She was a very strong woman; life experience had made her so. But the death of Uzokwe has shattered the walls of her courage. She felt a strange fear within her soul, fear of the unknown. She closed her eyes and hot hot and salty tears dropped from her boodshot eyes. The eyes that had known no sleep since her husband was poisoned by his brother Ogbonna, a month ago. She has become a widow. That thought made her heart skip a beat out of fear. But it was a reality. She was perspiring. She wished she was drreaming but it was real. She remembered all the attrocious and inhuman actions meted out on widows in their village, mkpodu. She remembered how the "umunna", the male relatives will come to take away all that belong to their brother as she was a childless widow├╝ then the umuada will come on the following day, the "umuada" the female relatives will come and shave her hair, wash the corpse of her husband and make her swear that she has no hand in the death of Uzokwe by drinking the water used in washing the corpse. Then she will sleep on bare floor beside the corpse of her husband for seven market days. She remembered all these and wailed uncontrollably. Thats the fate of every widow back then in the acient traditional igbo land.


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