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ONUGBU – THE BITTER TALE OF AJUMIWE

Things were so bad for me that I accepted I was just born to celebrate others, never to be celebrated. From the belief that I solely existed to make others have a taste of bitterness, I began to live the role. Just like that, hearing the success stories of others made my heart darker.

That day, I had come to the market with the same bitterness. I intentionally pushed everyone that blocked my way and quarreled with every wheelbarrow pusher that hit me with their barrows.

I had dragged him on his mouth for calling me a skinny witch – the old common carrier. In a space of minutes, I also tore one young and stupid girl’s clothes to pieces – the one that was going to travel abroad to complete her studies when I couldn’t even complete my secondary school education.

To me, her massive body obstructing me was the perfect reason to give her a violent push from behind. The idiot had pushed back, I eyed her, she eyed back. I couldn’t contain her audacity. I was charged up. She needs to remember me forever, whether at home or abroad.

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I stretched my hand into the basin of sachet water carried by a boy of about eight and was already gulping one down my esophagus. She faced me.

“Amaka, apologize,” I said, roughly throwing the empty sachet on the floor like it had a break I wanted to break.

Amaka sighed and made to walk out. I pulled her by her wig. Revealing her dirty cornrows.

The shout from the crowd, especially the guys fueled me. I looked around, a small crowd had gathered – perfect. No one interfered. The mad ones like me who enjoyed such scenes cheered me on.

I swung my hand thrice and landed a slap on her face like I had never done to anyone in all my years of fighting. My complete five fingers got tattooed to her yellow face. I’m sure she let out the shout unawares.

“Jesus.”

She was no match for me.

“Amaka, I said, apologize!”

“Ajumiwe, I’m sorry,” she muttered inaudibly, a line of saliva dropping from the space on her teeth to the floor.

Ajumiwe was my name, meaning – I had forsaken anger. Ironically, I lived the opposite.

I arrived at my spot some minutes past 10 in the morning, a journey I started since 8, not that my house was far from the market. Trust that my selling space was still intact. I fixed my tomato stand on the swollen bags of debris and set all I had – twenty tomatoes almost rotten from a week ago.

For thirty minutes, I just stared as customers crowded Mama Aby’s store like she was the only tomato seller in the whole of Ngwa Road market. Fumes of anger clogged my blood vessels. I moved my lips in audible mutters like I crushed my words before they even came out. She has long bitten more than she can chew.

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With my butt buried on a wooden stool, I pressed my elbow deep into my laps, rested my face on my palm and sucked my teeth. The eavesdropping on the women’s gossip could not distract me. I had to look again, she was waiving a customer with a bag full of tomatoes goodbye.

The continuous movement of customers in and out of her stall burnt my eyes. I couldn’t wait for the day to end. The juju Baba gave me for her was to be planted today. I heard her complain of body pains and smiled at the thought that she would sleep tonight and not wake up tomorrow.

The market got emptier towards 6 pm. The number of hawkers calling for buyers had reduced. Some shops had closed too. I waited patiently till midnight to do all that Baba Olowo had instructed.

Midnight! It was time! I removed all that covered my nakedness, positioned myself in front of mama Aby’s stall and stacked out the items – fresh human skull, three very white eggs, a hen, a black cup, white powder, a black cloth, and bitter kola.

While munching on the bitter kola, I slew the hen making sure its blood dripped into the cup, then tied the black cloth around its almost falling neck. I sipped from the cup and spat the blood round the skull. Next was to drop pinches of white powder in a perfect circle.

Finally, I broke the three eggs, calling her name as each reached the floor. The ritual was sealed. She was supposed to start ceasing breath from when I broke the first egg like she was being suffocated. I raised half my lip in scorn.

It was time to go home and await results. I felt dizzy but I’d be OK, I had thought. It had long passed my bedtime. My head felt five times heavier. I had to blink to stop my rolling eyeballs. Still lack of sleep? I was shocked on looking down – the circle I had drawn was no longer complete, I had mistakenly stepped on it.

Then eerie sounds of laughter. I couldn’t decipher the voices – old and young. Falling on the ground, I suffered a short convulsion, then I could remember nothing. It was like I was born anew, there, then. Baba Olowo had warned. Already naked, I began a new life in the world of madness.

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Art Credit @mark_and_art

About Successpensit

Successpensit
This blog is managed by Oluamara Success Nwaeze. She is a law student at the University of Nigeria. Aside blogging, she ghostwrites, creates contents and edits manuscripts. Her happiness mostly comes from food.

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