“It’s either you marry me or… what does he have? What did he leave and die that you are here constituting a nuisance to this family? Don’t you know the culture, were you not told?” “You children of nowadays are become obstinate to simple injunction. What is bad in my demand?” “See: look; let me tell you, whether you like it or not, you belong to me”! “When the time comes, we shall see who is your husband’s brother. Idiot. Hah… what! What for…? Look at this brute of a lady? Ok. Don’t worry. We shall see. Nonsense you!…
That is the blaring of Mrs. Ogadima’s husband’s brother, Mr. Uwendu. He’s making amorous passes to the bewildered woman who is still mourning the demise of her dear husband. Ogadi married Ezenna in her early 20s. She has three children for him. Eze died of aru oyi, and left the mother of three to care for the family. A man loved by his wife and children, Eze is a no mean personality in the village of Umunege. Still blooming and charming, Ogadima is a thing to look at by any right thinking man. The breast has not sagged. It is still very straight, full and succulent like when she was eighteen. Fair like a fairy, Mrs. Ogadima commands the day. If beauty was an object, it’s what Ogadi represents. Uwendu is dying to have this wonder on his side. But Mrs. Ogadima wants to turn the table of tradition, upside down. Not having the Gordian knot, not to have recovered from the debilitating quagmire she finds herself, an idiotic element is exacerbating this poor woman’s ordeals by asking her to be his wife, as tradition deems fit.
“In a land of goat eaters, when a goat dies everybody comes out to be a part of his/her neighbour’s merry-making process; when it’s now your turn, you dare not renege at the custom”, Uwendu queries. It has been a practice in the land of Umuegene that when a man dies, his brother takes over—inheriting his late brother’s wife like a trophy won in warfare. But the case of Mrs. Ogadima turned out to be different as all pleas and expectation that she would change her mind and accept her fate all become casus belly. Myriad of elders who thought it genuine to be another Abraham Lincoln in this case went time after time, week after week asking Mrs. Ogadima to let the mouse become a rat. After all deliberations could not fall through, the elders thought that the only unquestionable choice was a Machiavellian policy on the helpless woman and she was to a church (the only haven she found) to ruined for attempting to alter the prototype of the Medes and Persians of our generation.
Mrs. Ogadima has been deprived everything that life has allowed the human hands to handle. She goes to fetch water, no woman dares assist in keeping the water down from her head. She goes to fetch fire from a neighbour’s oven, she is seen as the lilliputian in the midst of giants. If pushing her into the hearth was not considered a huge crime, mama Ngbeke would have done it when Mrs. Ogadima ventured into her kitchen. Ngbeke hates this woman like an evil omen. Why? For refusing to marry Uwendu, her husband’s brother as tradition and custom demands. Nobody wants to recognize or reckoned with her. Fellow women had never made life better for Mrs. Ogadima. They deride her, scorn and ridicule the thought of life out of the poor woman. Everything has been confiscated from her. She’s only left with the parcel of land that she had her crops on before the husband’s death, of which they are thinking of taking over for seeing it as an insult for a woman of her type not to marry her husband’s brother. Oh! Having a mercurial temperament for a lonely woman such as Mrs. Ogadima, is the height of anomy in this 21st century. “Does she want to bring a petticoat to the land of Umuegene?” The men who command every other things, refused to accept this behaviour, arguing that “the custom is an inheritance from their fore-fathers, and not one Ogadi of today’s generation can change it, while they are alive and breathing”!
Mrs. Ogadima ran to the Igwe whom she thought could play the Samaritan in one of the troublesome days of her predicament, but the Igwe, being the custodian of the tradition had no option, but to be a triton. Mrs. Ogadima has been maltreated; her children’s psychic basterdised under her nose for standing against their step-father’s demand. Somebody should go and warn the Umuneges before it gets out of her, because, they never saw it in this form. Where is the strength of a woman? The good book calls them the weaker vessels. Women are weak, (it’s often said) but mothers are strong. Young girls are resolute, ladies are daring, but damsels are determined, as queens are charming and audacious! Mrs. Ogadima is a semblance of all, except being weak. She has kept her pillow wet with tears day and night, not for regret, but for what she stands for. No help from her fellow women who have long deserted her; No consolation from relatives who are standing aloof over her matter. Succour could have come from the palace, but the Igwe would not even under a fidus achates of anybody grant her request. The whole world seems to fall upon Mrs. Ogadima. She has been left to stew in her own juice! Mrs. Ogadima is going mad. She’s become a waif! She’s going amnesic! Oh! Poor widow! What on earth a woman can go through. When she remembers with nostalgia her husband’s death, she feels more heart wrenching pain! Ho! What tradition has brought upon the almighty’s creature — all men’s invention Mrs. Ogadima mustn’t die for goodness sake. The demand is high, the church seem to want to help. But the villagers and elders are slugging it out with the church. What’s happening? Save Ogadi and restore order in Umuegene! Uwendu wants her body lying on his bed. Uwendu cannot sleep except he has Ogadi by his side. Ogadi is good to look at.