OGWU OMUMU – What Have We Done To Deserve This! (True Story)
Have you ever taken time to really take a look at your background to realize that there is something wrong with your family background which you are yet ignorant of what it is all about neither do you know how to go about bringing a change to your sordid situation in life?
I mean, you are helpless here and before this challenge that causes your eyes to swim in hot waters.
That was where I found myself twenty years since I was birthed into my family. Let me not bore you further. My late grandfather died a very wealthy man while my parents despite their dedication to hardwork are wallowing in grand penury like some accolades are awarded to the most poor. We still live in the late 1970’ hands-up structured storey building built by my late grandfather who was known by all in our community as the richest in his own time with two cars in his garage. This building has been like a wrapper covering my nakedness from friends who I bring home whenever I so needed the company of people outside of family. What a façade! But it helps give me the jaded impression that we are not that poor. Background matters but reality on ground is importanter! And the reality on ground reeks of that type of lack that makes you self-hate.
Every day, I would take a look at my parents especially my father who runs a shop at Nkwo Nnewi but comes home every day with gales and bales of stories that touch the heart about how customers always look the other way whenever they get to his shop day in-day out.
I had to raise the reason why we are unapologetically poor with my mother. The first time I did, she waved me away lazily with her spare left hand while fanning the embers of charcoal she is using to roast corn as a roadside roast corn business woman with her right hand.
Thank God for the Anglican Church where we worship and attend their school. My parents have only three children. I’m the only girl and the firstborn. The fact that we are indigent but imbued with high intelligent quotient is our lifesaver. A member of our church who lives in Lagos has been paying our school fees making it much easier for my parents to breathe easier.
I’m sharing my story here today on Issues Of Life With Aj blog years after my persistence with my mother paid off.
Then I continued to harass my mother to tell me the reason why we are from a wealthy background yet very poor whereas people that once had our type of background today have children of my father’s age doing well in life as the pillars of our society like the man whom God used in touching our lives at school.
In my fifth year at the university under the scholarship of my church-instituted program for indigent students, I got home from school on holidays. I got to learn that my mother got scalded by flying burning charcoal fire which she stayed back home to have it administer treatment on as it really looked back. She begged me to like I have always done while in secondary school to help her run her business while she recuperate. My mother had thought that since I’ve become an undergraduate that I shouldn’t be humble enough to be the sweet daughter I have always been to her and my father. I love them so much and hurt so much whenever they come home with tales of people who were once poor who my grandfather fed, but are now looking down on them.
I didn’t give her a reply. I quietly picked the bag of maize by 4.p.m. and sat in front of our house where she roasts her corn. That day, I got a break. By God’s grace I was able to finish roasting and selling a bag of maize to the shock of my excited mother. She went emotional on me by shedding tears which from my trained eye were not tears of joy but tears of deep hurt. Then I asked her a second time why we are the way we are. She bit hard on her lower lip and eye-pled with me before she said this.
“Your father would ask for my head for telling you this, my darling sweetheart!”
But because she had started, she wouldn’t stop herself not after seeing the tears streaming out of my eyes.
“I think we must have a family meeting on what has been holding us down in this family when your proud father comes back from office today nne! You and your brothers have come of age and should know the truth. I’m tired of sheltering your father from this shameful hostage.”
My mother with a straight face had let her ever-taciturn tongue reel off strange weave of mystery that had promises of setting my father against her. I had to assure her that I would rally my younger ones around her to get the mystery shattered from my father who always acted indifferent like poverty is a virtue. It has to be now or never.
I called my senior-secondary school attending younger brothers to myself and shared my great discovery with them and they nodded their support though in great trepidation not knowing in what form or manner our father’s rage would come. But I am gone beyond fear. Somebody has to be brave for her family and not necessarily a man.
I was beyond myself excited and acted the part when my father came back from the market that day. I had prepared him his best. Bitter leaf sortied Egusi soup with akpu and the tiniest of pieces of mangala fish. As soon as he had devoured his dinner, I went round to gather all of us to the sitting room.
I went and stood before my father who pretended like he didn’t notice but was busy picking his teeth with his tongue and making a big deal of it with the escaping noise I always found disgusting, but because it was my father, I let it slide. I had to clear my throat louder while being a prude about it before he looked up at me in that his deadly cobra looks. He is such a cute man in his early fifties despite the handprints of scourge of poverty all around him.
“What is it Nkem? Won’t you allow this delicious meal to digest before you begin to harass me over nothing again?”
I’m that inquisitive. From the tone of his voice, I realized he wasn’t exactly angry. Only that man’s pride that always turns men into such little boys.
“Dad, I made you your favorite meal.” I said in my best good girl voice while grinning sheepishly and almost tongue-tied.
“Chukwu gozie gi ada m!”
Then I knelt before him and let the tears I’ve been saving for like ever to play their part in this great discovery that we must have an answer to tonight.
“What is it my love? Please stand up and tell me what is troubling such an angel God has blessed me with. Whatever it is I promise to give an answer to the best of my knowledge.” He had a trained gaze on my mother who was as stoical as ever and not ready to help him come to terms with the coup in progress.
I tried mopping off swath of tears to no avail and sniffing in that heart wrenching manner while standing up. I even managed to lose my balance and my father had to swiftly standup to break my fall.
He peered into my eyes. People say I am more like my father than my mother who they say look like my father. All biology!
I met his searching eyes and asked him without batting an eyelid,
“I asked mum why we are this poor when we are supposed to be building on the successes of my grandfather, but she told me that the answer lies with you. Dad, I know it hurts, whatever the reason, but if you truly love us and our future as your children, you must keep your pride aside and allow us in on the reason. I promise you, we will surely see what can be done to change this ugly financial situation.” I kept a straight face still.
At last, there I faced my biggest challenge. To my chagrin, he wasn’t angry. He looked rather defeated. Perhaps he wasn’t expecting such a question as banal as it was from me. He let go of me and sat down with his hands in between his legs.
Just about the time I was beginning to lose hope he would open up on our family secret behind our financial stead, he started talking. What a relief! Everyone sat down and with keen interest, started paying him attention of life.
He quickly brought us up on the sordid event of how his late father who was a wealthy man by all standards had married three wives of which none could bear him a child. Such a frustrating fate pushed him to go to the god of our land to come to his rescue. As a Christian, that was the height of it. He was told that what he was asking for is ogwu omumu and would cost him dear. As ever willing as he was, he accepted all the devilish conditions and was given the ogwu omumu. By that time, only my late grandmother was still living with him as his other wives had all remarried. The gods blessed him with my father and a sister who is living with her husband, in poverty too. My grandfather had asked the gods to forgo riches but bless him with children who will inherit his wealth believing that his wealth could never be exhausted.
“How could such a thing be enough to stop us from becoming rich father?” My immediate younger brother fired at my father.
“It’s deeper than you could understand son. I’ve done my best to break this jinx but have been unable. I was told that it is the dibia who concocted the ogwu omumu that has the antidote to unmake the potency of the charm, but since he’s dead, any other dibia who tries to come up with an antidote would lead to me losing my life. As I don’t want to die yet…”
My father stopped there. His emotions got the better of him and for the first time in my life, I saw my father shedding tears like a girl. I wrapped my arms around him alongside every member of the family as I said in my mind that I would not allow such superstitious thing to endanger my father’s life. Such exercise of faith!
The following day, first thing in the morning, I went to our church and knelt before the altar and wept my eyes out. I refused to go home until I received a conviction within me that the sin of my grandfather wouldn’t kill my dear father. While at it, one of our priests saw me and came to enquire why I’ve been in church since morning. It was four in the evening and I was only twenty. I unburdened my fragile heart to him and he asked me to go home that he would come to our house early the following day. To my surprise, he opened up to me how he had been coming back to check on me. He equally asked me to tell my father not to leave for his shop at the Market but be around expecting his visit.
This young priest kept to his word. It was while he was praying within our compound that thunder struck the very old mango tree inside our compound and a hugely tied object with red cloth came flying out of the hollow enclave of the mango tree. We all watched in chronic perfidy while the tree started falling.
Today, five years after, my parents are having two more shops where they are selling motorcycle spare parts with four apprentices. A new and much more modern building is springing up beside my grandfather’ which would give way once the new one is completed. My younger brothers are all doing well at the university. My aunt’ fortune changed too for better as a commercial cook and confectionary business woman. I’m a medical doctor with two healthy children and married to the young priest whom God used to rescue my family from penury and lack. People have started spreading the rumour about how my father like his late father had gone for money rituals. Envious hearts! All of them! Thank God I know who helped us out of our bondage. Who says there is anything too difficult for God to do!
What God did for us is genuine as no member of my family has died.