The Priestess of time, originally written by Okoro Chiagoziem: It is indeed a great delight and relief that the world is gradually developing into a more civilized place to live in, although there are still some areas that people have chosen to be ignorant and not willing to learn. In every land and community, development has become common and welcoming, especially in the areas of certain evil and superstitious beliefs and cultures.
While some are willing to do away with these beliefs and cultures, some remain adamant about remaining in the darkness of these cultures, and so they continue wallowing in it. This reminds me of a certain village ……mama nne-ukwu was unable to finish her statement when Ikechi interrupted her. It has always been his habit each time mama nne-ukwu was telling them a story so his interruption was expected and as always, it never made sense.
“But nne…remember you promised us five stories this night, ka m n’echeta kwara gi ya” he said. The priestess the seer.
“Tufiakwa gi Ikechi….is it not what she said before she started this story, onye nkogheri, mtchew” his elder sister Uloaku reprimanded him with a long hiss.
“Nne biko, continue, don’t mind this onu ugba.” Uchechi, their neighbor urged mama nne-ukwu to continue at the same time eyeing him.
“Lee nu ha, ndi iro onu omalicha m a, heeeehe” Ikechi said clapping his hands on their faces.
“Lee godi onye nke a o” Uchechi said amidst laughter and tapping Uloaku playfully on the shoulder, while Uloaku gave Ikechi a”see who’s talking” kind of look.
“Umuoma!” mma nnukwu called them to order. “Nne!” they uniformly answered already sorry for their nonchalant attitude.
” Now listen, if this is how you children will continue disrupting my storytelling every day, then I better stop telling stories, right? She asked. The Priestess of time.
“No oo oo oo!!!” They all shouted shaking their hands and heads.
“Ok then…since you don’t want me to stop, you better learn to control your tongues, especially you, Ikechi, is that clear?” she asked
“Yes, nne!!” They chorused and mama nne-ukwu continued.
“So the village of Umunka was a very well-known remote village. They are what people call”small but mighty”, because their land never lacked anything, or so people thought. They had everything; fertile land, steady rainfall, beautiful maidens, handsome men, wealth, peace, and unity. There was love among the villagers from the king down to the last person. Other villages envied them. But despite all the blessings their “Chi” gave them, there’s this great heavy burden they carry on their shoulders.
They sleep and wake up with it hoping and praying that the gods will have mercy on them for them to be free from the burden, but it seems like the more they pray, the worst thing situation becomes. The people of Umunka believed in the killing of twins because they believed that twins bring nothing but pain and bad luck to the family and the village at large. The people sincerely do not like this culture but at the same time, they are very much afraid of the “unknown” if they dared to go contrary to it and so everybody lived with it.
The family of a newly wedded couple, Mr. and Mrs. Okaka were thrown into a great dilemma immediately after his wife was put to the bed of a bouncing and healthy-looking set of twins. Their joy turned to sorrow immediately. The mother couldn’t contain her pain and distress as it was unbearable for her own child to be killed right in front of her. That was the most horrible sight ever. In no time, the chief priest, the king, and some elders were seen in the house of Okaka. The Priestess of time.
Immediately, two palace guards went in and brought out the children with them as they all made their way to the shrine where the children will be killed. In no distant time, they were all facing the shrine with the grieving parents, especially the mother shedding tears nonstop.
The chief priest took the children deeper into the shrine and placed them on the ground just below a very huge idol and started his incantations. After going at it for like thirty minutes, he brought out a calabash and placed it between them. He raised the first child and just as he was about to slit his throat with a knife, a voice, not just a voice, but the sweetest voice anybody could have ever heard halted the movement of the chief priest and he turned.
There she is, fair as the moon, fresh like the morning palm wine, moving with a great aura of authority that every step she takes signifies. Slowly and majestically, she made her way to the middle of the shrine facing the chief priest.
“Who are you?” The chief priest asked.
“Do not go on with what you are about to do now in other not to incur the wrath of the gods on you and the village at large” the lady, all dressed in white, said hitting her staff on the ground. The Priestess of time.
“That didn’t answer my question young woman, I said who are you, worst still, to even stop what has been practiced by our ancestors till now?” The chief priest fired back.
“Mmhm mmhm, I am Mkpurumma, daughter of the greatest healer of this land, late Mazi Ogbenna. I am the priestess, the chosen one of the gods to put an end to the brutal killing of innocent children in the name of culture and tradition as their blood has filled this land and their cries have reached the ears of the gods. I tell you if this killing continues, the gods won’t hesitate to take vengeance for these children on the people of this land.” Mkpurumma said to all of them.
Meanwhile, the Igwe and the people outside the shrine with him watched the priestess and the chief priest with confusion written all over their faces. The mother of the children has stopped crying and a glint of hope can be seen in her eyes as she watched the drama unfolding before her. The priestess of time.
“Hahahaha” the chief priest laughed,” Priestess indeed. As I said, this tradition has been practiced by our ancestors till now and we have been living in peace and the gods have been answering our prayers, so I don’t know the gods you’re referring to the young woman” he added.
“Hmmm, okiri kiri ka ana agbakwa n’ukwu ose, adighi ari ya elu, well you see…I’m not here for long conversations” she said and turning, she moved towards the Igwe and continued” I’ll show you two signs to prove to you that twins are not a curse to this village” and with a snap of her fingers, a man in his early forties started coming towards them and immediately they all set eyes on him, gasps filled the air…
They were all looking from the Igwe to the man and back to the man again. There was indeed no doubt that he was Igwe’s twin brother. Igwe couldn’t believe his eyes too…he suddenly became emotional as he engaged his brother in a tight hug with tears running down his cheeks likewise his brother but they disengaged when the priestess spoke.
“Igwe, I don’t need to tell u da this is your twin brother. Your mother couldn’t bear the pain of losing you both after she has searched for the fruit of the womb for a very long time. So the gods directed me to her the day she gave birth and with the help of a midwife, I was able to take your brother with me while your mother presented you to her husband.
All these while your brother has been living with me in this village and no bad or ugly incident has ever been recorded, to tell you that twins have nothing to do with the bad and good situations of this land.” The priestess paused and looked at the chief priest, he was now looking puzzled. The Priestess of time.
The mother of the children had already taken them and was breastfeeding them happily. The priestess continued.
“Igwe, chief priest, the both of you have been looking for a child ever since you got married. Your wives are currently pregnant and about to be put to bed. Hmmm, by this time tomorrow, they shall put to a bed a set of twins each. Igwe will have a boy and a girl and the chief priest will have both boys.
That is the second sign and when it happens, you’ll know that the gods are in support of this, turned to the woman with her children, gave her a warm smile, and said to her “Take your children home and feed them well.” Then, she turned to everyone and said “My work here is finished, I have other places to attend to.” And with a bow, she disappeared. The Priestess of time.
“Wow, so nne, did the Igwe and the chief priest later have children, and were they twins?” That was Ikechi again.
Ikechi, everyone chorused! Mama nne-ukwu smiled and said to them.
“Yes, the Igwe and the Chief priest had their children and they were exactly as the priestess had said. They both couldn’t contain their joy and the Igwe made a decree that twins was never again going to be killed for any reason and for those that who lost their children, were compensated.
Everyone lived happily ever after.” she concluded and the children clapped for her. Ikechi was still bent on listening to five stories but Mama nne-ukwu begged him for another day and he agreed and with that, everyone said their goodnights. The priestess smiled at Mama nne-ukwu before disappearing.