The moon was full and bright. The stars glittered, with the cool night breeze making it a sensational night. Ofe uha and egusi aromas sifted through night. Mkpuluoma was nervous and excited - the long awaited Eke market day was here.
Nnedi painted her legs with the popular uli, drawing beautiful patterns on her hands and legs respectively. Papa bought her coral beads. It was the day Iheoma was coming to perform the Igba Nkwu rituals, the pride of every woman.
A gorgeous bride, dark in complexion, towering above her mates, she was usually teased that Chukwu created her on the day of rest. Dark curly long hair that drew the attention of the broad chest men during the moonlight dance, indeed she was kind and amiable, an adorable soul to all who came around her. Effortlessly, she dispensed soothing words to those whose heart ached; even in the night season she was the strength of the loins that bore her and the womb that carried her.
Nwanyinma rallied around walking with the gait of a proud mother, the final preparations were being made to send Mkpuluoma to her husband’s home. Iheoma counted himself the luckiest of all to have her as his own. Papa inspected the kegs of palm wine for the last time as he laughed happily with the dignity of a man whose daughter had made him proud.
The night before Nwayinma spoke to her daughter. “Be a woman”, she said with so much emphasis.
“A union is not for the faint-hearted but for the strong, brace up to be a wife and a mother, this is an endearing trait. Love selflessly and expect less because your husband is human too. Adorn him with the fruits of your lips and the jewels of your soul. Mmeko is a very essential aspect of a union which should never be neglected, satisfy him with the softness of your skin and the tenderness of your palms let your desire be for him alone. Do not loose hold of wisdom during the stormy days; clothe him with purple robes as the king of your dynasty. However, do not forget to watch over your household, your fingers are skilled. Let them be supportive, teach your daughters' the joys of womanhood, and your sons the royal art of being men, may they be masterpieces specifically carved for the palace.”
Tears dropped down her cheeks as she spoke to her daughter. Nostalgia filled her heart as she remembered the days of the beginning how she prepared to leave her father’s house as a young woman. She embraced Mkpuluoma with the mother-daughter hug in between she choked on her words saying, “Nne, I would really miss you. Thank you for being a good daughter and preserving the dignity of the Obidikes.”
It was the custom that new brides had their ears pierced. The village midwife took time to shave her pubic hairs telling her that men didn’t like smelly regions. Dibia Ogwu performed the fertility rituals showering her with blessings. Apugo bathed her with natural spices and a body massage that relieved her of the stress of singlehood - she felt new.
The kitchen utensils, boxes, wrappers, jewelries and lots more were packed into Mgbokwos carriage. Her aunts, uncles, cousins were around to send her forth, all hands were on deck. The masculine voices echoed, "ha abiago" (they are here), and she quickly hid, as it was the tradition to keep the bride away till the rituals were performed.
Mkpuluomas face glittered, ecstatic and calm finally she would get to call Iheoma her own. Her mind drifted to that fateful night she met him under the Udara tree, as the full moon, when the young men wrestled to prove their strength. That was the genesis of this beautiful day.
It was time to take his bride home after the Igba Nkwu ritual. Papa had showered them with blessings from Chi and cursed all the evil spirits far from the union. The young maidens danced leading her towards the village square.
He gasped, his mouth ajar as he beheld the beauty [for whom] he had crossed the seven seas and seven mountains. Satisfaction swept across his heart as he tilted her face gently calling her Nkem.
With chants she was welcomed as she was escorted by the beautiful maidens of Leru,
“Come and see our new bride
Dark and beautiful
Her husband’s pride.”
Even the birds were aware that such night needed serenity. She was unveiled, Iheoma made love to her in the gentlest manner. The pain her mother explained was there sharp and excruciating as she anticipated but his gentle touch made it easy to bear.
And he whispered "I bu mkpuluoma " (you’re a good seed) rightly planted in the core of my life.
Nneoma Ezinwanyi Onuoha
”I love to write about love and life”.