~~~ Night Has Fallen in the Afternoon ~~~
Chapter 3 -- What the Diviner Said

Ekwuofu nodded and said he would prepare effective medicine for him, that he was not in such bad condition as some who had been in great pain, yet he had completely cured them. 

Ezennaya laughed and told him to proceed, but was uneasy because it was only a dead person that a diviner would admit that he couldn't cure. A diviner doesn't admit that his medicine is powerless until he sees the corpse. 

Ekwuofu went to a corner of his house, gathered medicinal grass, and dug up a root. He pounded the root and rubbed it all over his [Nonyerem's] body, mashed up a tree leaf he had plucked, fed it to him and he drank. He took a knife, cut into the place where the scorpion had stung him, and black, sticky blood ran out. Nonyerem gasped. Ekwuofu said that he was back to normal, that 'the chicken said that except only for a nice egg, life would have been perfect'. He took an antidote and rubbed it on that place, and then told him to sit quietly because he was perspiring and exhausted. 

Ekwuofu scooped up water, washed his hands; he gave some to Ezennaya, and he washed his. They sat down, Ekwuofu put his hand into the kola nut bowl, took chalk and threw it to the floor [part of hospitality ritual], also rubbed it on both of his eyebrows before giving some to Ezennaya, who threw it down. He put his hand in his leather bag and pulled out two white kola nuts, put them in the kola nut bowl, took some alligator pepper and sprinkled it on, then gave it to Ezennaya. Ezennaya took it, thanked him, and returned it to him, telling him that the chief's kola was in the chief's hands. 

Ekwuofu told him to take one and put it in his bag, because when kola nut reaches home it tells who presented it. Ezennaya thanked him, took one and put it in his bag, then returned the bowl to him and told him that the diviner who did the divination would perform the sacrifice. 

He then took it, ground it between his molars "crunch crunch," lifted the kola nut and said, "May this morning bring good things." Then he turned back and asked him, "Just because an ant is in the palm wine, does one leave the bottom part of the wine for it to drink?" Ezennaya replied that the beauty of the cup is in the hands of the potter. 

Ekwuofu then blessed the kola, saying that good things, health, food, and long life were what everyone desired. Let a person who gets married have many children, but the ram says that no one should perform divination for growth, rather everyone should perform divination for life, because one who is alive is going to grow. [Cf. While there's life there's hope.]

Ezennaya agreed with him, saying "Amen." 

Ekwuofu said that rain did not fall without the land knowing, therefore what brought kola nut also brought its blessing, because you can't bypass the thumb and still snap your little finger. 

Ezennaya agreed, saying that whatever brought on a sore on the leg can make it return, that the thing whose proper time has come is not considered stealing. [e.g., climbing trees to pluck fruit prematurely is labeled greed, whereas gathering ripe fruit that has fallen to the ground in abundance is not pilfering.]

Ekwuofu said, "Creator of the sky, the earth, the moon and the sun, see the kola and bless it for us, because we are children who sit and wait for food to be brought and eaten, and if someone says he will not eat, let him gather palm kernels to eat and let him go and see what the mouth of a dead person is like." 

Ezennaya said, "That's how things happen." 

Ekwuofu said, "Lord God, don't allow evil spirits and evil men to bring disaster on us. We say that if one prepares bad medicine, let him be the one to feel its effect. One who brought the large basket should carry it, one who brought the smaller basket should carry it, and what a person does not know will not know him. We swear innocence against evil spirits and evil men." 

Ezennaya said, "Amen." Ekwuofu said that his father, Iheonyemetara, said that his friend, Okoye Ugokwe, on the day the pig was at the base of the breadfruit tree, blessed the kola during the year of the grasshopper and said, "What he said he would not do to someone else, let that thing not happen to him." They both laughed heartily. [This puzzling reference to the pig might possibly describe a nickname or some inside joke about Okoye.]

Ezennaya wiped his tears and told Ekwuofu that he had a good memory. Ekwuofu told him that he well knew that the poor person always took his father to market, because when the poor person saw something he wanted to buy but didn't have the money, he shouted very loudly, bit his finger and said, "O-o- father!" 

They both broke out laughing again, and the tears on their noses ran streaming down their faces. 

Ekwuofu then said, "Ancestors great and small, come to the meeting, kola has come. Our father Atii come and chew kola. God the Creator, come and chew kola. Oyara, come and take kola and chew it. Ikedioji, come and chew kola. Dunu, who sired many children, come and bless kola for your children. Nwokoro Arinze, come and chew kola. Iheoma and Mba and Enuaku, come to the meeting. Spirits both named and nameless, come and chew kola." 

Ezennaya told him that if a son of the soil was selected [from a group] for scarification, the others would be rubbed with charcoal. 

Ekwuofu laughed and told him that if a child were not treated the same as his peers, he would be jealous, because all the vultures were nearby, and all people are human. And if you stand up to dig yams, you still have to squat down to look for its tongue. [The small protrusion at the bottom of a yam is called its "tongue."]

Ezennaya answered that he had spoken truly, but that if you started to scratch an itch as much as it took to feel good, your body would be bruised, because his ancestor said that if you started to eat as much as you liked, you would harden your stomach [through constipation].

Ekwuofu told him that one should not stay in the forest too long, because when one had accomplished the purpose for which he came, he should take his basket and go home. 

He then broke open the kola nut, took the tongue of the kola, threw it out into the compound, and told the spirits and the ancestors great and small to come and eat their share. He took a lobe of kola nut and ate, took alligator pepper and ate, then gave some to Ezennaya who then ate also, took alligator pepper and ate, cleared his throat, and thanked Ekwuofu, "Thanks for the kola." 

He acknowledged his thanks, took the parts of the kola that remained on the platter, and set it on a ledge of the wall of the house. 

Ezennaya put his hand into his waistcloth, brought out his snuff box, and tapped it with his fingertip seven times. Ekwuofu looked at him and told him to wait, that he would give him some snuff, that it was said that a fool did not know that his brother was a guest. 

He then put his hand into his leather bag and brought out his snuff box which was covered with smoke residue, opened it, took some snuff out, put it into his left hand, and gave it [the box] to Ezennaya. Ezennaya took it, removed some snuff, returned the box to him, and thanked him. 

Then they both sat down, taking snuff and telling stories of the elders, because when vulture-eaters meet together, the basket is brought down. Afterward, Ezennaya told him that he had not asked him how water entered the pumpkin stem, because the toad does not run out in the afternoon for nothing. 

Ekwuofu cleared his throat and told him that sleep did not spoil the eyes, that divination does not come to an end, that Ichekoku, the spirit, does not run away. Truly, when a child eats what he is staying awake for, he goes to sleep. Therefore, Ekwuofu asked him why the cocoyam became lumpy. 

Ezennaya then told him how he had been in his house when Nonyerem's mother, Ugonwa, brought him in and related all the details that were on her mind, then left Nonyerem with him and told him that the pot should not be broken. [Warning that he should do his duty by the child.]

Ekwuofu replied that a short time ago Obiekwe had come and told him that a scorpion had stung him, that he had then applied some medicine to the spot and that he [Obiekwe] had gathered his strength and had gone home crying. 

The whole time they were saying all these things, Nonyerem was defecating and urinating and crying in the compound under an orange tree, and he felt as though he wanted to chew palm nut and drink water. 

After he cried out three times strangely and then stopped, they looked at him and felt their hot urine [out of fear], and their hearts pounding "kpum kpum." They went over and looked at him and he slumped over like a sack. They lifted him up, his arms hanging limp and his eyes changing in appearance. 

Ekwuofu then told him that he should take him home, or else take him to the house of Enweani. [First mention of Enweani--perhaps a very strong diviner.] He began to tremble, because if you do not actually confront a diviner with a child's corpse, he does not agree that his medicine is exhausted. 

Ezennaya then put his hands together on his head, staring out fixedly, perspiring freely. He took seven deep breaths and then said that the matter had broken down [gotten out of hand].

Tears came to Ezennaya's eyes like 'Nwole [a bird] that perched and kept on crying. They thought about what to do, but could not think of anything. 

Ezennaya then took his cloth and put it on, put his straw hat on his head, took his staff, and waddled off for the house of Okafor Ojionweya so he could perform divination to find out why the child was fainting and what he should do so that the child could avoid the hand of death. 

While he was going along the road, he greeted no one, man or woman. There was not one single person he encountered on the road whom he looked at directly, because the thing that killed the female goat did not allow her child to open its eyes. 

Okafor was tapping wine in the compound when Ezennaya entered his house, but Ezennaya whistled to him and told him to hurry because a person was about to die. Okafor agreed, but told him to take a seat in the house while he climbed down, because no one else was at home and the elders said that what a pregnant woman craved was also craved by the one who impregnated her. 

Soon Okafo came down, said that if the small pot was neglected it would extinguish the fire, then, causing laughter, he entered and called Ezennaya by his praise name. He answered him like someone who answers from a deep hole. 

Okafor asked him how the head was carrying the basket. [Idiomatic expression meaning "how are things going?"] Ezennaya told him that the thing that ate the food was seeking to eat up the soup. Okafor put down the climbing-rope, the knife that he used for tapping wine and the wine ladder, and then asked him why his trip was not for a good purpose. 

Ezennaya then started to tell him what happened, and how his son had drawn out the tunnel demon so he could shoot it, but the worst of all was that Nonyerem was dying from it. 

Okafor shouted and said that the devil had hung himself from the fireplace shelf. He asked if he wanted him to do divination for him or if he wanted him to give him medicine. Ezennaya told him to do divination for him first, because one who doesn't know where the rain began to beat down on him will not know where his body gets dry. He told him to do a divination for him and tell him why the misfortune had occurred and what he should do so that Nonyerem would not yield to death. 

Okafor Ojionweya then cleared his throat, ground his teeth and went and brought down his divination bag and set it on the ground, brought out his ikenga [image of a household god] and set it down, took his leather mat and spread it out, brought down his wine-gourd and kola nut platter and set them down, then sat down on his leather mat. 

He then poured out a cup of wine and scattered some around for his deity to drink, broke kola, took the tongue of the kola and placed it on his ikenga and told them that he had come, that they knew what they had tied up and they should release it, because when wine saw someone it recognized, it was an honor. 

Okafor then gathered up his divination objects and cast them out, took some chalk and threw it out, and rubbed some on his eyebrows. He took his ofo [staff of authority] and struck it on the ground, picked up his bells and scattered them, then picked up his string of divination items and cast it on the ground, shouting, "okalatulo, Otulo mgbakwu'' [like abracadabra?], picked up the string and cast it out, picked it up again and cast it out three times, took the ofo and struck it on the ground, and then said something not understood by the people who were there. 

Everyone stared, watching like sheep. 

After he had finished divining, he told Ezennaya the place the children had gone when the scorpion stung Nonyerem. He also told him what happened, and how Nonyerem's mother had gone to his house. Ezennaya was nodding his head. He told him that the cause of the scorpion's stinging Nonyerem was the ancestor Oriudele, because Nonyerem's grandfather had gone and kidnapped Oriudele's eldest son and sold him out. So he continued to be humiliated, as his descendants did not want to perform the cleansing rites to completely clear all the abominations they had committed together and brought upon on the children's children who had been affected. 

Okafor told him that he who had eaten the food was wanting to completely lick up the pot of soup. [The bad spirit was still unsatisfied.]

Ezennaya then told him that he did not know the one who died and whose funeral was causing an uproar, but that all he wanted to know was what he should do so that the pot that was coming apart should not break in his hands. [He did not want to be responsible for the boy's death.]

Okafor then resumed his divination. After he had finished he told Ezennaya that the agwu spirit was very angry, but that he had pleaded mightily with him, and the agwu had then agreed that Ezennaya should bring him one white ram, a white cock, a small hen, a piece of abada [printed cloth], three dried fish, a pot of ngu [palm oil sauce], peeled cassava, three pots of wine, and six yams. 

Ezennaya asked him if that was all, and he said yes. He then told Okafor that he would go and gather all those things, because when a diviner who performs a divination is going to offer a sacrifice, he knows how the divination and the sacrifice should be done. 

Ezennaya then went and assembled all the things that had been divined for him, because if a snake falls kparakpataa [onomatopoeic sound], he is killed kparakpataa. He then called his relatives and neighbors and took the things to the obi of the Ogwugwu priest, because the snake that one person kills changes into a python. [Exaggeration results when there are no witnesses.]

When Ezeonyekwelu heard how night wanted to fall in the afternoon [disaster], he wasted no time, because his child was an only child. He himself felt pain like hot pepper, because if you shoot once and strike a tree trunk, shoot a second time and strike a tree trunk, it is as though the arrow had been carved for that very tree trunk. 

The Ogwugwu chief had already struck the gong of the Ogwugwu and the elders were coming. When one of them came out he would shout out to the next one and tell him that he should get started. As each one came out, he put on his goatskin bag, gathered up his shoulder cloth and folded it over his shoulder, took his staff in hand and came along grinding his teeth. Several of them, being very poor, went on the errand to Ogwugwu wearing only a loincloth. And those who had no wealth, not even dog meat, just came out and watched and their mouths would water, because when there is a feast with plenty of meat in the shrine of a spirit, even the free-born citizen becomes a slave. [Shrine slaves are in a superior position in such a situation because they are in charge of all the meat offerings to the spirits.]

Onwuana, the Ogwugwu priest, then went and took down the ikenga and okpesi [household gods] that were in Ogwugwu's house, before he carried out Ogwugwu and his daughter, and started to hang them in the spirit's shrine, then took his shoulder cloth and went all around the spirit's shrine. 

Nwaoka then picked up the drumsticks and struck the ufie [musical instrument used to announce meetings]. Chinweuba, like the fly that saw a pile of feces and then went unbidden to do an errand, picked up the rattle and started to shake it. The young men there came out and started to dance to the drumbeat. The musicians were playing music that sounded like "ugbogulu so nsi, ugbogulu so nsi." 

Onwuana then took kola and went to bless it in the spirit's shrine, took chalk and rubbed it on his eyebrows, then came out and brought wine, poured one cup and sprinkled it out for the spirit, and told him that Ezennaya had brought these things to thank him, and ask what he could do for him because a bad rat had entered the palm tree and began to change to a brown color. 

When Onwuana came out, he told Ezennaya that Ogwugwu had accepted the things. 

Ogwugwu's messenger then dragged out the ram, and the priest took a knife and spread its blood around the spirit's shrine. They took a knife and began to peel yams, others cut dry palm branches and led out a goat, but the ram was the one they skinned. 

They then began to cook food in the spirit's house. Some women brought a mortar and began to prepare dried cassava flakes, and took two dried fish, so that people could take it and eat cassava with sauce. 

Onwuana went and took down a keg of wine, splashed it around a couple of places, "yakwuru, yakwuru, yakwuru," then poured a cup of wine and splashed it on top of the shrine, poured his own and drank it, before telling each person to bring out his cup so that some could be poured out for him. 

They all quickly put their hands [into their bags] and brought out cups, poured wine and drank, then waited for the items on the fire to be cooked, because hunger that expects to be satisfied does not starve a person to death. 

Agummadu ["leopard man," a praise name] Ogbayaka put his flute to his mouth and blew it loudly so the vultures would descend. Not long afterward, more than thirty vultures came fluttering down. Soon there were vultures swarming everywhere, because if you make an animal sacrifice and you don't see vultures, you know that something big has happened in spirit land. 

Ezennaya then had completed everything that Okafor had divined for him, and he was pleased. He then left, because he said that there was nothing preventing the dog's death, that he had done his part, that one who uses his eyes to kill also uses his eyes to share [the results of the kill].

~~ *TO CHAPTER 4* ~~


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