~~~ Night Has Fallen in the Afternoon ~~~
Chapter 6 -- When the Night Conspires, the Afternoon Provokes a Quarrel [Nighttime conspiracy is followed by daytime mischief]

The elders said that Anamagbaraokwuoso [a name meaning "I don't want trouble] buried his deceased mother at night, but when day dawned the married daughters of the place asked him where his mother was.

Ezeonyekwelu and Ugonwa had done the best they could, just as parents who loved their only child would do. But the elders say that the thing that killed the dog's mother does not allow its children to open their eyes. [A murderer eliminates any possible accusers.] And they had offered sacrifices so that the blame would be on the spirits.

Night had fallen quickly and darkness fell like a lump over all the compounds. The insects of the night had finished chirping and were silent.  Toads and frogs kept on crying "woo, woo, woo."

Bats were also crying "chi chi chi chi chi" from the tops of the iroko trees, while looking for the iroko fruit to eat.

Those who work in darkness [thieves] then came out and conferred about how they were going to dig up Nonyerem's body so they could collect the money and the jewelry that Ezeonyekwelu and Ugonwa had put in with it. They all agreed, took a hoe and a knife and a fire gourd which they put into a snail shell and spread palm fiber in it. [The fiber burns and provides candle light.]

They met no man or woman on the road until they arrived at the gravesite. The cemetery was fenced in like a farm where white yam has been planted.

They then cut some young fronds of oil palm and cut some spear-grass and placed them there, gathered up two small kola nuts and put them nearby, then went and started to exhume the body.

Four people were digging up the body, three people were patrolling in order to spot anyone coming, and they did not care that the sun was shining and the thing the cricket killed was seen. [Their heinous behavior was becoming visible.]

No one spoke; rather, they just murmured among themselves, because the bat says that it knew how bad the world was, so it made the night into day.

They dug open the grave, lifted out the corpse, and placed it on the ground. Then they all conferred, both those that had dug open the grave and those who had stood watch to check for passersby along the road.

One of them took a sharp knife and cut open the rope that was tied around the corpse, then loosened the cloth in which it had been wrapped. They worked fast, gathering up the money, the waistbeads, the Igala beads, and all the rest.

Then a commotion broke out, and they all turned from the money and all  those things, developed dog's legs and ran away. Their hearts all pounded gbim, gbim, gbim. Many of them did not know what had happened, but they knew that there had been too much salt in the soup pot [something had gone awry] and they ran for their lives, like the palm nut joining its peers in producing oil.

Those who knew what had happened were running so they could not be identified, and they could not open their mouths to tell the others what caused the cocoyam (ede uri) to go to seed. But they used their tongues to count their teeth, and knew that they had seen something bigger than the strongest man.

Just as they were opening the woven mat and were gathering up the money and other things, Nonyerem had turned his body around, raised his head and looked at them, then got up; they all ran away so their faces could not be recognized, so that there would be plenty of mercy on the day of judgment. Nonyerem looked around, feeling dizzy, so he sat down to rest. But when he recognized the place where he was, he looked around and saw all the graves surrounding him.

When human thoughts entered his body, his heart pounded "kpum kpum," his body trembled and he was frightened. He rose up quickly and went out to look for their compound and return home, abandoning the money and the other things in his grave.

Then he wondered what could have caused him to go there and sit down in the darkness of night. Yet something told him that he had died. But he did not fully realize all these things. They all seemed like a dream to him.

Nonyerem did not meet man or woman on the road. But when he reached their house, the door was open, the fire was burning inside, and people filled the house and compound, talking in whispers. Several of them lay on the ground on the mats they had spread out everywhere.

Both his parents sat staring vacantly like sheep, exhausted by sorrow. They had wept so much, their brows were swollen, their eyeballs very red.

Nonyerem peeked in, and saw that palm fronds and bamboo had been used to make a bench in the compound where people were sitting. He went and stood at the edge of the path to their compound, puzzling over what had happened, but he did not want to call to the people entering the house to question them, because one should not sit on the floor and try to pull something from the ground.

One spirit-possessed woman burst into their house, cried aloud and fell to the floor. Some people went to hold on to her, and told her not to mourn, because they did not want Ugonwa to break out in tears.

Nonyerem shrugged and said there was no end to sickness for people, so that one who developed hernia would then develop a swollen stomach. Then he thought that his father must have died and went running into the house.

Many people stared at him and their hearts turned to water, panic broke out, everyone ran without looking back because they thought it was his spirit that had entered the house. Some people jumped over the wall of the compound and ran away. Others cried out loudly without knowing where they were going.

But his parents ran and embraced him and held him tightly, to see if it was really he. After some time, they looked squarely at him and called him by name and he answered. They put their heads together and decided that they could not believe that it was he, because the mango does not sprout oranges.

After a while, they called him by name and he answered them. They led him into the house, trembling because their eyes saw what their ears wide open had not heard. Those who had run away then slowly began to return, looking to see if it was Nonyerem risen from the dead or if it was his shadow.

His parents then asked him how it was that he rose from the dead. Joy filled their hearts, but he didn't know what to tell them. Ezeonyekwelu then sent  out eight people to go and look to see if they could find anything in the grave. They went back and gathered up everything the thieves had run off and abandoned, and told him that the grave was open, and that they had seen a hoe and two knives there. Also that they had seen several human footprints, both small and large.

They also said they had seen a piece of snail shell with palm fruit fiber inside, and that the woven mat had been dug up and scattered around the grave. Everyone who heard the story shouted, looked to the sky and said, "God the Creator I thank you!"

The story then spread all over the surrounding towns. People went to and fro to Ezeonyekwelu's house, so they could see what their ears had heard.

And Ezeonyekwelu and Ugonwa and their kith and kin were very happy, because when the nighttime conspires, the afternoon provokes a quarrel, and they did not ask how the coconut scooped up water and sucked it up. But they said, let the young woman grow breasts wherever she wants, what they knew was that their son had died and was alive again.

~~ *TO CHAPTER 7* ~~


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