~~~ Night Has Fallen in the Afternoon ~~~
Chapter 11- -- Nonyerem's Spirit Tree

The elders say that if a child uncovers his father's legs, what his father used to become a man [genitals] comes and hits him in the eye, because if an immature child wears a cloth that drags on the ground, the breeze carries away both him and his cloth.

But Ezeonyekwelu had done everything for Nonyerem that the [other] members of his age group did not even dream of. Nonyerem then stood out as a strong man because he knew that he had backing, because the fire that an elder puts into a child does not consume him.

He [Ezeonyekwelu] then looked carefully, seeking a good woman to marry his only child, Nonyerem, because one who is stung by a bee along the stream becomes fearful any time he sees a big fly.

Ezeonyekwelu also knew very well that the stick does not poke the man in the eye twice, because the grasshopper killed by the hornbill must have been deaf.

Nonyerem then named the day he would plant the tree of his personal god by his own hand, because the chicken does not forget to hold its god in its hand. That is why he said that if he needed his god and held its hand, when he wanted to act on his own, night would fall.

It is true that Ezeonyekwelu wanted to get a wife for Nonyerem, but Nonyerem's heart beat fast, because he was only a boy.

Ezeonyekwelu then called him and said, ''My son, come and sit down so I can talk to you, because if you remove a flea from a dog and do not show it to him, he thinks that he has been pinched.'' [The dog must be convinced that something was done for his own good.] He then sat down, put his arms up to his ears, and placed his elbows on his knees, gazing at him like a sheep.

His father then called his name, he replied, and he told him that when a householder is not killed by someone in his house, he grows gray hair; therefore, he tries as hard as he can to see that their lineage continues, because a person with one eye owes a debt to blindness, and if an animal runs badly, the hunter shoots it badly.

Ezeonyekwelu took out his snuff-box, lifted it up, looked at it, struck it on his knee four times, opened it and took a pinch, then closed it and gave it to Nonyerem; he took it, took a pinch and returned it. They both then started to inhale the snuff.

His father took a pinch of snuff and inhaled, and cleared his throat, tears then fell from his eyes. He used the back of his right hand to wipe them, then said, ''A person's wealth makes him cry.''

He then told Nonyerem that the firewood a man gathers in the dry season is what he burns in the rainy season, because it is how the bird flies without perching that makes one shoot without aiming.

Nonyerem then told him that he knew very well that the doctor who his curing diarrhea does not hide his own buttocks in the mpio [escape hole in wall of house, used by dogs].

Ezeonyekwelu told him that he knew that was true, but that one who quarrels with his brothers should not fight in the market, because on judgment day mercy abounds.

Nonyerem then burst out in laughter. Ezeonyekwelu told him that they should make a sacrifice, so that any blame would thereafter be on the spirits. Nonyerem agreed, and told him that truth always stands upright, and a person should not abandon the igba drum and then beat on his stomach.

Nonyerem then went and told his age-group members that he and they should perform the tree-planting ceremony at his house the next afternoon.

The next day he went and cut an ogbu tree [shade tree with edible figs], dug a hole in the earth, and planted it. Onwuasoanya [perhaps a local specialist] then went and cut a frond, placed it near the tree, and brought igbegbiri and dug them in around the tree.

Then he went and gathered up some new yams and placed them around; others took knives and peeled them, then gathered all the peelings and spread them around the base of the ogbu.

Nonyerem then took one young cock, killed it and spread some blood on his idol, and then scattered it all around. They then cut it into small pieces, took them, and started to cook yam stew. They then picked some hot pepper, pounded ogiri [oil bean seed], crawfish, and various other items that would make a person smack his lips while eating all those things that were put in.

After they cooked it, everyone breathed sighs of contentment and they all took their chairs and went all around the yam stew, eating it like big dogs.

After they had finished eating, they licked their fingers, rubbed them on their legs and heads, then went to drink palm wine. The whole place was very noisy because of the commotion made by those who had drunk too much.

Afterward, they all went home; the tree Nonyerem had planted was growing, and he was waiting for the day the fire would be extinguished so he could carry the torch, because when the snail travels along, it leaves a shell behind it. [Perhaps refers to his eventually inheriting his father's mantle.]

And when anyone who has a spirit tree surrenders to the hand of death, it is the members of his age-group who go and dig up his tree and burn it in the fire.

~~ *TO CHAPTER 12* ~~


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