~~~ Night Has Fallen in the Afternoon ~~~
Chapter 14 -- When the Fire Was Extinguished

One day in the evening, Ezeonyekwelu called his wife, Ugonwa, and her only child, Nonyerem, and told them that time did not wait for people, but rather it was people who waited for time. They then were apprehensive, because no one knew what a pregnant woman was going to deliver. [They wondered what he was going to tell them.]

Ezeonyekwelu told them that people should use common sense in feeding a dog, because people did not feed on its leftovers.

They then laughed.

Then he announced that he was going to take some wine to Maduka so that he could take Nonyerem to his daughter, Arude, so he could marry her. Ugonwa agreed and said that Maduka and his wife, Mgboye, were good people.

Nonyerem laughed and asked if it was he going to marry the girl or the girl going to marry him, because he was only a boy. This angered Ezeonyekwelu, because when someone who is being treated for hydrocele then develops a swollen stomach, he has something that he left in the bad bush.

Ezeonyekwelu told him that he was shocked, and he should know well that the mother cow was too big to roast in the fire.

Nonyerem said that he would marry and take a title after three years had passed. Ezeonyekwelu did not want to listen. He then went and said that he would marry Arude if Nonyerem refused to marry her, that he would allow her to bear children for him. Therefore Ezeonyekwelu watched Nonyerem carefully and said that the time when a boy realizes that his father is not going to break off and give him a piece of the corn that he roasted in the fire is the moment he [the father] starts chewing at the tail.

Ezeonyekwelu had finished tapping the morning wine when a certain person told him that there were some people who were secretly conspiring against him, so he watched out very carefully, because the grasshopper that is eaten by the hornbill must have been deaf. Ezeonyekwelu then went to the home of his friend, Maduka, and told him that he wanted to marry his daughter, Arude, for his son, Nonyerem.

Maduka poured some wine for him and he drank. He then told him that his journey had two purposes, because the snake that one person kills turns into a python. They then said that Ezeonyekwelu should come again after two Igbo weeks had passed, that Arude then would have returned from a feast at the home of her grandmother in Uru-okpara.

Ezeonyekwelu then went home, hoping that Maduka would not fail to let him marry his daughter, because there was an abundant supply of young women who were begging for men to marry them.

Three days later, Nonyerem went out in the evening and said that he was going to buy some snuff at Omekaokwuru's house.

It was completely dark but Nonyerem did not return. Ezeonyekwelu and Ugonwa ate supper, but they could not sleep; they waited for Nonyerem to return so they could go to bed. It was midnight but they did not see him or hear a word about him.

They had not slept until dawn, when they then began to look for him by retracing his steps. They went to Omekaokwuru's house and asked him if he had come to their house in the evening to buy snuff; he told them that he had not seen him.

They then sent messages to their kith and kin and their friends, but no one had seen him. They all then searched for him in the river.

My people, you all know well that when the diviner is divining and starts babbling about dogs' teeth, you know that he has reached the end of his knowledge.

Ezeonyekwelu then took Arude and married her. She bore him three sons and two daughters, but there was no sign of Nonyerem.

But there was information that Nonyerem had been captured and sold out. The thing that ate the food had then licked up the soup.

However, eventually we will hear something about Nonyerem, because when the cow has no tail its god chases away the flies for him.

The elders say that the palm wine-tapper does not reveal what he sees from the top of the palm tree, and that is why when the pot is covered it appears that no food has been eaten. When it is a good day for hunting, we hunt the bush-rat behind the house.

The end.


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