(In the house of Oguamalam Okemkpi. Oguamalam is grinding snuff on the grinding stone. He then talks to himself.) 

OGUAMALAM: Chei! This world and jealousy! Never in my life have I heard of a person using his two hands to claim something not his own forcefully like this. What does Ikekwem think that I am? Does he think that out of fear for my life I will leave this "Main farmland" bush to him? (He bursts out laughing.) He! he! he! he! The lizard yearns to squat, but his long tail will not allow it. They say that if Ikekwem had a nose he would have taken snuff. He has seen with his two eyes that if you keep on beating a weak person, one day he learns how to be strong. (He starts to grind his snuff again, then starts to sing. He grinds a bit, then suddenly stops, as though he had forgotten something important.) Ehe! Where is this child? Chibunna! Chibunna! 

CHIBUNNA: (He answers from outside.) O-o-o-o! (Chibunna then enters. He has the knife in his hand.) 

OGUAMALAM: Where have you been all this time? 

CHIBUNNA: Nwaibari, Uncle Ikekwem's wife, and Obiageli were cursing you and my mother. So I chased them. 

OGUAMALAM: I hope you did not cut anyone? 

CHIBUNNA: I did not cut anyone. I only chased them. 

OGUAMALAM: Leave that bad woman Nwaibari alone. The day that death kills Ikekwem, Nwaibari will be the cause of it. On that day he will know that the way bitter kola sounds in the mouth is not the way it tastes. Now, go and take this palm fruit behind the house. Don't leave it for the chickens. 

CHIBUNNA: Father, after I finish carrying this palm fruit, I am going to go to Jamike's place. 

OGUAMALAM: You haven't yet carried away this palm fruit as I told you to do and you are already looking for a place to go. 

CHIBUNNA: I said I would first tell you before I go. 

OGUAMALAM: Oh! I heard you. Now start carrying the palm fruit I told you to take behind the house. (Chibunna then lifts up the palm fruit and carries it off.) Aha! Chibunna, don't forget to tell me when you go to Jamike's so I can give you a message for his father. 

CHIBUNNA: All right. (He takes the palm fruit and leaves. Oguamalam starts to grind his snuff again. He is still doing this when Ikekwem enters.) 

IKEKWEM: Oguamalam, I want you to give me that palm fruit now. (Oguamalam keeps on grinding his snuff vigorously, not saying a word to him.) Oguamalam, I am talking to you. Bring me that palm fruit immediately. 

OGUAMALAM: Which palm fruit are you talking about, Ikekwem? Eh? I'm asking you. Which palm fruit are you telling me to bring to you? 

IKEKWEM: You don't know which palm fruit it is? That time when you used your thieving hands to snatch it away in the "Main farmland" bush, didn't you know that it was not your palm fruit, eh? 

OGUAMALAM: Ikekwem, please go away. I am not you, whom the world has blessed with riches. Please, give Oguamalam a chance, so I can concentrate on my own life. 

IKEKWEM: Beast, do you think I came to play games in your house this afternoon? If you do not bring out this palm fruit now, my compound and yours will come to an end completely this afternoon. 

OGUAMALAM: Only your compound will come to an end. God forbid! May Oguamalam's compound not come to an end. 

IKEKWEM: You do not want to bring me the palm fruit that I cut down with my own hands? 

OGUAMALAM: Ikekwem, I told you to go away. Stop disrupting my life all the time. Go and rest yourself. The grasshopper that was killed by the hornbill was done in because of deafness. 

IKEKWEM: All right. Since you think that I'm a goat for coming here, bring me that palm fruit immediately. (He raises the stick he is holding.) 

OGUAMALAM: Hey! Are you determined to carry off this palm fruit? Since you came to my house to fight, I will take you up on it. I am not going to bring it out. Do as you wish. 

IKEKWEM: Oguamalam, do you know that you are a thief? 

OGUAMALAM: Yes, let me be. Have I ever stolen anything of yours? 

IKEKWEM: You are a thief! One-who-carries-off-someone-else's-palm-fruit! Today's theft will be your undoing. You must bring me that palm fruit now. 

OGUAMALAM: Hm! hm! hm! Ikekwem, go home! Go home! 

IKEKWEM: I will not go. 

OGUAMALAM: Go home. The fly that has no one to advise it doesn't realize that it is following the corpse to the land of the spirits. Ikekwem, I have told you to go home. If the ear is warned but does not listen, when the head is cut off the ears are cut off as well. You will use your head to bring on death this afternoon. Go home. 

IKEKWEM: Shut your rotten mouth, thief! (Nwaibari then enters.) 

NWAIBARI: You are swelling up like bread rising, what are you going to do? (Ikekwem then grabs the end of Oguamalam's cloth.) 

IKEKWEM: Say another word and I will show you what the fire did to the rat' s ear. 

NWAIBARI: Hit him in the head. Squeeze that mouth of his that he uses to speak against his God. 

OGUAMALAM: The vicious woman sprouts teeth while still in the womb! Don't you have hands yourself? Come and squeeze my mouth. 

NWAIBARI: I'm able to do it. What are you going to do? 

IKEKWEM: I told you, say another word and I'll do to you what the kitchen knife did to the roasted yam. Let me show you what Nara [a personal name] does to mad people. 

OGUAMALAM: So much talk is not good in the secret bush. You're holding my hand and you have your stick. Get started with what you have in mind. 

NWAIBARI: Ikekwem, I told you to hit him in the mouth. What are you waiting for? Do you do nothing while these rotten words are spewing from his mouth? Hit him in the mouth. 

OGUAMALAM: Didn't you hear the voice of your warrior? What's holding you back? I think that Oguamalam should have been dead by now. Nwaibari told you to hit me in the mouth. What are you waiting for? Here is my mouth, break it. Yes, hit my body so you can see that the fluid that covers the snail's eyes is not really tears. 

IKEKWEM: Shut up, beast! shut up! 

NWAIBARI: Ikekwem, you are the one who ignored him. You ignored him while these bad things are coming out of his mouth. 

OGUAMALAM: Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! People who are desperate for the mighty palm tree, come and carry off the palm fruit and eat. Kill yourselves with eating palm fruit. Now take this thieving hand of yours off my cloth. (He strikes Ikekwem's hand off. Ikekwem then pokes his finger at his mouth.) 

IKEKWEM: May Amadioha [god of thunder] strike and break your neck. 

OGUAMALAM: May he strike you down and rub your mouth on the ground. 

IKEKWEM: And may death kill you. 

OGUAMALAM: May he kill you and your wife Nwaibari. Both of you are jealous. 

NWAIBARI: Shut up! (She gives Oguamalam a blow with the whip and then runs. Oguamalam picks up the whip, chases her and whips her repeatedly. Immediately Obiageli, Ukadike and Amadi come in. Obiageli and Amadi console Nwaibari and prevent her from starting to fight again with Oguamalam. Nwaibari then breaks out sobbing, raining various curses on Oguamalam.) Oguamalam, you palm fruit thief! You beat me like this, may the spirits also beat you to death. Let me go so I can flog him back. 

OBIAGELI: Stop it. You are not going anywhere. 

NWAIBARI: Obiageli, let go of me. Indeed I will not leave Oguamalam today. 

AMADI: Mother, please stop. Uncle will beat you to death. Please, don't go at him again. (He too starts to cry. Ukadike stands nearby, but says nothing. Oguamalam keeps going forward as if to go back to his house.) 

IKEKWEM: Chei! Should I stay in the water and let soap enter my eyes? God forbid. Oguamalam, what did you do to my wife? Indeed, on the day that I do to you what I am going to do to you, if you are given water to wash your hands, you will drink it. Chei! My God! What do I hold in my hand right now? (He runs toward Oguamalam and hits him in the head with a stick.) 

OGUAMALAM: Chei! chei! chei! chei! Did you hit me with this stick? Eh? Did you hit me with this stick? (He goes after him vigorously.) 

IKEKWEM: Yes! Put in your hands so I can break them! Put in your head! (Oguamalam then reaches him and lifts him up. Obiageli and Nwaibari then start to grab Oguamalam by the legs, beating him, while Ukadike keeps trying to separate them. Amadi then pickes up the whip and flogs Oguamalam. But U kadike hits him immediately and chases him off. Oguamalam is still holding Ikekwem to the ground.) 

OGUAMALAM: Death will meet you today! 

NWAIBARI: Oguamalam, leave my husband for me! Oh, leave my husband for me! He has killed my husband! 

IKEKWEM: (He shouts.) O! O! O! O! I am dead! Akabo! Akabo! Chei! Alas! Alas! Alas! O! O! I am dead! 

OGUAMALAM: You will die today! You will die today because of someone else' s property! Chei! Look at how your children are attacking me! You all will kill Oguamalam today. Hey, Chibunna! Chibunna! (Chibunna runs in.) 

CHIBUNNA: Do you all want to kill my father? (He grabs Nwaibari by the leg and pulls her away.) Amadi, if you interfere here again, you will see your death. (Ogbuehi and Nwokoro then dash out and start to separate them. Ukaibe follows behind them.) 

OGBUEHI: Take your hands off! Take your hands off immediately! May God not permit evil! Why do two grown men like you call each other names? Akabo, it's war! 

NWOKORO: Oguamalam, let him go! Let him go! You all have defiled the lnd. (They drag the two of them apart. Nwokoro holds Oguamalam, while Ogbuehi holds Ikekwem by the waist.) 

IKEKWEM: Give me a chance! Give me a chance to kill him! (He touches his mouth and feels a bit of blood.) Oh, my mouth! I will not leave him! No! No! No! Take your hands off me! Ogbuehi, take your hands off me so I can take my revenge! Chei! 

OGBUEHI: Be quiet! Aren't you ashamed? Do you all want the whole of Akabo to come and watch you this afternoon? 

IKEKWEM: Yes, let them watch us. 

OGBUEHI: Close your mouth, wild animal! Are you not a man? 

IKEKWEM: No! No! Don't tell me anything. Take your hands off me so I can take revenge on him. Ogbuehi! Ogbuehi! Leave me so I can take revenge on him. Look at my mouth! See how Oguamalam has smashed my mouth. (He shows him the blood on his hand.) Really, I won't leave Oguamalam today. 

OGBUEHI: Nor will I let go of you. Let me see what you want to do. 

OGUAMALAM: Let him loose! He sees someone else's property and agrees to face death. The eye sees but the heart does not want to yield! Ogbuehi, release him. Let me show him what the spirits did to the goat's ear. 

NWOKORO: Close your mouth, strong man! Are you not ashamed that a grown man like you, living in his own house, came out to fight the way children do? "Leave him, so I can show him die-die-die." (He imitates him.) Now see Ikekwem and beat him to death. (Oguamalam then calms down and bites his fingers.) 

OGUAMALAM: All right. (He points his finger at Ikekwem.) Thank your god today. Really, when you get home today, cook up something and eat. One day the crab that has swum the entire Imo River will not be able to swim out of the old woman's soup pot. Try me another day, so you can see my handiwork. (He calls Chibunna.) Chibunna! 

CHIBUNNA: Father! 

OGUAMALAM: Quickly, come into the house. 

CHIBUNNA: His wife wanted to hit me with a stick. 

OGUAMALAM: If she even touches your body, take that gun and shoot her in the eye. Whatever the result, let it happen. Shall I keep on avoiding them and swallow a razor blade? May the land of Akabo not allow it! (Chibunna enters their house, imitating Ikekwem and the people of his household.) 

IKEKWEM: Ogbuehi and Nwokoro, have you seen what you all did to me today? Have you seen what you did to me? 

NWOKORO: What did we do to you? Aren't you a human being? 

OGBUEHI: Never mind the beast. Not even a half cent of shame is in his eyes. See how a young man like you who has a household has disgraced himself this afternoon. What are you going to tell children, if they behave like this in front of you? God forbid! Ogbuehi, do not become this type of fool! 

NWOKORO: Look, Ikekwem. Let me tell you the truth. You are doing something the spirits will hold against you. How can you and all your household come to the house of your fellow man to fight? Thank your god that Oguamalam is not a person who is hotheaded and remorseless, like you. If it were I, I would take a knife and cut your head and chop off these ears that are used for decoration. You will be guilty before both spirits and humans. Indeed, if I were you, I would turn and go back to my house before people start to gather here. The villagers will fine you for your bad behavior this afternoon. 

OGBUEHI: Leave him, Nwokoro. One who does not agree will agree when tied to the stake. If the sheep bleats so much that the leopard comes, let the sheep run away. Nwokolo, I am leaving. Ikekwem, look at Oguamalam and kill him. You saw a sheep that has no owner. But remember that one who chases after a chicken has to fall, while the chicken's lot is only to waddle. I am leaving. Look at the road, look at the forest, choose the one you like. If one's ears are warned but he refuses to listen, on the day his head is cut off, the head and ears are cut off together. (He leaves.) 

NWOKORO: Ikekwem, I am leaving. If a wise man is warned, he knows something, but if a fool is warned, he breaks his neck to head for the bush. Use your tongue to count your teeth. 

IKEKWEM: It is you, Oguamalam, I am going to lay my hands on in this village. Before this year ends, the dry season rain must fall. (He calls his wives.) You women who use your mouths to cut irokos! Come on and let us leave. (He leaves.) 

NWAIBARI: Oguamalam, death will kill you and that vicious son of yours, Chibunna, one day.


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