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The Story Of The Lovers The Story Of The Lovers
by Kufre Udeme
2014-03-23 11:22:13
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Kokoette was living with his fat, fun loving mother in the northern part of Idere. His father wasn't as handsome as him, but he was the most romantic man in the entire village. He died from nsaat - a pandemic that hit the village many years ago while Kokoette was growing up as a child. But he still has a vivid picture of his father in his heart. One particular incident often reminded him who his father was and what he looked like.

love01_400The man used to travel many miles to big markets selling all kinds of make-ups for women. He used to sell make-ups and other women accessories like tido, mkpanu utong, and camwood or iduot. Because of his many travels he didn't always spend much time in the house. He would leave very early in the morning and come back very late in the night when Kokoette had gone to bed. The only time he used to stay around in the house from sunrise to sunset was on Etaha, the big worship day. It was in the afternoon of one of such holy days that he was tickling his wife, trying to mute her sensual complain that the time he always scheduled to be with her and Kokoette was too short. They were sitting at the backyard of their hut made of mud walls and roofed with thatches from the raffia palm. Kokoette was there with them, learning how to play nsa isong or draught on his own. The game was six pairs of small holes dug on the ground, and as usual each hole contained four pebbles, but the boy had scattered them already, playing a type called atre ubok adia.

The man continued to tickle the woman until she could no longer pretend not to enjoy it. She started smiling, and he got more committed in doing it, because she didn't exercising any more effort in stopping him. But she didn't laugh it out as he wanted her, and the man understood the reason at once. Some women don't like being tickled in the public, even when a child is the only person around. The man's wife was one of such shy women. So the man playfully dragged her to follow him inside the hut, where she would be comfortable to laugh longer and wider. As they slipped playfully into the hut, little Kokoette looked up at them and smiled. He wanted to continue with the nsa isong but the commotions and the loud chuckling inside the house distracted him. So Kokoette, as little and stupid as he was back then, decided to go inside the house and check out what sort of game his parents were playing. Maybe hide and seek, or something new. He was always on the look out for new games.

They didn't go into the bedroom, although they could have loved to, for a perfect privacy; but they were at the sitting room, because they couldn't stretched their excitement beyond there. They were just hoping that Kokoette wouldn't come in, that he would continue to play outside until they retired; but Kokoette walked into the house as they were rushing over each other, as if in competition to see who would be fast enough to undress the other. The woman tried her best to tear the man's upper clothes. She was crazy, always crazy whenever she was in the mood. But the man was more tricky. He put his hand behind the woman and fell her swiftly on one of the bamboo seats, like something he's been doing many times. But as he went down on her, with a violent intention, their son stepped into the sitting room.

The man looked up, and saw Kokoette staring at them with wide blinking eyes, but the woman didn't see what he was seeing at first. Rather, she was fighting with his woven leather belt.

'Get out from there, Koko!' the man ordered, and the woman, having conquered the belt, paused and looked up instantly. 'I say shoo!' the man ordered.

But the scene was too arresting for the boy that he couldn't move an inch. He was just standing there, grinning and wondering what sort of game his parents were playing that his father was now wearing only a pair of loosely loincloth and his mother has her gown drawn down to her waist so that she too was half naked. The woman pulled up the gown to cover her breasts as the man lifted himself from her and turned aside. She got up and hurried to Kokoette at the threshold.

'Mama, can I join in the game?' Kokoette asked ignorantly and with great expectation.

With one hand supporting the gown so that it wouldn't fall and unveil her complete nakedness before her son, his mother put her other hand on his shoulder, 'No, you can't,' she said, and turned him quickly from the door.

'Why?' Kokoette frowned.

'Because it's exclusively for adults.'

'What's the game called?'

'Adults Alone,' his mother answered, pushed him gently outside the room, and banged the door with a lock.

**********************************************

Now, still in Idere, there lived a woman who came from a village across the Great River. She was a woman of great pleasure as most women who came from that village. She was living with her husband, and they had a young coiling neck daughter called Kokomma.

There wasn't any night in which their bed didn't creak, because the woman would always lead the man to make love to her. Usually, when that feeling or hunger comes upon her, it would render her helpless, so that she would start stirring on the bed and putting her legs on him, then he would understand quickly and draw closer to her, and filled her thirst until she fall fast asleep like a baby. Night upon night it continued that way, until the man grew tired and wouldn't respond to her call anymore. On that particular night as she started stirring on the bed, he deliberately turned and showed her his back, but the woman kept tapping him, and whispering hungrily like a mosquito.

When her call became unbearable, he sat up and increased the volume of the lamp which was on the wooden table next to the bamboo bed. Then he said to her, 'Dear, I really wish I could do this, but there's no way I can satisfy you every night. I'll die before my time.'

'Please,' she pleaded earnestly, and you know how a woman behaves when she want something very much. 'Lie with me just once, no more as long as usual.'

But the man would not. He picked his pillow of a sheep's fur sown over well tucked dry antaliska leaves, he picked the pillow, wanting to leave the bed and room for her, but the woman held unto the hem of his wrapper, begging, 'Make love to me, my husband. Please don't leave me alone in the cold hands of this mighty bed.' But he didn't listen to her pleas. He left the wrapper in her hands and headed straight to the sitting room with only a white loincloth. At the sitting room their daughter was sleeping soundly in a mat on the floor which was rubbed with black earth and smoothened by leaves of a certain red or purplish plant called edem idudut. He went down to the mat, and in a few moment he was snoring, so that his sleepless wife heard from the bedroom and dozed off in frustration.

In the morning the woman smiled at the man, and continued to be nice to him by serving him his food on time, putting water for him in the bathroom every morning and evening, as well as submitting to him in all things, and performing all other tasks that were expected of her as a wife, with the hope that the man would change. And the man responded quite well, as a good and caring husband, perhaps, providing money and everything she needed, both for herself and for the upkeep of the family, but during the night he ignored her, treating her more or less like a stranger; and he did that for twenty one days until the woman's anger germinated, because she couldn't starve anymore.

********************************************************

This man was a butcher. One morning when he had gone to the slaughter, the woman ran out of patience. By evening the man returned from work, exhausted and stinking of animal blood. He threw his goat skin bag on the porch as usual and walked tiredly to the open bathroom attached to the left side of the hut, and constructed with palm fronds and leaves. But there was no bucket of water waiting for him as usual, and there would be no food on the table too. He shouted at his wife but she didn't answer, and she would never answer. He stormed into the house, barking like a mad dog, only to find the hut partially empty, and was confused, up to the extent of losing his voice. As he looked round in silence filled with terror, he saw his daughter, little Kokomma, squatting in a corner like an orphan chick in a rainy season.

His wife had left with all her few belongings; not just with her clothes box, which could have shown her continued interest and comforted the man that she would come back, but she packed everything, including all the gift items people showered on her during their marriage ceremony. She also took with her the only good mortar and pestle in the house, for she bought them with her money. Now the man would no longer eat pounded yam, the best in the village, for only his wife could prepare it.

'No,' he shook his head, and vowed to do something.

Very early the next day the man arrived his in-law's compound. His wife was there, and many other people like his in-law's neighbours and friends. They came on their own without any invitation. Some of them just came to greet the man's father-in-law only to witness the show. The man's father-in-law was a chief, a Raffia Palm Chief to be precise. That is, he was in charge of all the raffia palms in the village, both the ones that belonged to the village and the ones owned by individual citizens, he was in charge of them all, ensuring when they should be harvested and perhaps how much each bunch of the fruit should be sold. So the man's father-in-law was a very important person in the village, that was why people trooped in and out of his big compound as if it was a market.

Now the woman began to cry, soaking her face with tears and sweat, and cursing the man for being cruel to her. 'How could you be so heartless to deny me my right for twenty one nights,' she wept profoundly, and her people stood by her. Everyone refused to listen to the man, and he started to agree with the saying that a cockroach cannot be declared innocent in a court presided over by a chicken.

Many of the elders at the scene ordered the young men present to beat up the man, but the man took it for a joke, because in Idere where he came from, people didn't use to beat their in-laws or cause them any bodily injury. It was a taboo, and those who broke it dies of tuberculosis, but these people didn't observed such a taboo, therefore the gods would not punish them, maybe. So the young men surrounded the man, to pull him out from the shade and lay him on the ground, and beat him mercilessly before all the people, so that everyone would see and take note, that a woman's right should not to be denied, seeing that she is weak and cannot fight for it, and cannot win even if she try to fight.

'I beg you, my husband,' his mother-in-law, clad in a pink embroidered gown, curtsied and appealed for his pardon. 'Our daughter has a child for him. Let us spare him the beating for the sake of the child.'

His father-in-law thought about it briefly, and asked him, 'What do you have to say about this great wickedness you have done to our daughter?' His head and chin were hairless, but he grew some thick wild moustache almost covering his nostrils.

Great wickedness? The man heaved. 'It has been fun throughout the past three years of our marriage,' he started narrating, but everyone seemed disinterested in his story. Even his own wife was staring at him scornfully. The man went on amidst their discouraging gestures. 'I thought it was time I take some rest, because, coupled with the nature of my job, I felt that I was getting weak ---'

'He's lying!' his wife interjected accusingly. 'He's not weak. What has slaughtering got to do with love? He's very strong. He's just being cruel to me.'

The man tried to ignore her, and said to the people around, 'I didn't want to rest permanently. Why should I? I only wanted to regain my strength. I had been making love to her everyday for the past three years ---'

'Then you decided to let her suffer for twenty one days,' his mother-in-law interrupted. 'Not even a break of few days, but twenty one!'

'Do you know that to a woman twenty one days of separation is like twenty one years of solitude?' another woman questioned. She was either a friend or a neighbour to his mother-in-law.

'Forgive me,' the man beseeched. 'I was planning that when I've gotten back my strength, I would be making love to her once in a month; but now it shall not be so. I will do it once in a week.'

'Once in a week!' someone exclaimed in pity.

'Listen, young man,' his father-in-law said clearing his throat. 'It is our conclusion that during those period you claimed to have been taking a rest, you were actually seeing another woman outside,' he stated. 'And from the look of things, it shows that you aren't ready to change. A responsible man wouldn't make such a plan, wouldn't keep himself from his wife except once in a week.'

The man put up an angry look. 'I have never seen another woman since I married your daughter. I have never been unfaithful to her,' he said, and some of the women hissed, as if they had caught him before with another woman.

'Alright,' his father-in-law said, as if he believed him, that he hadn't looked at another woman since he married his daughter. 'Now what can we do for you? Why are you here? Maybe we should have started from there.'

'I want you to release my wife to me,' answered the man boldly. 'Our daughter need her. I can't raise the child anyone. Even if I want to remarry, the new woman may not pamper what's not hers. I don't want my daughter to suffer either when i'm around or when i'm not.'

An elder sprang up and commanded him to shut his mouth. 'Don't you have respect for people in your place?' he rebuked. 'How can you address your in-law in that manner? Did he come to your house and seize your wife? Why are you telling him to release her to you?'

'I'm sorry,' the man apologized. 'It's just that---'

His mother in-law cut in, pointing, 'That's your wife. Take her home if she agrees.'

'I can't continue with him,' his wife responded quickly. 'He's wicked, selfish, uncaring...,' she sobbed as she counted, and the list was long.

'But our daughter need you,' the man didn't mind pleading. 'She told me to bring you back.'

'You didn't want me around her,' the woman replied. 'If you had wanted, you could have loved me as much as you love her. You could have given me everything I wanted.'

'But you lacked nothing.'

'I lacked your body.'

'It's okay,' said her father, and turned to the man. 'You've heard her. Now, leave my compound.'

'Please,' said the man to his father-in-law, 'don't support her.'

'I took you as a son,' his father-in-law retorted. 'I embraced you with love, only to receive hatred in return. Didn't you say that she's the only maiden dear to your heart? But aren't you now being wicked to her?'

'I'm surprise that you're talking like this, chief,' said the man despairingly. 'I'm not wicked to your daughter. I love her, I swear. But she's the one who's wicked: a woman who abandons her three year old child in her husband's house all because her husband won't make love to her every night. That's ridiculous!'

'If you weren't prepared for it, for the ridiculous, why did you marry her?' the father-in-law questioned. 'Ask my wife, as old as I am, if I don't usually pleased her four times in eight days. But a young man like you, with fresh and running blood, want to frustrate my daughter, then you come telling me that nothing else has been keeping you busy.' The old man sounded very infuriated.

'He's not telling the truth,' one of the elders affirmed. 'He has a mistress somewhere.'

'I will do nothing to you,' his father-in-law said. 'But the gods will strike you with impotency the next time you go to meet that woman outside.'

The man wanted to reply, but the chief ordered the young men to bundle him up like a firewood and throw him out of the compound immediately.

********************************************************

Kokomma's mother and Kokoette's mother used to be very good friends. In the past, when any of them visited the other, their children used to play together. In those days when Kokomma's parents separated, there were rumours that Kokoette's mother has changed to something dirty. The woman, as it appeared, was always kind to male strangers, mostly merchants passing through the village. She would provide them accommodation. The strangers would lounge in the compound through the night and resume their journey the next morning. Speculations arose that she used to open her legs to those men. She turned it into a businesses, and earned a living from it, meaning that she was lazy, for only lazy women open their legs for money, but the industrious ones are pride to their parents and husband. People said that her husband had left two mighty plots of land behind,  but she never cultivated any of them. Instead, she sold them annually to big farmers for some manillas which never always lasted up to three moons. Kokomma's father believed the speculation, because three days after his divorce, this alleged slut had seen him on the road and had told him in the face that she often thought he was a responsible man.

'I used to pray and hope that any man I would remarry would possess part of my late husband's qualities and part of your qualities,' she asserted. 'But I was just seeing you from afar. I didn't know that you were such a wicked husband to my friend'

Kokomma's father was very angry. He had even wanted to slap her but he maintained his manly poise, and said, 'Now I know that it was you who coached my wife into asking for more. I've heard what you're doing and I regret that I allowed my wife to associate with you.'

'You'll never find someone as good as her.'

'And you're never ready for another marriage.'

'I'll remarry and you'll be put to shame.'

'I will only pity whoever will marry a slut like you.'

'You're nothing but a rotten stinking banana!'

From that day henceforth they became bitter enemies. Kokomma's father swore never to marry again, although it would be a big shame for him not to have a son who would replace him after his departure from this world. Every man longs for descendants, and descendants are products of male children. So the man decided to train his daughter into a boy. Not actually changing her to a son, but making her to function like one. His plan was to give her hand in marriage only to a man who would agree to live there in his compound with her and name their first son after him. He didn't want anyone to marry her out of the family as it was the case of all female children. He wanted her to marry someone into the family as it was the case of all male children.

When Kokomma grew into a matured girl, being sixteen or seventeen years of age, and ripe for marriage, her father sat her down one moon night outside their hut, and told her everything that happened which brought about the separation between him and her mother, and what her mother's people did to him. Having heard all these, the girl promised vehemently that she would never have anything to do with her mother and her mother's people. More so, she promised to marry only the man who would agree to his fathers terms and conditions. So she didn't care to find out where her mother was or try to recall what she looked like. Instead, she made a promise to her father. And we know that promises are easy to make but difficult to keep, or aren't they?

********************************************************

love02Here is the actual story of the Lovers. It all began in the evening at the village general stream, where they had gone to fetch some water and do some laundry. It wasn't their first time in the stream, of course; but it certainly was the first time they beheld each other with such passionate attention. Years had passed and they have grown into matured youths, with silent longings for companionship. Hours had passed and they kept stealing glances at each other as they bent over the washing log.

Kokoette was absolutely overwhelmed by Kokomma's captivating beauty, and grew desperate at once to fill the gap between them. Young men are always desperate when it comes to matters of the heart. But she was calmed, yet as tensed and yearning as him. Women love to play cold and silent.

She was certain that no young man in the village was as finely built as him, at least she has seen a great many who winked at her especially at the village playground, though she always find fault in them. She was very selective and sensitive to error, but in Kokoette there was no error. Actually, not as if there was none, but she didn't see any: no elongated head, a mountain of nose, or rabbit ears as some had. For her, he was just perfect, and qualified for the man of her dream. Every woman has her dream man, but only very few ever meet him.

They settled with deep, frequent, eye contact but exchanged no words on their first encounter. The picture stuck in the core of their minds even as they returned home, steaming with excitement; and the scene replayed more intimately in their sleep. Two people having the same dream at the same time was uncommon. They got so close that they were sharing a very sweet and crispy fruit plucked from an unknown tree.

Of a truth, Kokomma was an irresistible damsel. She had dark, long, and smooth legs like the first two pillars in a palace. Her waist was a delight to any man's heart, and it wasn't just that she had full blown inviting breasts, but the way they bulged in her dress, and sprang high on her chests like the hills of Akamkpa, were so tempting to be viewed in bare. Perhaps these were possible because she was a virgin, never been stirred before like most maidens in the village. Kokoette, then, must have been the luckiest young man in the world to secure the attention of such a treasure.

He watched her closely as she bent and scooped the water at the leg of the stream. It wasn't drinking water, but for oil palm procession. And Kokoette, standing on a log at the opposite edge of the stream, was watching every single step she took, nearly forgetting himself and falling over into the water.

As Kokomma was passing with the brown earthen pot on her head, to climb the small crooked hill of the stream, her prodded hips swaggering, she turned to steal one more look at Kokoette, at his muscles and hairy chests; but he caught her red handed. Though she was caught, his visible manly structure increased her heartbeat. This girl was innocent and had never admired anyone so much in all her life. She woke up on a small palm frond bed, panting softly and trembling in anxiety. The room was small, and cold, and dark; and she wished above all things that Kokoette was there with her.

That was the end of the dream, but the beginning of their long, twisting, love journey. By the time they met again the following day still at the stream, they had already fallen in love, a very hot or burning love that set their hearts on fire, especially each time they saw each other. But they didn't know that their parents were bitter enemies. They didn't also know that they used to play together in the past. Would they ever know? Who would tell them? Would they ever marry? Who would join them?

********************************************************

The next day was a dream come true. He was waiting patiently by a young palm tree in a shrub a few distant from the stream track. He could sight anyone coming through the track, and he watched every faces that passed by, praying and hoping that she won't stay back from the stream that morning.

The sun was rising higher and the birds were singing happily atop the many raffia palms surrounding the stream. Then Kokomma finally came along the track, ambling with her usual pot tucked under her arm and a round lad in her other hand. She tied a broad cloth over her breasts, leaving her soft belly bare. Another cloth of that same colour hung down tightly from her waist to her upper knee. One might have thought she was going for a dance somewhere. When Kokoette turned and saw her he swallowed a large portion of spittle, for he couldn't believed his eyes. It seemed her beauty was doubling with each passing day. She is more beautiful today than she was yesterday, he thought.

It appeared the time was perfect, so he whistled at her as she came to pass through that spot. A friend had coached him to begin with a whistle, that whistling was common and well understood by maidens. Most times it begins with a little whistling, and metamorphosis to knowing, before ending in union. She turned to the direction of the whistle. A pulse of shock surged through her when she saw him. He waved or signal her to come to him, and she trembled, contemplating.

Then she made up her mind, perhaps too soon, seeming to forget that he was in a corner, that crazy things are done mostly in corners. She forgot her father's warning too, that young men are dangerous until they are committed in marriage. She forgot virtually everything, and put down the pot and lad on the elephant grasses by the track side. But she still had her conscience intact, for she looked both sides of the track quickly, to check if anyone was coming or watching.

'I, was afraid,' said Kokoette indistinctly, holding her dainty hand scaringly, 'because I thought you won't come.' They were both novice in this business.

'I tried to resist, but I couldn't,' Kokomma purred. 'What do you want from me?' she asked, a bit uneasily, and wished she could keep a distance from him, but didn't want him to let go her hand, for the link was exporting the warmness of his heart into the coldness of her lonely soul.

He took courage like a man and looked her straight in the face, searching her eyes, but she was too shy to hold his gaze. 'I don't know,' was his response, in a low, sincere tone.

'Then let me go,' she said, and attempted in vain to break her hands from his. Perhaps she wouldn't have forgiven herself if he had let her go, or perhaps the tragedy that befell them afterward wouldn't have.

'Don't go yet, please,' he pleaded, rolling his eyes over the sinking navel in her belly. There are a great many spots in a woman's body that may divert a man's attention during a conversation, especially a man of no or little experience such as him. 'Bear with me a little more,' he begged, 'and let me see if I would remember all that I planned to tell you.'

Kokomma's heart was racing, and the rhythm of it seemed to be throbbing her breasts. 'I don't have all day.'

'Your beauty is a distraction to my thoughts,' he confessed. 'As long as I keep setting my eyes on you I will remain dumb and confuse.'

'Then close your eyes,' she suggested. 'Perhaps in so doing you will remember your lines and get back your voice.'

He considered it the best advice he has received in a long while. So he shut his eyes immediately, and she smiled tenderly with an open heart, seizing the moment to watch his handsomeness closely. His rich manly structure was amazing, such that if she had her way, she could have loved to crawl her fingers on them.

'Your beauty is a consuming magic, I swear,' he admitted. 'How do I explain this and avoid being taken unserious? Do you know that even while my eyes are close ---'

'You are still seeing me?'

'Yes!'

'I believe you.'

'You do?'

'Yes.'

'Why?'

She smiled, or maybe it was a grin, because it exposed her hidden tooth gap, but he didn't see it. 'Because we're meeting for the first time,' she replied sharply, 'and so it's likely that you wouldn't lie to me.'

Her response indeed sounded clever, but lies can abound on first encounter. In fact, first encounter are extremely abounded by deceitful lies these days. But Kokoette nodded and assured her that he would never lie to her. Then he began to pour out his heart to her while the doors of his eyes were still shut:

'I have desired many things in life, but the greatest of them all is you. What is money, what are houses or clothes, when the soul is without peace? But now I'm the richest of men, for I've found you, the one I love. And henceforth I'll live my life without care, for your presence have cast away all my worries...'

She was thrilled by such passionate and romantic words. Every woman loves it. Fine words conquers women even faster than fine gifts. In fact, words are to them what pictures are to men. Fascinating. And never before had anyone moisturized the foundation of Kokomma's heart with words as deeply as Kokoette did. She loved it, melted for it, and was craving for more, when all of a sudden they disconnected. He felt her letting go his hand, and heard her yelling at the pinnacle of her voice.

Immediately he pushed his eyes open, he saw a tall huge bearded man with the attire of a foreign warrior force, throwing his wide palm over her mouth and carrying her away. Kokoette screamed in anger, and as he took a forceful step against the man, someone kicked him off the ground from behind. He was blindfolded quickly and dragged away by two other dreadful looking men who were also among the captors...

 


       
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