Three ridges formed an eye-catching backdrop over the mountainous vista bordering the village. On this beautiful afternoon, the birds were having a beautiful time evidenced by their twittering from tree to tree. Though the sun was in the sky, the weather was just warm rather than hot. The trees were paying their obeisance to the wind, bending down in homage to pay their dues.
Adigun sighed contentedly, removing his cap in order to scratch his head. It had been a good day at the farm, he thought. He had been able to complete the staking of yams which he started three days ago. He had also been able to weed the small groundnut patch beside the vegetable farm where his wife, Amoke, planted all types of vegetables you could mention – efo tete, ewuro, arowojeja, sokoyokoto, ila, ewedu.
Now as he whistled along he thought of the amala and gbegiri soup that he was going to eat when he got home. He had told Amoke before he left for the farm in the morning to use the eran igbe he bought from Ogunye the previous day. And to think that after having his bath and demolishing his amala and eran igbe, he would go to Iya Itaji’s shed for palm wine. Oh bliss! Adigun increased his pace as he thought of all these.
At the same instant, he realised that since he was going home much earlier than was his habit, due to the fact that he had felt fulfilled by what he had done at the farm and therefore decided to call it a day, his food would probably not be ready yet. Well, he thought, after his bath he would just sit down and watch his wife cook. He had gotten married about ten months before and even though most of his peer groups had been married many months before he did, he felt compensated by Providence who gave him a wonderful, beautiful girl from a good family.
He was now entering the village proper. Children were playing about chasing hens and goats. The older boys were trying to look uninterested even though they had stopped such pranks only a short while ago. Some teenage girls were returning from the stream – the one close to the village and Adigun told himself he could see the older boys stand up straighter. Adigun remembered being young and chuckled to himself.
‘’Adigun, Adigun’’ he heard someone call ‘’Welcome. You are home early today, my son’’. He turned to look. It was Baba Arogundade, the bearded old man who once had a large cocoa plantation. He had had the misfortune of losing his four sons and all his crops in the space of three years and now childless – or what was the use of married daughters who cannot carry on his name? – all he did was sit on his deck chair and chat with passers-by. He also gave advice to people never to lose hope in life even though he himself had been a victim of circumstance.
‘’Baba, I decided that there should be times in a year when a man should see his wife’s face without the use of a hurricane lamp.’’ Adigun replied.
‘’You are right my son. There is nothing like the love of a good woman’’ said Baba Arogundade.
Adigun would normally visit with the old man and eat bitter kola with him but today was not such a day so he walked on, humming a ballad to himself as his feet made quick dance-like movements that took him towards home.
Taking the last bend to get to his mud house, he saw that there was no smoke coming from the backyard. That meant Amoke had not started cooking. Maybe she was busy cutting the bush meat, Adigun thought. Well, that should be a man’s job Adigun decided and hurried to help her.
He took the path that led to the backyard without passing through the front of the house but Adigun was surprised to find no sign of his wife in the bamboo shed that served as the kitchen. He moved to one of the covered pots and saw the blended beans for the gbegiri soup. Opening another pot, he also saw the bush meat he had been salivating upon portioned into nice, big chunks. So where was his wife? Adigun wondered. He went through the open back door as was his habit removing his slippers before entering the house. He first went to the room he used for receiving visitors, ducking under the animal skin covering the door entrance that his friend Ogunye had presented him a long time ago as a mark of friendship. The mud floor had obviously been swept that morning. The few pieces of furniture were shinning probably because Amoke had rubbed them with adin agbon that morning, but there was no sign of his wife.
He then moved to their bedroom where intricately designed raffia matting, given to his wife as gifts on their wedding was hung about the walls creating an exotic aura about the room. Again there was no sign of his wife. The last and only place she could be was the other room. Facing the side of the house and not sharing a common passage with the rest of the house, it was meant for when his relations came visiting. Adigun had no intention of allowing his relations to poke their noses into his family’s affairs and so he had taken this into consideration when he built his house even though he was yet to marry then.
The moment Adigun got to the doorway of this room, he knew. The moment he saw the dane gun leaning against the wall, he knew. Even though his brain had not yet interpreted fully what his ears were hearing, he knew. With trembling hands he pushed the door which was unlocked open and saw what he had already known. His best friend, Ogunye was pounding furiously into a woman lying on a tattered mat.
Even though Adigun could not see the woman’s face, even without the evidence of the wrapper which he knew so well, he knew the woman was no other person than his ten-month-old wife. Blindingly, he moved away from the doorway not giving the two busy lovers any clue to his presence, walked to the backyard and picked up his machete, which he had sharpened a few days before in preparation for the tree felling towards the bridge project ordered by the village head to take place on Saturday.
Charging into the guest room, he did not hear his wife’s screams as with two heavy slashes, he beheaded his friend. Without any show of remorse, Adigun wiped the blood-stained machete with Amoke’s wrapper then calmly walked to the door, took the dane gun, put it inside his own mouth and fired.
The villagers who came later as alerted by Amoke’s screams couldn’t decide which was more gruesome – the sight of the man with the back of his head blown off lying at the entrance to the guest room, or the headless body found inside the room.
Olusola Alli is always a reader, sometimes a writer. Addicted to country songs and thriller novels, she believes the best thing you can do for yourself is to read a book; the next best is to write. Follow her on facebook via https://web.facebook.com/holushorlar.alli.