BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Copyright © Ufuomaee
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Erhuvwun was hungry, but chose to fast that day, especially as Amadi was compelling her to go with him to the idol shrine. When she’d turned down her food, Amadi had not been phased. Rather he put her to some hard work, so that she would be tired and hungry. Erhuvwun worked in the hot sun and didn’t complain once.
She still couldn’t believe that Amadi had slapped her. Her Amadi?! What was this really about? She wished her mother was here, so she could talk to her about God and the troubles she was having in her marriage. I am here. Erhuvwun heard the still small voice, and knew it wasn’t her mother. It was Yahweh assuring her of His presence and control, and she was strengthened.
The journey to the shrine was long and tiresome, but Erhuvwun’s spirit was strong. She knew she was assured victory. Not only did she know the true God, she knew there was no other god. These idols were just things that men had exalted and held themselves and others bound by. They had no power but the power those who believed in them gave them over their minds. It was really very sad to realise how many people were so bound to idols, and how she had once been lost in the confusion, even when she’d known of Yahweh.
As they drew close, Erhuvwun began to see the various artefacts, statues and special ornaments that had been placed along the way to the shrine, with the aim of drawing worshipers in and chasing away evil spirits. She could hear Baba Ore doing his chants and they seemed to increase in intensity as they drew near. Erhuvwun watched the idol-worshiper with sadness, as he danced and shouted, calling on his false gods.
Amadi pulled her to take a seat on a stool beside him, as the Babalawo continued his dramatic dance. Baba Ore beat on his drum theatrically to indicate that he was aware of their presence. Amadi brought out the small drum by his stool and began to beat on it, imitating Baba Ore. He indicated to Erhuvwun that she should follow suit. She kept her hands crossed across her chest in defiance.
“This one has a strong spirit,” Baba Ore said, speaking in their native tongue. “She will need deliverance!” He increased the intensity of his drumbeating.
Erhuvwun began to pray as the Spirit of God fell on her and rebuked the evil spirit controlling Baba Ore. She prophesied in a native tongue that the Babalawo knew well but was strange to her and Amadi. The man became haunted by the things she said concerning him. He started shouting “No! Shut up! No! Forgive me!”, while Amadi was stunned by the whole thing, watching as the Babalawo crumbled to his knees and began to beg for mercy.
The last word he uttered before he was struck dumb was “Yahweh!” to which Amadi arose in fear.
“What language…? What language were you speaking?” Amadi looked alarmed at Erhuvwun, recognising the Spirit in her and now afraid.
“The language of the one true God,” Erhuvwun responded in their dialect. “And you will not hit me again!” She spoke the last words in foreign tongues, and the look on his face told her that he understood every word. She stood up and began to walk away.
Amadi turned his head sleepily in his bed, as he grunted in response to the call of his name.
“What?!” he grumbled, his eyes still shut, as he longed to return to his dream.
“Erhuvwun, what is it?!”
Erhuvwun stirred in bed and sat up. She appeared confused about the time of day. It was still dark out. “Huh? I didn’t say anything,” she said, before she laid back down to sleep.
He sat up too, now annoyed. “Why do you keep calling me?!”
Erhuvwun looked at him, clearly confused. Then it seemed like something registered with her. “I am not the one calling you, Amadi… Listen again. I believe Yahweh wants to speak with you.”
“Huh?” Amadi grunted, irritated. He hissed, as he went back to sleep.
“Urgh…” he grumbled. “What do you want?!”
“Surrender to Me!”
“Who are You?”
“I Am El Shaddai…”
Amadi sat up suddenly. That name. There was something about that name…
“Rise up and pray.”
Immediately, Amadi rose up, took up his mat and went outside to pray. Amadi was still praying in the early morning when he saw three figures approaching his compound. Lord, what am I to do with these women? He asked when he perceived who they were. They will not leave me alone…
“Hear and defend their cause“.
In that instant, Amadi woke up from his sleep, wondering about his strange revelation in the night. He turned to his wife, but Erhuvwun had already risen from bed. He knew what he had to do, and he didn’t delay to do it.
A year later…
Onuoha had regained his mental health and physical agility, after giving up the drink, with the support of his daughter, son-in-law and caring neighbours. He looked nearly twenty years younger and was excited about his trip to stay with Erhuvwun and Amadi, until they delivered their first baby. Things had really improved between him and Amadi over the last year, and he had finally taken him to be the son he’d never had.
Amadi’s personal visit and humble apology had done the trick. Plus, the fact that Erhuvwun was happy with the young man helped to resolve any reservations he may have had about their union. The birth of their first child was also a significant milestone in their intimate relationship. Erhuvwun had had the glow of a happy, expectant mother from the beginning of her pregnancy, that even without her bump showing, one would have known that she was with child.
Erhuvwun was in labour when Onuoha arrived with a couple of the villagers, who had opted to accompany him for the trip. One of them was Ejiro, Erhuvwun’s best friend. She’d helped to carry his belongings and a few provisions for the new baby.
Amadi received his visitors warmly, smiling like the proud father that he was. Everyone had been telling him that Erhuvwun was pregnant with a boy because of the way she was carrying her weight. A couple of people even speculated that they would be twin boys. He didn’t want to think too much about it. He would be happy with any sex at this stage. He’d gone through a lot to have this baby, and he had grown a lot too. He just wanted to be a good father, who nurtured his children’s strengths and helped them to achieve their potentials, whatever their sex.
Despite the labour pains, Erhuvwun was thrilled to see her father and Ejiro, her two favourite people in the world, after her husband and her God. Her mothers, Amadi’s step-mothers were also present and assisting with the delivery. She grunted through a contraction and heaved afterwards. Her maid wiped the sweat from her face and neck, as her husband returned to her side to squeeze her hand.
Moments later, the cry of a bouncy baby could be heard through the compound, and everyone who had come to witness the birth of Erhuvwun and Amadi’s first child came close to listen and spy on the baby. It was a beautiful girl, and both parents couldn’t be happier. Erhuvwun remembered her promise and immediately called her Ufuoma, after Amadi’s kind step-mother, who took her away for cleaning.
“There’s another one coming!” yelled the mid-wife, Oghenekaro, Amadi’s other step-mother. Amadi looked on with expectation. Erhuvwun gave a deep grunt as she pushed with all her might, and the second baby slipped out. Karo confirmed, after cutting the right cord that it was indeed a boy! There was a momentary hurray from the biased crowd, and Amadi named the handsome boy Fomare. His step-mother, Onome, took him to get cleaned up.
Amadi was overjoyed as he kissed his exhausted but beautiful wife. They had received double favour. He was going to be the best father to his daughter and heir, Ufuoma. His father had been wrong about women, and his daughter wouldn’t grow up feeling less than worthy because of her sex. She was worthy of the honour and birthright of the firstborn.
“Thank you,” he whispered in his wife’s ear. “My love…”
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