THE CURSED LANTERN-When the gods are silent
The moonlight graced the night as it blossomed, letting out some gentle breeze that made the nighttime show the possibility of achievement and excellence; it was hopeful nightfall indeed.
The children all began to gather in numbers at the compound of Nna anyi (our father) Esomchi for the kpumkpumkpu ogene (antlion) dance which is usually played on the sand. Their desire and interest for the special dance weren’t just for the egwu onwa (moonlight play) but to listen to the special Ifo (folktale) that Nna anyi (our father) Esomchi, the wise old man would be blessing the egwu onwa with.
Folktale in Igbo land is known to be the pillar or the mainstay of the Igbo culture which is an informal induction of the children into the society. Sometimes animals and things are personified, therefore used to drive home the teachings for easy understanding. Each Ifo must have at least a theme geared towards educating the children on the norms, traditions, and ethics of the Igbo land.
Esomchi was a very wise man but known for his love for kids which gave him the nickname, Ochili ozuo (he who takes care of a multitude). He was also known for his great talent for telling stories. Aside from the children, adults also come around to listen to his great counsel.
As the children gathered that fateful evening, the crickets had no choice but to go deeper into their holes. The presence of the insects show that the rainy season was at its wind-up stage. Once the chirping of the cricket is heard, the dry season is near. Amid the tension in the land of the insects, that particular night was a free day for them because the sweet folktale from Esomchi was enough to take the entire attention of the children from hunting them.
Amandi, the palm wine tapper always comes around to listen to the great storyteller because he learns a lot from him. He was like an errand boy to Esomchi caused by his constant visits to the old man. Amandi was about twenty-three years old. He was a very handsome orphan with many talents from the gods but he chose palm wine tapping which gives him joy. He never wanted anyone to know about his gifts because he’d grown into being timid as caused by the wickedness of his guardian Obidinazu Acharaba or popular known as Obidi.
Obidi was an uncle to Amandi, who chose to raise the poor child since his parents died. Since the age of five, Amandi never knew what the joy of childhood was because of suppression to the point that he was broken. Life had threatened his existence in the hands of the wicked duo (Obidi and his wife, Arunne) that made him grow into timidity and hopelessness.
Amandi always gets serious maltreatment whenever he comes back from the house of Esomchi but he didn’t care. He was always obedient to Obidi and his wife but once it comes to denying him the opportunity of listening to the wise advocate from the old storyteller, he would remain azuanuka (stubborn).
The children were already settled on the earth but Esomchi was not yet seen. It began to dawn on them that the old man may not be around, which was unlikely. It was even surprising to the people how the old man lived alone and took care of himself without help.
Amandi was always the one who secretly comes to help him out with chores and other things; though he does that furtively so that his guardians wouldn’t know of his benevolence to the old man.
A great number of the children kept waiting and playing with the sand as the kpumkpumkpu ogene dance lasted. The moonlight made the lantern assume less importance as it brightened; with that aeration created by the nocturnal wind. It was a cool night indeed.
Amandi couldn't help but feel disturbed about the absence of Esomchi. Being that he was used to his compound, he had to check on him at his barn which was always where the storyteller likes staying; to take care of his farm produce.
Getting to the barn, he didn’t see Esomchi. This time he was unnerved and concerned.
“Nna anyi, Esomchi,” he called in that silence but no one answered. The noise from the children’s direction was faint from the distance, so even the panting of a man would be heard or felt when the ear is attentive. Amidst that solitude, no sound was heard let alone the presence of Esomchi.
Amandi continued with the search until he began to hear scary sounds in the nearby bush. He became afraid at this time but very meticulous to avoid bumping into a strange animal. He took a sweeping look around and found a stick with a sharp end like an arrow. He quickly grabbed it and waited for whatever was out there to ambush him.
“Show yourself if you think you are strong!” Amandi blurted with valor but still with his quivering hands as he remained filled with anxiety and confusion. He simply had to be a man but his trembling legs negated that quest.
After a while, the noise abated; even the noise emanating from the children stilled. Amandi in his wisdom knew that children wouldn’t just keep quiet if nothing was going wrong, so he slowly began to move away to meet them. He knew that something could be wrong, so he had to act fast, and if possible, drive the children back to their homes because things were becoming bizarre.
Getting to the hut of Esomchi, Amandi was surprised that the old man was already seated while the children listened to the story of the ‘cunning tortoise and the gentle lamb’.
Amandi heaved a sigh of relief as he came closer trying to shake off the fears that coursed through him. He was very glad that the wise old man wasn’t hurt and that nothing went wrong. He couldn’t ask him where he went to; to avoid interrupting the ongoing story.
Seeing Amandi armed with a stick and looking worked up, Esomchi was surprised.
“Hia! (exclamation), what are you doing with the stick, my boy,” Esomchi asked smilingly but surprisingly, “were you chasing after the squirrels?” he asked in a quivering tone.
Amandi smiled and threw away the stick. “No, Nna anyi,” he replied and sat beside him, “I was simply worried because you were nowhere to be found a couple of minutes ago. When I went to your barn to search for you, I heard some strange sounds in the bush, so I armed myself,”
“Ha-ha, that’s very good of you,” Esomchi said laughingly and patted his back, “Join us. The story of today is teaching about betrayal and trust, so listen attentively but I have to be fast this time so that you wouldn’t be in trouble again. Those parents of yours are…”
“They are not my parents,” Amandi interjected frowningly, “I have no parents,”
“Yes, I know, nwam (my son)” Esomchi replied with chuckles, “but you’re still under their care and you have to address them as parents,”
Amandi was more interested in the folktale than in the people that made life miserable for him. So he smiled and said: “I need this story more than ever. Umuaka, okwanu ya? (hope I’m right, children)”
“Oh, yea (yes you’re)” The children chorused with great excitement.
“That’s more like it,” Esomchi said, cleared his throat and continued: “The tortoise couldn’t grapple the song that the gentle lamb was teaching him because he already bargained with the lion to deceive the lamb and lead him to the den of the wild animal. The lamb was with a pure heart while the tortoise had a dirty plan to sell the lamb and have his pocket filled with ego ayoro (money)”
“But Nna anyi (our father)” Nkolika, one of the children said raising her hand to get the storyteller’s attention.
“I know it will always be you,” Esomchi said observantly and waited for her questions, “but let it not be the one that would be difficult for me to answer. I’m always afraid of your wise questions, ”
Everybody started laughing for a while until the last laugh was heard.
“Why is the tortoise always the cunning one in all the folktales?” she asked feeling gravely concerned and keen for answers forthwith, “The tortoise is always untrustworthy and deceitful in the entire folktales I’ve heard.
The old man took a deep breath as he thought of the best answer to give, and to make it childlike so that the little girl would understand. After a while, he cleared his throat and said: “The movement of the tortoise is always calm but in that calmness, the tortoise is filled with wisdom because those that make noise don’t take time to listen or to be wise. So it’s believed that in the animal kingdom, the tortoise is the wisest and…”
“That’s why I asked,” Nkolika entered, “If the tortoise is calm and wise, why is his character always the bad one instead of good? I feel for the poor animal because, in real life, when there is a race, others will outrun the tortoise but still in folktales, he portrays the wrong character. I don’t like it,”
The children started laughing but Esomchi was lost in deep thoughts as he tried to wrap his head around the shrewd question and observation from the young girl. As the laughter lasted, Esomchi and Amandi remained thoughtful.
It began to dawn on Amandi that the question asked by the little girl was the replica of what was happening in his life. He was always seen as the weakling and nothing about him was seen as good and worthy before his guardians. He further sank into somberness as the reminiscence lasted.
After a while of deep thoughts, the old man said: “How did such question come into your mind?”
The little Nkolika couldn’t answer it but remained astute and waiting for answers.
“I need to leave now,” Amandi announced to everyone’s bewilderment, “I need to go to bed now,”
By that time, it wasn’t even late because if it was, the parents of the kids must have come to the compound of Esomchi to look for their wards. Amandi simply felt as if the question asked by Nkolika mirrored his life. And if he guessed right, trouble was already looming at home waiting for his arrival to explain where he went to.
“Please…please… wait!” Nkolika said stutteringly, “I’m sure that my question made you decide to go home. Let the tortoise remain a bad character if it would make you stay,” she pleaded just to please Amandi.
Amandi dimpled a smile to vent his satisfaction with her plea but still feigned to be facing a pressing need. But truly, the young girl was right with her assertion.
“The tortoise shouldn’t be used as the bad one anymore and that’s exactly what will be changing tonight,” Amandi said supportively and assuredly. He dragged the child closer into an embrace, “Nna anyi (our father) will change the narration tonight. The tortoise in his wisdom will lure the Lion into the dungeon where he would be executed for his numerous treacheries. The lamb will not die but the Lion will suffer. Okwa ya nna anyi Esomchi (hope I’m right, Esomchi, our father)?”
With great smiles, Esomchi nodded affirmatively. He already knew that Amandi was going home to confront his fears just as he’d been advising him to do. That satisfactory cheerfulness suddenly located his aged face, making him all flushed with liveliness.
“Go home and ensure that the story of the tortoise, the lamb, and the lion changes,” Esomchi said exhortatively even though the children simply understood him literarily but didn’t get the theme of the message.
Patting Nkolika’s back, Amandi said: “I’ve promised you that the story has changed as confirmed by Nna anyi Esomchi. So be happy and enjoy the rest of the story,” Looking at the puerile faces all centered on him, he added, “You kids should ensure you go home on time so that your parents wouldn’t come looking for you, ”
Amandi fought hard to sham being okay, so he left immediately before his melancholic mood becomes pronounced.
As he started going home without the help of any mpanaka (lantern) because of the brightening moonlight, everywhere was calm. Getting to a pathway, he began to hear strange sounds. He stopped to be attentive to the direction of the monotonic sound but noticed the strange sound stopped too. He started moving again and the sound continued. He stopped about five times and noticed that the sounds stop whenever he does and continue whenever he moves. That strangeness got him enshrouded in malady.
He looked around to know if he could take refuge at any close by hut but it was all bushes and shrubs surrounding him. He was so afraid because he couldn’t rush back to the house of Mazi (Mr) Esomchi or continue.
After a while of frightfulness, Amandi felt energized by untold courage that overtook him. Breathing heavily he stood still and listened so keenly to know if there was something ominous or it was just the wanton breeze that was playing pranks with him.
In an exceedingly short time, the moon above his head disappeared making everywhere abysmally dark. He was engulfed by great anxiety and fear as he began to tremble; almost convulsively out of fear. The poor boy became numb to words as his heart sank into his belly. His quivering hands intensified because the exit of the moon in the firmament wasn’t normal. As he panted heavily but in that great frightfulness, he felt for the poor kids as he imagined how they’d be able to go home in the dark since the moon abruptly vanished.
In that heavy throb of his heart, Amandi began to conjure some courage unwittingly. He had to remain calm so that he’d be able to think straight since being calm makes the strange sound still too. The mentally-tortured young man simply had to outwit whatever was out there playing with his emotions and intelligence. As he remained motionless, within a space of five minutes in that serenity and silence, he began to hear the sound but indistinct this time. He maintained his momentum and remained unmoved even though he was prepared to bolt away if something strange shows up. All of a sudden, he saw a dim light far off. He then became hopeful because it showed that someone was closer. He was a bit relieved because he could use some company.
As he tried to advance towards the light, it disappeared, making him feel the fullness of his loneliness. He knew that the only option left for him was to run.
In his bid to run and probably outrun whatever was coming after him, he stumbled and hit his head on the tree stump. He ran his hands on his head as he felt the pains. His head ached seriously but his quest to find his way to his awful home outweighed his fears. Between two devils, he had to choose the known one.
As Amandi remained indecisive, he began to hear thunderous footsteps approaching his direction, so he got up without delay and began to run in the opposite direction.
As he ran through the bushes, he felt that something wasn’t right because he was meant to have reached home since his house wasn’t far off but the more he ran, the stranger the entire place became. It was simply obvious that he’d lost his way home. Amandi was already in a thick forest with tall trees populating it. There were lots of bamboo trees in the forest making it scary and frightening.
Amandi was awash with grave confusion as he pulsated with fear. He was indecisive on where to follow but had to continue running to a destination alien to him. All of a sudden, he saw many lanterns scattered far off, so he began to go closer to know if he’d meet someone before the lanterns disappear like before. Getting closer, he realized that no one was there. He realized he was in a place looking like a desert. There were no houses around but just lanterns at strategic locations.
“What could this be?” he soliloquized. He tried to go closer but his feet got stuck to the sand that he couldn’t make a further movement. “If you’re human or god, show yourself!” he wailed but his words echoed back to him.
Suddenly, the entire lanterns disappeared leaving just one that brightened more than others. It was apparent to Amandi that whatever was happening around him wasn’t normal anymore so he began to shift back out of fear. It was even scarier when the lantern began to advance closer to him, so he tried to take off but his foot was still stuck in between two stones. It was pertinent to him that he was trapped and about to meet an unfortunate end.
“Please, spare me…,” he shouted tearfully, “I beg you, spare my life and do not kill me! I am just a poor orphan and you have nothing to gain from me if you kill me,”
Amandi continued to plead until he suddenly began to hear the cries of children all around him to a deafening degree. He didn’t understand why he was hearing the cries of children as if they were coming from the lantern. It was very strange because a lantern couldn’t house a kid let alone have many voices emanating coming from it. As the lantern began to shake as if it was about to burst or shatter into pieces, Amandi heard a louder voice shouting: “Amandi! Amandi!”
In no time, he felt a human hand holding him firmly, so he suddenly got up to see who that was. He realized it was Nkolika. He couldn’t fathom how the young girl came to the desert to meet him, so he knew that something was wrong.
“Who are you and what did you do with her?” He shouted as he shivered, “Did you eat her?”.
“We are done with the egwu onwa and on my way home,”Nkolika replied, “I saw you lying helplessly on the ground so I came to help,”
“Like seriously?”He asked looking bewildered and absent.
“Can you take me home, please?” she asked but still looking confused about Amandi’s strange behavior.
Amandi scooped a handful of sand and poured on Nkolika to know if she was human or a ghost but realized she didn’t disappear. “she’s a human indeed,” he muttered, “How come?”
“What happened to you?” she added and began to pull him up while he remained confused and looking intently at her as if he wasn’t convinced that he was a human.
Looking around, Amandi realized that he was still at the exact location where he hit his head on the tree stump.
“Oh, am I still here?” he murmured, “but it was so real and I could remember getting up from here when I fell. What happened to me and how long have I been lying here?” he asked confusingly.
Little Nkolika shrugged signifying that she had no clue. “I just saw you here lying and tossing on the sand, so I felt that something could be wrong. So I wouldn’t know how long you’ve been lying here,”
“But there was a desert,” Amandi said convincingly, “how did it disappear?”
Nkolika started laughing because she couldn’t veil her laughter anymore.
“Big brother, “ she called laughingly, “if not that I know you well, I would have suspected that you’re high of strong herbs,”
Amandi began to have the flashes of what just happened in the dream he had but couldn’t explain it, so he dusted his bedraggled cloth and held Nkolika closely. “Let’s go home, please,” he said murmuringly and took a sweeping look around. He realized that everywhere was the way it was before he stumbled and fell. Even the moon that disappeared was still resting at its usual place up in the sky.
“Are you sure you’re okay, De Amadi (elder Amadi)?” Nkolika asked in her usual inquisitive way, “oh, I even forgot to tell you that the tortoise is now being celebrated instead of being tolerated,” she added feeling proud of being the first to break the news to him.
Amandi let out a faint smile as he tried to balance between the glee of the young girl and the trance he had just come out from.
“Oh, really,” he said absently as they started heading home, “maybe later you’ll tell me the story. It must be sweeter from your lips,”
Nkolika was so happy to hear that so she began to leap in excitement as they went home.
“The tortoise told the lion that the lamb was…” she started.
“I didn’t say you should start telling me the story now,” Amandi retorted politely, “There is always the next day,” he said and brushed her long hair gently with his hands.
“But are you sure you don’t want to hear it now, De Amandi?” Nkolika asked feeling the need to start telling the story immediately.
Amandi didn’t have to reply because if he knew Nkolika well, she wouldn’t stop until she’s allowed to tell the story.
Soon, as the trek lasted, they were at the compound of the ten years old girl. Amandi handed her over to her parents and started heading home.
Getting to the house, just as he expected; his uncle, Obidinazu was sitting outside the hut with his specially made nwanyi noduru okwu (midget stool) carved into a lion shape. The stool was befitting of his position as Ozo titleholder. Arunne was on her wrapper with a long cane in her hand like a cattle breeder.
Amandi already counted his teeth with his tongue, so he knew what he was about to face. It wasn’t something unusual anymore for him to meet them in such a mood. He simply frowned as he entered his hut; pretending not to notice their craving for usual malicious acts against him.
“Greetings Nnam na Nnem (my father and my mother),” he mumbled and tried to enter the hut, though with a cold feet because he knew that screams were imminent.
“I have told you to stop addressing me as your father, you wretch!” Obidi warned sternly, “do I look like one to you?” he blurted, “kneel here and don’t allow me to say it twice!” he growled.
Arunne rushed to her husband and handed over the long cane to him, “Nna anyi (our father), you seem to be forgetting your correction tools. “Were biko (take, please). And don’t forget to teach him the lesson of his life this time with this special mkpisi (cane),” she added as Obidi collected the cane from her.
The enraged man felt the roughness of the special cane that originated from an Anunuebe tree (an oracle spiritually forged into a tree). Seeing how rough the stick was, he smiled and nodded with satisfaction. “This is real onye dum ekwu (my speech helper)” he said and used the stick to draw a circle on the sand, “Enter into the circle where your fate would be decided!” he shouted at him looking so fierce and determined. “As I said before, I don’t need to say this again. Enter or…”
Amandi was reluctant to obey because he knew how long it took before the lashes he got the last time healed. The whips he got as a punishment for swimming in Ulasi River when he went to fetch water was a memorable one especially when the cane was from ukwu ogirisi tree. Ukwu ogiri isi is a tree known as a genus of trees in Igbo land. It’s a tree of life and fertility used in the treatment of fever, epilepsy, convulsion, manic disorder, and headache.
When a cane from this tree is used on someone, the marks are indelible. Even the red welt left on Amandi’s skin had its scars still visible.
This time, Anunuebe, the most dangerous tree in Igbo land just found its part in Obidi’s compound just because of his wickedness against the poor boy that did no wrong other than obey instructions.
“But Nna anyi, this cane is from anunuebe tree and it’s not to be used on animals let alone humans,” Amandi complained looking attentively at the stick with fear and respect, “You can starve me of food for many months but please don’t use this stick on me. Remember that you won’t go scot-free, Nna anyi because even the user isn’t spared,”
The man started laughing at Amandi as he kept observing the roughness of the stick. “I laugh at your ignorance because the last time I checked, you are the little bird that dances surugede without knowing that the dance of the spirits will consume it. I know what anunuebe does and that’s why I will use it on you today. This will be the last day we’d tolerate your misdemeanors in this house. This is the end, Amandianaze (No one knows who the enemy is),”
“You can imagine the kind of quarrelsome name that his stupid parents gave him, ” Arunne pointed out and began to call on her son and daughter to join them: “Anuka and Ojiugo, come faster because Amandi is about to beat your father!”
In no time, Anuka, Obidinazu’s son rushed out from his hut to fight Amandi but the gentle boy simply avoided him.
“So it’s true that you want to fight my father!” Anuka snarled at him, “You’re a small boy but you’ll never understand that. I will not just beat you but will take you to the ofia ekwensu (the devil’s forest) to dine with the devil,” As he threatened Amandi, he folded his fingers into a fist and was ready for boxing and fight.
Amandi stared at him for a while, smiled, and slowly knelt in the circle made for his punishment. This was a penalty for something he knew nothing about but he still had to obey. He braced himself for the inevitable but was ready to endure the pains. If inflictions are something that someone can easily get used to, Amandi would have been used to the physical torture he gets from Obidi Acharaba and his family. But all the same, he was accustomed to pains to a great extent.
“When Nna anyi is done with you!” Arunne yelled at the frightened boy, “even your father’s Ikenga (personal god and protector) will not be able to rescue you,”
Ikenga, literary meaning ‘strength, and movement’ is a deity (usually horned) found among the Igbos. The fathers mostly have it as their personal chi (god) believing that the spirit of their Ndichie (ancestors) resides in it. The alusi (deity) protects not just the man but his family members and lineage.
Anuka came forward to get Amandi restrained but he was chickenhearted even though he wouldn’t accept it. “Should I hold him for you, Nna anyi?” he queried seeking his dad’s support and permission.
“I am not sure you need to do that,” Amandi maundered, “hasn’t your father been maiming my body since I was a child? But I must keep saying that the use of a stick from Anunuebe tree is…”
A hot lash from the cane got Amandi’s mouth shut because the pain was triple the pains he’d been enduring from other kinds of whips.
Obidi continued caning the poor boy until the latter couldn’t endure the pains anymore and began to shed tears.
Hearing the moans from Amandi, Ojiugo, Obidi’s daughter who was fast asleep leaped from her bed and rushed out of her hut. “What is happening here?” she shouted and rushed to Amandi and held her, “Nne, Anuka, and Nna anyi, why will you people be so mean to Amandi even when he’s done nothing wrong to you. Nwa enwe nne na nna (an orphan) still has his rights no matter what. Going to Mazi Esomchi’s house is better than keeping bad companies as his counterparts who waste their lives at the shores of Ngene River where they take hard drugs. So why will he be crucified for this his informal education since he isn’t privileged to follow us to ebisi (ABC) class?”
Obidi simply smiled contemptuously but angrily because he couldn’t help but accept that the point raised by his daughter was true and logical. In that fury, he began to pulse with anger because the bitter pills of the truth has been forced down his esophagus.
“Will you shift from him or get your portion of the lash too!” Obidi threatened and raised the stick to land it on his daughter without a second thought.
“Please, not when my precious daughter is there,” Arunna hollered and rushed to shield her daughter, “Nna anyi, so if I’m not here, you’ll go ahead and destroy the beauty and destiny of your daughter because of your anger against this thing,” she added and snorted at Amandi, “Or have you forgotten the implication?”
It dawned on Ojiugo that there was something she didn’t understand about the use of the cane from the Anunuebe tree. She winced as she looked at her mother trying to protect her. “Please, what’s the implication of using this cane on Amandi, my elder brother?” she asked feeling the dire need for answers and explanations. “And why the mention of my destiny? Has the cane got anything to do with someone’s destiny?”
“It’s nothing,” Arunne said in a bid to confuse her, “hasn’t the boy been receiving lashes from your dad because of his stubbornness?”
Arunne forcefully dragged Ojiugo away from Amandi.
Ojiugo wasn’t convinced but had to obey her mom reluctantly.
Amandi remained still and didn’t move or run but still sobbed uncontrollably as he wished he had his parents alive. Looking up the sky in sorrow, tears blurred his lonely eyes.
Shaking his head as he wallowed in self-pity, beads of tears began to gain possession of his cheek.
“You are all wicked,” Ojiugo yelled as she forcefully dragged Amandi out of their presence. “Anyone that wants to use this stick on him must go through me. This is not a threat but a warning, ”
Ojiugo was very badgered by her parent’s actions, making her shed tears of pity for Amandi. She took him into his hut, removed his clothes, and began to tend to his wounds. Amandi wailed in anguish due to the strong excruciation that overtook him but the wicked ones who heard him continued to laugh scornfully at him.
Taking a closer look at Amandi’s body, Ojiugo saw that he was badly injured with the cane; with lots of welts all over him. Only his face was spared because the boy kept using his arm to veil it during the maltreatment.
Arunne was happy with the ill-treatment the poor boy got from them. She quickly went into her hut, used the oil extracted from akwu ojukwu (medicinal palm kernel) mixed with mmiri akuoyibo (coconut water) extracted from Amandi’s Nkwo alo (a tree used to bury Amadi’s umbilical cord). That ritual was necessary at the moment.
In Igbo tradition, especially in Umudike where Amandi Acharaba hailed from, a child’s umbilical cord is usually buried with the newly planted fruit tree called Ili alo. This tree becomes the child’s tree of life known as nkwu alo. This tree according to the Igbo traditional belief secures the lands as well as confirms the child’s blood relation to the patrilineage. This tree forms a bond between the child and the earth-mother (a goddess symbolizing fertility and the source of life).
Anunuebe or nnunnu ebe (a bird never perches) is a powerful tree in Igbo land which no one dares to touch, except the native doctors. Even the native doctors dare not touch it except when the oracle protecting the tree is on a mission. Even in that free mode, some sacrifices and appeasements must be performed before the tree must be touched.
A cane from Anunuebe was used on Amandi to destroy his destiny so Obidi wasn’t ignorant of Amandi’s warning against using the cane on him.
Being that Obidi is knowledgeable in terms of tradition, he had to use the oil extraction from the medicinal palm kernel and the coconut water from Amandi’s nkwu alo (tree of life) to wash his hands. This was done so that the curse that follows anyone who touches Anunuebe wouldn’t affect Obidi but only Amandi.
Not just to wash the hands, but the water was poured on the threshold of Amandi’s hut so that when the oracle protecting Anunuebe returns and traces the smell of the extracted part of it to Obidi’s hut, Amandi would be found guilty.
After the rituals done by Obidinazu and Arunne by washing off their sins using the potions, they went to bed feeling happy that they’d finally achieved their aim by destroying the fate of the poor boy.