A Playlet By Unoma Azuah

January 13, 2024
8 mins read

                                  By Unoma Azuah
Sunday, August 29, 2010.
Act One (Scene One)
Ugboko: Opechi’s friend
Opechi: Ugboko’s friend
Ekwy: Opechi’s daughter
Nwanyinma: The mad woman
1st, 2nd, 3rd Women: The Village Women
Dibia Jindu: The Native Doctor
Ugboko Nwajei cannot preside over his father’s burial, according to the gods, he is not pure. He has no male brother or relative to take his place, so he opted for Opechi his friend; Opechi owes him one thousand yam seedlings. He did not tell Opechi his reasons for not being able to preside over his father’s burial. Opechi, out of fear and curiosity discovered why, through Dibia Jindu who advised him against it. Opechi was afraid to refuse his friend a request, especially since he owed him, so he feigned sickness. Ugboko now comes to visit Opechi who had sent for him.
Ugboko: (sitting) I have just been told that you fell down from a palm tree. You’re an expert climber, and it sounds impossible. Somebody’s hand must be in it.
Opechi: I will sort that out when I get better, that is, if somebody’s hand is indeed in it. Our people say that one does not leave his dry clothes in the rain in the bid to wash out others. All I ask for is health.
(Ekwy, Opechi’s daughter walks in with a pot of water and hastily greets Ugboko. Ugboko stares at her buttocks; she walks into an inner room)
Ugboko: (Leaving Opechi for the inner room) Let me help her with the pot.
Ekwy: (In the inner room) Thank you diokpa, I can help myself.
Ugboko: (In a whisper) Ekwyy, you are a girl wrought with beauty. You are ripe and of age, no normal man can resist your deliciousness.
Ekwy: (Infuriated) Away with you evil man!
Ugboko: (In a whisper) Don’t raise your voice.
Ekwy: (shouting) Away!
(Ugboko runs out, only to bump into Opechi at the door with a machete).
Ugboko: (Surprised) But I thought you were sick?
Opechi: (Snarling) If you cannot explain why my daughter shouted, I will use this machete meant for animals on you.
Ugboko: Do not misunderstand me. The pot nearly fell out of her hands.
Opechi: Ekwy, is that true?
Ekwy: No father, he was telling me how delicious I look, and how ripe I am.
Ugboko: (Stammering, stumping his chest) That I diokpa Ugboko, anyinya 1 of Asaba was saying what…? Children of these days have a way of insulting elders.
Opechi: Now, out of my house, since you have no respect for me, under my very nose, you want to sniff what does not belong to you. Under my very roof, in my very eyes, you are after a girl as young as your grand daughter. The dust raised earlier by the abominable act you committed has not yet settled and you are craving for more. May the gods strike you dead, if you continue like this! Out!
Ugboko: (His mouth hangs open): Thank you for everything, but what I will not tolerate further are insults and false accusations. Let this not move beyond your compound.
Opechi: I said and will keep repeating it—the shit you passed is stinking and you are adding successive farts to it. If not for Dibia Jindu…
Ugboko: (stops short): Oh! Dibia Jindu let you into my secret of not being pure? He did?
Opechi: (waving the machete at his face) Out of here before I change my mind.
Ugboko: (scuttling ahead) You will pay for this and my yam seedlings with your head! (Walks off stage)
Act One (Scene Two)
Ugboko (standing on a path and deep in thought): No, let me go home and get my charms incase the bad dibia decides to harm me.
He almost bumps into Nwanyinma. She has a tattered blouse and a loose wrapper; the edge of the wrapper is dragging on the ground.
Ugboko: ‘Nma, why the hasty pace?
Nwanyinma: The look in your eyes scare me, they wear the image of a fox in a lamb’s skin. My pace makes no meaning to a normal man. My head is the sea, it is either calm or tears out with rage and it consumes. On your way man, before the wild waters of madness drown you.
Ugboko: (Grabbing the edge of the wrapper) Tie your wrapper well…
Nwanyinma: (Grabs him) Hold me again Ugboko, as you did in the days gone by.
Ugboko: (Pushing her ) I know my weakness but not with a mad woman.
Nwanyinma: Madness has not strangled the veins of passion in my body. These urges still press with pressure unbearable, like the hard push of hail wind on luxuriant trees. Take me to passion paradise; I am still human. Remember the…….ha..ha..ha..ha!
Ugboko: May the gods forbid!
Nwanyinma: Let me dance to you the dance of the circle (she dances and breaks out with a song) Iya-iya-yagida-iya, iya-iya, iya iya yagida-iya.
Ugboko: (admiring her dance) You were once the village beauty and the best dancer of the village. Could you still be the best dancer?
Nwanyinma: I am (holds Ugboko) Ha-ha-ha-ha!
Ugboko: (wriggling slightly) Please, Nma, what will the villagers say to this? Please my name, the shame, the scandal.
Nwanyinma: I have no name, no shame and scandal will find my abode uninviting.
Three women, with pots of water on their heads, approach
Ugboko: (Pushes her. She holds on to him) Please! I can hear voices….I will shout o!
Nwanyinma: Shout? Something tells me you’re enjoying this. Shout? Shout! Nobody goes to rescue a lion when they hear him moan.
The women sight them from a distance, and look at each other.
1st Woman: (Balancing the pot on her head) Can you see what I see? Ugboko, but I thought they said he is educated?
2nd Woman: (Water dripping down her face) He is, he even went to the white man’s land.
3rd Woman: From his head to his belly are the only educated part of him, from his waist downwards—they never saw a school.
The women move closer to Ugboko and Nwanyinma.
Ugboko: (Pushes her away) Help! She seized me.
1st Woman: Indeed, she did. And there you stand like a dry stick.
2nd Woman: We hear of your dirty deeds, but not when the sun stares at you with fury.
3rd Woman: You have no shame, even with a mad woman.
Nwanyinma: (Upset.) Who dare say that? May those words choke your throat! When frustration tore your father’s senses into shreds of insanity, did you call him mad! Did you…I will tell Dibia Jindu to sort you out. Mad woman!
Ugboko, 1st, 2nd, 3rd woman run off stage.
Nwanyinma: Wait for the dance! Ha-ha-ha-ha! (Dances off stage.)
Act One (Scene Three)
Dibia Jindu’s house. Hides and animal skins are hanging on the walls with calabashes. In a corner stands an enormous wooden statue; palm leaves, red and white clothe are tied around it. And it is inside a bird-like cage with raffia a raffia roof. A shrine.
Nwanyinma: (Dances in) Where are they? Where are the viewers for the dance, the watchers, eh, eh? Where? (Asking the shrine) Can you not indicate? (Poking the eyes of the statue) Release the answer, you wide-eyed scarecrow!
Dibia Jindu: (Enters) Ta-a-a-a! How dare you? How dare you enter a lion’s den and meet him asleep and have the nerve to pull at his whiskers. You want to invite him for a feast on your flesh?
Nwanyinma: You mean the viewers? I saw them drift into your house. Where are they?
Dibia Jindu: Close those lids of flowing filth! Who did this to you? Who planted these nerves on you, to make you dare come here and insult the gods? Whoever it is must pay. If you brought this upon yourself, you will pay too.
Nwanyinma: Let’s dance, the dance of the circle.
Dibia Jindu: Steady! Senseless fool!
Nwanyinma: (Dancing) The dance must not be stopped.
Dibia Jindu: (tears into an inner room and comes out with a white substance and blows at her) Steady I say!
Nwanyinma: (Falls slowly and sits) Must we stop the dance?
Dibia Jindu: What caused this? Is this a curse? (Goes into the inner room and comes out with a string of cowries. Tosses it on the ground) Whose fault? Hu-m-m-mm…why?…..ahhhhh, Ugboko! I knew he was contaminated but never could have guessed it was for this…..mmmmmm! It must return to him; the curse of her virgin blood.
Ugboko enters
Ugboko: Where is that Hindu, that pagan! Where is he the shabby shrew!
Dibia Jindu: (Points at him) Taa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-! I was in search of the fox in the belly of the bush only to find him helpless at my door post. Ha-ha-ha-ha!
Ugboko: Are you by any means referring to me? You useless pot of oil that leaks into the fire I try to quench.
Dibia Jindu: Rattle on, you rat. Ring out your rage. You waste your time. I am the king of malediction, I heal and I kill. If I find you guilty, I will be happy to sacrifice you to my shrine.
Ugboko: I am armed, very much armed.
Dibia Jindu: Ha-ha-ha-ha! Have you ever heard that an elephant screams out because of an ant’s bite? Remove those charms because they will enhance the effect of mine.
Ugboko: I will not be moved by your threat.
Dibia Jindu: Your punishment will be doubled if you don’t throw out those charms. An obstinate rooster does not learn until it’s too late: his head ends up in a pot of soup. Do you know this woman?
Ugboko: Who does not know Nwanyinma, sensible mad woman?
Dibia Jindu: She is sensible but mad because her husband cursed her not to be accepted as sane, not even as insane.  Have you ever had anything to do with her?
Ugboko: (Flipping his hand around his head) May the gods forbid!
Dibia Jindu: Taaa! Dare you call the gods of our land, they are gods of truth and justice. Did you say you never had anything to do with her?
Ugboko: (Stepping back) Yes, never.
Dibia Jindu: (Forms a circle with his cowries) Watch this circle of cowries.
Ugboko: What for? I don’t understand. (Stepping farther back)
Dibia Jindu: Don’t waste my time! The circle will help you remember.
Ugboko: Remember what?
Dibia Jindu makes to blow the powder in his hand at him.
Ugboko: Ok, ok. I will.
Nwanyinma: (Crying) I told you he has paid my dowry.
Ugboko: Nobody will know, stop crying. Don’t tell anybody.
Nwanyinma: Look! My virgin blood will tell.
Dibia Jindu: (stretching his hands over Ugboko’s head) Let this curse return to you a double fold!
Ugboko: (Still watching the cowries, but breaks into a loud laugh) Ha-a-a-a-a-a-a!
Staggers off stage, wobbling, and laughing.
Dibia Jindu: Nwanyinma, the gods have set you free. Go!
She walks off stage. Light dims.

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