By Anselm AnyohaWay before Eve was in the Garden of Eden, there lived in a farm fortress an African Princess by the name of Nwagadikporo. She was a Princess so beautiful people wondered how such a creature could have any need to defecate. For long, until one fateful day, man and nature lived in harmony with the Princess.
Not that inside the fortress strong creatures did not pick on the weak ones; they did, but there were rules. Wild chickens only dug up and pecked ceaselessly at helpless worms, whose days were numbered and who would have anyway died a long and agonizing death had the chickens not ended their miserable lives.
Vengeance was one thing that did not exist. If there were turmoil in the enclave, it never spilled out of control nor rose to the level of anarchy as occurred in the rest of mankind.
Neighbors of the fortress admired and envied at how the flamboyant bamboo trees, young and old, would whistle with every gusty wind, spinning in their roots and swaying to the left and to the right, their outspread branches making touchdown with the ground and up again. And how over bunched-up bamboo trees, fire would burn quietly at a corner of the fortress where leaves, dry and frail, needed to first turn into ashes, and then turn to manure for the common good.
At the enclave, wild bean pods would pop with a clapping sound and throw their seeds to cascade down the branches of faraway trees. Ripe fruits, separated from their twigs, would fall and their seeds burrow down into the ground. Breadfruits, heavy with the morning fog, would drop with a loud thud for all to hear and notice.
If there were lions they would have gladly shared the garden with their humbler neighbors. But there were no lions or tigers. Instead there were snakes of all types, long and short, lying side by side with snails, squirrels, thousand-year-old tortoises and quick-crawling scorpions with bifid tails.
In the heavens above, flocks of birds flew to and fro across the fortress; in their midst were predator birds who would often swoop down to rid the forest of dying insects.
In their songs the natives like to remember, 'Life had been fair and lenient, until that day, when in a twinkle of an eye everything changed.' All because the Princess had defecated, and while astride the smooth surface of a fallen breadfruit upon whose surface she sought to wipe her soiled butt, another heavy breadfruit fell on her head.
Just like death entered the world through the sin of one fallen man, Vengeance entered the fortress through one fallen breadfruit.
Upset by the demise of the adorable Princess, a hen convened her chicks and together they pecked at the breadfruit until it was no more. Angered by the meanness with which the hen and her chicks devoured the breadfruit, a black hawk swooped down from the sky, snatching the hen and two of her chicks. To escape, the hawk flew across an open space in the sky at which time a hunter fired a rifle. Wings scattered all across heaven.
'What on earth will deal for me a deadly blow to this hunter?' cried the justice of vengeance.
Immediately a ball of fire came to engulf the hunter, because the hunter had shot the hawk that snatched the chickens that devoured the breadfruit that fell on the head of the beloved Princess while she was wiping her dirty buttocks on a fallen breadfruit.
After the fire had burned the hunter, the justice of vengeance cried out again, demanding for 'something to happen to the fire that burned the hunter who shot the hawk that ate up the breadfruit for falling on the head of the Princess.'
From the sky came rain to douse the fire. And so the legend continued, with every vengeance begetting another.
Offended that the rain had quenched the fire, the sun rose to evaporate every drop. In revenge, darkness descended upon the sun--- for drying up the rain that doused the fire which burned the hunter who shot the hawk for snatching the chickens. Why? Because the chicken had devoured the breadfruit for falling on the head of Nwagadikporo while she was astride the breadfruit where she had gone to clean off her feces----Oh Nwagadikporo!
Thanks to brother Emeka and sister Ann for their help in recreating this rendition of a favorite childhood Igbo legend.
If you enjoyed this story please donate a small sum to a nonprofit organization that helps elders in my hometown (Akokwa, Nigeria) live out their lives in dignity. Website: http://www.eldershelpinghands.org
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