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Now, The Grass is Green

Nnanna ran into the farms as soon as he saw me coming home for Christmas. He did not know who I was. He was three years old when I left Amuzu, and settled in Lagos with Akuchukwu and Ijelove. We set up a business at Idumota, where we sold pirated Nollywood movies. Soon, we became successful, shared the profit, and everyone went ahead to set up his own shop. We were all at Idumota, but I had another shop at Alaba. I had not started yet. I had no one to run the new shop for me. So, I remembered home and knew it was time for me to visit. I wanted to select any of my family members who was young and had nothing doing. I wanted to help another life from home.

Mama Nnedi said Nnanna was such a wicked boy. She said that he carried about the spirit of Papa Ndu – my late father – in him. Papa Ndu was heartless before his death. Everyone knew it was his wickedness that killed him. He was the only one that owned many farmlands. “He was swelling up and crying...hhmm,” Mama Nnedi said, “and no one came to cater to him. Only me!”

Papa Ndu forcefully took away large farmlands belonging to the many poor men we had in Amuzu. He left them dry, without any crop, or even a single palm tree. No one stopped him, because Amuzu had no king. Someone stopped him last season, Mama Nnedi told me, but no one knew who that Someone was. Papa Ndu fell ill, remained indoors, and grew fatter. He grew fatter until everyone knew it was a disease that had fallen on him. No one called the priest from St. Titus to come and pray for forgiveness from the gods. No one called for water from Nmiri Mba, for his cleansing. It was only Mama Nnedi that wiped the pus that spilled from his body. She was the one that perfumed the house, and took Nnanna to Pa Edward’s house, every night, for they could not sleep in the same house with a sick man.

Four market days had gone, after Papa Ndu was buried, before Mama Nnedi called every poor man of Amuzu. She went into the farmlands with the elders and the poor men. She let everyone identify the parcel of land that belonged to him, or his ancestors. After that, she said they could have back their farmlands. She said they could cultivate any crop that they could conceive in their minds. She advised them to start before the rains started coming down. Everyone looked up, and saw the clouds were almost gathering for the rainy season. Rusted hoes were seen in the hands of women and little children, and the men cleared the lands with their machetes. They planted cassava, maize, coco-yam and yam, and danced while at work. Everyone blessed Mama Nnedi, and called her Ezinne – a good woman.

When I woke up in the morning, I sauntered towards the family square to stretch my joints. Everywhere was green and serene, just like every other village that the gods had blessed.

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