The news spread like wildfire through the village of Umuala, Dido, the mad woman, was pregnant. The question on everyone’s mind was: Who could be responsible for putting the poor mad woman in a family way?
Although it was just a little bump, it was obvious. Dido went about her normal business, not minding the extra attention her pregnancy brought her.
“She may not even know that she is pregnant,” a woman said, looking at her in pity.
“It would be one of those ritualists,” Kenechukwu announced at the palm wine joint. “I have always said that our village was not safe. How did a ritualist come here and impregnate one of our own and we didn’t know?”
Kenechukwu was a respected drunkard in the village. He became a drunkard when it was made public that he was infertile. He accepted his fate when his third wife could not get pregnant. He turned to the bottle.
He was respected because before he was labelled infertile, his advice to the Igwe was usually solicited for, and was appreciated when he gave one. But the news of his infertility made him sidelined. He was no longer considered a man. He was no longer invited to the palace. His respect was fast fading as he was always speaking against the Igwe whenever he got drunk.
It was obvious to the rest of the drinkers that he was drunk, but since they had no other guess as o who impregnated Dido, they agreed that it must be one of those rich ritualists. Ritualists who the never saw, but since Kenechukwu said it, there has to be an iota of truth there.
That was until they noticed something else. Dezi, the jovial madman from Umunkwo the neighbouring village visited Umuala more often, and it didn’t escape the notice of the villagers that he was less jovial, and spent less time dancing for the children. Each time he came to the village, he went straight to Dido’s corner by Jekwu’s abandoned hut and stayed with her. He always came with gifts.
Soon, Dezi stopped going back to Umunkwo altogether. He stayed with Dido in her corner, and everybody knew he must have been the one who impregnated her.
“How did this happen right under our noses?” Kenechukwu asked, another day while on his third jug of palm wine. “A love affair between two mad people? How did it escape the attention of the Igwe? I said it, that our village was not safe. Soon we will have children, who are mad from birth, roaming through this village, and the Igwe is less concerned,”
He shook his head and went back to his drink, ordering another jug. His drinking mates didn’t know what to say, they just kept drinking their wine.
As the days turned into weeks and then months, Dido’s stomach got bigger and bigger. Getting so big that the village women concluded that twins were on the way.
Dezi was an attentive father-to-be, he did so much for Dido, astounding the villagers, and making some wives jealous. They wished the insane man was their husband instead of the sane man who was not as caring. They spent time observing him. He went out to hunt and sometimes beg for food, so that Dido didn’t have to work in searching for food.
“This thing is not ordinary!” Kenechukwu exclaimed one evening at his drinking spot. “Have you ever seen a madman taking care of another mad person? I think there is something fishy about those two. Are we sure that Dezi is truly mad? I mean how can…”
“Shut up Kenechukwu” the palm wine seller, a heavy woman who tolerated Kenechukwu only because he was a frequent customer and he paid his bills, unlike many other drunkards. But she was obviously fed up. “He is a mad man, but obviously knows how to cater for a woman better than all of you that claim you are not mad. Instead of you to take lessons from him, you are here talking nonsense. Drink your wine and keep quiet,” she ended with a loud hiss.
Kenechukwu was obviously surprised, as he kept silent until he was done drinking for the night, which was unlike him. He never backed out of disagreements, quarrels or fights.
He never spoke about the issue again. He still argued that the village was not safe, but he never talked about Dezi and Dido again.
The day of the delivery was a memorable one. Dido’s cry of pain brought women to her aid who had to help her deliver the baby with Dezi standing at a distance and watching their every move. He was like a normal man whose wife was in labour, his worry evident on his face.
Contrary to the prediction of the women, Dido gave birth to just a baby girl. Immediately the women cleaned her up and gave her to her mother, she ceased crying, and Dido was in a hurry to breastfeed her, but the women stopped her long enough to clean her up lest she breastfeed the baby with her unwashed body.
The following months saw Dezi fighting off anyone who came to take way the child. The villagers thought it advisable to take the child away from her mad parents, but Dezi wouldn’t hear of it. He fought like the mad man he was, until the people left them alone. The baby looked healthy and the women came around to take care of her, under Dezi’s watchful eyes.
As the months passed by, it became less of a novelty that a mad woman had a child, especially since the child looked alright.
At the eighth month, Dezi went back to Umunkwo, and became his normal jovial self, disappointing the women of Umuala who used him as an example of a caring man when quarrelling with their husbands.
Kenechukwu went back to talking about his earlier observation that something was not right about the mad couple.
“What kind of madman makes a woman pregnant, takes care of her until she gives birth, and then leaves her? I said it that there was something fishy about Dezi. He is not acting like a madman. He is acting like a normal man. My only issue with this is that the Igwe is silent about the happenings. Who is the ritualist responsible for Dido’s pregnancy? We will keep quiet until the ritualists start pregnating our wives, then that is when the Ig…,”
“Kenechukwu!” the palmwine seller called with a warning in her tone.
“Woman! Let me talk. Bad things happen because the good people keep quiet,” Kenechukwu said, with slurred speech, ignoring the warning. He was so drunk he couldn’t control himself. He got so drunk that he passed out, and had to be carried home. His respected reduced a notch more that night.
* * *
Nwadido was the name the villagers gave to Dido’s daughter. She was a jovial child like he father. Her shriek of happiness could be heard everyday. She was also going to be a beautiful woman like her mother.
She was barely a year old when Dido got pregnant again. This time, the villagers marched in anger to the Igwe’s office. They had not seen Dezi in months, he could not be responsible for Dido’s pregnancy.
They were shouting outside the Igwe’s palace when they saw Dezi hurrying past them, with his belongings, towards Dido’s corner. He was his serious self again.
Looking at each other, the villagers shrugged their shoulders as each person when back to his house. Dezi was back, so he has to be the father.
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