SCARS ON FOOTPRINTS (Storytime Online)

— storytime online —

Scene 1

Ext/Day

The sun is at the centre of the sky, hot and about to fall. The camera reveals a man walking along a village path. He has this face of a man in trouble. He walks slowly at one end of the road, his legs slightly brushing the bushes. He wears trousers and polo. He is in mid-fifties. While walking calmly away, he comes to meet another man dressed in a wrapper tied around his waist and a full-arm shirt.

EZE:         Mr Agbo, I was just on my way to your house to come and see you. Where are you going by this time of the day? I thought by this time you must have been done with whatever you have to do at the farm?

AGBO:  It is true, I am done with everything I am doing at the farm. Right now, there is an urgent appointment I am off to meet. How is family? I hope all is well?

EZE:          Yes, all is well. I was coming to your house to see you on something. It is a very important something that I would not want to waste time in talking with you.

AGBO:    Well, my appointment is not that late, we can still get to talk about it, perhaps, since you say the matter is urgent.

EZE:           Can we find somewhere safe to talk about it? Maybe, somewhere hidden and all that.

AGBO:     Yes, of course.

EZE:             Let us go to Mama Rita’s bar then. It is just for a short while and we will be done.

AGBO:     All right.

They walk along the path and speak little or nothing to each other as they do this. Jeff is leading the way, while Williams trail behind. Two minutes later, they come to a small house built with woods and rust corrugated roof. The small house is under a big pear tree. They walk close to the house, get in and take their seats. At that point, they are the only ones in the bar.

— storytime online —

EZE:             Do you want to have something, Agbo?

AGBO:  No, you know I have an appointment and cannot wait to finish whatever would be served.

EZE:           (takes deep breath and hisses). It is my wife, Williams. In fact, it is my family, it is me, I am in pains, Agbo!

AGBO:    Take it easy, what could be wrong? What is wrong with you and your family?

EZE:             (inhales deeply, and exhales). I am dying, Agbo.

AGBO:     Isn’t it obvious that you aren’t dying? If you were dying, you would not be here talking to me. So, please, be plain, and tell me what is wrong with you and your family?

EZE:         (looks away from the direction of Agbo, towards the counter where the owner of the bar had come out from the back to stand. He lowers his voice now that Williams had to strain his ears to hear him). I need another child.

AGBO:     Is that all? You need a child? Is that the stuff that’s making you say you are dead?

— storytime online —

EZE:            (turns his face to Agbo). Is it not enough to kill any man? (Pauses a little). Look at you, you have five children, four sons and a daughter. How would you know the pain I feel? If I die tomorrow, there is no son to bear my name, or take over the affairs of my family. I only have a daughter. It is not even two daughters, or three, it is just one.

AGBO:    It is not as if I don’t feel your pain, but you see, you said it is an urgent something, and I really expected something more important. This is a matter we could have discussed in a better place and at a better time …

EZE:             What are you trying to say in essence?

AGBO:  (inhales deeply). I think we should discuss this issue some other time. However, I would suggest you work things out with your wife. It is her you should be talking to first about this and not me.

EZE:           Agbo, how can you be sounding this way? You know my wife is no longer a baby. You of all people know that.

AGBO:   What do you want to do then?

EZE:            (pauses and looks away briefly). I want to marry another wife.

AGBO:    (shouts, perplexed). What? You want to do what?

EZE:           I need another wife, Agbo. I need a son. I am getting old too fast these days. I need someone to be able to stand in my stead. In the whole of this village, I think I am the only one with an heir.

AGBO:   Stop it, you know that is not true. You are not the only one in the entire village without an heir. Again, you seeking to get married to another wife is something I do not totally support. You could talk to your wife for you people to work something around it. She will definitely be against this your idea of getting a new wife. (Stands).

EZE:           Well, this is what I want. I know where your mind is going to. Adoption, right? I am not in for that.

AGBO:   I was not even trying to tell you to adopt. However, adoption is not a bad choice, too.  Just seek other alternatives that is not this marriage of a second wife. It is bad for you as a Christian. See, I have to go, I am late for my appointment.

EZE:           I will talk to her for her to see reasons, and if she does not, well, she has to agree. I am her husband.

AGBO:    Anything you say, Jeff. You have to be careful. I am off right now. (Begins to walk away). We will talk more on this later. (Exits).

— storytime online —

EZE:          (broods for sometime, for over fifteen minutes, his right hand on his jaw). I will take a new wife. I will have to take a new wife whether Flora likes it or not. There is nothing she can do about it.

                                                        Light Fades

Scene 2

Ext/Day

Eze leads a young woman in her early twenties to the entrance of his house. He holds her hand and leads the way to the house. The sound of his wife, Flora pounding in the kitchen can be heard. He leads her to the veranda.

EZE:            You are welcome, my dear.

CHINYERE:      Awwwn, dear. Thank you.

EZE:          You can manage this chair. (He walks to where a plastic brown back seat is and brings it closer to her). You have to sit and relax for me to get something for you. (Places the seat on the floor for her, closer to her).

CHINYERE:     (adjusts the seat, cleans it with her handkerchief and sits on it). Thank you, dear.

EZE:             What do you want to take? What can I bring for you?

CHINYERE:      (smiling). Anything you have in the house would do. I do not want you to be stressing yourself searching for what to buy or who would buy it for you.

EZE:            Oh, you are such a sweet girl. I like that.

At that moment, the camera focuses on Flora, Eze’s wife as she begins to walk towards the house from the village path. She stops in her steps when she sees her husband with a young woman, then she regains herself and continue with her steps. She walks towards the veranda, and the camera shifts again to Eze and Chinyere. Flora is in mid-fifties.

EZE:          You are sure you don’t want things like Shawarma, Pizza, Crunchies? All these funny food the girls of your age loves?

CHINYERE:      No, dear. Anything would do.

— storytime online —

FLORA:          (steps on the veranda). Daddy, good afternoon, sir. Madam, welcome.

CHINYERE:      How are you doing today, ma’am?

FLORA:            I am fine. (Walks through the veranda to get through the door leading to the sitting room).

EZE:            Ehen, Flora.

FLORA:           (turns her eyes towards Jeff and stares mischievously). Yes, Daddy.

EZE:          (eyes focused on his wife). Go to my room, ehen, get me a can of malt under my bed. I want to offer it to our visitor. (Touches Chinyere’s shoulders lightly). This is Chinyere, you would be seeing her here more often. Do you hear?

FLORA:           (looks at him mischievously. Keeps quiet for a while before he speaks again). Yes, sir. (Exit).

EZE:           (focuses his attention and eyes on Chinyere). So as we were saying before we came in, what do you say you enjoy doing?

CHINYERE:       (laughs lightly). I enjoy doing a lot of things. I cook …

Chinyere’s voice is broken off by Flora’s shout as she walks out to the veranda from the inside. Her calm way of walking has changed to a brisk walk, and she looks above her eyes as if she is searching for something in the sky.

FLORA:        (still shouting). Is it because I kept quiet when I came in earlier? Eze, who is this? Who is this you brought to our house without telling me someone is coming to my house? Eh, Eze!

— storytime online —

EZE:           Why are you shouting? You want everyone to know I have a visitor in my own house?

FLORA:       Ehen? Now, it has become your own house? Eze! (Pauses. She takes an aggressive look at Natasha). Who is this you brought to our house?

EZE:             You should calm down, let me tell you who the young woman is …

FLORA:         You have gone mad, Eze. You bring a woman  to my house, not when I am away or when I am dead, but when I am alive and in the house, you bring a woman and tell me to calm down so that you tell me who the woman is? I can see a nut has gotten loose in your head.

EZE:            (clears throat). Well, since you do not want to calm down let me tell who she is. I think I will have to be fast and plain. (Points at Chinyere). This is Chinyere, my wife to be.

FLORA:        (her mouths hangs open. She stares at Chinyere, from Chinyere to Eze. back to Eze). What did you just say? Maybe, I did not hear you well.

EZE:           Chinyere is my wife to be.

FLORA:        (inhales deeply. Focuses her eyes on Eze.  She makes her voice low that it is more like a whisper). I hear you. (She stepped back, her shoulders slumped, and then like the speed of sound, she walked to Natasha, held her hand and pulled her from the seat). Young lady, you are not welcome in my house! Not as a woman friend or as a second wife! Get up and get out.

CHINYERE:     (stands, her hand tightly held by Flora). Madam, my hand hurts …

FLORA:         Young lady, if you don’t keep your mouth shut, I will break this your skinny hands. You can come and be going, you have overstayed your welcome.

— storytime online —

EZE:           (stands). What is this, Flora? I don’t like this embarrassment at all!

FLORA:        (leads Natasha out of the veranda. Chinyere follows her, pulled along). It is not when I am alive that you would come and take over my house. You did not ask the man asking for your hand in marriage how we started …

CHINYERE: Madam, please my hand hurts …

FLORA: Oh, shut up there!

EZE: (follows them closely). Flora, nothing should happen to that girl. You hear me?

Light Fades

Scene 3

INT/DAY

The weather is clement. Eze is revealed sitting alone on a sofa in front of his house. There is a small stool in front of him. There is another sofa beside him. He stretches his legs on top of the stool. Now relaxed. He takes a deep breath of relief.

EZE:      (Soliloquizes in soft voice.) Hmm! (Nods.) Eze, so this is you? I remember those moments when my veins were still fixed together. Those moments when I could beat hefty men comfortably with neither bruises nor injury. (Smiles.) Ha! Eze, you are growing older. What is it that I have achieved in this life? I got married. Yes. But where are the children? Only one. (Demonstrates.) Just one. Hmm! Look at those children that just passed. They are happy. They are walking like soldiers with their parents,  happily. At least, they now have something that stands for them. They now have something that will seal their grave when they die. But look at me. Am I still growing younger? What have I really achieved in life if not just that nature threatened me for eighteen years. But Flora, you really tried for me. You stood by me and shared in my misfortune. Not every woman will do that for her husband. (Observes his hands.) Hmm! I’m almost old. But I’m still a man and can have more children if I desire. But Flora, my sweet Flora, you’re no more capable. I must marry that girl. I must marry her. At least, she will restore joy in our home.

— storytime online —

Jeff calls Flora. She answers from the kitchen. She comes and sits on the second seat beside Jeff.

FLORA:  The tone with which you called me suggests strangeness.

EZE:      Why did you do that?

FLORA:  Did what?

EZE:      What you did the other time?

FLORA: What I just did? What did I do?

EZE:      You don’t know what you did? That embarrassment you gave me before her speaks ill of you. (Pauses.) Please, you see I am getting old. And this only little girl that comforts our soul should be taken care of. She is our duty. But please, let me do it.

FLORA:  I can grant you everything, but not this one. The suggestion is far beyond the reach of my mind. It is unthinkable.

EZE:      But you know that you have reached your menopause and that makes you incapable.

FLORA:  (Shouts.) Stop! I’ve lived in this house with you for eighteen years without children. You are aware that Dr Frank confirmed that you were impotent. You denied it. You suggested Glorious Hospital and the same result was given by Dr Kingsley. I stood by you. The society mocked me. For your integrity and dignity, I became nothing in the eyes of the world.

EZE:       I know but …

FLORA:  You know nothing. We took an oath of allegiance to be with each other in good and in bad. I have fulfilled mine. It is your turn now.         

EZE:       I understand your fears, Flora, but his will bring happiness and joy to us.  

FLORA:  I have feared nothing.  I fear nothing. And I shall fear nothing.

— storytime online —

EZE:      We have only one child and the child is female. We need more children. Let me marry this woman so that we can have male children.  

FLORA:   No woman shall come to this house. I am off. (Rises to move.)

EZE:      (Shouts.) I’ve told you with all due respect, but it seems you’ve the deposit of your mother’s stubbornness. You’re a woman, and as such subject to me. Your first duty to me is obedience!

FLORA:  My soul rots each time you speak to me in this reckless manner. Your words accord me no respect. Being a woman doesn’t make me a speck of dust held between your fingers.  I’m human. Please, I deserve your respect. (Turns to go. Voice lowers.) Remember, every man’s life perches on the fingertips of his wife. (Exits.)

Light Fades

Scene 4

INT/DAY

 Eze and Agbo sit on the sofas in Eze’s sitting room.

AGBO:     What is wrong? Your face is not bright.

EZE:       Nothing is wrong.

AGBO:      Eze, we’ve been friends right from our childhood years. How could you tell me that nothing is wrong?  Please tell me. I can help you come out of it.

EZE:      (Looks Agbo in the face. Releases heavy breath.) Agbo, you know that marital issues are sacred, and they must be treated as such?

AGBO:     We know each other. Tell me what the problem is.

EZE:      My dear friend, it is what I have mentioned to you in one way or another before. You know I’ve married Flora for eighteen years now. There hasn’t been true love when I discovered she could not give birth. Being a faithful husband, I stood by her all these solid years of childlessness.

AGBO:      Yes.

EZE:       And that fault she had was only solved in the later part of her marital years when she managed to deliver a girl for me. I want more children.

AGBO:      You have mentioned something like this before. So have your mind or plans changed yet? So what is your plan now? Do you ….

EZE:       I intend to marry another woman. A woman who can give me children, but my wife has refused to let me marry her. She threatened to kill me.

AGBO:     Threatened you? To kill you?

EZE:       Yes!

— storytime online —

AGBO:     Hmm! I doubt that she did that.

EZE:       I’ve told you that my wife threatened my life you ….

AGBO:     Ok. Fine. Forgive her, I feel she just had to do that as a defensive method.

EZE:       I need male children that will continue my lineage.

AGBO:      (Nods.) Yea.

EZE:        I explained everything to her, but she could not listen.

AGBO:      But can’t you be a man? Must her consent dictate your decisions? You are even kind enough to have called her attention at all.

EZE:       (Nods.) Yes.

AGBO:     You are the one making things difficult for yourself. If I were you, I would have married another wife long ago who would give me children.

EZE:       I would have done that, but I wanted to be faithful to her then.

AGBO:      Have you made up your mind on who to marry? Is she good?

EZE:       Yes. She is …

AGBO:      Anyway, you’ve to respect the two women when you marry the new wife. Although, I still think you should think this over.

EZE:       I know. But how could my wife threaten me?

AGBO:      Eze, you provoked her to thought, but I don’t think she means it.

EZE:       My wife is strange. I fear her.

— storytime online —

Eze and Agbo notice sound of footsteps coming towards them from behind. They do not look backwards. Flora is shown carrying two plates, a bowl of  water, a bottle of water and a transparent glass cup. All are well arranged in the tray she carries. She walks in from behind Eze and Agbo. She now walks in front of them, greets Agbo and drops the food on the stool before Eze.

FLORA:        (Enters.) Daddy, your food is here. (She drops the tray on the stool in front of the men.)

EZE:       My food? Hmm. (Opens the plates and observes the food. It is pounded yam and Egusi soup.)

FLORA:         I do hope you like the food? I made your favourite.

JEFF:        Yes, I think I would love the food. 

FLORA:         I have to go now. If you need anything else, you can let me know, I am in the kitchen.

AGBO:      (Calmly.) Don’t worry, our wife. He would be all right.

EZE:        (Nods.) Yes.

FLORA:         Ok. (Exits.)

AGBO:      (After some minutes.) What is wrong with Flora? Could you see she had tears in her eyes.

EZE:       (Shouts.) Hei! This hook was nicely baited. She can’t catch me in her web.

AGBO:      What do you mean? I don’t understand you any more.

EZE:        She has poisoned me!

AGBO:      Stop! How could you utter such?

EZE:        You doubt?

AGBO:      Yes I doubt. Have you any proof?

EZE:        This thing before me is poison. She made it to look very delicious to get me.

AGBO:      To get you?

EZE:       Yes. You can eat from the food if you want.

AGBO:      You know I would have eaten if not that I am fasting.

EZE:        Jeff, they will never get you.

AGBO:      Go and find out what is wrong with your wife and stop accusing the innocent woman.

EZE:       I know what is wrong. She is mourning her husband whom she thinks he has eaten the poisoned food and died.

AGBO:     Please eat your food and stop this.

EZE:       Let me call my dog and give him the food. My wife will die with it.

— storytime online —

AGBO:      So you now liken your wife to a mere dog? Your wife’s life is sacrificial for the death of your dog. Hmm! Jeff, you have no respect for this woman.

Eze calls the dog and drops some pieces of the food for it. It eats the food. Its tail waggles. Eze commands it to lie under the stool. The dog moves under the stool and relaxes.

EZE:       The wickedness in the world does not allow man to trust anyone again. Let me see what becomes of this dog.

After about five minutes, the dog comes out again in front of Eze waggling his tail for more food.

EZE:      (Washes his hand.) Go! The food is not for you. (The dog walks away quietly.)

AGBO:     No! It is for the dog! Your wife washed her hands and cooked for the dog.

Eze tastes the soup. He  starts eating earnestly. 

EZE:     I will take my leave, Eze. I need to attend to something at home. (Exits.)

After a while, Agbo rushes in to Eze.

AGBO:        (Enters.) Eze, your dog is dead!

EZE:       Death? (Hits the tray and it falls with the food.)

AGBO:       Ah, my friend!

— storytime online —

EZE:      Flora has killed me! (Rises.) Where is she? (Enters the house.)

AGBO:       I did not see your wife anywhere near the house, oh …

EZE:      Where is she? (Comes out of the house with his cutlass.) I will kill her before I die. She can’t escape this mess! She has poisoned me!

Agbo runs away in a state of confusion. Eze, mad with rage, stumps into all the rooms. He finds no one. He walks back into the house, goes into his room, comes back to the sitting room with a bottle. He opens it.

EZE:       Flora, you did this to me. I can’t die in your hands! (He drops the cutlass beside  him, drinks from the bottle and relaxes on the chair with his eyes wide open. He breathes heavily.)

AGBO:       (Runs into the house again and meets Eze sitting in a relaxed manner with his eyes wide open.) My friend, I told you that your wife cannot do anything to you. It is your mind. The people who killed your dog are here to apologize. Should I let them in? Eze … those who killed your dog … Eze! (Walks close to him, looks at him in the face and touches him. His body is stiff.) Eze, I don’t understand what you are doing oh!

Two men and a lady walk in followed by Flora. Flora walks in carrying a bunch of plantain.

— storytime online —

FLORA: (Surprised.) What is happening here? (Drops the plantain on the floor.) What happened to my husband? (Looks everyone in the face). Can someone speak to me here? (Rushes to Eze and observes him.) Death! (Cries out louder.) What happened?

AGBO:       He was eating and I rushed to tell him that Your dog had died. He  rushed into the house, drew his cutlass and started looking for you. He was saying that you had killed him. I went back to bring the body of the dog and I met the people (points) who came to apologize for having mistakenly killed the dog. When I now brought them to him, we all met him like this.

FLORA: (Looks at Eze again and she sees the bottle on the floor. She  brings it, smells it and smells Eze’s mouth.) Poison! He drank poison! Why Eze? Why?

— storytime online —

The men walk away from the sitting room. Flora is in heavy tears, and the lady with them cuddles Flora as they sorrowfully walk away slowly. Flora, now heavily soaked in tears, rolls herself on the floor. Her voice rents the air.

Light Fades

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