THE FLOWER GIRL EPISODE 1
Heavy rain had fallen in Oseh community that popular Nkwo market day, and it was the first rain of the year, bringing a protracted dry season to a sudden stop Chidimma was home alone. Her parents, Obele and Ndudi, had not returned from the market.
Before that first rain, the.t was a long stretch of severe droUght and it was one of the worst droughts ever: no water, no food. People, therefore, longed and prayed for the rain, and at last, it came. The arrival of the first rain had never come and gone in Oseh without stories to tell, mostly sad news. It was. often characterised by squally showers that had so many times left the community with stories of loss of lives or properties.
It all started with howling wind which kept everyone on the run, then followed by the rain that dropped like the stones of snow. And it rained c.a.t and dog as if the doors of heavens were thrown open. Lightning and thunderstorms made it more dreadful.
When the heavy rainfall finally abated, some elderly people started coring out as usual to ascertain the damages caused by the rain. Some pathways that were earlier deserted as a result of the rainfall had begun to play host to some people who had come out of their hiding places to either return to their homes or continue on their journeys.
Chidmma had rushed to ukwu ugiri to pick some ugiri fruits not taking note of the havoc the rain had done to her father’s barn. Two women, Mmachi and Obinwa were returning from Maazi Akpunku’s house: where they went to sympathise with the family on the destruction inflicted upon them by the thunderstorm, which had cut a huge branch of an orji tree and had thrown it on top of the roof of their building leaving the house in rack and ruin.
When the two women were returning to their houses, Chidimma was coming out of the bush where she had gone to pick some ugiri fruits. The heavy wind had aided in plucking good number of ugiri fruits out of their stacks and Chidimma had a basketfull of it.
“Good afternoon Mpia Nneka and Mama Somtoo,” greeted Chidimma.
“Good evening my child. It is no longer afternoon,” replied Obinwa, smiling benignly at Chidimma.
“It is now past 4pm,” added Mmachi, looking at the sun which had started crawling out of the cloud.
“Chidimma, I did, not see your mother at Akpunku’s house. Where is she? Is she not at home?” asked Mmachi.
“No, she is not at home. She has not returned from Nkwo,” replied Chidimma.
“If she returns, tell her that thunderstorm has …”
“No! She is too small for that message,” Mmachi stressed, cutting Obinwa off.
Chidimma was canying a basket-full of ugiri fruits on her head. She was full of ingenious smiles as she interacted with the two women. She lowered the basket from her head and generously presented the ugiri fruits to the women for them to collect some.
“No, I have a lot at home,” Obinwa declined.
Mmachi collected two. “I like collecting gifts from children whenever I am pregnant especially from good looking children like Chidimma. I want my unborn baby to resemble her.”
“You collected two. That may also mean that you are expecting twins?” Obinwa said.
“Whatever that comes, be it twins or single, my major concern is to deliver safely.”
Chidimma had walked away towards another direction but Mmachi would not make more than three steps without turning to catch a glimpse of her.
“It appears you like Chidimma very much,” said Obinwa.
“Who on earth does not like good thing?” replied Mmachi. “I don’t only like her; I wish she were my daughter. Chidimma is a child with a difference. She will never stop smiling and greeting all at a time. I wish my children behave like this. She is beautiful, she is polite, humble and godly.”
Obinwa nodded her head and avowed that Chidimma was a carbon copy of her mother, Ndudi. She said, “Ndudi is such a beautiful woman. So Chidimma’s beauty, to me is not a surprise.”
“But not in omen because Ndudi’s character isn’t as good as Chidimma’s.”
“I disagree with you totally. If it were not so, she wouldn’t have been living comfortably with that short man called Obele.”
“Obele indeed!” mocked Mmachi, laughing.
“You can say that again. And that’s why his temperament is always high. His stammer seemingly increases by the day.
“It is often said that short people are easily got upset. Will Obele’s own be different?”
“One thing about stammers is that they easily get their knickers in a twist about the smallest thing.”
“I wonder why Ndudi agreed to marry that man in the first place.
“Is it not often said that ugly Men are always lucky in getting married to pretty women?”
“Imagine marrying such a poor wretched farmer with a masquerade’s face!”
“But it is good for a tall woman to get married to a short man…”
“Yes! But this one is too much. He looks like a diminutive figure beside his wife.”
“Love is such a powerful charm that those infected with it no longer act with their rightful senses.”
“Love nwantiti!” laughing boisterously.
His problem started right from the time his parents,named him Obele.'”
“And he appears to grow shorter everyday.”
“But the marriage is blessed.”
“Blessed with what?”
“Chidimma of course!”
“You call a female child a blessing?”
“To me that female Chidimma, the way I see things, may give that family what ten male children may not give them.”
The girl is a star in the making.”
“If I may ask, what is so, special about that girl?”
“The day I was stunned by Chidimma’s talent was at Simon’s wedding at Saint Faith’s Cathedral Church where she served as a flower girl. To be frank, my attention was diverted from the wedding couple, but focused on Chidimma as if she was the only good thing in the whole arena. When the wedding ceremony was rounded off and the couple were walking out of the church, Chidimma who looked like angel was placed in the front with the basketfull of confetti hung on her neck. She was smiling as she sprayed the confetti on the path upon which the couple strolled down the aisle…”
Obinwa cut in. “If that is the case, she will be my son’s flower girl when my son will be wedding in July…”
“For me I want her as someone more than a flower girl.”
“A wife, of course.”
“Greedy woman! You have not said all that you need. Maybe you want that son of yours that looks like imbecite to marry her. Wonders shall never end. If wishes were horses… Please Chidimma is not meant for people like that.”
“I beg, don’t get bent out of shape about it. After all, my son is not getting married soon…”
Both women discussed about Chidimnia as if there was no other intersting topic gist left in their mouths.