Ala Upah was filled with pitch darkness and was weakly illuminated by a lame moonlight which hung in the sky like a maltreated house-boy. In an hut, Obiakor and Olachi sat on the floor. Their mother, Urenma, would frequently come into the hut and spit on the ground near them.
She burnt with inhuman rage and hatred toward them. The children could hardly recognize her as their mother. She seemed to have lost her soul. Whatever took hold of her was eating her up fast.
In one of her stomps into the hut where they were held. Olachi notice something like a squirrel on her mother’s back.
It looked very much evil and seemed to be sU-Cking the life out of her. As soon as Urenma stormed out of the hut, Olachi told Obiakor what she observed. “Ola, if that be the evil which has taken over her mind and soul, then we should attack. We should at least try to save her”. “How do we do it, Obi?” “You will play dead and I will call for help. When she rushes in and backs me, I will pull out the evil from her back”.
The plan seemed good to Olachi and so she asked that they do it immediately.
THE CLASH OF LEGENDS
On the day of the wrestling match Ukeh and its neighbours tropped out.
They knew Obinze had a great wrestling bout with an unidentified opponent.
Some had claimed that the opponent was Ojadili and many laughed it off. There was no way Ojadili who died long ago would come to life to fight the land death crouched in shadows: waiting for the signal to snatch lives from men. Ojadili and some men who camouflaged as humans made it to the wrestling ground and the crowd cheered him loudly, they still did not know who he was. Minutes later Obinze arrived with Ijele. Ijele camouflaged as a young man and bore Obinze’s machetes. At the sight of Obinze the land of Ukeh went into frenzied excitement. However there were a few chiefs who cursed him under their breaths. They were the chiefs who had been planting charms against him; those chiefs who were swayed by the river world to influence people against him.
While Obinze made it to his corner, the crowd waited to see Urenma; she was the reason for the wrestling match as they were told. The river world wanted her back and they sent their champion wrestler to come fight Obinze and bring her back. They did not know yet that all was a lie. Then the Ikoro began to sound and the two wrestlers were invited to greet the crowd and tell them who they were. Ojadili was the first to speak, the privilege always given to guest wrestlers. “I am the legend you heard about in tales told by moonlight! I am the legend old women wove into many stories! I am the legend your grandfathers spoke of and beat their chests! I am the legend young women spoke of with joyful tears in their eyes! I am………” He paused. “………Ojadili!!!! And I will destory this fly!” he shouted and pointed at Obinze. Having made known who he was, he returned to his seat.
The crowd did not cheer, though they were meant to. Many shrank from the wrestling ground including the very elders who wanted Obinze dead.
There was silence; absolute silence.
The crowd could not understand how Ojadili came back to life. Wasn’t he supposed to be dead? As they stared at him unbelievably, they saw evil in his eyes.
Then it occurred to those chiefs and elders who were against Obinze that they had been played by the river world. They hurried to a corner of the wrestling ground and conferred with each other.
There was no way they would let Obinze their son fight the dead. Nze Nnamiri stormed into the wrestling ground and raised his hand to speak, “We were told that Obinze would fight a great wrestler from a far land and not the dead. Ojadili died long ago! This fight has been nullified! When the river world presents a qualified wrestler, then Obinze would fight!” The crowd who thought that they had seen the end of Obinze celebrated wildly. Then Obinze who had a fuller knowledge of what was in play, stood up and entered the wrestling ground. Raising his hand, he calmed the crowd and said, “You may not know what awaits you today the people of Ukeh! If I fight not our land shall be overrun by those who hate us, and if I fight our land shall still be pillaged. I say to you run. Run while you may! Go home, find children and run! The roads out of Ukeh have been blocked. I will not let this fight pass me by; I Obinze shall stand and fight. I shall not disappoint those who went through pains to bring this thing back to life. If it is beast, human or spirit, Obinze shall fight it”.