Raised by her dead family, rescued by her dead husband

Raised by her dead family, rescued by her dead husband

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Raised by her dead family, rescued by her dead husband

Aka’s Birthday

The sun hung low in the sky, casting a gentle golden hue over the Awar community. In a small, bustling house, Asim writhed in pain as the contractions came stronger and closer together.   

Raised by her dead family, rescued by her dead husband

Her husband, Azu, with panic in his eyes, gathered their belongings and helped Asim to the car. Their five-year-old son, Ndu, hopped in the backseat, his innocent curiosity mingled with concern for his mother.  

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“Hold on, Asim. We’re almost there,” Azu reassured his wife as he sped down the bumpy, narrow road towards Lambe Hospital. But the combination of his wife’s agonizing cries, his frantic attempts to comfort her, and Ndu’s unrestrained movements in the backseat proved too much.  

Raised by her dead family, rescued by her dead husband

Azu’s focus wavered, and in a single, terrifying moment, he lost control of the steering wheel. The car veered off the road and tumbled into a deep ditch. Silence followed the deafening crash. A local farmer, who had witnessed the accident, rushed to their aid, calling for help.  

When the paramedics arrived, they found Azu and Ndu lifeless, their bodies crumpled in the wreckage. Asim, barely clinging to life, was hurriedly transported to the hospital.  

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 Inside the emergency room, the medical team worked frantically to save Asim and her unborn child. But Asim’s injuries were too severe. With a final, laboured breath, she passed away, leaving behind her newborn daughter, Aka, who had miraculously survived.  

The news of the tragic accident spread quickly through the hospital, and the management, in a bid to find Aka’s relatives, issued announcements in the local newspaper and on the evening news, hoping someone would recognize the family and come forward.  

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Days passed with no word from any relatives. Meanwhile, Aka lay in a small cot in the neonatal unit, oblivious to the chaos surrounding her.  

On a quiet Monday morning, three days after the accident, the hospital staff discovered Aka’s cot empty. Panic set in as they searched every corner of the hospital. The newborn girl, whose entire family had perished, had vanished without a trace.  

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The hospital launched an internal investigation, and the local police were called in. Witnesses were interviewed, and security footage was reviewed, but there were no leads. It was as if Aka had simply disappeared into thin air. Rumours swirled around the community. Some whispered of a benevolent spirit that had taken pity on the orphaned child, while others spoke of a desperate family member who had come in secret to claim her.  

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But no one knew for sure what had happened to Aka. As the years went by, the story of Aka and her family’s tragic end became a sombre legend in Awar. 

The ditch where the accident occurred was avoided by many, seen as a place of sorrow and loss. The memory of Aka lingered in the hearts of those who had heard her story, a haunting reminder of the fragility of life and the enduring mystery of her disappearance.  

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New home

In a distant village, far from the prying eyes of Awar, a woman sat by the fire, cradling a baby girl with striking eyes. She whispered tales of love and loss, of a family torn apart by fate, and of a community left searching for answers. Aka, now a curious and spirited child, listened intently, unaware of the true nature of her origins. She only knew the warmth and safety of the embrace and the comfort of the stories that had become hers.  

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Raised by her dead family, rescued by her dead husband

The sunset over the small, quiet and strange village as Aka sat by the window, knitting a new cardigan for herself. Now sixteen, and the strange life she led never ceased to baffle her.  

The Revelation

She lived with a family that couldn’t quite understand because they didn’t do everything differently from here, people who didn’t eat the same food, and at the same time as she did, who walked differently from her, and talked differently from her, when not speaking to her, and who never allowed her to leave the house on her own.  

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 The weirdest thing is that her family embarks on a compulsory nightly trip to a strange woman who cooks and serves food to everyone in the strange community, except for Aka, who has been forbidden by her parents from drawing close to the food seller’s square, talk more of looking directly at anyone or any activity going on at that compulsory meeting. 

The strange food seller whom everyone refers to as Isi, cooks and feeds everyone in the community once a day, and that is at night. She never stands or speaks to anyone, but the fear she has instilled in everyone is as strong as the first day everyone met her. 

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 Isi cooks without fire or firewood, and a magical blue flame floats underneath her gigantic cooking pot, from which she dishes food to the queued-up community people who always join a long queue, immediately they arrive at the food square.  

 Aka who is not permitted to look at, or interact with anyone, stands far away from the square, with her head bowed, looking to the ground, which seemed to float, in her opinion. Isi’s magical flames appeared to have a mind of their own, as they communicated and acted just the way Isi wanted.  

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Aka doesn’t leave her home in the daytime, that luxury is reserved for the rest of her family members who always leave the house together for every errand. No one in her family or the community went out to work during the day, yet the community appeared completely deserted, with no one seen walking from the road, walking down the road, from sunrise to sunset. 

Aka often wondered about the world beyond her limited experience. The books her family brought back to her every weekend they visited the market had given her ideas of another world, but she often wondered where it was.  

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The books often spoke of cities, busy communities, streets, friends, school, and a life full of adventures and discoveries, but they were just stories to the naive Aka.  

Story books/ Real life

Her real life was confined to the chores she did around the house and the peculiar routine of her family and community, as it now seemed strange that she was different from everyone in the community and she wondered if something was wrong with her, but her family would always assure her that she was just fine. 

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 She longed for answers, but her parents always responded vaguely, insisting she was a special girl, who they needed to protect and pamper. One afternoon, as Aka was lost in her thoughts, wondering if this was always going to be the life would know, her parents walked in with a young man whom they introduced as Nta, who seemed more like her parents.  

They announced to Aka, who was now seventeen, that she was now married to Nta, and that he would be living with them from now on, as he was a relative of the family.  

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Aka was taken aback by this sudden decision made without her consent, but she didn’t protest, as she was hoping this change might brighten her life and make it better than what it currently is.  Yet, even with Nta around, Aka’s life remained the same, except that she now had a person who just followed her around like a bodyguard.  

The relief was to her family, who no longer must carry her along for their evening meal, because Nta goes earlier to eat, then comes back to stay with Aka, while the rest of the family goes to eat. 

Still isolated and filled with unanswered questions, but now stuck with Nta, a sad and absent-minded young man, who rarely spoke to Aka, and was always lost in his thought.  

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The change

One day, however, out of the blue, Nta suddenly spoke to Aka, and revealed a secret that lit up her face: “I have a mother.”  

Having no recollection of a relative, no extended family member, no Neighbour or even a guest, Aka’s excitement grew as Nta hinted at a possible future visit to meet his mother.  

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But her smile soon turned upside down when Nta added since you are now pregnant. With a blank stare, Aka wondered if she just heard him wrong, when he said she was pregnant, but Nta repeated it, but this time, with a strange excitement on his face. 

 Aka was shocked by the news, given that she had barely interacted with Nta, but she didn’t question it too much, trusting as her family confirmed the news, and just like every other thing they have ever said to her, they didn’t bother explaining any further, as the conversation simply stopped.  

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As her pregnancy progressed unusually quickly, Aka’s curiosity and sense of unease grew. She realized that something was deeply wrong with her life. She had more to eat, and their family became sneakier than usual.  

Their behaviour became more erratic, and she noticed for the first time in her life, that the people she had lived with all her life, all walked backwards, as well as felt cold and appeared pale to her eyes, and it took her being pregnant to discover all of these. 

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 Despite her fears, she clung to the hope that meeting Nta’s mother would bring some clarity to all of this, as she secretly hoped that she would be more like her than her family. She had always read that pregnancy lasted for at least 9 months, but she welcomed her son, Londu, just after three months of pregnancy, and he was healthy. 

Escape plan

 Aka’s delivery day felt like a dream because she felt nothing until the baby was put in her arms. A crying newborn made her entire family scared, as they looked out the window every time the baby cried on the day of his birth. She was mandated to permanently have his pacifier in his mouth unless she was breastfeeding him. Aka noticed the whole day, that no member of her family either touched or requested to hold her newborn, including the child’s father Nta. 

 That evening, after her family left for their nightly food trip, Nta convinced Aka that their baby was in danger, and he quickly took Aka by the hand, encouraging her to strap the baby on her back and get the most important things she needed.  

Raised by her dead family, rescued by her dead husband

He took her hands in his and led her out of the house in a hurry. But just as they were about to take the first step out of the door, Aka heard loud talking and noises and looked around to see what was going on. With a sudden bust of excitement, Aka smiled from ear to ear, after Nta told her that they were in a busy Owerri market called ‘Douglas market’. Aka was bewildered by the sights and sounds around her, having never seen anything like it.  

But Nta hurried her along until they walked out of the big market within 20 minutes. Nta seemed uneasy and kept on looking over his shoulder as if he was expecting, to be followed by someone.  

They walked so fast that they arrived at a quiet, dusty street lined with houses. Nta suddenly stopped and pointed at one of the old buildings with peeling walls,” My mother lives there”. Aka turned to look at him, and he had the biggest smile she had ever seen as he said, “My family is finally home, I can now rest”. Aka didn’t read much meaning into his behaviour until Nta gave her and their son a big hug. An act he had never done until now.  

He kissed the sleeping newborn, Londu on Aka’s back, before asking Aka to go knock and introduce herself requesting to see Mkpuru, his mother. “Are you not coming with me?’ Aka asked. I will be there soon, I just need to urinate here and go say “hello” to my uncle. “But what if they don’t believe me?” Aka asked. “Then tell her that I said it is time to dig up the money bag, to look after my family. That is a secret only my Mum and I know.” A naive Aka simply turned right around and did as she was told. 

The truth

 As Aka approached the house and knocked, an elderly woman answered. Aka introduced herself, but the woman’s face turned pale with shock. Aka turned to call for Nta, but he was gone. The woman’s shock immediately turned to wailing, as Aka told her the secret only, they knew.   

Nta’s Mother cried and called for her neighbours, she wailed loudly, who gathered around a now confused and very pale-skinned Aka, whispering and pointing at the last place she saw Nta standing. Confused and frightened by the crown now gathering for her sake, Aka tried to explain herself, but the crowd’s reaction only grew more intense.  

An elderly man stepped forward and took Aka by the hand, asking everyone to excuse the young girl, as he led her into the compound, through the family house, to the backyard, where he walked her to a grave there, to inform her that this was the grave of the person she is claiming to be married it. 

Aka’s young and naive heart raced as she read out the name on the tombstone ‘Arinze Dinta Akaku’, along with a picture that looked exactly like her husband, with whom she just walked down this unknown place. ” Nta is dead, how come her parents didn’t know that, or are they also dead? she wondered to herself. She knew they were strange, but them being dead, had never crossed her mind. “He had been dead for two years” the elderly man’s voice jerks her back to reality. “He lost his life fighting over the land his father left him, being an only son.  

The realization hit her like a tidal wave—she had been living with dead people all her life, even having a child with one. A woman from the crowd recognized Aka’s resemblance to her late sister Asim, whose daughter had been searched for, for years, and pieced together Aka’s tragic origins. Aka, overwhelmed, recounted her life story to the crowd, who listened in stunned silence.  

Despite the horror of her discovery, Aka found solace in meeting Nta’s mother and learning about her own extended family. Her story quickly spread, making headlines and reconnecting her with the world she had never known. Aka moved in with her newfound relatives, leaving her ghostly family and husband behind.  

She adjusted to her new life, one where she could move freely and live among the living. Although she missed her family and husband in the day, she always saw her parents in her dreams, asking her why she chose to leave.  

She had never seen her parents cry, so it was yet again strange to see such emotion from them towards her, and Nta came back to her dreams, now and then, to thank her for staying with his family, and reviving his mother’s hope and smile, with Londu. Aka agreed to go to church to sever ties with these people when she learnt it was not normal to have such relationships with dead people.  

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