NO DEED DONE
Effiong was the only poultry owner in the whole of Ikot Ukap which was why he was generally called Effiong Unen, meaning, Effiong hen. His business thrived because four neighbouring villages got their supply of eggs and chicken from him.
His poultry expanded so much he had to buy a land and build a separate facility for the expansion. The land was far away from his home and since Effiong was a soul entrepreneur and wouldn’t employ labour, except the contractual kind, he could always be found at his chicken farm until late at night.
There was a time his wife helped out at the farm, but since he’d moved to the bigger place, and begun earning so much money, he decided that his wife would not work but remain a reservoir of display for his recent wealth.
Aniedi Effiong Unen, as the villagers called her, was revered and envied for her new position. Her husband gave her whatever she asked for, which was invariably money and since she hadn’t yet birthed a child for him, she had so much free time on her hands.
Apart from shopping for the home and her personal needs, she was left idle. But then she got a brilliant idea to open a supermarket in Ikot Ukap, the kind that would compare with the ones found in the city. She expected her husband would applaud her and give her the necessary funds as usual.
“Are you mad?!” Effiong Unen exploded. “Do you want people to think that I don’t have money and can’t take care of you?”
Aniedi was taken aback and couldn’t understand how people would arrive at such conclusion when her supermarket would be extravagant and the poultry would still thrive.
Effiong Unen was known to have staunch ideas even when they were the most stupid anybody had ever heard. So, of course, he shot down the supermarket idea, puffed up his chest as the only authority and soul provider for his home and went on living his dream.
His friends which he respected and listened to more than his wife, applauded his decision, while declaring the place of a woman was at home and so Effiong became assured that he was right, as usual.
It wasn’t surprising then that he believed his friends when they whispered to him that they thought his wife was cheating on him.
“What?! In this village? I will kill such a man! I will cut off his manhood for daring to touch my costly wife!”
“Sshh, lower your voice,” his friend advised while looking around the palm wine bar surreptitiously, “We will help you cut off his manhood but to do that, we need to find him first.”
Effiong was still ramped up and heaving angrily and would have ranted loudly again but his friend gave him another reason not to.
“See, we will fail in finding this guy if you keep shouting. You know people in this village talk a lot and you don’t know who knows him. If he hears that you know about the illicit affair, they might stop and you would never get a chance for your revenge.”
Effiong, of course, took a deep breath and settled onto the rickety bench, his brow furrowed in worry.
“Don’t worry, my friend, we will never leave you in this trying time. We just have to keep everything secret so that the village will not know what happened and shame will not rub on your face.”
Another of his friends joined both of them at the dirty plastic table, “Have you told him?” he enquired, his face looking grim for Effiong’s predicament; the first friend nodded solemnly while ordering for another jug of palm wine.
“How did you find out?” Effiong asked, looking miserable and close to tears.
Both his friends exchanged uncomfortable glances and shifted nervously on their seats, but the second friend nodded encouragingly to the first, obviously, the first was the one that discovered the travesty.
“Well,” the first friend begun and cleared his throat, “It was that day that I had to travel to Ikonombo for chairman’s Constituency Briefing and I saw her exiting the hotel that was used for the reception of caucus members.”
Silence reigned at the table until Effiong exclaimed, “Oh! Awan mmi!” he clasped his arms over his chest and shrugged sharply in disbelieve, his words meaning, oh, my wife.
Both friends looked at themselves again over Effiong’s head, “You tell him now,” the second friend prodded and the first friend looked like he would like to slap his mouth for blabbing.
“Tell me what again, eh, tell me what again,” Effiong softly wailed.
“It’s actually nothing,” the first friend stammered.
“It is something, Abel. You shouldn’t hide anything from our friend.”
“You have a big mouth Odudu,” Abel accused.
“So, you want to hide information from me? Do you know the man that dared to do this?” Effiong demanded, his back bone straightening as he sat up.
“It’s not like that, Effiong. What Odudu is prattling about is just my suspicion, it might not be true.”
“Since Abel is uncomfortable about saying this, I will,” Odudu declared with a devil may care attitude. “So, immediately after Abel saw your wife return room keys to the receptionist and hurried out of the hotel, he saw this boy’s friend peeping into the reception as though looking for somebody.”
“Which boy?” Effiong asked with a thunderous frown, he would kill everyone involved.
“This boy that they call, erm…” he snapped his fingers, his eyes shut as he tried to recall a name.
“Akwa Ukap,” Abel supplied.
“Yes! Elder Barnabas’ grandson, who is rumoured to have slept with somebody’s wife in the next village.”
“Eh?!” Effiong exclaimed in shock, his eyes widening.
“Yes,” Odudu agreed, “Abel here, saw the boy’s friend, the one called Ekanem. He was peeping into the reception and when he saw Abel looking at him, he docked and ran.”
“But…” Effiong was confused because that didn’t necessarily mean anything.
“Wait now. Abel thinks that this boy, the Akwa Ukap must have been inside with your wife and when she left, his friend who had been like a watch out must have return to get his friend, but with the crowd and a known face, he quickly escaped. Maybe the Akwa Ukap boy escaped from the back,” Odudu suggested, pinning his forefinger on Effiong’s arm to press home his point.
“All these are conjectures, Effiong…”
“Leave grammar, Abel, your suspicions make perfect sense, or who do you think is doing it?”
Abel sighed heavily, “This is elder Barnabas’ grandson, you can’t just go and accuse him like that.”
“Why not?” Odudu countered belligerently. “Has he not done it before at Mbiaso?”
Despite Abel’s warnings, Effiong arrived Alex’s grannies’ home early the next day with a grim expression. The sight of Alex’s broad shoulders and muscled body, shirtless as he did his morning chores in and about the house, made his expression even grimmer.
After stilted pleasantries, he went directly to the issue, “Elder, it is general knowledge that your grandson’s sexual virility cannot be rivalled by anybody, even men older than him.”
“Effiong!” both old people exclaimed in shock, their shouts brought Alex running inside to find out if all was well.
“Good, you’re here,” Effiong pointed at him, “You’re suspected to have slept with my wife at a hotel in Ikonombo during the Constituency Briefing…”
“Jesus!” Alex exclaimed in shock, his shoulders shrugging sharply in quick succession as he speechlessly denied the dire accusations thrown at him.
“Effiong, I am according you respect right now because we attend the same church…” grandfather started.
“Elder, we attend the same church because God’s World Mission is the only big church in this village. When I buy the car I’m planning to, I’ll be driving to Ikonombo to attend a bigger and better church, so, be patient with me.”
Alex’s grandmother who was always fast to tears was actually looking fiercely at Effiong, “Look here, young man, you might think that your chicken money has made you a law onto yourself and so you think respect is beyond you…”
“Mma Deaconess, please…”
“Shut up, I’m talking!” and to everybody’s shock, Effiong clammed his mouth and listened.
“I’m sure those your useless friends sent you to do this. Yes, my son made a terrible mistake last year and had remained a good boy since, and you think because of his past you can walk in here and accuse him of rubbish?”
Tension filled the small house and Alex felt like a huge tree stump just standing there and suffering the guilt that suffused his body.
“They saw his friend at the hotel…” Effiong began grumbling.
“Did I ask you to speak?” grandma asked fiercely, looking like she would hurl her considerable weight from the seat and slap the stupidity from Effiong’s face.
“I remember the Constituency Briefing. I recall my grandson asked to go with his friend but we had to harvest in the farm, so I asked him to stay back and help and he did; him and his two friends.”
“Was it that day I had elders’ meeting at Uyo?”
“Yes. Akwaowo, Uko and Jojo helped me at the farm till late in the evening, so when would he have had time to reach Ikonombo, sleep with your wife and return to the farm without my knowing?”
Effiong put his head down and couldn’t reply.
“See, young man, if you suspect your wife is cheating, then go home and deal with your wife. If she has not reported it to the police as rape, then she actually agreed to cheat on you; I don’t know why you’re out looking for the man when the problem is your wife.”
“But all fingers are pointing to him,” he said, pointing at Alex who shrank back unconsciously.
“Go home, Effiong and give your wife what to do. This is what happens when idleness sets in, go and keep your wife busy,” grandma snapped.
Effiong stormed off in a huff, “I’ll be watching you,” he threatened.
He left that morning still believing his friend’s suspicion, even though said friend, Abel, wasn’t so sure; but as far as the other friend, Odudu, supported his action, Effiong remained right.
Alex’s grannies turned on him the moment Effiong left, their eyes were accusing all over again like after the debacle with Mistress Carol.
“Young man,” his granddad said, “You’re not to step fifty feet from this compound until this latest debacle is resolved.”
Alex nodded. They were not going to shout at him again but their silence was worse than the shouts.