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77 Chapter Sixteen B efore the four vehicles set out, curious children were waiting by the river to see how vehicles crossed a river without a bridge. The truck tore through the Brook-of-the-serpent again making a mess of it. In fact, with that fourth passage, the brook ceased to be. The children roared with excitement as they saw the miracle of four-wheel-drive vehicles lay waste a place that had haunted them from childhood. Ntube stared contemptuously at what was once the Brook-of-the-serpent (where she had once fallen) and laughed hysterically. When the vehicles got to the big field, the Nsahbinlas parted company with Mr. Ndzerem. They returned to Kumba while he proceeded to Upper Bakossi to inspect the new farm-to-market-road bridges that had been constructed. On arrival at Ekangteh he was delighted to see Mr. Nnahbie, a former Sasse College classmate. “A muan-e-Nkose,” Mr. Ndzerem addressed his friend. “What are you doing here? Is this your village?” “A muan-e-Nchong,” Mr. Nnahbie responded in their school- day jokes, and embraced him. What has brought you to my village?” “Man, it’s a pleasure to see you. I have not seen you for ages. What happened? What have you been doing with yourself eversince you left Sasse?” “Boh, I couldn’t continue after losing my father in form three. I returned to the village to become a farmer. What are we doing outside? Let’s go to the house.” Mr. Nnahbie invited his friend and led the way. “Sit down. Feel at home.” 78 Charles Alobwed’Epie “Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here. I feel so elated. How is everything with you? You are still so meticulous. Everything is well arranged as usual. Fantastic!” Mr. Ndzerem said while admiring Mr. Nnahbies parlour. “Boh, what can we do? It is only when one dies that he rots. We are trying to survive in the village.” “To be candid, I am amazed with the way you have organized your life. Congratulations.” “What do you say has brought you here? Let me know before you sit down.” “I have come to inspect the newly built farm-to-market bridges in Upper Bakossi. I shall go as far as Mbad. I shall be here for three days.” “That’s fine with me and I believe you will give me the honour to be your host at least for today.” “That’s OK. I very much want your warmth once more. Do you still sing those funny songs?” “Let me show you your room before I drive you out of my house. You can’t forget the past?” Mr. Nnahbie joked, got up and arranged a room for his friend. “That’s your room. If you are tired you can go and rest though I would have liked us to converse now. We may be so busy in the evening that we may not be able to converse.” “What shall we be doing in the evening?” “My daughter’s suitor’s parents will come here this evening to pay brideprice on her. If you are not too tired you will be welcomed to witness the event.” “I should say, I am lucky. Before I came here, we had an experience of brideprice payment in Lower Bakossi in a village called Atieg. One of my tribe’s boys got married to an Atieg girl.” “Yes, Bakossi is your tribe. You have nothing to fear here. After all, some of your people settled around the Baseng Mission long ago. They feel at home. If you like, I can show you a plot to build here.” 79 The Lady with the Sting “When I next come. Your land is also grassland. So, don’t think you are joking.” In the evening, Mr. Ndzerem participated in the brideprice giving ceremony. The next day, he thanked his host for his kindness and left to inspect the bridges. Wherever he went, he received gifts of fowls and goats from the natives. After a three day mission he returned to Kumba to tell Mr. Nsahbinla his experience of a brideprice giving ceremony in Upper Bakossi. He met him at the club. Fortunately, there were very few people in the club that day. So, they had ample time to converse. “When we separated, I drove straight to a place called Ekahngte almost midway to the last bridge in the most northern reaches of Bakossi. At first, I doubted...


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