The Tortoise and Orumhonhi Bird

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The first bout in the series of fight ensued when Mr. Tortoise was at the riverbank. Mr. Orumhonhi bird swooped on him from the blue and almost drowned him in the nearby fast-pacing river. The following day, on the great road to the farm, while Mr. Orumhonhi was on his way back after a rigorous farm work, Mr. Tortoise waylaid him to take his own pound of flesh. The last fight took place along the narrow passageway of the house where they were both tenants. One of them was on the way out to pour dirty water away while the other had only just entered from a social function. They collided like two adult elephants along the corridor and nearly tore each other to smithereens. That was when a kindhearted fellow made up his mind to inform the king about the many attacks and reprisals between the two neighbors before it would degenerate. The fellow came back to notify the brawlers of the king’s intention to see them the next market day which was five days away.

The Tortoise and Orumhonhi Bird

The Tortoise and Orumhonhi Bird

Mr. Tortoise: Shame on you, Orumhonhi! Who in this town is yet to know you are from a thieving lineage? To think you want to smear my hard-earned reputation is what I cannot conceive. What does gold and silver have in common?

Mr. Orumhonhi: Who doesn’t know you in this dirty trade, ehn? Your petty theft over the years will be open very soon to public glare. This time around, your tattered linen will be washed in the village square. That is what I have promised you. Take it from me.

Mr. Tortoise: The tuber takes after the soil that births it. After eating like the ungrateful fowl, you wiped your stained beaks clean on the floor to prove innocence? You will be disgraced. Let’s bet.

The two furious neighbors still managed to trade insults before retreating inside to ponder over the forthcoming meeting with the king in five days.

King: I have received complaints about the both of you tearing at each other’s throat. Osenebua forbid! It is not in our blood to commit murder. Not in my time. And you ought to know the repercussion the gods spelt out for such dastardly act. Don’t you? The right thing is to report any grievances to appropriate authority which a well-wisher has done on your behalf. The badge of pregnancy is too obvious to be concealed under clothing. Whoever has committed this crime and intends to incriminate an innocent person will face due wrath from the custodians of our collective principles.

Mr. Tortoise: look at what the world has turned into. The dirty house rat wanders into the bush to smudge the stainless body of his kindred there. Our gods will vindicate me.

Mr. Orumhonhi: (starts weeping uncontrollably) He who prepared this load will surely use his own head to carry it. I have no idea where all this is coming from. And it will not go with my head. (snaps fingers over his head in rejection)

King: Stop swearing in the palace! Orumhonhi! You are aware no one snaps fingers in the palace. What has come over you? Both of you should respect yourselves and let us find solution to this brainteaser. According to reports with me, the League of Sweepers had kept something precious in the custody of the both of you who were good friends before the incident. Upon request for what belongs to them, neither of you could provide nor tell them the whereabouts of what was kept under your surveillance. How do we unravel this?

Mr. Tortoise: I handed the bag over to Orumhonhi on the spot and went to greet a friend. Before I could come back, he had tucked it into his anus!

Mr. Orumhonhi: Oh King! Live forever. I never set my eyes on the missing bag. It was handed over to Tortoise at the time I was having a group chat with my age-grade. I don’t even know how the objects in it look. I only overheard them say we should keep it safe. That’s all. And I had thought I had a human for a neighbor!

The king went into his inner chamber and came out after five minutes. The two friends turned archenemies were standing with their eyes roving, sweating profusely and eager to hear the king’s next line of action. The king came in and sat on his throne to make his pronouncement.

King: There is no time beating about the bush on this sensitive issue. The goat has eaten the yam and has thrown the accusation on an innocent dog. But do I come down from this throne and start sniffing your breathe? That is not how it is done here! I am not a dog either. My decision is this. I have sent for the leader of the League of Sweepers. He will take the both of you to an Eko (camp) as soon as he arrives. You are to stay there seven days. No food! No water! Whoever comes out alive is the innocent one. You are allowed to take with you seven lumps of Akara for the long journey until you set your feet on the Eko. Nevertheless, no food or drink is permitted on the premises.

On the way to the Eko, the two suspects were to cross seven rivers. Meanwhile, as Mr. Tortoise packed his lumps of Akara into his bag slung over his shoulders, he also included stones of about equal weight. When finally they arrived at the bank of the last river, they were instructed to dump their remaining Akara into the river. While Orumhonhi (the bird) was busy flinging his remnant food into the river, Tortoise hurled the hidden stones in his bag instead. The impact of the objects on both sides of the river made bobbles in the water and no one suspected there could ever be any foul play. Locked in two separate cells in the Eko, the two defendants were left behind to sit out the test. The first day came and was gone. Same with the third and the fourth days. On the fifth day, it was Mr. Tortoise who decided to break the dead silence with a reminder song.

Mr. Tortoise:

Orumhonhi my neighbor x 2

Seven days we are to spend in Eko

No drinks. No food. Neighbor!

Whoever dies first, be devoured by the worms!

My neighbor!

Mr Orumhonhi:

Ewi (Tortoise) my neighbor x 2

Seven days we are to spend in Eko

No drinks. No food. Neighbor!

Whoever dies first, be devoured by the worms!

My neighbor!

Towards the evening of the sixth day, Tortoise again decided to test the remainder strength of Orumhonhi by singing the same song. In the meantime, as the seven-day duration wore off, Tortoise who had smuggled in lumps of Akara fed himself fat on it whereas Orumhonhi the bird in his disingenuous sincerity subjected self to fatal hunger.

Mr. Tortoise:

Orumhonhi my neighbor x 2

Seven days we are to spend in Eko

No drinks. No food. Neighbor!

Whoever dies first, be devoured by the worms!

My neighbor!

His first rendition was not responded to so, he decided to sing it all over again. Only then did he strain his ears to hear a distant grunt from Mr. Orumhonhi’s direction. It was at this instant Mr. Tortoise knew his trick paid off.

On the seventh day, when the King sent an emissary to check on them and bring the survivor back home, he found out only the innocent Tortoise scaled through the hurdle and was still bubbling with life. Finally, the guiltless man had been vindicated! The king’s messenger as instructed touched the head of the deceased with his Ugbazuzu; immediately, Orumhonhi sneezed back to life. However, the punishment meted out on him afterwards remains with his offspring till this day. It is because of this very reason every Orumhonhi bird you see today defecates worms that have been devouring them on the inside!

 

 

 

 

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