When the villagers were escorting Ikemefuna to his village and Ikemefuna was wondering from within if his mother is alive and will his younger sister recognize him in his village. He had developed a great attachment for Umofia and also towards Okonkwo and his family. He was considering Okonkwo as his father and his family as his own. But still he was excited about going back to his own village and Okonkwo and the villagers were escorting him.
The novel THINGS FALL APART had got so much into me, that I felt like I was walking with the villagers and I was going to leave Ikemefuna back to his village.
I, as a reader, knew that the villagers had planned to kill Ikemefuna as and when they move out of their village. But being so involved in the novel, made me want Okonkwo to save Ikemefuna. Knowing Okonkwo, who also had developed attachment for Ikemefuna, wouldn’t do anything as such. But I hoped that he would change and so the course of the novel. I wanted and hoped Okonkwo will leave behind his chauvinistic shell and save Ikemefuna, who was totally excited about going back to his village, his house and his family. But the villagers attacked Ikemefuna and I stood there, helplessly, watching them do so and expecting Okonkwo to save Ikemefuna. But he dint! I was shocked. I stood there as Ikemefuna’s blood came flowing towards me and made the ground that I stood on red. I mourned, standing there, for Ikemefuna, his desire to go home and his excitement. I was unable to move. I don’t know if the villagers went back, but I stood there, next to the corpse of Ikemefuna.
I must be reading the second next line and my cell vibrated in my pocket and I came out of the novel. I dint see, as to who was calling me, but received the call. “Haanji Sir, main ghar pahunchgayi” (Sir, I have reached home) said my student Deepanshi. She had left for home two days earlier. She continued her talk and said “Mummy Papa aaye the railway station receive karne” (my parents had come to the railway station to receive me). She was extremely excited about going home and she had called me to inform me that she had reached home. Her excitement of going home was in parallel with that of Ikemefuna.
Why should the villagers kill him by showing him a beautiful dream? I shall not ask such questions now, though it’s possible to. But how I wish, even Ikemefuna had reached home. May be even his parents were waiting for him. May be still they are waiting for him. May be even he would have declared, “I have reached home” every enthusiastically as Deepanshi did. But Alas!
Chinua Achebe says, in the novel, that people still talk about Ikemefuna in that village. I know not, if they do talk, but I shall talk forever this strange coincidence, which I can’t say why, disturbed for long. And its thought still disturbs me.
10 June 2008