As [Ekwefi] buried one child after another her sorrow gave way to the despair and then to grim resignation. The birth of her children, which should be a woman’s crowning glory, became for Ekwefi mere physical agony devoid of promise. The naming ceremony after seven market weeks became an empty ritual.
After the death of Ekwefi’s second child, Okonkwo had gone to a medicine man, who was also a diviner of the Afa Oracle, to inquire what was amiss. This man told him that the child was an ogbanje, one of those wicked children who, when they died, entered their mothers’ wombs to be born again.
Everybody knew [Ezinma] was an ogbanje. These sudden bouts of sickness and health were typical of her kind. But she had lived so long that perhaps she had decided to stay. Some of them did become tired of their evil rounds of birth and death, or took pity on their mothers, and stayed.