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Ojemba: The Venal Solution

The light of the moon played against the backdrop of deep blue skies; the music of the night, a sweet melody as she danced. The dried branches crackling beneath her feet as she did. The villagers of Ichoku gathered at Nkwo, that night, like they did every full moon; the children listening to folklore, the Nwa agboo dancing to the beat of the drums and Nwokorobia wrestling and chanting praises. How she would have loved to join them, she would have trounced any of those girls any day. But she knew what she was… The one thing she hated; being reminded of the dishonour that the mere name held.

She danced; each sound from the Ogene more intoxicating than the last, the Opi giving her a reason to move her waist. The moon’s light peeped over the bushes behind which she hid. She closed her eyes, gripping sand with her toes with each stomp.
Then she felt a sharp sting on her leg. She blinked rapidly to adjust to the light when the slippery creature slithered away. She sank to her buttocks with a great thud, desperately gripping the leg as she let out a sharp wail,
“Agwo!” She cried.
Out from the bushes, a man appeared, swift like an Agu. His eyes were small and sunken in his well chiselled face. His body was tall and huge like the Iroko, moving towards the wound. Putting his lips to the wound, he sucked the venom and spat. Her eyes were getting heavy. He picked her up like a limp antelope and threw her over his shoulder.
She fell into a deep sleep.

He watched and waited; watched the young wrestlers at Nkwo, hoping to see Otimgbo, to see if the bastard would show off any new skill like he usually did. Otimgbo was walking in circles and spitting all around, a sickening habit of his, that being his sign of ‘victory’.
But then, she caught his attention. She was hiding in a shrub beside him but he could see her. Her hair was as long as the mare’s tail; bouncing on her back with every step she took. Her eyes were closed but her skin shone with sweat, showing a glimpse of her well-endowed bosom. Her Akwa looked worn and torn but they caressed her so well in the light of the moon. He hid behind the bushes and watched her, carefully examining every inch of her. When, suddenly, she fell; he knew she was hurt and instinct kicked in. Continue reading


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Kalahari Review Feature: Many Faced Gods

Hey buff folks! 

My short story ‘Many Faced Gods’ is on the Kalahari Review. Read and be blessed lol.

For this Sunday service, I know the exact number of people wearing red. I do not like the colour red because my Father says it represents witchcraft. My brother is sitting beside me, but is too busy typing instant messages on his phone. He is the only one who dares to do this in my family: use a phone in church.

I allow my eyes search the crowd for my mother, even though I know exactly where she is sitting. The small church is built in a semi-circle and there are many partitions and seating arrangements to allow everybody see the preacher well. From the angle where Ibinabo and I are sitting, we could see almost all the church clearly. I now see my mother sitting at the second row of the church where she always sits.

Even though she is a Pastor’s wife, she still isn’t allowed to sit at the front row. Father says front row seats are for the men. Her hands are clasped tightly between her laps and she looks like she is squinting at the preacher. I don’t know if she is listening to the message, because she is just sitting like a statue. Her skin is the colour of dark chocolate and the kernel oil she rubs every morning, gives her a clean glow— even though it gives her a weird smell. Her long, black hair is now thinning. I can clearly see the purplish bruising on her neck, even though she tries to cover it with her scarf. I heard her telling Mama Tobi, the busybody, earlier, that it is an allergic reaction to a fake gold necklace. I don’t think Mama Tobi believes her though. I think my mother doesn’t know how to lie.

I hate lies. Continue reading


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Featured: An Abundance of Yellow Paper by TJ Benson

Wherever the man came from he didn’t stop running.
He made a turn at the end of Maikano Street, ran into a men’s wear boutique in a white jalabiya and ran out through the back in an ash three-piece suit, a brown leather suitcase in his right hand, red tie flapping over his shoulders as he ran. Even at cross-roads he didn’t stop to catch his breath, he only slowed into a jog after crossing, up the sloping crescent that led to the River View hotel.
The receptionist didn’t know what to make of him, this dapper-dressed stranger with full beard that concealed most of his face and sharpened his eyes; she didn’t know what to make of him at all. She wished him a happy stay and gave him the chip-key for Room 101, the penthouse apartment he requested. How he knew it was available was beyond her and she stared at him, at his brown leather briefcase until he disappeared into the elevator at the far end of the lounge. She turned to her desk to answer a call.
In the roof-top apartment of the hotel he sat on the lush four-poster bed and sighed. Beside him on the bed was the brown leather briefcase. All his running, all his life-savings had come to this. He ran a hand over its creased surface and thought of her. He thought to open it now but knew it was foolishness; there would be surveillance cameras in the room. He picked up the briefcase and walked out to the open air of the roof top. At the edge a table and chair overlooked the sun-dappled Victoria Island skyline without any parapet wall to keep from falling. He dropped the briefcase on the table and sat on the chair before these monsters of concrete and glass, his only spectators for now.
He opened the briefcase knowing what he would find but this knowing didn’t quell his thrill. When he saw what was promised a sense of sanctity overwhelmed him. He knew what he had to do but when he whipped out his ink pen he hesitated. It was a dangerous time to write poetry. Digital poems were traced back to their author’s IP addresses and the discovered poets were stalked and raped to death at first by fans and eventually assassinated when poet-homicide increased and their poems turned to the authorities all over the world. Continue reading


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A Roland For An Oliver

A sunny day in 1953, a woman and her six-year-old son strolled towards their house, after a long day’s trade at the Ekwulobia market. A loud audacious voice made a few people stop and turn, including the Woman. It was Timothy, the village’s fore spokesperson, who had only just gotten a scholarship to study Political Science at the University of Ibadan. He was the only son of Efuru, the late famous Wine tapper, and had been a favorite since he was a baby. His father did his best to send him to the primary education in their town but died before Timothy could finish. When the village saw the great feats he accomplished at primary school, they contributed some money to send him to secondary school in Lagos.

He had become their pride and joy, destined for great things. The woman was a good friend to Timothy’s mother; she recalled how his mother labored at the farm, day and night, for meager yams and measly corn she would trade for Timothy’s primary school fees. She also knew the joy that his mother felt when Timothy had gotten the university scholarship. Ever since he was a child, he always had strong opinions and spoke big grammar that nobody understood which was why no one was surprised when he came back to town and started organizing political rallies.

He was having one of his usual demonstrations at the market square and had a larger crowd than usual on this particular day. He stood comfortably on the wooden platform shouting some words that the Woman couldn’t care less about, but still she stood, listening from a distance. A few people in the crowd held placards of convicting but poorly written messages that read: NO MORE KWEEN, WE WANT INDEPENDENCE, and WHITE PIPUL MUST GO etc.

Some of the red-capped chiefs stood behind Timothy, with their yellowed singlets and threadbare wrappers, smiling proudly at the son of the soil. The eldest man in the village, Mazi Amadi, was also present with his wife, Ekutus, which made the Woman wonder how important the rally was. This old man was almost eighty years and he walked with a stick because of his bent back. Everyone in the village called him Npa, which meant Father. He was a wise man that everyone went to when they needed advice and he would always say the old Igbo proverb first before anything else, “What an old man can see sitting down, the young men cannot see from the tallest mountain.” His first wife died during childbirth many years back leaving behind no child. He married a second wife soon after and she had seven children who were all mostly grown. Mazi Amadi had been a catechist in his young age and knew a little English. Children came to him when they wanted to hear stories of his travels and English adventures. He was also somewhat wise when it came to English politics. The Woman realized that Mazi Amadi was at the gathering because the elders wanted the villagers to take the rallies more seriously.

The Woman moved closer, pulling her son along with her. Timothy’s voice reverberated through the crowd, “We want to live in an independent nation; where our sons and daughters can lead us. We were here before they came and claimed our soil as theirs. They have helped, yes, but they have overstayed their welcome. Let them go back to their civilized country and rule themselves. We are tired! Are you not tired?!” He shouted, shaking his hands vigorously as if to impart some of his exasperation on the crowd. “Yes, we are tired!” The crowd shouted back. The air was buzzing with a strange energy and the Woman couldn’t help but shout “We are tired,” with them when Timothy asked again. Goosebumps appeared all over her skin as she imagined the greatness that awaited Timothy. She hoped to God that her three sons would have such courage to voice their opinions.

Sweat trickled down her back and her face; she released the edge of her wrapper and wiped her face with it. Timothy continued with his speech, “Aren’t you tired of being robbed of your resources so that they can fund their businesses and industries while we suffer here? Are you not tired of being just an annex for them to exert their power on when they feel like?” Most of the villagers didn’t understand what he said but they still murmured, “We are tired” during the speech. The Woman had a feeling that Timothy found it hard to speak coherently in his native tongue so he spoke in English, but the kind of energy he talked with made the crowd to become more and more pepped. Soon, people were pumping their fists in the air, shouting “Independence!” Timothy spoke up again, “This has gone on for far too long and we can’t just keep quiet anymore.” He paused to wipe his face with a small material.

Just then, an engine revved behind them and Police officers stormed into the square shouting “God save the queen! Everybody lie dan!” The officers rounded the people up and soon, everyone was flat on their faces, quivering. The overzealous and enthusiastic officers in rumpled khaki shirt and shorts with dirty brown sandals, that waved their guns all over the place, were Nigerian; even Igbo.

Their inspector was a blond white man with neat, ironed khaki trousers and shiny black boots. He walked around for a while and then shouted, “Who is the chief speaker here?” He spoke Igbo, probably to impress the villagers, even though his British accent was still clear and he didn’t get the pronunciations right. The Woman heard murmurs but no one spoke up for a while. The sun was burning her back and the hot red sand was searing her face.

She wished the police hadn’t come. Timothy was still so young and the future of his generation; also, the future of their village. He could be charged with treason and be killed. She had warned Timothy’s family about the dangers of this his political interest, but no one listened. The Woman was now sure that all the money, labor and sweat of the whole village for Timothy would go to waste.

Someone finally stood up. “Is me sah!” The croaky voice said in shaky English. The Woman peered from beneath her arm and saw that it was Mazi Amadi. The fib was not nearly plausible but no one said a word wither ward. It seemed the Igbo Policemen knew the gist of the matter and decided to keep shut too because they quickly bundled the old man into the vehicle.

The rest of the villagers got up slowly while Ekutus screamed “Mba Mba, No, No!” and ran after the speeding rover. Timothy looked dumbfounded as his mother led him away. As everyone else departed in their various directions, they heaved their shoulders up and down in disapproval, hissed and sighed deeply, clucked their tongues or shouted, “Hei!” at intervals.

The Woman dusted the sand off her son’s body, retied her wrapper and continued her stroll towards her small family home.


Hope you enjoyed my story, thanks for reading!

Oh and before i forget…. Food for thought:

puff-puff-not-bombs

Art by Okechukwu Ofili from Ofilispeaks.com

Have a buff day! :*


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Untitled.

You feel it coming for you
Every day that builds up to it
Deep and dreadful is this foreboding

Everyday it looms over your head
Like a shadow during a sunset
The thought of it so much worse
There’s nothing sweet about this wait

And then it comes
The pain so fierce, it braves you for death
Creating a hollow in your middle
Like the emptiness that comes with hunger
Except you’re not hungry

It comes when you don’t expect
In the middle of the night, most times
You toss and turn and feel it in your dreams
A pain so fierce, it rouses you from sleep

You try not to cry
But it hurts, it hurts so bad
The pain is thick and demanding
Every single minute, it needs attention
Drugs, hot water or to change position

And then it’s over
You thank the stars for this respite
And you begin to forget how terrible the pain
That is, till the foreboding comes again
And you prepare for the next month.


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When Life Gives You Oranges

Extreme close-up image of an orange

There is a funny story I heard at the office about a colleague, Nnamdi.

Many years before Nnamdi began working at our company as the chief-technician, he worked as a houseboy for a German engineer, who had been invited to the country on a special assignment. At the time, Nnamdi had never seen a white man before, nor worked with one so things were a bit difficult at first. This man, Mr. Burk Ludwig, was the complete opposite of everything Nnamdi had ever heard about foreign people. He had previously thought they were very generous people but the man seldom gave any money to Nnamdi, except for when it was time to pay salary. Mr. Burk, himself, exhibited extreme distrust for Nigerians so much so that he never even allowed Nnamdi know where he worked.

This all changed the day Mr. Burk fell ill.

“Nam-dee,” Mr. Burk called out from his fetal position on his sick bed. “I’m going to die…”

Nnamdi resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Sir, it’s just malaria.” Why do these white people have to be so dramatic? He said to himself. “You are not going to die… I’ll just go and buy some drugs from the chemist and you will be well again, you’ll see.”

“Ha-have you had malaria before Nam-dee?” Mr. Burk stuttered, his eyes wide with fear as he awaited Nnamdi’s answer.

Nnamdi almost laughed but quickly realized the man was being serious. He reviewed his options: If he admitted to Mr. Burk that he himself had survived malaria countless times, it was sure to alleviate the man’s fear. Then again, he knew it was possible for Mr. Burk to think malaria was contagious as the man had several stupid notions about Nigeria.

At last, Nnamdi replied, “No oh, sir. How can? In fact, none of my family members have ever had malaria. But I heard one man from my village survived it.”

Nnamdi didn’t miss the relief on Mr. Burk’s face as the man took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He, then, ran to the nearby pharmacy and asked for Coartem.

In less than a week, Mr. Burk was back on his feet with an instantaneous change of heart.

 

For the first time, one fateful day, Mr. Burk finally entrusted Nnamdi with the task of buying his precious South-African oranges from the biggest mall in Abuja at the time, Amigos, with the sum of Fifteen Thousand Naira.

Nnamdi wondered why the man would need so many oranges as he headed out for the mall. On getting to the aisle where the oranges were, he looked at the price tag and couldn’t help the “Jesus!” that rushed past his lips. He even confronted an attendant to confirm the price. His sum of Fifteen Thousand Naira could only buy fifteen oranges. He eventually took the oranges to the counter and, with a heavy heart, paid for them.

“I do love my oranges!” Mr. Burk would say in a sing-song voice, smiling as he sucked on the juices of a sliced orange. According to Nnamdi, his German accent became clearer whenever he was happy. Meanwhile, Nnamdi stood in the corner watching his oga with a scowl on his face. How can someone just throw away money like this, Nnamdi thought.

This task of buying oranges continued for some time until one day, Nnamdi arrived at Amigos and didn’t see South-African oranges. Apparently, Amigos was the only place in Abuja that sold the unique oranges and they were out of stock. Nnamdi took the bad news to Mr. Burk’s office and he swears he saw tears brimming in the old man’s eyes.

An idea came to Nnamdi and he decided to take the chance. “Sir, I know where I can get sweeter South-African oranges for you!”

Next thing, Nnamdi was racing towards the food-stuff section of Wuse Market where he located fifteen juicy and attractive oranges which he haggled down to “three for Hundred Naira.” He, then, bought a fine white nylon bag into which he put the oranges.

“Nam-dee my boy! These oranges are Vonderful!” Mr. Burk exclaimed as soon as the juice touched his buds. “Where did you get them?” He asked, looking at Nnamdi with renewed reverence.

“It’s a secret sir…” Nnamdi replied with a sly smile, enjoying the newly formed bond between them. “Sir, hide it under your table, you know they are very expensive.”

Some years later, after the tragic death of Mr. Burk, Nnamdi received a package with a note that read, “To Nnamdi my boy, who knew just where to find the best oranges, the sum of five thousand dollars.”

This is a true story told to me by a funny man in my office. Of course, I twisted it a bit.

Thanks for reading!giphy (1)


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Nigerian Health Care: Blood, Sweat and Tears

This story is about an unlucky woman who went into labor on one of those unlucky nights, somewhere in Nigeria.

She and her frantic husband sauntered into a nearby hospital where the nurses quickly came to wheel her to the delivery room… but not without a hospital card.

“Do you have a hospital card?”

The Husband quickly paid the two-thousand naira for the card.

After two hours in the delivery room, the doctor called the Husband aside.

“Your wife has Cephalopelvic disproportion. We have to perform a Caesarean Section on her. Please, pay the eighty-thousand naira to the cashier.”

The begging that ensued took another hour. “Please, I don’t have that kind of money. Please, help us, I will pay first thing tomorrow.” You see, it wasn’t nearly possible for the Husband to have eighty-thousand on him; he was just a school-bus driver with a monthly salary of fifteen-thousand naira.

To the Husband’s surprise and utmost dismay, his wife was wheeled back to the waiting room. “Until you pay, sir…” The nurse said and left the two to their misery.

The current Health care system is neither healthy, caring or a system- Walter Cronkite

It was to be their first child, their small beacon of hope, so they prayed for a miracle.

After a while, a strange wind blew through the hospital causing a chaos of flying papers and banging doors. The cool wind apparently caused the Woman to deliver her bouncing baby girl right there on the Waiting room floor.

The nurses had no choice but to take her in and clean the Woman and her baby up.

I heard this true testimony from my pastor one Sunday and I began to weep.

I wept not because of the exaggerated way he retold the story that made everyone jump and shout “Hallelujah!”

I wept for the Nigerian healthcare system.

sad

I wept for the woman because I couldn’t even imagine the amount of pain she must have experienced.

As a matter of fact, the situation could have caused deformities or even death for that woman or her child.

I wept because everyone present at that auditorium, including the pastor, knew it too.

Health care is not a priviledge. It’s a right. It’s a right as fundamental as Civil rights. It’s a right as fundamental as giving every child a chance to get a public education- Rod Blagojevich

Do something selfless today, It might go a long way!

bear hug

I thank God for you.

Afreada Feature: Nnenna

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I am eighty,sick and laying on the laps of death, its seductive hands slowly snatching me away from this world. I am ready to go but not without sharing her story.

The first day I saw her was like any other. I was playing tennis with my friend Kunle at the country club when she passed by with an infant in her arms. I had stopped and stared until she walked into the club restaurant. A ball whizzed past my head and I turned to find Kunle at the other side of the court with a quizzical look on his face. “Huh?” I asked absentmindedly and walked to retrieve the ball Kunle had carelessly thrown. “Who were you looking at, Mr Man?” I could hear the humour in his voice, “Don’t you have a girlfriend, Chibuzor?” I ignored him and took my stance, ready to serve the ball. “Besides, she’s married,” Kunle paused, trying to gauge my reaction to his news, “to that soldier guy… Uche.”

I had said to Kunle that day, in a bid to hide my disappointment, “That’s too bad, then.”

***

The second time I saw her was not like any other day. It was two years later, late 1966, on the last train to Onitsha. I had been on my way from Makurdi to Oturkpo on my bicycle, earlier that day, when the disaster broke out. A blue Ford roughly stopped in front of my bicycle while I was riding past the famous Market junction. Kunle had gotten out of the car and exclaimed, “Chi-boy what are you still doing here?! They are killing Igbos and throwing their bodies into The Benue! You need to get out of here now.” I let my bicycle fall to the ground as I absorbed the news.

“Godspeed my friend! See you soon.” Kunle said, once we were safely at the chaotic station. That was the last time I saw him. I dragged my feet towards the only train left at the station. It was a cream locomotive with a chain of four cars which didn’t look safe enough to travel in but people didn’t care. Injured Men, forlorn women and confused children scurried and squeezed themselves inside. No one wanted to die. I made my way towards the chaos but not before two men held onto my rumpled black shirt. “You be Igbo abi?” They attacked so fluidly in Pidgin English. Not dignifying their question with a response, I shrugged them off and continued to the train. One of the men hit my head with a large stick. I recovered quickly and kicked him in the groin. The other man came at me and I delivered a blow to his chin. I ignored the disconcerting sound of cracking bones as I used the stick, which had been used previously on me, to hit him on the head.

“Your head is bleeding.” She had said as soon as I stepped on the train.

Surprised, I turned to see her staring at my head, arm-in-arm with her two-year-old. I felt like I was watching the whole thing from the outside and none of it was real.

“Oh, I hadn’t noticed.” I said as she sighed in resignation.

The place smelt of thick sweat, stale urine and of course, blood.

“I know you,” I suddenly burst out, “From the club. Where’s your husband?” I immediately wished I hadn’t asked that particular question when her face suddenly fell.

“They killed him.” She said simply and turned back to stare through the window.

The silence that ensued was both conforming and uncomfortable and I racked my brain for something to say to this new widow. “Where are you going?” I asked, trying to swat away flies that were tired of perching on a man’s wounded leg and were now circling my head.

“I don’t know,” She said.

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t know.” She glanced at me, “I’m not from the East. I’m from Benue. I just can’t stay there anymore.”

“I see.” Her little girl looked at me with wide eyes and I smiled at her. The child returned my smile with a wide-toothed grin. “I’m Chibuzor.” I declared.

“Beatrice.” She said, looking up from her daughter to look me squarely in the eyes. There was just something about her eyes, that seemed like they could see through my cool demeanour and expose how scared I really was. We didn’t say much to each other, since the circumstances around us left us sombre enough.

I insisted on helping Beatrice with her accommodation problem, simply because I wanted to know more about the woman. We found our way from Onitsha to my family house at Ndiowu in Anambra state where my elder brother lived with his wife and children. I had no choice but to share a room with Beatrice and her daughter, Precious. It didn’t matter that we barely knew each other because we were already in desperate and unsettling times. In the middle of the night, Beatrice cried so hard I thought she was going to faint from fatigue. Unsure of what to do, I rolled over to her and placed unsteady arms around her. She immediately held on to me and sobbed some more. “Uche and I had a complicated marriage… I don’t know whether I’m happy or mourning.” She had whispered when her sobs quelled. I stared at the broken woman in my arms and before I could gather coherent words of comfort for her, she said, “I don’t know how to thank you.” We stayed that way till Precious yawned awake.

***

The first time I kissed Beatrice was in 1967 in new Biafra, when the disasters of war did nothing to quench our hopes. “Win the war!” was all we said those days. We built bunkers but had little use for it since our village was pretty much in the bush.

“I keep thinking about our soldiers…” She had said while we were idly plucking German mangoes from the front yard. I didn’t miss her use of ‘our’. “I wonder who’s taking care of them?” she asked, picking out the mangoes that had been eaten up by birds from the bowl.

“I guess there are people…” I trailed off and then tried to change the topic, “I think I should climb and get more mangoes.”

“I want to be a nurse… there’s a woman that says that the military are short on doctors and…”

“With what qualification?” I interrupt her, giving her an incredulous stare while I awaited her response.

Her lips turn up in a sad smile and she walks closer to me. “No one cares anymore, Chibuzor,” She paused, “I’ll learn.”

I looked at her stubborn beautiful eyes and knew I was in love with her. Then, I closed the distance between us with one quick move. It was one of those kisses that graduated into something more; slow and sensual at first, then hurriedly like we couldn’t get enough. My hands moved to her waist and backed her against the mango tree. Her trembling hands found their way to my neck and she pulled me harder against her. Soon we were tumbling and laughing our way into our small room and trying not to wake Precious from her nap.

 

The second time we made love was the very next day and it was when we first discussed our future. I had whispered to her, “I love you… and I love your daughter.”

She tilted her head to look at me. “Let’s get married,” she said slowly.

“We’re in the middle of a war, Beatrice.” The impact of her words hit me harder than I could imagine.

She giggled. “I love the way you say my name…” she said, her hands trailing down my stomach. I clenched my muscles as I felt blood rush south creating a delicious throbbing ache, yet again. “Let’s get married.” She repeated.

***

Our first big fight was two days after our wedding in 1968. The hunger was getting to us and the smell of death left us feeling weak and morose. The woman who had been teaching a few girls and Beatrice about nursing wounds and tending drugs arrived at our house to say that more nurses were needed at a camp in the new capital.

“I won’t let you go, Beatrice! We just got married for Christ’s sake. What if something happens to you? What will happen to Precious?” I said, as soon as the words escaped Beatrice’s lips.

“You’re being selfish Chibuzor. This is not about me or Precious. You are the one that doesn’t want me to go! You want all your loved ones to hide out in this…in this bush and be uninvolved! You won’t even let your brother’s son be recruited even though he is willing and capable. Where is your hope?! People are dying and our soldiers need help!” She said, yelling and crying at the same time.

“They are not your soldiers! You are not even Igbo!” I shouted back. We stared at each other, the tension was palpable and our heavy breathing was the only sound that could be heard in the small room. My heart broke when I saw new tears brimming in her eyes. I was just about to regret my words when little Precious rushed into the room, crying from a fall. Soon, the three of us were enclosed in a tight embrace, weeping profusely. We wept for the hope of a nation and the dearth of it that was soon to come.

We made love that night, like it would be the last time. Everything seemed different and I held her tight long after our breathing settled.

“You need to wash the condom… we don’t have any other one.” She had whispered to me while we snuggled against each other. When I shifted my head so I could look at her, she began to laugh. She had once been the wife of an esteemed soldier in the Nigerian army and I had once belonged to a country club. Now, we were rationing our salt and pouring powder in washed condoms to remove the stickiness. We laughed and laughed, like insane people, at the silliness of our poverty but with a strange contentment in our hearts.

“Don’t you think I should have an Igbo name, since I’m married to an Igbo man again.” She joked. I looked at her oval face and realized she could actually pass for Igbo. She had golden skin and a gap between her two top incisors that was hidden by gorgeous plump lips.

“Nnenna…” I said, my heart bursting with love for this woman. “It suits you.”

“I like it!” She laughed and asked, “What about for Precious?”

“Hmmm…” I thought about the daily deaths because of the meaningless war; painful to those who felt it but collateral damage to those far away from it. “Chimuanya. God is awake.” She began to laugh again at the length of it.

***

The last time I saw Beatrice was late November, 1969. Numbness had taken over our souls and when we said ‘Win the war’, it sounded like a mockery. I had taken Precious to the camp to see Beatrice where she was the head nurse.

Her eyes lit up when she saw me and she declared almost immediately, “I’m pregnant!”

I had mixed feelings about this news because I felt our world was not ready for new life but, joy overtook my uncertainty and I hugged the woman I loved. We lay in bed and talked about potential names and the house we would live in once the war was over. It was like a new hope was born in us that night.

Then, we heard a round of gunshots outside.

Next thing we knew, the Hausa soldiers were bundling us out and lining us up on our knees. There was no time to unravel the mystery of how they got in our camp because they were already shooting people in the head. They let the white reporters go, except for the ones they had identified as the mercenaries.

“What’s your name?” they would ask before shooting. I didn’t understand why they even bothered, since everyone present was supposedly an easterner; well, except Beatrice.

She was kneeling beside the nurses while I was a line away from her. All I wanted to do was hold her hand. I remember thinking; this is the day we die.

A woman pleaded with one of the soldiers, “You can kill me but please spare my child.” The soldier looking remorseful, asked in Pidgin, “Where your child dey?” the woman, despite her tears, pointed at where her two-year-old son was crouched. The man walked up to the child and shot him in the head before walking back to the line.

I thought my heart would stop when Beatrice shouted, “You monster!”

They all looked at her without emotion. “Wetin dey do this one? What is your name?” Their leader asked.

My heart was beating wildly in my chest. All the blood in my body had rushed down to my feet. Hot, painful tears pushed at my eyes and I closed them and held on to Precious who was beside me. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. All I could do was shield Precious from watching.

Then, I heard her stubborn voice boldly say, “Nnenna.”

****

The loud gunshot still resonates in my head. Sometimes, I don’t even want to believe that I am still here, but sadly, I am.

 

Now a bear hug because you are amazing for reading this! bear hug

The story got featured on www.afreada.com in May and i got word that so many people loved it.

PS: Afreada has nothing to do with my name, it’s just a coincidence that ‘ada’ happens to be the last three words LOL.

PPS: This is a huge deal for me. I’m so grateful to those that have supported me, especially Nancy (Boss-Lane-Nanc *wink*) she was really helpful with the editing.

 

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