Blood and Water is a story that points to a civil war in West Africa, Nigeria and the hovering hunger for survival by two teenage boys. Hope you enjoy. Completed version with no coins for now. Make sure you drop your reviews...
Rumours of a War
A proverb says that when it rains everyday, there is a bound of sorrow within the rain. Maybe we were not that rich but we were happy or we claimed to be. The only problem was that I was no longer in school. I think I liked it that way, school stress was so hard especially now that I was in the junior secondary.
“Eze there is no water in the house, “that was my mother’s voice, she was a school teacher but since the “defendants” started protesting last month, all schools have been closed. The defendants wanted more social amenities for our town and more finance to aid our development but the government did not heed to them. There is a rumor that they want to fight the government, everyone in our town is scared, they think that the past might reoccur but my father says that no such thing like that will happen. He is a defendant and he says that they are planning on a peaceful protest so probably the government cannot do any harm to them. I picked up the gallon and patted my younger brother Ikemefuna who was playing soccer outside. “Let’s go and fetch water” he frowned and continued playing, I wanted to report him to mother but I decided against it, he was very obstinate and most times I wanted to beat him but I couldn’t or maybe I was scared that he would beat me because I knew that he was stronger than his age or I was weaker compared to my own age. My only prowess was in my books every other thing was a failure. I trudged down the stream, filled my gallon and went home, I could see my father’s motorcycle parked outside. “Eze” called my father
“Yes papa” I came running to answer him.
“That for your good behavior” he gave me some biscuits. “where is your brother?” he queried with a little spark in his voice, I wanted to say that he was playing but I felt he needed a little protection.
"He is down on a little fever”.
“Okay” he sighed then reclined on his chair and started listening to his radio, I wondered what was so intoxicating about the radio except a bunch of squeaking voices, if I get old like my father, I wouldn’t waste my time with a radio. it is so boring, I continued with the water until I was sure my brother had snuck into the house. “Eze” he whispered in the backyard “Did Papa ask of me?” he asked with a sorry face.
“Yes but I told him that you were down on a fever” his face lit up, he smiled brightly and went into our bedroom covering himself with the wrapper with a pseudo fever when my father came to check on him.
“Ikem, do you want some biscuits “ I asked showing him the biscuit, he smiled wickedly and I knew his plan. “Stand still!” he ordered.
“My fingers are crossed” I replied while he complained, smiled wickedly again and tried to force the biscuit out of my grasp while we fought over it and got as much as we could though he got more.
“Stop fussing, your father is asleep “warned Mama, she gave us two books "read them and tell me what you have learnt before supper or else no food for a lazy stomach, this strike will not make your brains dull”.
“Yes Mama” our faces changed as the books dropped on our thighs, that’s one thing about being the child of a teacher, you do assignments both in school and at home.
“Eze, have you heard?” queried my brother, I shook my head negatively while he continued “ I heard that they want to start a war, I saw Obi’s father with my naked eyes carrying guns in his truck “I was seized with fear, my father had always warned the defendants about violence, he was their leader in our town.
“We need to tell Papa” I gushed in silence
“it’s going to be very interesting, I will join the defendants and fight the government, lets defend our town”.
“Shut-up!” I shushed him “Violence is not a way to achieve a goal”
Papa ate his dinner slowly, he seemed tensed and worried, he was rambling about a coup in the state and cursing at his radio.
“Mine, stop picking your food, are you the President of this country that you are worried sick, when all know that we are residing in a bastard region where every government tries to rape and loot all it can”
“I have no appetite now” replied my father with his radio stuck on his ear, my mother sighed and took the radio out from his grasp
"You need to eat or you will get sick “my father smiled feintly and started eating. I put my hands on the eba to eat while my mother beat my back “Have you prayed?”
My father gazed at me furiously, prayer was an essential part of our family, we would not practically do anything without prayer and most importantly, my father was a pastor and it would tarnish his reputation. He always warned us sternly to inoculate the habit of comporting ourselves especially in public. It was no surprise that there were things I could not do as a pastors child, sorry as a good pastors child. My father was an exemplary man in our society, he was factually seen as a gentleman, a righteous man and I was expected to be like him in all ramifications which always innovated a panacea of psychological palaver because I just couldn’t be him, it was such a herculean task since there was always something which stood as a strong tower of opposition.
I prayed hastenely, placing my hands over the food and blessing it, my father always said that prayer was a private communication with God, I hope he’d understand that we all are scared. We are seized frantically in fear, terrified of tomorrow which looks like we could borrow a sorrow. Some people have started to flee the community, they say that there will be a war...a drastic war. The soldiers are on alert every night, driving through our streets and ordering everyone to remain in their houses immediately it is 7pm. “Curfew” they say it is… I’ve heard about miserable things happening in the curfew, the story of assassinating a family being ordered by the government and executed by the soldiers though there has been no factual proof but somehow, we all know that it is true. They clean up all the traces except that these families go missing by dawn. Everybody talks in whispers about the events happening in our community. “The walls have ears “ they say, since there are many snitches in our community willing to rat you out just for you meager sum of money as promised by the government. I know that we were supposed to be working together, harmoniously to achieve our aim, to eradicate our plight but somehow, most of our people are drawn to materialism.
“Money maketh man”, it creates betrayal, suffering and euphoria. We finished eating the egusi soup and I shared the meat into halves which we collected after meticulous weighing just to collect the largest portion. “Stop that, boys!” barked my father “I’ve told you to stop this greedy act” he turned towards me and fixated his gaze on me “Eze, am totally disappointed in you, you should portray the characteristics of proficiency in leadership so that your brother will follow, you should be a perfect example for him to imitate.” I was downcast, I fixed my eyes on the ground to avoid my fathers accusing eyes, I took the smaller portion and let my younger brother grab the other one greedily with his eyes glinting furiously.
My father went to the verandah with his radio, listening attentively and making one or two comments about the state of the nation to my mother who was reading with the kerosene lantern.
“We have to tell him” I beckoned to my brother “He will beat me, he will know that I’ve been playing all day” he replied scared “I don’t think so, he has more on his plate to think of it”. I tried to persuade him “we have to tell him about what you saw or else we’d be doomed if something happens” I placed my hands on his shoulders and sighed with relief “we have to tell him now”.
The next minute, I was standing in front of my father like a victim of a grave crime “what is it?” he asked."
Papa, something very urgent came up”. He turned down the volume of his radio to signal that he was listening aptly. "The villagers are smuggling ammunitions into the community”
He stood up with his mouth agape, he nearly cried like a lunatic. I shivered as he stared at me for some time, I guess he saw the fear written all over my face, he placed his hands on my shoulder “Eze, what did you see?” he asked with a low intonation.
Our teacher would always tells that we should take a deep breath to calm our spirits. I took a deep breath “I saw Chief. Kosoko carrying guns in his truck when we were playing soccer at his house, I saw him and some youths carrying out the contents, am sure they were carrying weapons”.
My father looked shocked “Peter Kosoko” he repeated for some time, he went inside and wore his shirt then stormed out of the house while my mother ran after him “ there’s a curfew!" she cried out but my father was gone, he went deep into the light of the night. I felt regret for telling my father when I saw the sorry-looking face of my mother. She sat on the verandah taking in quiet sobs, the curfew was serious and the soldiers always shot the target on sight.
“Go inside!” she ordered. We slowly obeyed without complain but I felt uneasy, I was the man of the house now my father was not around, I should be taking care of my mother, I sent my father away in this cold dark night. I came out again and sat beside my mother, she didn’t ask me to go inside, we just continued waiting for my father to return. Sometimes, we would hear a gunshot and my mother would burst out in tears. I’d console her and tell her that everything was going to be fine, that papa was going to come back but somehow I was pessimistic about everything.
“Mama you know that God is watching us, he will protect my papa”
I prayed hard in my mind “God protect my papa , do not let the soldiers meet him” the night was silent, peaceful and blissful. The creaking of the woods, the whistling of the night, the gentle swirl of breeze all set in motion to innovate such a moment that I would depict as “pulchritude”. How could evil exist in such a serene environment, the philosophy of life is incomprehensible, a compendium that you could never ever finish reading and can’t even understand a full written decrypted page.
I could sense that Ikem was already asleep.If papa was here, he would commend me on a good job carried out efficiently. He was a man of responsibility, he’d always take the blame when it was under his jurisdiction.
Maybe that was also his flaw “a hero who always takes the blame”
I tried to stay awake but my eyes wouldn’t listen, they were tired and weak, my eyelids will always close without my will. Probably, a little rest would help me challenge the task ahead. I placed my head on mama’s thigh, she didn’t fidget, I guess she really needed the company more than anything or she was deeply drawn into her psyche world. The last thing I remembered was that I closed my eyes and they didn’t open for quite some time (sleep I guess) but I still felt uneasy waiting and listening in my deep slumber for the gentle sound of Papa’s footstep and his commanding voice…
I woke up on top of the mat in my room which I shared with my younger brother. I was subconscious of how I had gotten to the room. Mother must have carried me inside.I thought I should be the one taking care of her. I remembered my father and ran off crazily waking my brother with the shuffling noise. Mama was at the backyard boiling water in the separate thatch used as our kitchen. “Good morning mama!” I greeted, she stared at my direction, nodded her head and kept on with what she was doing. I was really filled with curiosity, I wanted to know where my papa had gone and if he was back. “Mama, is papa back yet?” I asked waiting patiently for an answer that I didn’t get. She kept mute and this heightened my anxiety. “What if something bad had happened to papa, to my papa” I thought subconsciously. My mind kept on imagining crazy things, Papa shot dead lying in one of those forests. Our community was no longer the way i
It has been a fortnight since the soldiers took papa. We’ve not heard from him, we’ve no idea if papa is alright. My mother had been torn with anguish, she rarely ate nor did anything at home except sleep and cry.This was the time for me to be the man of the house, to handle the responsibility that papa had bestowed on me, it was not easy as anticipated, I didn’t even know where to start.I got some firewood and started to cook inside the kitchen. “Ikem” I called while he replied from inside of the house and made himself visible.“There’s no water in the house, please go and fetch some water” Ikem did not complain he took the gallon and went off to fetch water, I was surprised that he had obeyed without complain, I kind of expected some resistance. I finished preparing food and served Ikem some then took some to Mama.“Am not feeling hungry” mama sighed.“You’ve barely eaten a
Edmund Burke once said and I quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."We may seem to have acted but we were still the minority in the state.The morning was serene probably the first time in a long time to have a dawn rise without the soldiers gallivanting our streets, without the blaring of fear lurking around in the corners of the streets.We were packing our luggages to flee the community on that specific dawn. Everywhere seemed to be peaceful but there was this humongous stench of fear violating the whole geography, this seemed like the right opportunity to flee.Such degree of calmness was ironic to the real commotion. The villagers were also fleeing the destination like us, we had decided to travel in groups for security and precautionary reasons. Mama placed the huge bag on my head as we trooped out quietly with some of the other villagers. “We will be crossing the border by 3am hopefully,” pap
The stars seemed to have lost their luminating colours. A foul stench of the apocalypse violates the biosphere. Two months since the ordeal where we had last seen papa. the community is unreasonably quiet, the soldiers have returned in their multitude to restore order in our community. They came back prepared. They had modernized weapons such as an armored truck and sophisticated guns which sounded like a granite.Hunger had torn down homes. Sicknesses were prevailing in the jurisdiction, we were cut off from the outside world, the media could not project our situation.They projected us as enemies in their daily news cast, projected us as anarchist and terrorist who can only be quenched by violence.Everyone had failed us; the media, the government, the outside sources which my father had believed could protect us. We were not only subdued but forced to watch hunger and death tear through our vanjing homes.We were eaten up by kwashiork
I covered myself with a grey wrapper which I saw on the canoe. The man who had rescued me seemed to be in his mid seventies. He was quite kind to me – a character which seemed rare to come by these days.He seemed to be a fisherman. He was quite very optimistic though he had made no catch yet since, he’d just keep on being in high spirits.“Are you a runaway?” he asked. He had a very weird voice.“No” I replied with a gesticulation.“Did you want to drown yourself?” he queried again “You can just dive back and I will act like am not here” sense of humor, huh. I crossed a smile across my face “I want to get my sick brother some drugs in the city” I tried to defend myself from his peering, inquisitive gaze fixated on me. He nodded his head for some time, he seemed to be digesting my story, probably to discover the fallacity in my tales. “The town is on
I followed the van till it got to its destination. I thanked my stars since I had been quite sapped out to continue, my legs were very weak, aching but I just covered the pain in my face.I was just in time to see Papa being escorted out with the rest of the prisoners, he was almost unrecognizable. A man who had once been great was now similar to a psycho living under the bridge.I followed immediately trying to breach the distance. Papa was looking scraggy, his beards overgrown, his hairs tattered, his eyes diluted, he was bleeding, probably over beaten and tortured by the soldiers. His face was no more the smile I had been familiar with, his eyes were red, he had grown very lean – the part which seemed to change the most was the despair written all over his spirits.He was a broken man, one who had lost everything, a role model who could not even inspire himself to heights he had projected. He turned to me, gave me a faint smile, nodded his h
The darkest days are always before the morning. The early rain is a sign of dismay. The howling of evil birds filled our creeks on that specific dawn, howling the sound of tragedy innovating an evil omen.We had expected this day, prepared for the way to total decimation, imagined this apocalypto.The early rain fell heavily in our community sending chills into our veins. The splatter of the rain rhymed to the loud cohorts of gunshots. He watched as soldiers tore into our homes, shooting and killing every living creature.“Mama, we can’t stay here” I cried. We knew we couldn’t put up with hiding anymore but where do we run to?Every path seems to have been torn to shreds, every direction creating a wind of confusion. We had not expected such dawn.The rains came down heavily as their lorries landed, the soldiers released gunshots into the air sending terror to varying homes. I peered out through the
We persevered relentlessly into the jungle. We fell, stood up, dusted ourselves and continued our scavenging for survival.We could see the fading ashes of our community burning, the spiritual life forms rooted as gases transcending into the atmosphere. Silent tears dripped from my eyes as I watched all I had ever go away, distant relatives, friends, my community turned into ashes and dust.Mama fell to the ground, her weight pulling us down with her. Our strengths were sapped out, I pulled myself once more trying to defeat the weakness in my muscles.“You can do this” I tried to convince myself.“Leave me continue running” mama breathed out words which I could never obey. I kept quiet as I pondered on the antidote to this phenomenon I took a small branch of a tree, utilizing it as a walking stick to aid mama support herself on my shoulder.“We will make it together” I tried to assure her whil