Seyi screamed her lungs out as she pushed. The nurses encouraged her with soothing words but she was hearing none of it. She screamed again as the pain hit her hard. She breathed hard, tears and sweat streaming down her face. She pushed again, and then the head slowly came out. She pushed some more and the baby came out. The obstetrician quickly carried the baby tapped its behind. The baby gave a full throated cry from his tiny lungs and all the people in the theatre burst into wide smiles. They quickly cut off the umbilical cord, and carried the baby out to be cleaned. Some minutes later, the baby was brought back to Seyi. She was so tired; she could barely look at the baby. The boy was placed in her arms. She looked down at the baby then she burst into laughter at the same time, she started crying. Heather came to meet her in the ward and she took a photograph of Seyi and the baby. She was glad; she was now an aunt.
Tope stared at the people around him in a drunken haze. His eyes were red rimmed and he stank of drink and damp fatigues. He and some other soldiers had been sent back to Benin to escort a cache of ammunitions back to Asaba. As he sat on a truck, while other men loaded up the truck and other trucks with crates of ammunitions, he suddenly saw a figure walking past that looked familiar. “Biodun…what is Biodun doing in Benin? Let me go and talk to the fool. Probably confused about how to tie his boots or wield his gun o.” he grinned and jumped off the trunk of the truck he sat upon.
He walked slowly, swaying from side to side. He staggered into fellow soldiers, who rained curses on him. He finally got to where he saw Biodun enter. It was a whore house. Young ladies barely dressed were all over the place. Several soldiers were there too. He was surprised to hear Ibo names being called there. “So the prostitutes from the east didn’t run across the river Niger like others? Wow…they have guts.” He thought as he passed them.
He finally saw Biodun enter a room. He staggered quickly to the room and as he moved to open the door, he heard Biodun’s voice
Biodun: “Listen, she is pregnant and recovering from an accident. She would have given birth by now, i suppose. Her father will probably be finding it difficult to take care of her and her mother with this embargo on food and besides, he is not a young man. I just want to make sure she’s okay and see what I can do for them.” he said softly.
Tope heard another person sigh. Then the person spoke,
Driver: “wetin go make you go marry Ibo woman sef? Na wa for you o. No be say the pikin na your own. This plan too dangerous o. To smuggle you cross river Niger no be problem o, na how you go take navigate reach the village wey you say she dey na be the issue.” He replied
Tope gasped. “Biodun is married to Chidinma and she is pregnant for someone else. She was even deceiving me. He is a big fool. I wish him luck.” He said then he turned and walked out of the whorehouse.
Chidinma watched people walk with bundles of their belongings on their heads. Hungry faces, sore ridden bodies everywhere; “So this is war. When one is told of the degradation of war, we think it is just fairy tales. Look at how we have fallen. Where are the warmongers, those beating the drums of war, where are they now? We are the grass and we are the ones who suffer. God, if I survive this nightmare, I will do a thanksgiving to you. Chai, someone like Biodun would have been lovely to have around o; with his strength, I won’t be killing myself. I wonder where he is now. Probably busy killing Biafrans or he is even dead himself. God…let me just get through this with my family and my sanity intact.” She thought to herself.
Mrs. Nzeribe came and placed her hand around her daughter. She rarely spoke since after the incident. She rarely smiled too. She frowned at a section of Biafran soldiers marching past. “After all said and done, they are no different from the Nigerian soldiers. Killers, all of them.” She spat and turned Chidinma away. Two women walking slowly in a world on fire; one with open scars and the other with scars hidden deep.
They walked home slowly. They had gone to look for food. They heard that food was been shared at a town close to where they were living. They had gone there to meet nothing; either the food was gone or there had been no food at all. The distance from their home was far but they had come all the way with hopes of getting food. Mr Nzeribe had been recalled to the war front, two weeks earlier, coming home twice since then to bring the little food he could find. He had also left the gun given to him by Mr Okunola with them for protection.
Obaro transferred the people in his lorry to Driver, who took them to the rendezvous point they had planned out before leaving Lagos. Biodun came some hours later to find them. After meeting with them, he joined Driver in his lorry and they headed for Asaba. Mr Okunola was left in charge of the refugees. They all gathered at a house, where Ijaw traders usually put up when they bring their wares to Benin. At about midnight, a truck came and flashed its headlight twice. It was the signal, he had been asked to watch out for, so Mr Okunola came out to meet the old man, his son had called Papa John.
Papa John: “so you are his father eh? Na you give am that size…” he laughed as they shook hands.
He followed Mr Okunola back into the house. Then Papa John sat with the men to discuss their movement. Some minutes later, one of his grandsons came to inform him that the road was clear. He quickly bundled everybody into the truck and they set out for their final destination.
Asaba was a confused place. people were leaving across the river Niger while others were coming. The soldiers there had been in some skirmishes against the Biafran end. Biodun stood with Driver, studying the river. He knew if he ventured across that river, he will be considered a deserter while the people on the other side will see him as an enemy. There was no good side in the endeavour he was about to embark on but it was something his mind told him was the right thing to do.
Driver: “this night, you will have to cross. He will be waiting on the other side. You will have to leave your uniform, guns and anything that will make you identified as a Nigerian soldier.” He said.
Biodun nodded his head. His hand bunched in a fist. “I need to do this, or else my conscience will not be clear.” He thought to himself determinedly.
That night, Biodun and Driver stole to a lonely river bank where a canoe was tied. That part of the river was not patrolled because the soil there was soft and could sink one quickly. They quickly loosen the canoe and pushed it forward. Biodun jumped in and the canoe moved forward without a sound as Biodun slowly paddled it. Driver had told him where to head towards, so he paddled towards the direction they had agreed upon. As he got closer to the shore, he could see a small flash of light. He drew near the light and someone whistled, he whistled in return and suddenly strong hands grabbed his canoe and drew him to shore. As soon as he got down, he came face to face with a smiling man
Smuggler: “welcome to Biafra.” He said smiling.
Mr Adetola smiled as he got to Mr Adepoju’s house. He had just received the good news that Seyi had put to bed and he was quite excited. He could not wait to share the good news with him. As he entered the compound, he observed that people were gathered around murmuring excitedly. He walked closer and saw that more persons stood on the stairs and at the door of Mr Adepoju. He went to one man and excused him.
Mr Adetola: “well done sir, please what is going on?” he asked, curious.
Man: “it’s the landlord o. he committed suicide.” He replied.
Mr Adetola: “what! Why…when?” he asked, shocked.
The man shrugged and walked away. Mr Adetola rushed up the stairs to go and see for himself. Indeed, it was Mr Adepoju. The rope he had used was still tied to his neck but he had been cut down and his body was laid on the floor.
Mr Adetola stared at him and sighed. “He hung himself? Was it guilt or pain? Hmm…Despite all his wealth, he never really had a happy home. May God grant his soul eternal rest.” He thought to himself sadly.
Chidinma and her mother got home hungry and tired. They each thought of where they would get food that day. Chidinma entered the house and paused in shock. Staring at her was the muzzle of her father’s rifle. He was on the mat, his leg roughly tied with a rag. He looked at her and pulled the trigger…
Peterson and his mother both rushed out of the room to the sitting room but couldn’t find where the noise came from. the sitting smelt though, of burnt flesh.
Peterson: “We have now known our prayer focus. We shall destroy the devil’s bondage in our lives. “he said. They continued praying fervently.
The Babalawo was busy grinding some herbs in his small mortar when he suddenly stopped. It felt as if the whole world had ceased speaking then suddenly the goddess strode out of nothing into his sitting room, her eyes blazing with barely contained fury.
Babalawo: “Ha, Orisha, i greet you. What brings you here at this hour?” he asked, bowing in greeting.
The goddess ignored him and went straight into his shrine. The Babalawo stared at her in surprise then he rushed after her. He found the goddess moving close to a calabash. He usually used the calabashes in his shrine to hold powers and covenants between him and his clients as well as covenants between demons and his clients. The particular calabash, the goddess went to was the one containing the covenant in blood and semen between the goddess herself and Peterson.
Babalawo: “please do not touch that calabash. It contains the covenant of you and Peterson.” he whispered fearfully.
The goddess picked p the calabash and opened it. she looked at the content then she bent the calabash.At that same moment, at Peterson’s mother’s house they were deep in fervent prayer.
Babalawo: “Haa.. stop it! stop it! Don’t pour it away. It affect the oaths that binds you together. This will kill him.”
she ignored the babalawo and poured the contents to the floor then she threw the calabash on the ground and broke it to pieces. she then ground the pieces to dust with her foot.
Babalawo: “Yeee! Yee!! Yee!!! Egbami ooo.. this is an abomination! Why ? Why ?? Why???” he screamed in fear.
The goddess still intent on her mission went to a bigger calabash and stood before it.
Babalawo: “Haa.. yeee! Mogbe oo! Mogbe oo.. this is unlike you. Why are you doing this?” he asked, guessing at her intentions.
She lifted the big calabash up and started an incantation. The Babalawo realizing that she intended to break it too, prostrated before her
Babalawo: “Haa! please! I beg of you, mighty one. Do not break that calabash. I beg of you.” he pleaded
Question: What do you think happened to Chidinma? Do you think violence is a good means to settle differences? Who is Olowo Gbogboro in the life of Peterson? Why is the Babalawo so concerned about the goddess not breaking the big calabash?
See Episode 22 Below (You don’t wanna miss this!)…AdeLove Stories…Premier Naija Inspirational Blog!
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