Omonigho grimaced in the keke. He did not know how he had gotten the strength to leave the bed and wrestle the gun off the soldier standing guard in his room and knocking him out but he was feeling the strain. The painkillers were wearing off and he was now feeling the pain in his lap like a hot knife sticking out of his leg. He groaned aloud and the keke driver turned to look at him, worry in his eyes. The town was rough and anything could happen if one was not careful and watchful.
All Omonigho could think of was the fact that his wife was in the hands of that criminal, Okereke. Even if it meant his own death, he will not let another person pay for his own mistakes – especially his wife, whom he owed the biggest apology and a debt. He struggled to sit up straight as the keke got close to the house. He told the man to stop and stumbled out of the keke. The driver wanted to ask for his money but thought better of it when he saw the gun sticking from his belt. He quickly jammed his foot on the pedal and sped away.
Omonigho was walking in a haze of pain. He soon stopped to catch his breath. He looked at the house again. Whoever was inside it must have seen him by now. He drew out his gun and some children playing close by took to their heels. He walked to the door and pushed it. The door swung open of its own accord and Omonigho entered.
Don Papi peered from behind a pillar and waved a hand sign at some of his men hidden in the shadow of the rooftop. A grenade launcher popped and landed among the men massed at the small path that functioned as the entrance to his home. They tried to run but it was too late. They exploded into bits and pieces of blood, bones and flesh.
The attack had started that night. Major Okirika had come for revenge for his mother and protector’s death. He had not asked to speak or hear an explanation. He had simply thrown everything he had, including the arms Don Papi had sold to him several months ago, at him. Don Papi knew that if he stood openly against Major Okirika, he would be dead in no time. So he was playing hide and seek, moving his men around and attacking the more experienced Major’s men from unexpected places. So far, the strategy was paying dividends. They have managed to claim two rocket launchers as prize after killing two teams of men sent as the first wave of attacks. The problem though, was that they had no rockets and Major Okirika had several rocket launchers, grenade launchers, rockets and grenades and he had more trained men.
Don Papi depended on the knowledge of the area for his advantage. He crept slowly around the pillar and whistled a tune. Bullets ricocheted off the pillar, scraping flakes of cement on him. He bowed his head and ran into the shadows of the building he had called home for years. The men, who had shot at him, rushed forward and came against a barrage of automatic weapon fire. Soon five men laid dead. Their guns were quickly taken and their bodies hidden.
Silence reigned for a moment then they heard a crash and a scream echoing in the earth. Don Papi smiled. The well had claimed another person. He turned around a corner came face to face with a rifle. He tried to move back quickly as the rifle cocked and he heard the bang off a bullet leaving the gun chamber. He stood, his eyes closed then he heard a thud. He opened his eyes and looked down to see the man with the rifle on the ground, the back of his head open like a broken calabash – his brain leaking to the floor. Don Papi picked the cocked rifle then raised his head to thank his saviour, only to see him fall to the ground dead, a knife sticking from his back. Major Okirika stepped into view
Major Okirika: “you killed my mother.” He said.
Don Papi: “your mother was a monster. I did the world a service.” He said.
Major Okirika pulled the trigger of his pistol and it clicked empty. Don Papi smiled and raised the rifle towards him.
Major Okirika: “come let’s settle this like men – with our fists.” He said, folding his hands into fists.
Don papi looked at his muscular body and his height and shook his head. He pulled the trigger and blasted Major Okirka’s head off his body. The body staggered drunkenly towards Don Papi, swinging the fists until it stumbled and fell before him, trashing in its death throes. The fighting raged for another thirty minutes but the deed was done. The death knell of the revolution had been rung.
The gun looked big in Omonigho’s eyes. He stared at Okereke and staggered to the door. Okereke looked at him with a smirk on his face. Omonigho looked down on his leg. The stitches on his lap had loosened. He was bleeding again. He struggled off the wall and staggered towards Okereke.
Okereke: “now when I dey look you, you no even worth my killing.” He said walking slowly to Omonigho.
He kicked him and Omonigho fell to the ground, sprawled face down. He tried to struggle up and Okereke placed his leg on his back and pressed him down. Then he placed his foot on Omonigho’s head, rubbing his face on the dusty tiled floor.
Okereke: “you know how to give pain. Make we see if you know how to take pain.” He turned his head as Okiemute moved a naked Mrs. Akalaba out.
She was weeping and her tears increased when she saw her husband. Okereke bent and picked the case which Omonigho had been carrying for years. It had fallen with the gun when he fell. Okereke opened it and brought out the picture, the ring and the medal.
Okereke; “your family don end. When I finish with you, I go go after your boy.” He said then he tore the picture into shreds. Omonigho started weeping, trying to open his mouth to speak.
Okereke: “you say wetin?” he asked bending to listen to him.
Omonigho: “Eunice i am sorry. Please forgive me.” He said slowly. Mrs Akalaba’s sobs grew louder and she nodded her head.
Okereke laughed. He took the ring and kept it in his pocket. Then he held the medal up. A cord ran through the medal, with which it could be hung on the owner’s neck.
Okereke: “this na the medal wey you win for killing innocent woman abi?” He said, then he bent to Omonigho and placed the medal around his neck then he drew the cord tight. The cord was strong and Omonigho began to choke, his eyes bulging.
Mrs Akalaba wriggled and struggled with Okiemute then she elbowed him and tried to run. Okereke, without missing a step, raised his gun and shot her. The bullet carried her forward and she slammed into a door and laid still. Everywhere was silent then Omonigho roared in pain. He shrugged Okereke off him and struggled to his feet.
At that moment, Okiemute raised his gun but before he could fire a shot, a heavy wood that looked somehow like a part of a chicken cage hit him on his head. He fell down without a sound as Temisan stepped over him and quickly picked his gun. She tried to take a shot at Okereke but he and Omonigho were moving around, throwing punches and tackling each other too fast for her to aim properly. Then she saw Mrs Akalaba’s body on the ground. She moaned in agony and staggered to her. She touched her and turned her. She saw life leaving her eyes. She burst into tears.
The sound of cars driving into the premises filled the air and soldiers soon jumped out of the trucks and took positions around the house.
Okereke and Omonigho were tied together in a neck lock. He pushed Omonigho against a wall and kept on hitting him against it. At the same time, he placed his knee on the gunshot wound and pressed. Omonigho screamed but he refused to let go of Okereke’s neck. His arms bulged with the strain, sweat and tears pouring down his face. Okereke pushed him again and he stepped on a plank and both men fell to the floor – with Omonigho on Okereke’s body.
Okereke tried to push him off but Omonigho would not budge. Temisan sat beside her dead friend crying. Omonigho, blinded by sweat, tears and pain, searched with his hand for a weapon then his hand fell on the medal. He picked it and raised it up. Without warning he jabbed the sharp part of the medal which as in the shape of a star into Okereke’s right eye. Okereke howled in agony but Omonigho was not done. He pressed the medal down until the eye burst like ripe papwpaw.
Okereke was in terrible pain. He tried to push Omonigho up but he refused to budge. They struggled together, both men in serious pain until Okereke managed to push him away and struggled away, his hands holding his punctured eye. Omonigho laid on the ground, drawing lungful of breath and blinking his eyes to clear his sight. He tried to seat up but couldn’t so he watched as Okereke kicked the delirious Temisan and picked the gun by her side.
Okereke steadied himself and took a good look at Omonigho and smiled then he pulled the trigger…his smile slipped to surprise as a bullet slammed into him and took him off his feet. He landed on top of Okiemute, jerked and laid still. Omonigho dropped the gun on the floor and passed out.
The soldiers crept into the house, eyes darting everywhere. They stopped their vigilance when they saw that the fight was over.
Omonigho spent months in the hospital and mourned his wife and daughter in that period.. He adopted Wale who never found his mother.
Temisan became a family friend to the Akalabas. She employed Uju in her Foundation and became a foster mother to her. Two years after Mrs Akalaba’s death, she married Omonigho.
Don Papi helped the military in destroying the remaining pockets of rebels in the country and he became a military contractor, making him a very wealthy man. He goes to see his daughter once in a while but he refused for her to come back to Umuahia.
Efuru is presently serving a life sentence in a military prison.
Every man faces trial, faces pain, fears and tears. Sometimes it is our hands that wield the weapons that destroy us; other times it is our previous actions that come to haunt us. God will forgive all sin but i fear, that man find it difficult to forgive or forget. Please do good to the people around you and learn to forgive and give peace a chance. May we be able to overcome all our trials and may God Bless You, Amen!!!
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