She hugged the little girl, that was the first time she had seen her apart from seeing her picture. “How did you know I was the one my Angel” she had waited for them at ‘Waterlines car park’
“You sait you wee wear pink fwawa cwoth (You said you will wear pink flowered cloth” the child was proud of her achievement
“I told her to wait for me to call you first, but the little jet ran out before I could even say ‘hello’” the Child’s grandmother walked behind her, she held Elizabeth in a warm embrace “My son has an eye for good thing, Ijuru eju na nwanyi (You are thick and full)”
“Mama, you are looking good yourself, I now know where Bube got his looks” Ebube was a replica of his mother, though the woman was fair skinned. They walked towards her car, the little girl hopped happily beside Elizabeth as they walked.
“you would have seen his father, my husband was a very handsome man, I was always worried about the attentions he got from other women those days”
Elizabeth didn’t know how to say ‘No’ to the little girl when she pleaded to come to Port Harcourt; that was the last time she called Ebube’s mother.
“Auntie I wan tu come to potaicut…” the girl had said with her cute voice
She couldn’t say no to the offer, it was as if Ebube’s mother also wanted the meeting
“We are on holidays now, I can afford to come with her, let me meet my son’s wife-to-be” the woman was a school teacher
She had given her consent, though with some fears; she was still staying with her mother, too scared to go back to her house.
“What should I do?” she had asked Amaka over the phone
“What do you mean ‘what should I do? Allow the poor woman to come, she want to meet her daughter in-law”
“I am not her daughter in-law yet”
“You are pregnant for her son, so that makes you what?” Amaka Joked, they had not talked about her pregnancy after the day Amaka tried to convince her to abort the baby
“She doesn’t know” Elizabeth had said
“Then it will be a good time to tell her, see girlfriend; it is time for you to let someone take care of you, if the woman is as good as you said she is, I know she will be happy and will want to ease some of your loneliness”
That made a lot of sense to Elizabeth “I am still scared Amie, Chike still stalks me, did I tell you that he overheard our conversation the last time about the pregnancy?”
“No way! What? how?”
“He was the unknown caller, and the phone was on all the while we were talking”
“He traced me to the market last Saturday, and threatened to do something terrible to me if I don’t abort the pregnancy”
“This is no longer funny Lizzy, what is wrong with him?”
“He is having problems with him wife, he lost his job and he said his wife has not giving him children, he blames me for his miserable life”
“He is mad, see babe I just dey vex for you, how you go allow one yeye man hold you down like this? For what na? shuuuu…no be you again?
Elizabeth! Why will you allow this man reduce you to a chicken? You left your house because of him, you hardly stay in your farm? You have not come to the GYM for long, you cower in your mother’s house like a scared puppy, Babe what is it?”
“I am scared of what he may do to Ebube’s Mother and the little girl if he finds his way to my house again” Elizabeth had voiced over the phone
“See, nothing go happen, why are you so afraid of this man? Can’t you just go that your guy Naval base and arrange some soldiers with big muscles to treat his f*ck-up?”
That was two days ago. they crossed to the other side of the road where she packed her car. The loud promotion of ‘ Igogo herbal medicine’ competed with that of ‘ Dr Agnes Nwamma teeth powder’ and ‘ E de kill mosquito well well, e dey kill cockroach… ”
They stopped over at ‘ Kilimanjaro’ and she bought Pizza and Ice cream for the little girl who eagerly took the ice cream and started eating
“If you keep buying things for her, you will spoil her the more like her father is already doing” Mrs Ojukwu, Ebube’s Mother said
“She will be fine Mama”
“Gyamma (grandma), do you want some?” The little girl offered
“No baby, thank you”
“You welcome” the girl said like a cartoon princess and resumed eating her ice cream, the two women laughed
Mogadishu University, Somalia
Days that followed weren’t better, the great citadel fast became a rubble, the ‘tatatattaaa’ of guns became melody and the dust bath they received periodically became a routine.
Apart from being able to get few others to maneuver their ways to their own hide-out They didn’t make any head way and had no success in reaching the Commander.
Aminu didn’t get better, the wound became worse and he came down with fever few days ago
“I am afraid we may lose him” A soldier who had joined them last night commented
“Is there nothing else you can do? Don’t allow him to die here please, he has a family” Ebube pleaded. The soldier said he knew some things about medicine, he was once in medical school before he dropped out to join the army
“We all have families” Boro added he walked from where he went to ease himself towards the two soldiers “Including those that died last night”
Last night was a horror, a mistake Ebube regretted, he was the one that suggested that the other soldiers at different hideouts should come over to theirs “It is good we stay together” he had thought
The militias saw the soldiers and opened fire; they had tried to fight back but it was few against many. From his own hideout he watched the men fell, he felt the bullets pierced their skins, he heard their screams. That was those that made it towards them, he feared for those who were far from the location
“I am so sorry” Ebube said
Boro sighed “It’s not your fault, I am not blaming you”
He turned towards Aminu, the young soldier was as good as dead, he struggled to breathe, Ebube walked towards him “Don’t die on me man” he whispered; others looked at him “Please be alive for all of us” he touched Aminu’s forehead “We are getting out of here, please hang on”
“The General Commander is on the line!!!” someone shouted, the whole place came to life, Ebube hurried towards the men
“Who is in charge there?” The General Commander spoke from the other end, the line was muffled and his voice wasn’t clear, though they were able to decipher what he said
“What is the situation?”
“we lost many of our men sir!”
“We are yet to hear from the Commander!”
“We have got some wounded soldiers!”
“We need to evacuate the wounded as soon as possible, backup and supplies are needed sir” Ebube said
There were distortions of the cellular signal, they waited impatiently before the line got cleared again “You have to get out of there…we are sending some tanks in in the next few hours, you have to organize the evacuation, let the wounded enter first while other should cover up until everyone gets in the tank, Understood?”
“Roger sir!” they echoed
‘the line went dead’
The Tanks came, four of them, under heavy shots from the militias; like instructed, the wounded were first evacuated. Those that hade gun wounds on the arms and thighs, none of them were as bad as Aminu
“What are you doing Captain? Let us go!” Boro screamed at Ebube
“We have to help him in the tank!”
“We can’t take him along, he is as good as dead! He is not moving!”
Aminu stopped moving few hours before the help came, it was difficult for them to ascertain whether he was dead or still alive “I can still feel little pulse”
“Come on captain, it is time to go, the tank if already full, save yourself please”
Ebube looked from Boro to the body that lay on the floor, Boro was right, if he didn’t leave with the others, he may not have the chance to leave. He knew the Tanks were already filled up, he heard one of the soldiers complained about space “I can’t leave him, at least let his family see his dead body”
The Trucks moving gradually, both soldiers saw it; their chance of leaving “Common Man let’s go!” Boro offered
“I want him in that Tank! Can you carry him? I will cover you!” sounds from grenades, guns and the tanks partially deafened them
Boro couldn’t believe it, how could someone risk a chance of living for something that was not worth it? To save time, he jacked Aminu and placed him on his strong shoulders “Let’s go!”
As they shot their way towards the side of the moving tank, Boro had his gun on the left hand while Aminu lay on his right shoulder, Ebube ran behind him, he hit on one of the tanks,
“Stop the tank! Let us in!” he screamed. the tanks covered them from the many bullets, except few which they were able to dodge.
“There is no space in here, check the other Tank!”
“we will stand if we have to, we have to get out of here!” Ebube shouted at the soldier in charge of the ‘Gun Turret’.
They were squeezing their way into the Tank which had slowed down when he felt the hit at his shoulder blade, the bullet paralyzed his right hand and his gun fell from him.
“Come on Captain!” Boro shouted, he was already inside, Aminu lay on a little space in the truck and Ebube had one of his legs on the step that went down the tank.
The Tank started moving again, he tried pushing the other leg in when another bullet hit his back, he lost his grip and fell faced down on the debris. He heard voices;
“Captain!” he couldn’t make out the voice that called out
“Get in soldier! He is down and there is nothing you can do!” another had cut in
Their pictures flashed before him; his daughter, his mother and his Lady. He had promised to come back for her, he had asked her to wait for him. Would she cry for him? How long would she wait before she would know that he was gone forever?
He didn’t wait for the Militias to come upon him like locust, he took the hand of darkness and embraced the emptiness that followed. The last word in his lips before he slid into unconsciousness was “I am sorry my Lady”
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