The convoy stopped in front of what used to be his territory. He was unusually quiet during the journey back
“It is for good General” Ebube gave him a pat on the shoulder
He nodded and looked away. Ebube was worried about him, all through the journey back from New York, he looked like a lost child and Ebube felt so guilty. When the UN troop that came back with them jumped down from the trucks, Ebube waited for Adsame to come down but he sat put on a corner, like a dog in a new neighborhood
“General…General… they are waiting for you to come down” Ebube called him softly
Adsame sighed and looked down on his fingers “You know you are no longer a prisoner here” he said
Ebube ignored his comment and tapped him “They are waiting for us to come down General”
“Let them wait…” he turned to Ebube for the first time, Ebube saw how tired and sad the self-acclaimed General was “General Adsame answers to no man” he looked at his people, some were draw back at the sight of the heavily armed men “I don’t know what life awaits me here anymore”
“This people awaits you General, they want to know what you will say to them”
“Nothing…I have nothing to say to them, they should all go home…the United Nations are in charge now” he frowned “You know…battles has become my life that I don’t know what will become of me after this…these people” he pointed outside “Where will they go to? You know what it is like out there, you have seen it before soldier…hunger, depression…diseases that follow war…”
Ebube felt for the man who he has come to see not only as a fighter, but as a friend, no matter what others may think of him, Adsame was compassionate on his people, he loved them. “You may be lucky to be granted Amnesty by your country or an asylum on any country under United Nations” Ebube said
“Adsame would rather die than turn to anyone for help like a poor beggar”
“You will leave a good quiet life after this, I will make sure of that” he took his hand and allow the General to walk before him out of the truck to the welcoming cheers of the common people. Ebube smiled as he saw Adsame raised his shoulder high and lifter his hands in a proud wave, “I didn’t go down without a fight” he said to the hearing of Ebube alone
Ebube nodded “You taught General Mohammad Barkhad what it means to be a true leader, you held your ground, your followers are proud of you” Ebube knew that such words would make the General happy
“Well…” they walked towards the house “It is only a cease fire agreement; I hope Barkhad keeps his own part of the bargain”
“I didn’t realize how much they all want this war to come to an end” Bile caught up with the two men
“the war is not yet over Bile, it is only a cease fire” Adsame corrected
The decision was a tough one, none of the parties wanted to be the first to agree to a cease fire. The tension and hatred the two sworn enemies brought with them to the New York emergency conference was enough to roast every member in that prestigious hall.
“The people are already parking their things to go back to their homes” Bile said rapidly.
Ebube and Adsame has been gone for two weeks and the camp was left in Bile’s care. The night when the news of the Cease fire agreement was announced was a festive night in the camp, bigger than many nights of victory during the war. He had sat by a tree, smoking and drinking while he watched others celebrate.
He felt pity for them, most of them have not had a glimpse of what was left of the place they called home, to him; there was nothing to rejoice about, what was ahead of them was uncertainty and a hope that hung on a thing rope.
Adsame heaved a sigh “What of you Bile, where will you be going?” He asked
“The war is not over boss, I am still going to stick around” he looked at Ebube and looked away “We all are, the militias” he slapped his shoulder and scratched “One can never know when General Mohammad Barkhad would want to break the bond and bring the war to us when we are not looking”
Adsame nodded, Bile looked at Ebube again “You didn’t run off from New York Soldier?” he smiled “I heard their women are beautiful”
“They are too soft for me” Ebube joked “Anyways, I promised to come back with this man…” he slapped the General on the shoulder “And here we are…I brought him back in one piece”
“Don’t make it hard for us man, we don’t want to cry when you are finally gone” Bile said and jogged off
The two men walked pass UN soldiers who were gathering arms and giving directions “They want to strip us of our protection” Adsame muttered
“They are on your side now” Ebube said as he acknowledged a salute from one of the soldiers. His involvement with the top officials earned his some level of respect
“UN has never been on the side of anyone except where they will benefit from” Adsame cut in, a militia walked by, bowed to the general and gave Ebube a shoulder hug, “My men…they like you” Adsame said to him, Ebube smiled. He turned and looked at Ebube “Why did you come back with me Ebube” he pronounced the name with a heavy ascent “You are no longer a prisoner, you are now recognized by the world, you are the man that is trying to bring back peace to a war ravished country…what are you still doing here with me?”
“maybe I want to make sure you don’t fail your part of the agreement” Ebube joked
They met four UN Soldiers at the entrance of the dilapidated house that housed them “You now guard this place like a prison yard?” Adsame asked one of the men who kept straight face and didn’t respond to him. Ebube had argued with Commander Madagaski how unnecessary it was to bring UN soldiers to the camp
“We are just following orders Captain” was his responds. He was to stay with Adsame until the peace agreement is finally signed and Decisions taken on what would become of Adsame and General Mohammad Barkhad. At the moment, Somalian governance lay on the shoulder of an interim leader.
They walked inside the house laughing like old pals, it surprised Ebube how fast Adsame could change his countenance from sadness to merriment all of a sudden. Sagal brought them food and left as quiet as she came
“You like this woman” Ebube commented casually, he struggled to eat the food
“After what happened between her and Abdul, I don’t know what I feel for her anymore” Adsame bit off a large chunk of meat
“You has a weird way of expressing your emotions General”
“General Adsame don’t show emotions, emotions are for weak men” he drank loudly “Weak men like you” he wiped his mouth with the back of his hands
“What do you mean?” Ebube asked
“Don’t think I have not noticed how home sick you are” Adsame placed his hands at the back of his head and relaxed his back on the chair rest
“You have a woman waiting for you in Nigeria?” he cleared his throat
“Before I left, we were planning of getting married”
“And you think she is still waiting?” Adsame laughed “I saw you on the phone boot many times in New York…” Adsame picked his teeth “You were trying to call someone without any luck”
“Her number wasn’t going through, I called her practically all the times we were in New York…” He slammed the spoon on the plate of food and pushed the food away.
Adsame picked the plate and eat from it “You see” he chewed “You are weak” he pushed his chair backward and came to Ebube “Enjoy the moment Soldier, live the life…Bleep women…one may not know when he will die you know. Your may have moved on for all you know”
“She promised she would wait”
“They all promised shits…”
“Any woman ever promised you?” Ebube asked
“After the death of my wife, I dedicated my time for this course”
“General Adsame don’t talk to a woman about feelings, it is Bleep for me” he removed his shirt
“But you like her”
“I don’t know about that”
That night he asked himself the same question Adsame asked him earlier
“Why did he come back to Somalia? Why was he so scared of going home?”
The answered stared him in the face; he couldn’t bear the thought of her being with another man, her number has been switched off all the while he tried it. he had expected to hear her thrilled voice, he had prepared his words, he had written the love poem in his head and had waited for that moment, but all those dreams were thrown like thrash on his face when her number remained switched off.
Maybe she lost her phone, or she didn’t want to be disturbed…
He had equally tried his mother’s number, the phone had rung for a long time before it was picked, but he couldn’t hear anything as the line went dead almost immediately.
“I don’t like the way you treat this man, he is only being nice to you and the babies”
“Mom please, I am trying my best to reciprocate his niceness, what else do you want me to do? Jump on him?”
“Nwa m, I ma Ife nwoke a choro, you know what this doctor want from you, show him a little more appreciation so he can feel at home each time he comes to see you?”
Elizabeth dropped the fresh fish she was washing in the kitchen sink and faced her mother “What are you indirectly suggesting mother!”
“You cannot waste away like you are doing…”
“Please mother don’t even go there!” Elizabeth cut in “ah ah! I just gave birth to my babies…”
“And your babies are getting to three months” Her mother shouted back at her
“And you want me to start showing green light to a man even when I am nursing my babies? Mother! What will people think of me?”
“I am not saying that you should go on a date with Doctor Nkama, mana nye kene ya ohere…give him space to express himself to you”
Elizabeth shook his head “As far as I am concerned you are saying the same thing, that I should give him space to express what? I have another man’s children and you want me to…to”
“That other man is dead…he is not coming back!”
The words hit Elizabeth like a batten, her mother saw the pain on her face and regretted her words. She held her daughter by the shoulder “I am sorry my daughter, but I think it is time you realized this and move on… Nwoke a anwulugo… he is gone”
Elizabeth removed her mother’s hands from her shoulder “Maybe he is not dead, maybe is helpless somewhere and will come back sooner or later” she battled not to cry “Mother can’t you have a little faith with me?”
“Eliza nwam, there is no need to pretend over this, you accepted his death before, why are you changing your mind over it now? What are you afraid of that you cannot give another man a chance?”
“Mom, Doctor Nkama is a family doctor and a friend, I am not ready for anything more, let me raise my children in peace”
She turned her back and continued with what she was doing. Omalicha has gone to school and Mrs Ojukwu was sleeping. Her mother had come to see how she was doing, like she normally did since she gave birth.
Her mother took the bowel of fish from her and started washing the fish, she saw how her daughter’s hands shook and knew she was fighting not to cry. “He said he was here this morning” She said after a while
“Hmm, he came to check on mama” Elizabeth blew her nose with the tail end of her apron and mashed the mucus against the apron, “He also brought a gift for the children”
“He is a good man” Her mother commented
Elizabeth didn’t answer
“I know what you are going through, believe me my child I understand. You want to dedicate your time for the babies and all…but what happens when they are all grown up and you suddenly realize that you have no one around you?”
“Mother, I really don’t want to be talking about this now, I have a lot of things on my head. I can’t even believe that you would come to this place to start telling me about men and relationship at this time, with three months old babies…it is too early please” she sniffled “And how did he get your number to tell you that he came here this morning?”
“I actually called him to know how Mrs Ojukwu is doing” Her mother brought down a medium sized pot and washed it. she added a little water and placed it on the gas cooker “Nobody is advising you to go out with him, but treat him like a special friend first, both of you can sort yourselves out when you must have weaned the babies”
Elizabeth didn’t want to drag the argument further, but she knew she may never treat the doctor the way her mother wanted her to, she had seen the advances, the extra niceness, but she wasn’t ready, coupled with the responsibility of taking care of herself and her children. Mrs Ojukwu was getting stronger by the day and may soon want to go back to Warri. But while she was still with her, the woman has been helpful too; at least she could watch the babies while Elizabeth would go to her farm early in the morning or go to the gym with Amaka three times in a week, in the evenings.
He felt rejected by her cold attitude and he blamed himself for rushing her. That has been his weakness, he didn’t know how to exercise patience and bid some time. Thinking about how he felt for a woman who just gave birth three months ago, made him ashamed of himself. He opened the first file on his table and looked at the record, it belonged to a man he sent for Scan two days ago, the result was in the file and it wasn’t good at all.
He buzzed the reception and a nurse appeared “Send Elder Amadi in”
The Old man walked in with his granddaughter and they sat on the chairs meant for patients
“Papa how are you doing?”
“I dey Okay”
“Papa I hope say you dey drink water well well as I tell you before?”
“Yes o, I dey try”
“Okay” Doctor Nkama looked up at the girl that came with the old man “I will still give him some drugs to help him with digestion, but you must call any of his children to come and see me fast, Papa needs surgery so we can correct the malfunction”.
He wrote down drugs on the file and buzzed the reception again and the nurse came in and picked the file.
Nkama picked the remote on top of his table and turned the AC on, he relaxed his back on the chair and waited for the next patient. Working here as a doctor was beginning to wary him, he lost his enthusiasm the night his sister died, he had taken it hard on himself because he wasn’t able to save her, that was two years ago, he was thirty-five and had already proposed to a lady in his church.
The lady had called off the engagement after she realized that she was not really in love with him. It was a double blow on him and he had decided to give himself time, away from relationships, then came Elizabeth and he suddenly remembered what if felt like to have a woman very close to himself.
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