Admiral Dambo concluded his ‘Isha, he wasn’t in a hurry to retire for the night, he lingered on the praying mat, muttering words of thanksgiving to Allah for his benevolence and mercy.
“Allahu Akubar” he muttered three times and nodded his head with a smile on his face. Finally, the truth about the Bony water ways mission has been unfolded and if the Naval board of inquiry, headed by the Chief of Naval staff, would act as fast as they promised, Admiral Magu would be bundled out of the office in few days.
His wife Kadijah walked in to the siting room, she quietly dropped the jug of water meant for her husband on top of the dining table and was about to leave when her husband’s phone rang; she picked it up and brought it to him.
Dambo was reluctant to pick the call, it was late and he didn’t wasn’t to be disturbed. When he saw the name of the caller, he jumped off the mat and straightened up “Sir!”
“How many of our boys went for this joint peace keeping mission in Somalia?” The voice of the Chief came up from the other side
“How many are still out there?”
“Four returned alive sir…six were returned to us dead and two were not accounted for…”
“Have you been following the Somali war news Admiral?” The chief cut in
“Yes…no sir…not regular sir…”
“Well, I think you may recognize the young man that is the topic of CNN discussion going on now”
“You have a television admiral, tune in and get back at me” the line went dead
Dambo hurriedly turned his LED television on, he scrolled down the channels till he got to CNN, it was the ‘Cuomo Prime time’ program. He was surprised to hear about the cease fire agreement, an analyst was talking about the war, what led to the cease fire agreement and the consequences. he listened for a while and lost interest. CNN wasn’t his favorite station, in fact; he has never picked interest in watching news from the television. He would rather hang his radio closed to his ear all day long, than sat down to watch any news from the TV.
He yawned and stretched his body, he couldn’t understand why Chief would want him to punish himself by sitting in front of the TV. Then he saw why, the Soldier’s picture came first; the presenter called him a dedicated UN Soldier but Dambo couldn’t mistake him even in his dream. Then the footage came in
“That’s my boy!” Dambo jumped up from the sofa, pointed at the TV screen and shouted
It was about him, a Nigerian soldier who was captured by the Militia. Dambo couldn’t contain his joy, he danced around like he was celebrating a beloved son
“Allahu Akbar!” he kept screaming and didn’t know when his wife hurried into the sitting room in confusion
He lifted Kadijah and danced around “He is alive!” he said to the surprised Kadijah
“The boy…that captain that was sent to Somalia and didn’t come back…he is there” he pointed at the TV “Look at him over there, gallant captain, my boy…”
“Allah be praised” Kadijah shared in the joyful moment
Dambo took his phone and called the Chief back.
“Boss Lady!” the caller was almost screaming; one could dictate the excitement in it.
“Ma…” he chuckled
“This one your voice is this exciting, any better?” Elizabeth asked. She was already in her room and about to retire for the night
“He is alive! Oga dey alive o”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Boss Lady…Captain Ebube is alive! He is on TV now, our hero…” He laughed and cried at the same time
“You don’t know what you are saying” she was already on her feet, she almost jammed a dinning chair as she hurried to the sitting room and turned the TV on
“I mean it ma; he is on CNN…”
Her hands trembled as she fought with the remote, she finally tuned on to the TV station and there were his pictures everywhere. Her phone slipped off from hand and landed on the tiled floor “He is alive” she whispered to herself “He was never dead” it didn’t make any sense to her “All along he has been alive and didn’t care to contact us?”
She stood like a sculpture gazing at the man she thought she knew, apart from losing some weight, he looked well to her. She watched the whole of the clips, the conference, his speeches his smiles on the camera “He left us…he is gone…”
Anger welled within her, how stupid was she to have believed him “wait for me” he had said that night. He promised to come back, he had cried with her as if he would have wished to take her along.
“Is it possible that he faked his own death so he could walk away from me and never come back?” she shook her head “No no…he cannot also abandon his mother and daughter too”
But why? What was his reason for not fighting to come back? what was his reason for not contacting her all these while? She had mourned him every day in her heart, she had died a thousand times since the news came to her
All of a sudden, she felt choked and couldn’t breathe, it was as if the air in the sitting room was not enough and she needed more air, her lungs were shutting down and she knew that if she didn’t leave the house at the moment, she would explode.
She unlocked the door and walked out, as the fresh air hit her face, she filled her longs with it and let out the tears. She didn’t know where to go to, she had no idea how long she had walked or what time it was, but she kept walking barefooted on the tared road, few persons that came across her on the road turned to look at her, yet she walked on
“He deceived me, he lied to me, he told me he would come back…then he died and he is alive again…In a white man’s country…” she muttered like a mad woman
She didn’t hear her name as she was consumed in her sadness, neither did she hear the running footsteps. Then a hand gripped her from behind, she was startled, when she looked at the face, she couldn’t place it until he spoke
“Where are you going to” Dr Nkama asked
Her brain didn’t decode the question fast “He is alive…all these while he has been alive”
“It is late Lizzy, you cannot be out here alone by this time” Dr Nkama led her into his car and drove her back home. She didn’t say anything on their way back, once in a while Nkama would give her a side glance, he wondered what was going on with her.
He helped her out of the car and gently led her inside the house and sat her down. “Lizzy what happened?”
She opened the tap in her eyes and cried bitterly “He is gone” She cried the more “He lied to me…all these while I mourned his death, he has been alive and well…he abandoned us…he left without looking back”
Nkama could not understand still, what could make a man abandon everything he loved and walk away? Why?
“I gave him everything…I gave him my life…and like the other’s he left”
Nkama moved from where he sat and sat closer to her, he guided her head to his shoulder and console her. He may not understand what went wrong but he knew the pain of being rejected and abandoned “He is a fool” Nkama patted her head “You are a wonderful person and any man that doesn’t see that in you is a fool”
She cried the more “He said that to me before…he said that he loves me and that…that any man who doesn’t see how beautiful I am is a fool”
“Well…he is the fool”
Next morning saw Rear Admiral Dambo in the lavishly furnished office of Admiral Magu. He pushed the door to the massive office open without preamble and with his chest high, he walked in
“Dambo, what are you doing here?” Magu asked
“To deliver the latter myself” Dambo said with satisfaction and fetched a letter with the Nigerian Navy seal on it
Magu gazed from the letter to the deliverer “What is this?” he asked
“It is for you, from the chief and the Investigative council”
“I cannot accept whatever it is you are giving me, if the panel found me culpable, they know the right thing to do, not to send a clown like you to me” Magu was uneasy, but he didn’t want to show it
“Bringing the letter to you is just observing protocol, the announcement has been made one hour ago Magu, it is even on the morning papers…”
Dambo dropped the letter on the table and stood up “It’s a pity old friend, your days of glory are over…”
Magu stood up in anger “I am answerable to no one but mr President, your chief and all of you put together cannot intimidate me into leaving my office…”
“You are even lucky the force chose to be benevolent, you know the rule Magu, you know the punishment for what you did, don’t force the Chief to take decision against you. walk away quietly and we will forget this ever happened”
“I am not afraid of any of you, I have the backing of Mr President, you people are playing with fire…”
Dambo was already at the door “Meanwhile I have a very good news for you” he turned halfway “the boy you sent to Somalia to be killed has become an international hero, he is alive and is coming back soon” he saw the shock in Magu’s face, he laughed heartedly and left
His condition has worsened and he was afraid he would die if he continued staying there. His fear wasn’t about death, he was already a dead man as far he was concerned, his fear was dying a lonely man. He craved for the calmness and warmness of his home, he didn’t know how much he would miss his home until he found himself in the prison.
He coughed and his shoulder shook violently, he could hear the whizzing sounds of his own lungs when he breath, and he felt the pains in his ribs like a sore wound.
“I don’t want to die” he had made the prayer over and over again, but each morning brought death closer to him. He wished Ada would have compassion on him for once and facilitate his release. She had visited him frequently when he was thrown in the cell earlier, she had brought foods and drugs, though he saw the hatred she tried to hide on her face, but for four months now, no words from her, she had not visited like before, it was obvious that she no longer cared.
“What will she be doing now” he asked himself, all of a sudden, he wondered who his wife would be with in the nights, would they have sex? Would she enjoy it? would she coil her legs round his back and dig her nails on the back of whoever it would be?
He heard the sound of the heels from a woman’s court shoe, the ‘Koi Koi’ sound reminded him of the popular ‘Madam Koi-koi ’ story during his primary school days; the female ghost that would come into a class room and wrote something on the board with an invisible hand. The sound stopped at his cell and he looked up to see his wife standing like a magnificent queen
“Ada” he managed to say with his throaty voice
She didn’t answer nor did she show the fake care that she carried before, she just stood there, chewing a gum and looking at him.
“You have not been coming for some time now” every word came out with pains in his ribs
“I was busy…I now work” she said coldly
“Does it matter? Anyways, I got another hospital that was able to take me in, the pay is half of what I used to earn, but at least it is something”
He sighed “I miss you” he wished she would believe him
She lifted an eyebrow in disbelief “Really? That is strange…”
He painstakingly walked towards her and held the bar “Ada please, I am dying, help me get out of here so I can get proper medication…”
“Why do you think I would want you to be released?” Ada asked with disgust
“Ada please, I don’t want to die…don’t forget I am still your husband…you used to love me”
She was cold and indifferent to him, she opened her purse and brought out the drugs she bought for him, she threw it at him and it landed on the cell floor “You are dead to me Chike” she walked away.
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