“We have been called to return to the Base” Ebube said casually.
He stood up from his wooded chair, gulped the Lipton tea on the desk and made towards the door. It has been four days since they had the meeting with the community members, a meeting that almost turned to a fight.
Even after joining forces with the Army, they didn’t break through, no militant was captured, they couldn’t stop more pipelines from being blown up, and his men were discouraged and frustrated.
“This mission should be aborted captain” The admiral had said to him the day he visited
“Give it more time sir, we can still take control of the situation” Ebube had insisted
“It will still be the same thing, these boys are in control” the Admiral was ashamed to say this, he had known him for years, he wasn’t a man to accept defeat and hearing this from him made Ebube want to go back to the water ways and make everything right. “these are their water-ways and their creeks, they have learnt to hide so well…our men have little chance if we continue going after them” he had sat down, his shoulder sunk in frustration. He had spoken to Ebube like a distress father not like a superior.
“So what do we do now sir?”
The admiral exhaled “You said they want dialogue with the federal government?” he asked
“Then let us make provision for it, but first you have to go back to the chiefs and tell them that we are ready to back off, if only they will promise to also get these boys off the remaining pipelines”
“I will do that sir, but the chiefs are claiming they don’t know these boys”
“And you belief them? Son…” Ebube loved it when the Old Officer called him ‘son’ “…We have been in this country old enough to know that a man that dances in the market square, has a drummer in the bush”
“I am suspicious too, but they would not admit to it” Ebube said
The Admiral wiped his face with his palm “Tell them to call those Bastards off the creeks as well, they know those boys, they are their sons” Admiral could Call any one ‘Bastard’ when he gets angry, and Ebube knew he has gotten to his boiling point, the Admiral was only trying to put his anger in check.
“So…our boys should…”
“Tell them to get ready, we are moving out tomorrow, the speed boats would be coming to get you guys…the federal government gave the order after much deliberation with him yesterday, the ball is in his court now” The admiral walked towards Ebube and placed his hands on his shoulder
“Son, I know how much you value this job, I know how you would want to fish these boys out, I would want to do that too…but sometimes we need dialogue more than conflict…look at this place, it is no longer a home to even the indigenes! Maybe there is need for that dialogue…” He held his shoulder “The oil maybe the life-wire of our dear country, but these people have no other home that this place, and there is nothing left for them here, they want dialogue, let us give them the chance…”
“But who will the federal Government be dialoguing with? These boys are faceless…” Ebube said
“Their chiefs and elders will come” he made for the door
“There is a suspicion of sabotage Among us sir” Ebube said after the Admiral who stopped by the door “I got the report from a junior officer who didn’t mention any name…he said that someone within gives these boys information about our strategies and possibly supplies arms to them…”
Ebube held his breath and wait
“No name giving?”
“Hmm…investigate on this when you get back to Port Harcourt, but then…it could be a false wolf cry”
The Admiral was gone, he had visited every Chief and elder he could remember with the help of a local, who he gave two-thousand Naira to lead him, the news has gone that morning that the federal government has call off the operation, to the jubilation of the locals. He looked out from his window and saw him men parking, the boats were already waiting. He couldn’t look the junior officer in the face
“So we are abandoning the operation?”
“No…We were ordered to leave this place”
“We failed sir”
Ebube saw the disappointment in his face “No Abdul, I failed…” with that, he hung his bag and walked out to join the others. Two questions remained unanswered in his mind
“Who was sabotaging their efforts? And why”
It was dark when he disembarked from the boat, and entered the waiting vehicle to his house. his heart suddenly felt so heavy and the urge to talk to someone came strong to him. He tried starting up a conversation with his driver but the poor man was very careful with his choice of words.
He dropped the conversation after he realized the driver was scared of him. He would have called Mark but he was not sure what he would want to talk to him about,
“Take a U-turn to Eliozu…I want to visit a friend”
“Sir…by this time?”
“You can leave the car with me and go home, I can drive myself John”
“No sir, I will drive you to anywhere you want to go sir”
“So much for a peace offering…he has not even called since then” She murmured as she stepped out of the bathroom. She didn’t know why but she had expected him to call, or even visited “At least to make sure I got his peace offering” she had complained to Amaka two days ago
She jammed the bathroom door so hard, and kicked her slippers off her feet carelessly “Not that I cared anyways…he is nothing to me” she tried convincing herself, but she knew she was developing something for him “Don’t deny it Liz, you are growing fond of him” Amaka had said “Not after just two meetings…give me a break, I am not that cheap. Besides I was done with this kind of thing last year after I broke up with Barido…” She had defended
But she wasn’t sure now, no matter how much she tried, his thought filled her head. There was a knock on her door, she jerked up in alert; the knock came again, this time it was louder
She checked the time and was worried, she wasn’t expecting anybody, her brother could come to her house late in the night, but he had traveled to Owerri two days ago, she called Amaka “Are you at my door?” she asked
“What are you talking about, I am not anywhere close to your house…”
“Wait, you sound like you are with…”
“Yes! I am on top off something please get off my phone” she laughed
“Eeeewwww! You are such a spoilt girl…enjoy” she laughed and walked out of her room to check who was at her door by nine thirty-eight in the night.
He has already giving up and was walking back to the car when she opened the door “Who is there?” he heard her asked and smiled to the voice that hunted him while he was away
She dropped the mop-stick in her hand as he turned to face her “You? what are you doing here? Where have you been? And why did you disappear after giving me a box of cake to eat and grow more fat?”
“Nice to see you too” he said, looking at her as she tried to cover herself, her night gown hid nothing “Am I welcomed?” he asked
“Ehm…yes sure..” she walked in and he followed
“A lovely house you have”
She turned to him, her face red with anger “is this a bad habit of yours or you just want to get me angry, why would you always show up in my house without pre-information? Are you looking for an excuse to send another Peace offering?”
“I call you twice but you didn’t pick” he was calm and she didn’t like it, she wanted him to react.
“Lier? I didn’t see any call…”
“If you have bothered to check your phone you would have seen the missed calls”
She knew he wasn’t lying, her phone rang when she was in the bathroom, but she didn’t call the number back, “if it is him, he will call again” she had thought
“Just as I called you two times few weeks ago and you didn’t pick” He added, observing her
“So why are you here?… why will you always come in the night?”
He was hurt, he couldn’t stand and listen to her rant while all he had dreamt of was her smiles and something else…something beautiful.
“I am so sorry I came; I will not bother you again…I promise” he walked out
She stood there, mouth opened, “What have I done again” she asked herself, she had allowed him to walk away from her on two occasions and he kept coming back, today she did it again.
Without thinking, she ran after him “Wait! Stop!!” she called out.
He was holding the car door when he heard her “Please!” she added
“Why?” he asked softly, he was tired
“I don’t know…” she answered
He ignored her and entered the car, she came closer to the car, he wound down the glass and asked again “Why?”
“Because…I want you to stay…I have missed you”
“Don’t wait for me John, I will drive myself back” he said, he handed some money to the driver and took the car-key from him, before he stepped down.
She was sobbing softly by the time he got to her “You stubborn mule, can’t you see how much I want to be with you?” he held her in a warm embrace.
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