Thursday, January 15, 1970
6:00pm, Umuahia, Eastern Nigeria
The crackling sound emanating from buildings engulfed in flames and the cacophony of distraught voices was the background orchestra of the tragic scene which symbolized the leftovers of a vicious war. The Mother Earth got drunk after taking gulps of fratricidal blood shed by brothers and friends now turned foes. The war started with a subtle conflict amidst citizens of a country who gave themselves over to the fleeting deceits of hate and sentiments rather than the inundating comfort of love and reality. The silent grumblings in the heart of men crawled to the public square of callousness until it formed a gigantic mound of war which almost tore the nation into shreds. Now that the war was over, the survivors can only count themselves lucky and fortunate not to have been a victim.
Inside Ojukwu’s bunker, a feminine but confident voice fills the room; an old rickety radio on a wooden table produced the voice of Evelyn Okafor, a renowned newscaster for Radio Nigeria as she talks about the proclamation of Gen. Yakubu Gowon: “No Victor, No vanquished”.
The Biafra Republic just died before their very eyes, everything happened too fast for them to believe or digest; the audacious commando, Ojukwu already in exile, Philip Effiong just officially surrendered in Lagos. The unbelief, the disappointment and the defeat was well mapped out on the faces of the beleaguered soldiers. The Federal Republic of Nigeria won the 32 months of a bloody Civil War, it was as simple as that and thinking of what will become of their future was a pure induction into the Hall of dilemma.
Captain Christopher Adeagbo, a tall handsome fair-complexioned broad-chested soldier, one of the very few Yoruba soldiers who fought for Biafra, he had lived all his life in the East and speaks Igbo language fluently; he schooled at the Government College Umuahia where he became the Head boy due to his contagious brilliance.
Chris stretched his legs and hands on his sick bed as he tried to change the position of his aching body; his fair yellow skin was decorated with blisters and scars from different injuries sustained during the war. He had for the past one week being hospitalized right here after he sustained a major injury from a Molotov cocktail blast which should have killed him. Nurses Jane and Amarachi had no doubt given their best to ensure that Chris was in a good condition.
“The Junior Commando” as he was fondly called by his friends was once a student of Political Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and it was in his sophomore year that he had the uncontrollable urge to join the Army though it was against the wish of his parents who were University Professors. His parents fled to the Ibadan at the moment when the fiery furnace of the war started brewing. His second fallout with his parents was when he told them that he would like to marry the lady of his dreams; the ravishing beauty with an angelic voice, Ngozi Okeke. The wedding became the talk of the town as he eventually tied knots with the Enugu-born lady, one of the beautiful cousins of Ojukwu. His parents were strongly dispassionate with the marriage as they wanted him to marry a lady from their tribe (Yoruba). Truly Chris was no longer in the good books of his parents but he had earlier sent a letter to them that he would like to come back to Ibadan and settle down, he pleaded with them to allow him come over with his injured wife who lost her left leg to the war. He wished that they would be merciful enough to accept him and his wife especially at this moment when they both needed help. Every time he remembered the pains of his decisions, the thoughts of his dogged, strict and no-nonsense parents would always flood his mind. He had lived with them long enough to have memories of their unforgiving spirit and harshness to neighbors.
Despite the arguments going on amidst the able-bodied soldiers in the bunker, Chris was lost in the loch of his overwhelming thoughts; he wanted a new life for himself at least to start his family since it was barely a week he got married to Ngozi that the war commenced on a full scale.
The gentle tap of Nurse Amarachi brought Chris back to the Bunker as he let out a weary smile to mask the wrinkles of his depressing thoughts. As a soldier he had learnt always to be strong and to exude a high morale.
“I hope your body is finally taking shape as we await the arrival of Dr. Donga for the authorization of your discharge today.” Amarachi said softly with a caring gesture.
Chris scratches his bald head with his bandaged hand and replied in his baritone voice; “I am better. Thanks a lot, Amarachi for your care and concerns.”
“I have got a letter for you from Ibadan, it came in few hours after the war ended” said Amarachi as she handed the letter to him and catwalked her way back to the Nurses’ Station.
Chris gently opened the letter; he uncovered its contents with his heart racing like a deer in search of a brook. He fed his eyes with the content of the letter time again and again until streams of tears flowed than his eyes. He quickly wiped the tears, he needed to sleep to reset his dramatic day; the pills of Valium V tumbled down his throat and he was soon fast asleep snoring like a tired Elephant. Until his heart…
Saturday, January 18, 1970
7:00pm, Ibadan, Western Nigeria
Not all families could afford a radio set talk less a television set. It was seen as a luxury of the wealthy by many especially at a moment like this when the war just ended. Professor Lucas Adeagbo, an erudite professor of archaeology and a proud grandfather in his early sixties was seated on the same sofa with his wife in their spacious living room. They paid rapt attention to the Black and White television set right in front of them. It was time for the 7’O’clock news on Western Nigerian Television (WNTV) and it was a daily ritual for them to watch.
“And that is the news at 7:00pm, but before I leave, I would like to inform the general public about the dead bodies of the following Biafran soldiers which are yet to be recovered;
Col. James Ruskins
Capt. Nicky Ajayi
Maj. Gen. Yunus Dauda
Capt. Gregory Abajo
Col. Kalu Alkali
Capt. Christopher Olamide Adeagbo
Gen. Frederick Dende.
If you know any of them please inform the General Officer Commander (GOC) of the nearest barracks to you,… ”
Professor Grace Adeagbo let out a deafening scream before the completion of the news. The death of Chris came as a shock to both of them.
Screaming at her bewildered husband amidst streams of tears rolling down her wrinkled cheeks:
“Yeeeeee!!! My son is gone, Baba Chris, my Captain is dead, this is so painful. What could have killed my brave son? But we pleaded with him to come back home but only that he should not come here with that his Igbo wife.”
They were soon in their Peugeot 404 as the driver sped off to Odogbo Barracks with the parents of Captain Chris in the backseat.
They later found out that Chris committed suicide after receiving their letter on his sick bed. The contents of the letter talked expressly about the hatred of the parents for the wife of Christopher, they never wanted her to come along with Christopher talk less of a wife without a left leg. It was an eyesore for their exalted state.
Unknown to them, the letter of Chris was a ploy to test their love. He lost his wife to the war and his left leg was amputated after he was rescued by the whiskers from last week’s blast. He concluded that if HIS PARENTS DO NOT LOVE HIM ENOUGH TO LOVE HIS “ONE-LEGGED” WIFE THEN THEY CAN NEVER LOVE A ONE-LEGGED CHRIS.
***Fiction inspired by the Nigerian Civil War (May 1967 – January 1970).
P.S.: Love those who cannot reciprocate the love. This in itself is LOVE. I love this quote from 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dalai Lama: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
© 2015 by Osho Samuel Adetunji
About the Author
Osho Samuel Adetunji is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Nigeria’s premier University, University of Ibadan. He is a poet, a blogger, a Public Speaker with a knack for short stories, inspirational articles and poems. He is a great thinker, creative and dexterous young man who does not only believe in excellence but also extols the tenets of discipline, hard work and effectiveness. He is an award-winning individual who is multifaceted and consistently measures success by effective impact.
He is a writer per excellence with articles published on VAVANE AFRICA, THE SCOOPNG, KONNECT AFRICA, Paarapo and Home zone media. He co-founded THE COURTROOM in 2012 with Tijani Mayowa. He is the founder of KREATIVE DIADEM, a new initiative which kicked off on March 1, 2015.
He is an inspirational young man who is addicted to going an extra mile in all facets of life. He is also a lover of football, tennis and boxing. You can follow him on Twitter with the handle: @inisamosho