In as much as she wanted to mourn her own, she decided to leave the dead behind and move on, carrying only their memories with
her, she staggered out of the room with almost nothing as cloth.
she moving out like a ghost in the street. Bodies lying on top of each other, headless, amputated, hacked,lost children, crying and calling “mother ”, women screaming the names of their children and husbands.
That was how she met him, Oguguo (as she later named him) he was standing beside the body of a dead woman crying, with no cloth on and mucus running down his nose.
Buried in her own grief, she took no notice of him at first, she kept walking, but as she walked, she could hear the cry of a child trailing her, yet she
kept walking without looking back, following the movement of others towards a destination she knew not.
“Madam, carry this pikin (babe) for hand, you wan make him die,” a woman shouted at her amidst the chaos.
She turned and looked at him, for the first time she actually saw him, his big owl like eyes, piercing her heart, going beyond it to plead for a chance to live.
She was not sure if it was pity for the boy or consolation to her sorrowful soul, she yanked him off the ground and carried him with her, hurried her
feet, with the air so thick with smoke and sting of burning flesh, she ran blindly, praying that God would at least spare her life and lead her to where she could at be safe before thinking of the next thing to do.
3rd Armoured Division Barracks, Bassa.
They were greeted with the sight of overcrowded camp filled with people seeking refuge in the barrack.
Getting a good spot to settle with Ogugua wasn’t easy, it seems like the number people seeking refuge in the barrack was more than the available space.
As she walked from corner to corner with Ogugua now sleeping in her hands, she was almost stepping
on others who were lying face down like dead bodies out of hunger, some were chatting noisily about the violence going on, some still mourn the loss of their loved ones while others were looking at nothing in particular, one could hear the wailing of hungry children and the shout of frustrated mothers.
She looked around the dirty interior of the camp in search of a space, when she finally found one she made a quick move to it before another person takes it.
The next challenge would be where to get a mat to lay the sleeping little boy,
‘‘nwanne i nacho ebe iga enweta ute ?” (Are u looking for where
to get mat?) Her Neighbor, an Igbo woman with her two daughters who were sleeping and a husband who was arguing loudly with another man, asked her.
‘‘eehm, yes ma” she answered
‘‘okey, I know u need a mat for yourself and your son” her neighbor commented
‘‘ yes, I was about to ask you where you got yours from”
‘‘ just get to that corner at the beginning of the camp, meet the officers in charge and tell them you just arrived”
‘‘ok, thank you so much, please help me secure this space while I get the mat” she answered before leaving.
The queue was long at the officers offices, people were already losing their patience in the hot sun and once in a while fight would erupt from one point or another as people try to maneuver another in other to be in the front roll.
She took her head gear off, tied the edges around her neck and allowed it to flow down her back in other to cover Ogugua who was still sleeping, a torn
head gear and wrapper she got from a woman who could not bear seeing her tattered cloth, and decided to share her little cloths with her, “to say someone still look out for another amidst such chaos ”,
When it finally got to her turn after a long
wait, she registered her name and was waiting for the officer to hand the mat over to her. the officer gave her a sheepish smile, exposing a set of teeth darkened with tobacco and kola nut;
‘‘fine woman, oyibo pepe (fair like an English woman), see as your skin dey yellow, dey shine like fresh paw-paw”
Other officers were drawn to her by that comment, laughing and looking lustfully at her, it was not difficult to see her once beautiful
face and yellow skin even though life has decided to flip an ugly side on her
‘‘Please can you give me the mat now, my boy needs to rest” she replied in disgust, wondering within her how easily she came to accept the boy on her back as “His boy ”
‘‘Hei! see as you dey speak like oyibo (you speak like the whites), come make I tell you, if you need anything for this place ehe, meet me, i go give you” still smiling sheepishly
‘‘the mat sir” she requested pretending not to notice his
She finally settled Ogugua on the mat to continue his sleep and decided to go and get the pitiable food she saw some others eating.
It was already dusk before it could get to her turn to
get the food, it was The same officer who she met earlier, he looked at her, savoring her body while licking his lips
‘‘madam abeg wait for me inside make i come give you the one way dey inside”
‘‘Ah! oga officer, my baby fit don wake now, abeg give me the one way dey here make I go give am” Ukwuoma replied, deciding to speak in pidgin English to avoid drawing attention to herself
‘‘Madam I said you should wait ” he shouted
After waiting for a while, the officer came in and took her inside the office
‘‘Ehe! Madam, I say make u wait make I give you your own food and provision special” the officer said as he walks close to her trying to hold her in a romantic embrace.
‘‘She wiggled herself away from his embrace.
‘‘You be pikin? You suppose know watin I want now or you no want the food again? ” asked the officer who tried to forcefully embrace her
‘‘Get off me you idiot” she shouted, pushing him off
‘‘Look make I tell you, for here I dey in charge o, no be only food I go give you but I go give you plenty milk for your son and new wrapper so you fit change this dirty one”
‘‘Oga, na only food I need, I no need any other thing. And no near me or I go shout make everybody hear and see waiting you dey do” she threatened
‘‘See this woman o, i wan help you and you dey do shakara, common comot for here, you no dey serious o, go make you and your pikin die of hunger, i go push you o”
‘‘What of the food oga, please no do this to me, for my son’s sake abeg help me, just a little for my boy please…”
‘‘Common shut up your mouth, which food, get out of here, when you dey serious you come” he pushed her out.
her head was light, with tears blinding her sight she walked back to the camp only to see the mat empty and Oguguo missing.
‘‘Where could he be?” she thought, the few hours that passed has brought them close so quickly, because to her he became a consolation, yet she saw her past, and her future in him.
She asked her neighbor who said she was sleeping and didn’t know when he left.
‘‘Oguguo ! O..gu..guo!!!” she called out, shouting his name aloud, her eyes roaming to and fro in search of him.
She spotted him at the far end of the camp, standing beside a family who were eating without noticing him.
He was trying to grab some yam from their plate while a woman, who must be the mother, shove him off like a chick being shooed from grains, and each time she did that Oguguo cries.
Ukwuoma watched the scene like a movie, her son was being treated as a common beggar and she blew the only chance she could have provided food for him,
she had watched and her family was snatched away from her, so helpless she was and death stole them away, and could not watch this one, the reminder of the sons she once had, taken byhunger, her tears was uncontrollable as she ran to pick him up, away from there.
‘‘Ogugua my son, I will not fold my arms and watch hunger take you away like the others” she came back to her mat pleaded with her Neighbor to look out for him and left.
She ran as if something was after her, crying aloud and her breast flapping side by side with the force of her speed.
She knocked at the door of the office, the officer opened the door as if he was waiting for her, he smiled broadly and ushered her inside the little office, with no much words to say, she removed what was remaining of her cloth and allowed it to fall on the flour.
She eased herself on the floor and closed her
As he had his way, she refused to feel any physical pain, the only pain she could feel was the pain in her heart. at that moment all she could remember was that fateful day when she lost everything, her family killed before her, as he thrust deep in her, tears ran down her cheek,
She opened her eyes and turn her face at the other side of the office, all she could see was the hungry face of her the boy Ogugua.
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