Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
TITLE: In the wake of the war
By remi oyeyemi
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Before the war broke out, life was good. We were a modest but very happy family. Papa was my hero. I loved him to bits. He was a very strong family man. Mum had always been kind of sickly. Always in and out of the hospital. He kept the home going. He worked as a journalist with the local paper. It was a tough job at the time because of the little pockets of trouble and political unrests brewing here and there. But he always prided himself in the fact that he did his job well and with integrity.
Unfortunately, integrity was not well rewarded at the time. A few weeks after the war began and soldiers paraded the streets scaring every one, we were visited by Ekene Duru, Papa’s co worker. He came with bad news. Papa had been kidnapped by some top shots that were offended by some story he had published.
That was in November. We waited and waited. No news.
After that, everything changed.
Mama’s health failed again. Azuka and I did what we could. She left the hospital and came home, as she said, ‘To die’. It hurt to see her so helpless.
Azuka, my younger brother grew before my eyes. From a small scrawny kid to tall lanky teenager, he was tall for his age. That scared me because every time soldiers and raiders saw him, they felt kind of intimidated. He got hit in the face with the butt of a gun once for staring down a soldier.
I saw him change from a scared kid to an angry man. He hated the world. On the night mama died, I cried and wailed. What will happen to us now? Who will care for us?
Azuka sat with his face to the wall, his jaw tight, no tears on his face.
We walked at night to bury her in a shallow grave. I felt so much sorrow. A part of me died. Azuka walked off after we finished the rites, saying nothing.
I was angry. I caught him by the arm and pulled him back.
“Azuka! Have you no respect for mother? What is wrong with you?” I asked, my chest heaving.
His eyes flashed with anger.
“How will that help? Look around you Sis, everyone is mourning, it’s a war! The strong get hurt, the weak die. There’s no hope”
“Do not say that Azuka. There’s hope. There’s always hope. Remember Papa’s words. The prayers? We’ll survive.” Tears poured down my face.
I reached out to my brother, he pulled back. I tried again, holding his arm firmly. Closing the gap between us I hugged him. He stiffened at first not wanting to yield to my embrace. I drew little hearts on his back like I always did when he was younger.
I felt him relax. He trembled in my arms and let out the torrent of emotions buried inside him.
“Azuka, my hero” I smiled sadly
Suddenly, an explosion rocked the area where we were. We pulled apart and started running towards the ramshackle shed we lived in. My mind raced as I ran.
We would survive this.
One thing bothered me though.
He was getting tougher and angrier by the day for while I hugged him and he cried, he grated his teeth, his fists tightly clenched.
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