Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Brown (11/26/09)
- TITLE: Just Like In A Fairy Tale
By Ifeoma Dennis
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God, the infinitely loving Father definitely had grand plans for the all of us, and I was no different.
It was true I was not from a rich family; my father barely had enough money to see my five siblings and me through high school.
After high school, at the age of 21 [which I know is a bit late but I did not start school in time], I got a job as a personal driver for the then governor of my state, Chief Marten Esan.
To say I was happy would be a gross understatement. To me, it was a sign of the great things to come.
Chief Marten himself took me as a son. He had his choice of drivers but I was the one he called personal, his own.
We even discussed my plans for my life mid way on the road to meetings and such.
I told him I wanted to be a professional football player and he told me that when he was ready to let me go, he would link me up with the right connections. The when was indefinite but I knew the Chief to be a man of his words. In the meantime, he paid for my enrollment into a local football team to polish my skills anytime I had some free time.
Two years later, Chief Marten introduced me to Momodu, the Head Coach of the state club and I was to have a try-out with him.
I could see myself playing in a World Cup and getting a contract with an English Football Club.
At that time, there was a little unrest in my state; the state civil servants were complaining that they had an accruement of unpaid dues. No one expected the situation to get out of hand, and Chief Marten was working late nights with his cabinet to solve the problem. Naturally, I was always around, waiting to drive him to his next port of call, and I even ran some minor errands for him.
One morning, around 5am, police officers came to Chief Marten’s house. We just got back home three hours earlier and I was savoring some heavenly sleep.
They woke me up and told me I was under arrest for murder! Chief Marten’s murder.
I was taken to the police station where I was forced to sign statements confessing to the murder alongside seven other of the late Governor’s unofficial aides. They hung me upside down from the ceiling and flogged my bare back, and when I refused to sign, they took me outside and threatened to tie me to a police truck and drive me on the rough coal tarred road till I was maimed for life. That was when I signed.
The seven others have their own different stories of how they were forced to sign but we all ended up in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, and that was where I have been for the past 13 years. Five of us have passed away while still awaiting a trial that might never come.
I, however, am still alive.
I spend my days staring at the maggot-infested, feces-reeking brown dusty cell, thinking about my fading dreams and my unlucky destiny. I close my eyes and all I see is sweat from the toil of the brown earth, and no harvest but bad news.
“Come with me to the choir practice today,” Sanni, one of the remaining three calls on me presently.
“I have no voice left to sing to the One who wrote my destiny.” I reply, tracing illegible marks on the brown floor.
“You are not yet finished. You have a life. You have a chance. We are not yet finished.” He tells me.
I have heard that argument before. We all hoped at first. Five died in their hope.
Sanni leaves, and I hear them singing, “Worthy Is The Lamb.”
The wind blows, carrying the voices of disgruntled men and women, sad and weak, disembodied but resilient.
Suddenly, it comes to me. Maybe, just maybe, The Author is not yet done.
It might be a winding, brown tiring path but maybe there is just some water fountain waiting, to wash the dirt of our trek away and fill our sun-dried throats with living water, just like in a fairy tale.
There are many inmates still awaiting trial for years in Nigerian prisons.
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