WAR AGAINST PEACE
On that tragic eyes of sorrows
With our hands, we send peace to the gallows
Now we seek sanity to borrow
Serenity, to host our shattered tomorrow
Trail by wars’ deadly claws
Delivered from peace sane jaws
Satires of our peaceful hands
Stuck firmly to guns and knives
On the scenes of these numerous sins
Left to rue the trajectory of pain
Peace deserts our desolate land
War and fury are silent echoes.
“We used to feel the nudge of affection from the neighbourhood, we used to feel the warmth of peace,” she paused as the sadness that had faded away returned with full force. Struck by a pandemonium of thoughts, she held back the flow of pain that was about to swallow her up. She tried to stand up but the nurses pleaded with her to remain still. She tried to remember how she had gotten to the hospital, for all she could remember was jubilant soccer fans celebrating in the soccer house... but what happened next? Why was she unable to move? Why couldn’t she feel her legs? Fresh tears rushed out of her eyes as she began to gather the pieces of the memories that were being wielded together. She became aware of the situation, she was the latest casualty of the last terror unleashed in the hood.
Fresh and undiluted sorrows and pains gushed out of her eyes, as the tears overwhelmed her. Ethel was a very special girl, somewhat between dubious, truthful and an unpredictable fellow. Her eyes were between bulging big, with a classy that defined her undefined and undefiled features. There was a specialty about her sense of humour; the tentative and intermittent mischievous but captivating smiles she gave was enough to ease whoever it was that she was talking to.
She had graduated from one of the universities in the country and had just finished serving her NYSC. This was going to be a great loss as her mum had neglected the education of her other siblings just to see her success become a reality.
The stench of sadness spread through the room like smoke permeating a building or an atmosphere. She held her head in her hands, wondering why for once she had to give in to Sam’s plea and idea of going to watch a football match that night. She remembered clearly, speaking in a voice that sounded a little more than a whisper; many a times she had resisted and turned down the temptation of following Sam to a soccer house, and for once, she has pleased him and fallen victim of man’s conspiracy
She stares into the heavens as if to question heaven’s involvement in the tragedy that has befallen her. Ethel again was filled with tearful tears that threatened to tear her tearful heart. She remembered Sam, why was he not with her? May be he was dead and not as fortunate as she was; maybe he had not survived the blast. She looked around, wondering if she would see him smiling behind one of those teary faces she was seeing.
Sam had been Ethel’s friend and colleague from the university. They first met when he rescued her from some never-do-well students who tried to harass her. All though he was not strong enough to confront them, he knew he didn’t have to fight since he recognized a familiar face among them. He was quick to reason;
“Ken, tell your friends to leave my woman alone.”
Ken was just an idiot sharing neighbourhood with Sam. Although Sam was lady’s man, Ken could not argue that he had never seen this particular lady ever paying Sam a visit.
With such a straight forward audacity and approach, Ethel was already won over. Sam came to later explain that he had in fact admired her and nursed such intention for long. Although she will in the future realized that her peace has been contorted, she was too careless to realize that accommodating Sam was the beginning of a misery that will take long to manifest and blossom. She had read of wars, cold war and revolutions, but never had she understood that the war within a person’s soul and heart was the most dehumanizing and demoralizing.
They had both become very close and had formed a successful study partnership and a reading habit that would see them both graduate with a second class upper division; in a more local parlance, they were running things.
She looks around again and asked, “Where is Sam, and why hasn’t he come?”
Sensing the fear looming, the doctor calmed her down and assured her that Sam was okay, only being treated in the intensive care unit. Sam had been unconscious, in a coma, and the doctors were tending to his wounds. He was lucky to escape with minor injuries. However, the doctor feared that the shock had made him unconscious and might be killing him gradually.
He had lost both his parents at the tender age of ten and was taken into his uncle’s care. As Sam will say, my uncle was the nicest person to me after my parents’ death, but I had to live with a demon in his house. The traumatic memories of his parents dead left him soaked in sorrows, again he was found at the scene of the accident unconscious too. This painful memory always evokes sadness in him. However, uncle’s kindness was short lived as he was thrown out of the house at the age of fifteen. He once made a painful reminiscence into his days with his uncle;
“I always saw demons in her eyes – my uncle’s wife – the way she looked at me, the way she smiled at me, I hated it. I thought I was only blinded by my hatred for her. My uncle was always away on transfer as a policeman. I had to be at home with his demon, his wife. She was a charming and beautiful woman in her mid-twenties at that time. I could sense hell once I stepped into the house. It all started like a joke: she walked into my room one day after I had taken my bath and told me I had not bathed well. She took me into the bathroom to show me how to have a clean bath.”
That was the start of a series of helpless molestation he went through in the hands of his uncle’s Jezebel. Such pity is evoked whenever he sits to remember the past that has turned him into a beast; yet, amidst the dehumanizing and tragic past, Sam was able to hold his head high enough above the waters as he strives towards the tomorrow he had long dreamt of – a tomorrow he wasn’t going to let in jeopardy, a tomorrow that is now threatened everyday by insane blasts.
The war has long been fought, yet there was no telling that they could identify their enemies. They, as innocent as they were, fall victims and are sent to the graves to kiss their forbidden fate. The variegated patch up work they have come to live and call their own, proud to belong, one nation as they often hail, liking the names but hating their diversity, and while they have often thought that their problem was carried on the wings of corruption and electoral insincerity, they have now identified another cleavage that is clogging the wheel of their country’s unity; unwillingness of the various ethnic components to exist side-by-side in harmony, setting them back to the vanity of their desire to progress.
There has been, there was, and there is still more organized attacks on the peace of the country. The very root which was the reaction to the first coup which had resulted in a civil rebellion, bringing with it untold hardship to the whole citizenry, and though the war has long ended, they are still threatened by consistent sounds of bomb blasts, sending the already dead souls to their early graves.
Sam has watched many relationship break up. Although he has engineered many breakups in his young life, he believes that the unity of the country is stronger than any relationship. And while he has always argued that disintegration is not the solution no matter the calamity that befalls the country, the calamity that has gotten to his doorstep was beginning to change his opinion already.
The streets were filled with heavy military presence, men who had been drafted to see an end to the madness that now roams the nation, causing death. Even children have become suspects, for they were at times used as messengers to drop explosives at strategic points. Ethel and Sam, in the hospital, weighed down by sorrows, their city fell under the siege of military men sent to fish and ferret out the culprits. For the first time, the government has responded quickly to calm the tension that was rising in the area. Or was it just a mere show that will not last the night?
In this war, not even the soldiers and policemen were spared, especially when they lose their guard. Bombing and gun attacks have become almost a daily romance; the streets have been deserted, left to waste, only few vehicles dare to ply, while many of these people who reside in volatile places are consigned to their vicinity with their radio and handsets readily available to tell them the location of the next bomb blast. Who wouldn’t adapt to this survival strategy in a city that has rapidly turned into a killing field? The city has been captured by terror; many businesses and markets closed down, while those who consider themselves non indigenes flee to where the least of their safety could be guaranteed.
The soldiers have come to restore hope and order to an already hopeless city. The war against peace have become fiercer as Sam and Ethel will find out on their return home from the deadly jaws of death. The soldiers, bent on finishing the operations, raided the towns, leaving young and innocent individuals dead with the slightest fear of suspicion.
Sam wakes to consciousness and realises that houses in the neighbourhood have been indiscriminately burnt, cars paralyzed, and the mortuary and cemetery filled to its brim with corpses and souls of young men who had fallen victim not just to the bomb blasts, but to the very bullet of men who had been sent on counter operations to rescue them from death. The miseries of widows and orphans dampened daily, while young men have been caught in the crossfire between this deadly sect and military operations, and the massive exodus of non indigenes who must make a return to their promise lands and escape the threat to their lives.
Sam and Ethel, forced back to their state, returned to the Niger Delta they had left as children, leaving behind the painful bitter memories of their stay in ‘Afghanistan’, for while it is easy to kill, and while anyone can do it, only a real and responsible man can protect his fellow men. So life, to Ethel and Sam, was full of continuous sadness, dotted by a protracted joy, characterized by a gripping tension, insecurity and suffering, occasioned by the series of attacks and military reaction. While people struggle to evade the stray bullets and blasts, the presence of the soldiers – which at first had been for security reasons – rapidly became a platform for humiliation and brutalization, extortion and undue hardship.
While the terror intensely grew, the people are afraid to openly discuss issues concerning these masked men. While they seek peace, war is waged on what is left of the harmony they once experienced and now seek for. Only luck must have saved the lives of those two, those with a lasting mark that will conspire in the future to deal the final blow on her.
"Peace within the soul doth stray
Mind of reason sold away
Joy to sorrow though is changed
Love becomes a paradise.
Nothing left to sway our joy
Life then treats us like a toy
Sorrows and pains though suffice
Love becomes a paradise
Swung to grave, naked like a slave
Put to rest hearts once brave
Unwelcome tears shed not twice
Love still, our paradise."
To be continued...
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