War dares the
Dares a leviathan….
The war was over; hope was the currency buying tomorrow. Nneka had lost her husband Chigo and two brothers. She is left to face tomorrow’s fears alone. She noticed the Biafran flag was halved. She saw the war in the refugee camp, because it stretched its bite toward them…hunger, anguish, disease and all…but she gave her best as a professional nurse.
Obinna her son will be ten next month, she remembered. Survival is enough!
“Where will we go from here?” Asked Obidia, an admirer of Nneka. She likes her courage and the way she leads the women. “Maybe…Onitsha.” Replied Nneka. She thought of the dangers of leading more than thirty women after war, but she is ready to face it.
“Let’s start moving.” She urged the women. She remembered trying to be in the camp where Chigo was, so as to help him medically when he needed help. But he told her the women will need her more. She remembered how he smiled into that war!
Women are the most vulnerable during war times, but Nneka doubts it, she believes they could survive, unlike men who go where bullets fly too much.
“We are going to Onitsha.” She told her son. Obinna nodded like he understands the distance from Ihiala to Onitsha. Obidia came close to Nneka, and kissed her on the forehead. Such love! She has three children, two boys and a girl. But the whereabouts of her husband remains a mystery.
The women were mostly mothers, only few single ladies who doubt if their husbands still remain after this war followed them. But going to Onitsha was expedient, since news has it that plenty of food abounds there.
The women began to search and pluck fruits. Some broke palm nuts to feed their children. Nneka shed tears, but tried to conceal it. She saw how the mothers first fed their children before they ate anything. She wandered how come a mother’s heart for her child! Where are their fathers, she thought. Some, maybe alive, or, dead. They will do anything to protect their children, she thought further.
Obidia brought her some cashew fruits. “It’s a long road, Obidia.” Nneka complained. Obidia noticed the tears: “you are crying?” She asked.
“I am alright… there is no problem.” Nneka replied.
“But you have Obinna….”
“I said I am fine…”! She scolded Obidia. She is only a woman, Obidia understood.
“I am sorry!” She later apologized. Obidia smiled and left. They have always made sure the fruits were washed. Nneka knew she had to be a nurse in and outside the hospital. Nneka’s selflessness had caught Obidia, they believe caring for the women is better than considering themselves first. Obidia wanted to revenge what one of the women did to her back in camp, but Nneka told her: ‘revenge is like the scorching sun, it burns us all.’ Obidia heeded.
The morning was warm; it’s the fourth day of their journey. By 6: am, they began again to move. No sooner than they walked few minutes, a man who had been tracing them came out with a knife: “Bring everything you all have, or I will harm somebody!” He threatened.
Nneka was afraid, but later steeled herself with a readied fist: “why will you threaten women returning after such war?” The man saw her boldness but persisted: “your courage will fail you.” He replied. The women were cocooned with fear. Nneka remembered that where the fist fails, wisdom has greater strength. “Young man, yesterday ended this war, tomorrow is still big for you and us. We survived this war and its dark days, will you now fight your mothers and sisters, see them….If the war took your wife, you could be blessed through any of the young ladies here in future, what makes a woman say ‘I DO’ doesn’t cost much. Think about it!”
The man like a charmed leopard turned and left. The women marveled!
But that charm emanates from the heart of a woman replete with wisdom and grace!