I was almost fast asleep while I hear Papa and Mama talked and laughed low tones. A knock came at the door. The knock on the door was heavy in assumption that the person behind wanted to pull it down. My shut eyes were quickly opened and cold silence descended upon Papa’s room. I was wondering who this could be? Besides, it was dead of the night 1am.
“Who is there?”, I heard Papa asked in a deeper voice. I know he might have his machete.
I stepped out of my bed, and then tiptoed to the sitting room. I saw Mama standing close to the door that connects the sitting room and theirs. My guess was right, Papa held his machete in his right hand and a torch on the left. A lot of things must be going on through his mind. The stranger behind the door might be an armed robber or an assassin. I had cleared quite alright, but evil seed can always germinate easily and prosperously.
“Sir, it is Sergeant Ogboso”, the voice faintly.
“Sergeant Ogboso?”, Papa asked.
“Yes. I’m a police officer”.
Police officer? What should a policeman be looking for in our house at the middle of the night? To arrest who? Papa? Me? Or mama? He sounded alone, but which sane police officer will embark to make an arrest in the dead of the night all alone? Suicide mission or he uses “odeshi”. Papa opened the door after unbolting it. The said Sergeant Ogboso was not on uniform. How does one believe him to be a police officer? He leaned against the wall and was panting hard.
“So how can I be of help to you?”, Papa asked as he shined the torchlight on his face.
“You must leave with your family now. They will arrive here in couple of hours”, sergeant Ogboso said breathing heavily.
“Who are these people?”
Papa was always inquisitive. Of course, I know who “they” are. Combined team of Mobile policemen, Army Special Forces and the crack team of the State Security Defence. It was a fierce force. I’m quite aware that Sergeant Ogoboso risked his life coming down here to tell us about it.
“These people are powerful and deadly. You just have leave. I did this because your son also saved my family during the last heavy rains”.
Now, I remember who Sergeant Ogboso was. During the last days of the rainy season, for four whole days it rained nonstop. His only daughter had stepped out to play in the rain even when the wife had scolded the child not to step out, she went out. The ground was slippery and it drew the daughter down the gutter in front of the house. She screamed for help and the mother came out. She also found herself in similar situation like her daughter. I was called to action by my armlet, given to me by Chukwu okike. I arrived the scene; the flood water was already driving them with full force towards oke osimili river. Local divers couldn’t attempt any rescue operations because it was too dangerous. According to a myth, oke osimili was dangerous to swan in, if there was a rainfall. The banks always overflow. I invoked lightening and following its speed. I had called on chi mmili the river goddess to protect mother and daughter from all the ajo mous in the river. I flew to a nearby coconut tree and cut it down. I sliced it into halves to make a path for them to pass. The mother was already given up because she has drunk much water. I walked on the path I have made because I had placed it from a good ground till where they are. I carried the daughter on my left shoulder while the mother on the right. I took them home. Many onlookers watched from their homes. They feared that the story might not be same.
“We leave for my ikwunne now”, Papa said as he sat in one of the cushions in the sitting room, with hands. Sergeant Ogboso had left. I sensed a lot must be going through Papa’s mind. He wanted to stay back and fight. Defending our compound was his priority due to Papa Nnukwu had warned him on no account should he flee from the compound. Our forefathers have stayed there come rain, come shine. They defended it. Staying back was act of bravery but if he leaves, cowardice you will call it. Ekwensu will have a good if he eventually stays back.
“How are you sure of this policeman?” mama asked. “Are you sure we won’t be ambushed?”.
Mama was worried and it was written all over her. She would want us go to her family house instead; due to the fact her elder brother was a retired soldier. It was safer. Papa won’t accept it. The house of his inlaws? No way! It was an insult.
”We will go and nothing will happen to any of us”, Papa said.
Mama dashed inside their room. She wants get a few things ready for the journey while I stood staring at Papa. He was expecting me to say something or came up with an idea that might calm the situation if what Sergeant Ogboso had said was true. He barely talked to me. He relayed everything through Mama. He said that gods and men are not same. According to him, male gods tend to soft to women than men. I love Mama from birth.
“Chidera, are you not going prepare anything?”, Mama queried as she emerged from their room with two Ghana-must-go bags. “Or you didn’t hear what the policeman said?”
“Did you see him as someone that is worried?” Papa retorted as his eyes caught mine and he looked away almost immediately.
We hit the road. Papa had made suggestions that we take main entrance instead of backyard. He said we might be caught up with our visitors that would be strategizing to catch us unawares. They both shared the bags while I walk behind holding Papa’s torchlight. Papa had made a little map that would give us a quicker journey to his ikwunne. Once, we emerged from our eziama, we take left as if we are going to oke oshimili. There seemed to be a junction connecting our village, oke oshimili then next town, Asiaja which comprises of ten villages. We would pass through Ekeaja, one of the villages. Papa’s fears would be the local vigilante. It was a law not to keep late nights in this village. It was the shortest way into Ogudiri town, which was Papa’s ikwunne.
“Woman, you have to walk to faster. We have a long way to go,” Papa said in low tone as we had taken the left turn following his map directions.
“This bag is very heavy”
“Are you not the one that packed up the load in it…..”
Papa couldn’t finish his last word as we heard the sound of approaching vehicles with lights dimmed. Immediately, we dashed into a nearby bush. Sergeant Ogboso was right after all, but how come they didn’t take our village road? According to Papa, it was antics of war. You don’t let your enemies predict your moves. There were about seven vehicles on a single line. Each occupant seemed to be brandishing an Ak47. The vehicles came to a halt almost to where we had hidden. Mama’s heart skipped.
“E be like thief no dey this village”, said a soldier as he alighted from one from the vehicles.
“Why you talk so?”, a policeman cuts in.
“No be person get this bag and I sure say money fit dey inside?”.
It was Papa’s bag. He dropped it. Fear didn’t let him hold on to it. We lay low in order not to be detected while Mama muted silent prayer. Papa held on to his machete. He had earlier boasted if we are caught, before we might be killed he would cut off at least five heads.
“This is not our mission. Don’t derail it”, a man announced. He sounded more of the commander or coordinator of the mission. He was mean. “The little boy has to pay for whatever damages he has done”.
The vehicles sped off raising thick of dust and smoke while we watched and listened to them. Mama Uju had told me that all these will surely occur and I should never make a mistake of raising a finger. Any silly action against what was about to take place would wipe mankind out of mother earth. She said it was the will of Chukwu Okike.
“Chidera, what damages was that man talking about?” Mama found her voice.
What does she want me to tell her that was the said damages? Past months, my name, Mama’s and Papa’s name kept ringing bells nationally. If we weren’t announced on radio then we will be seen on almost news channels on the Television. The police had declared me as an enemy of the state. They claimed I destroyed a national “treasure”.
Before the run up of events that led to me being announced as an enemy of the state. I had gone to battle against Ogaragidi, a feared dibia. He came through generations of great dibias that served okwu alusi. Greed, arrogance and love of money made him to lose focus on what had kept his forefathers going generations ago. Justice was given to the highest bidder. The poor lost their voice and hope in okwu alusi while the rich and affluence laugh hard if you ever report a case against at the court of Ogaragidi. They will surely buy out the case and he will put you on an oath not to take the case further. The country’s big politicians have made him their god. Whatever he told them, stands. The police chief that declared me as an of the state, got lots of charms and protection from him due pressure from the presidency that he might sacked. Corruption cases were hanging around his neck. Mama Uju said he had a pact with ekwensu. He sold all his male children’s destinies, about eight of them. This was the big part of the pact because ekwensu succeeding as another great dibia. Let the lineage be doomed. It will take okwu alusi a decade to find a faithful family that would serve him generations after generations.
On the set day for the battle against Ogaragidi, I brought out my ogu. It was a gift from Chukwu okike. Mama Uju had her walking stick. It was light against darkness. She told that our host anticipates our arrival. He seemed prepared. He was more powerful than Ajo Dibia,who gnashes his teeth in oku mou.
”Don’t look inferior if sends thunder against us”, Mama Uju cautioned.
He can send out thunder? How? Am I not the only one that thunder and lightning answer to? There was more to the powers Ogaragidi possessed. Did he kill ekwensu and took all his powers? A face to face with him would tell lots of stories. We arrived the thick forest that housed his shrine, which he called court. He was nowhere to be seen, but his servants were ready pick up the fight on his behalf. Mama Uju wanted to take them out, and then a thunderous laugh came. It shook the whole forest. It was him. He was trying to make his arrival known and felt. The laughter died, a whirlwind came sweeping through the trees and grasses. His servants were at the mercies of the wind. It took them one after the other.
”It is only cowards that show up their faces during a real fight”, Mama Uju thundered. “ Come and fight, if you are a real man”.
Mama Uju’s words seemed to have provoked him as started uprooting trees and directed them towards us. I sent out eight axes that the trees to shreds.
”You can’t take away what belongs to me”, Ogaragidi said as his voice echoed. “This is my life and I have to live it”.
“What life are you talking about?”, I retorted. “Did you know the pains you’ve caused a lot of families? The agonies and injustice you have melted out?”
“I built whatever I today from scratch. You deceived my fathers, no w I have known the truth and I have seen the way”.
“You only saw the way to your destruction”, Mama Uju cuts in.
Mama Uju struck her stick on the ground thrice; Ogaragidi emerged from an iroko tree that stood near his shrine. Though, I expected to a giant, but he was short and dark in complexion with hairs all over, but how did get to marry the thirty wives I learnt he married? They were charmed? Nwoke adighi njo. He stepped back a little and danced like the ijele masquerade, then he raised the broom he had on his left hand, thunder struck. Mama Uju was right after all. I unleashed my ogu on him and the thunder it produced hit his loins. While Mama Uju sent out darts which pierced through his skin. He yelled for help because it was finished. No fighting power. He lost it.