Tag Archives: village life

A CLARION CALL

It seems like yesterday when I heeded the clarion call and joined the league of the nation’s graduates who pledged to serve their fatherland under the sun and in the rain. I remember taking the solemn pledge with reckless disregard for any eventuality and I actually signed the commitment clause in the boldest ink. What other eventuality could come other than the fact that Ifeoma has left me? Ifeoma had fallen for one of our college lecturers, a divorcee with a lot of money, his own house and roving hands. He was nearly twice my age; there is nothing a twenty-year-old can do against such opposition.

The call-up letter had arrived when I was contemplating what to do with my life.

“I am happy to inform you that by the provisions of Decree No. 51 of 16th June, 1993, arrangement have been completed for you to participate in the national youth service scheme for one calendar year and you should report as follows:…”

That was it, courteous and simple, as if it were another invitation to a marriage ceremony, where we would wine and dine. And who cares when the centre piece of the world had come crashing on the earth. I reported as scheduled.

Every activity at the Isseleuku camp swirled at an alarming rate through some-hell-designed maze. I can hardly recall the specifics but hell-no, will I ever forget my experience immediately after I left the camp.

At the end of the 21 days orientation course, we were congratulated and dispatched into the various communities of Delta State. Few lucky ones found themselves posted to major cities and corporate organisations while many where ordered to report to remote villages—i naturally fell into the category of the unfortunates.

The difference and prospect of the service year for every individual was seen at the departure park of the camp, some organisation chauffeured their corps members on executive rides to the Place of Primary Assignments; others had to struggle with the elements to locate their PPA. Again, I was among the latter group. But, I still had a good laugh at the chic that was taken on a bicycle to her PPA. The whole camp had a hearty laughter at the expense of the sobbing lady but the goodwill representative of the village was at a loss on the situation around the camp. In his words, that was the highest honour to bestow on a visitor in their village. The council of chiefs had deemed it fit to send a mode of transportation—a bicycle, to the new teacher coming to the only community school in the village. My fate was all the while lurking around the corner for me.

The few acquaintances that I managed to mash-up with waved goodbyes pitifully as though they were on a flight to paradise but, am on a visit to the hades. Soon, the crowd of spectators thinned off and the guards at the camp took positions for the night watch.

I have only managed to know the Local government area of my PPA. I was walking down the street outside the camp at 1900hours having waited for a promised bus that never came. I heard a bus humming nearer; I turned and waved it down. I had wanted only a ride to the bus station but it turned out we are heading to Ughelli North Local Government Area. What a sheer luck! They chattered away, through the drive as though they all met from Adam, but I could tell some of the folks didn’t belong to us. They knew much of the terrain and were counselling the dejected and celebrating the lucky one—all in one breathe. Though, I wished for some sanity to process the maze of actions of the last 21days, some of the people tried to draw me in. Their chatter ran out when one asked of my PPA. I showed him the posting letter and he couldn’t tell if he has heard of the school I was posted to. A calm gloom claimed the bus as the veterans tried to process my information and tag me as appropriate either with those to be comforted or cheered. I was however thankful for the reduced noise. Suddenly, from the blues, someone asked me if I was a practising Christian. I asked what he meant and regretted hitching a ride with a bunch of hypocrites—I can see a debate coming. For to me, anyone who is trying to win a soul for Christ is a classic fool. Aristotle admonish us ‘Man know thy self’ yet a lot of them are yet to save their own damned soul. He snapped with, ‘are you saved by the abiding grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

‘I know Jesus, if that’s what you mean’ to cut short his interrogations but, not this one. For, there is something about my appearance that points me out as a potential antichrist to these religious people.

‘Is he your lord and personal saviour?’ he asked exposing my lame curtness.

‘And how is that your business?’ I asked a final time to shut him off. A silence fell upon the bus and we rode in peace until Ughelli. No further questions save for some surreptitious stares cast at me for such audacity.

 

POST SCRIPT

This story has been late in coming and if I don’t do this now I may as well forget about the story. Here is what I set out to achieve with my participation in this year’s A-Z April Writing Challenge.

Mission: To write the first draft of The Clarion Call

Objective: To produce a 13,000-word short story at the end of the challenge

Request: kindly, suggest ways to make this story come out better as you deem fit.

Contributed: A-Z April Writing Challenge

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The Experience–#FridayFictioneers

Caveat

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This Week, my story is way beyond 100words, please note. It’s a story i submitted for a writers’ conference back in school days, you may read all (if you’ve got the time) or just hop into the part after the picture, that’s actually my entry this week…

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“At a certain stage in our lives, having come of age and fully imbibed the values of the society. Certain responsibilities are bestowed on us. And to prove our mantle in he community, we shouldn’t shy away from such. Our people will say: ‘when a child is due to own a farming implement, it is the duty of the parents to provide one’. The beauty of such bequest doesn’t lie in just the giving but in the usage instruction for future profiting.

“Manusa, I will like you to open your ears to all I am about to tell you today. You are my only daughter; as it is I know what troubles come with such status. Your current stage may usher in more troubles for you depending on how well you manage yourself. As your mother, I am glad that you’ve come of age and the beats of womanhood have started reverberating around your body; in no time you shall have many dancers—admirers and lovers—of good music flocking around you as ants do after sugarcane. The beauty of womanhood is in keeping your pride. Mind your body, be courteous and be friendly. And most especially, be a good ambassador of your family.”

That was my mother, as succinct as always. She isn’t a woman of many words. How do I describe the early morning sermons that mother nurtured me with? Well, I can say the last forms the preamble to the scenario you are about to read; though, I was hardly aware of its meaning then.

It all started a few days to my fourteenth birthday. I had gone to the stream like every other child on that Saturday morning to do the week’s laundry. As usual with such adventure, it was segmented into phases: the Israelite-like trek around the Ugboju forest (with chattering among the females and the well mastered act of the males “kidnapping” us); the actual washing and the swimming at the end of the day’s task.

Of course, we reacted to the males arm-bushes with so much hilarious excitement, even though we were aware of such plots the fun wasn’t lost on us.

Attempts had been made to stop this game by the elders, due to an incident that happened some years ago. Eneh, a young village maiden had been tactfully kidnapped by neighbouring Apan community who had declared a cold war on Otukpo, our village, for our acceptance of counsellorship of the town council—a position that the indigenes of Apan have come to know as their birthright, owing to many years of occupation.

During one of such Israelite-like treks, as it has come to be known (actually christened by Aladi—a very mischievous character—after the Sunday school’s lesson on the journey of the Israelites, who used 40years on a journey that could have taken 40days), Eneh was kidnapped by some masked men and taken across the boarder into Apan; even though she was screaming and struggling with all her power her friends continued cheering and clapping for her assailants thinking it was the usual village pranks.

Ugboju Forest

Today, our now modified Israelite-like trek is restricted to Ugboju forest areas, with the boarders of the village kilometres away.

On that fateful day, I was the target of the kidnap. As usual, I had the fun of it all, relishing the pleasure of being kidnapped to the riverside. In no time the second phase of the adventure—the washing—was done with.

It was during the third phase—the swimming in the river—that the story changed. As I was putting my bucketful of washed clothes down from my head to participate in the swimming, a sharp pain shot through my lower abdomen and caused the members of my body to quaver in shock. I looked around to be sure I had not been struck by a stray bullet but the pain left as quickly as it came.

I stepped out to the bank of the river I felt a gentle gush of some kind of liquid creeping down my thighs. Instinctively, I closed my thighs as I halt in my steps. Could it be urine; but I wasn’t that careless not to be able to control my bladder?

Being conscious of other children I slipped the index finger of my left hand down my thighs going through the top band of my skirt. Alas! It was no urine; it was thick!

Bringing my hand out, I knew I was doomed. It was there spread on my fingers: Black-red! I looked around in apprehension, my eyes caught Yeye’s and she read meaning into it that all was not well. She started out of the river towards me.

Can I stand what was to befall me, I thought. “No!” I took to my heels taxied down the slope of the Atunga hill the other side of which the river is, in a frightful intention to boycott the Ugboju forest and making it to mother’s comfort quickly.

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This is a contribution to #FridayFictioneers hosted weekly at Madison Woods blog, feel free hit in and have a wonderful reading experience.