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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - UNESCO, Rabbit, School, Tuberculosis, White Men, Scientific, Cultural, Flour, Rain, Neighbours.

“Why did papa and mama have to die and live us by ourselves? Maybe God does not like us that much,” said Ephraim, who was ten years of age. “Don’t talk like that,” his older brother, Kenneth retorted. “I don’t know why our parents had to die and leave us both by ourselves with hardly anyone to help us, but I have not forgotten what mama said to us before she passed away,” Kenneth continued. “Always look after each other and look up to God,” Ephraim completed the sentence reluctantly. “But things are looking terrible Ken. We can barely till the ground. We are children. Look at the fields, where do we start? How do we make it on our own? I go to bed at night thinking of what a ten-year-old should have no business thinking about,” Ephraim pointed out. “And those things are making us stronger,” said Kenneth who was three years older. He was an optimist. Despite their situation, he has refused to give in to the problems and challenges of life. Their parents died of tuberculosis. Recently, they had been tested, and they both tested negative. Ephraim rose to his feet and walked to their parents’ grave. They were buried side-by-side in front of their small house, overlooking the fields where their father once cultivated.

Every day, he looked at the grave, wishing that they would come back. He sat on bare ground opposite their mother’s grave and looked on in tears. Kenneth walked over to him. He sat behind him and took him in his arms, holding him from behind. “I miss them too, Ephraim. I wake up every morning wishing that they would come back. I am afraid that you and I cannot till the ground and cultivate the field. I am afraid that some man in the village will rise up some day and take our father’s fields. I am angry at God sometimes for not saving our parents, at least one of them. I miss school too. I want to wake up and go to school and not lift a hoe heavier than myself and head to the fields. I want to sleep under the blanket when it rains, with raindrops jangling rhythmically on the roof, composing tunes that send me to sleep. Instead, I have to stay up and fetch water for us when it rains; things our parents used to do for us. I want to have enough food for us and not have to worry about tomorrow, Ephraim. I feel every bit of your pains. They stab to the core of my heart with cruel persistence. I cover my head with the pillow when I attempt to sleep at night, so I can muffle my cries to keep you from knowing that I cry myself to sleep almost every day. I am trying to be strong for you, as your older brother. You are not alone Ephraim. Papa and mama are gone, but I am here with you my little brother.

“Death would have to kill me over and over again to separate me from you. I will never let you suffer alone. I promised our mother that I would look after you, and I am ready to die and should death come my way, I will come right back to this world as a ghost just to look after you. I need you to be strong little brother. You are not walking this path by yourself. I am here…I know God is watching over us as mama said. I know that the spirits of our late parents are watching over us. We will do the little we can, and by tomorrow, we start again. Someday, we will live to tell our story. I don’t want you to give up, Ephraim. It is not my story to tell…it is our story. The story won’t be complete without you. Please stop crying. It breaks my heart to see you cry. If I could, I would offer you a part of me for food, but that is not possible, my little brother. I will go and check if some of our corns are ready for harvest, so we can roast some for lunch. Will you come with me?” Through a sea of tears, Ephraim nodded affirmatively. They both rose to their feet and headed for a small section of their fields where they had cultivated a few corns.

They rummaged through the small pocket of the field, painstakingly searching for corn that was ready to be harvested. The corns were far from ready. They had hardly eaten all day. The flour that their neighbors had offered them some weeks ago had finished. Most of their relatives had been wiped by the same tuberculosis epidemic that swept through the land with a chilling ruthlessness. Most families were grappling with hunger too. After a thorough search, they returned to the house empty-handed. Soon, it began to rain. Kenneth lit their lanterns and went outside to fetch some water. “I will join you,” Ephraim offered. “No, you will catch cold,” Kenneth insisted. Ephraim watched through the window as Kenneth ran into the house with a bucket of water twice his size, poured the water into a drum in the kitchen and return quickly outside. The lantern that stood by the window illuminated the front yard. Kenneth saw it. He moved methodically and carefully to his right, using a mango tree in front of their house as a cover. The rabbit looked around before every hop. Soon, it was a few yards away from Kenneth. He had picked up a club earlier. He aimed at the rabbit and let go of the club. He said a quick prayer as soon as he let go of the club. His aim was spot on. The rabbit was struck hard enough in the head.

Elated, he carried the rabbit into the kitchen. Ephraim could not believe his eyes. They had not had meat in months. Ephraim made fire and roasted the rabbit. A short while later, they plucked meat off the rabbit bone with their teeth in sheer excitement. “God still provides for us,” Kenneth pointed out as they ate. “Yes…yes He does,” Ephraim agreed. In the morning, they were woken up by the sound of a vehicle in front of their house. When they opened the door, they saw their former headmaster (when they attended school), who was flanked by two White men. The headmaster, Mr. Nguda introduced the two White men as officials of UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.   The White men spoke and M. Nguda interpreted to Kenneth and Ephraim. “They want to send you back to school. You two. If you agree, they will look after your farm until you are old enough to farm the land. They will work the land and provide enough food for you two all year round, pay your tuition at school and take care of your house. They are here to make sure that you two become children again…that you live as children until you are old enough to make all those tough decisions. I will ensure that no one will cheat you.”

Kenneth looked at Ephraim and then at the White men and Mr. Nguda. “Will you take the offer?” Mr. Nguda asked them. Without uttering a word, Ephraim ran towards Mr. Nguda and jumped at him. They loved him when they were in school, and he loved them in return. He was a good friend of their late father. He lifted Ephraim and hugged him firmly. “Thank you very much!” Kenneth said not able to hold back tears. “Everything will be alright. Everything will be alright my children,” Mr. Nguda stressed as he hugged them both.


Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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