THE HEART OF A MOTHER - Chapter one

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - God, African Union, war hooligans and raiders, blood, the rebels, war.



This three-part story is a tribute to mothers; a panegyric to their love, devotion and sacrifice for those in their lives. From the hinterlands of Rwanda to Lagos Nigeria and down to Owerri Nigeria, we weave through different tales about motherly devotion and sacrifices.  It is suspense laden, action-filled and contains graphic imageries of love, pain and selflessness.


CHAPTER ONE

ROSALIE AND THE WAR CRIMINALS

Clutching her two children she ran through the woods, ducking and evading bullets, sharp stumps and rattlesnakes. With her two children on either side of her, a girl of twelve years and a boy of ten, they ran, maneuvering their way through a litter of mangled human bodies – victims of the war – their eyes stared emptily into nothingness as worms of the earth and birds of the sky devoured their remains. Breathlessly she mumbled a prayer to God, “Dear God, please don’t let my children and I end up like these, but if any of us must perish in this war; let it be me. Spare my children please!” For days they trekked through the woods without water and food. Out of exhaustion and thirst, their lips turned white in colour. The hollow of their eyes deepened as if their eyes sought to hide from the horrors of the war they had seen. They had heard of a place where AU (African Union) soldiers stationed to hand out food, water and medicines to the victims of the war. It was their intention to get there. Thankfully after days, they found a river, and with glee they leapt into it. Hungrily they gulped as much as they could. The two children were over excited by the water they found; but not their mother. While they drank from the river, her eyes darted about watching every path that led to the river and the surrounding bush. She was poised for surprises. Her children were bathing in the river. She would have loved for them to drink as much water as they could, take the much their containers could carry and march on. But they were children and had survived what most adults would not.

They had seen their father shot point blank by a war lord, when he broke them out of a prison camp six months earlier. Painfully she waited for her children to finish. She felt the river wasn’t a safe place to relax and she was right. Her intuition had kept them alive since her husband was shot dead. As her sense of imminent danger grew intense she shouted in a hushed voice at her children, almost startling them out of their skin “Get dressed! I feel it! I feel it! Death is coming!” Already hardened by the war, the children heeded their mother’s order like soldiers and got dressed. They ran in no certain direction as their feet pounded the dry, dusty, red African soil. Above their heads the sun burned with intensity akin to hades. Rosalie – the mother of the two children could feel it – she could feel it even stronger than she did earlier, death was close. Some foreboding evil was shadowing them and closing in on them fast.  She could feel it choking her breath out. Though she had seen nothing sinister at that moment, she could tell one of them might die in minutes. Hot tears strolled down her cheek and she cried, “Run! Run faster little children! Run that you may live!” The two children tasked their feet harder and demanded more from their frail bodies. Then there was a staccato of gunshots and the three of them hit the ground and all grew silent. God please bless our mama dem! (God please bless our mothers!)

A band of war hooligans wielding guns and machetes ran toward the bodies of Rosalie and her two children as they lay still on the ground.  When the sound of the feet of the rebels grew louder, Rosalie sprang to her feet. Finding a broken branch nearby, she grabbed it and stood between the hooligans and her two children. Her husband had thought her and the children to go to the ground and play dead when they hear the sound of gun shots. She had hoped the rebels would think them dead when they went to the ground and move on; but they didn’t. Swinging the branch in her hand in every direction, she stood bravely meaning to fight. Behind, her two children huddled up in fear. When the hooligans got closer to her they formed an arch in front of her and made a way for their leader who garbed himself in a military camouflage clothe and held a long blade – a blade which obviously had lumped off many heads in the war. Before Rosalie he stood and sized her up. Then he raised his machete and shouted, “Drop that branch or die!” Rosalie didn’t flinch. She tightened her grip on the branch, giving the impression she intended to make use of it. God please bless our mama dem!

The leader of the hooligans was impressed and so quipped, “I see you are a strong woman! A fighter! Who are these behind you?” Coldly Rosalie answered, “My children.” Walking past her, the leader of the hooligans studied her two children; pointing at Rosalie’s twelve year old daughter he shouted, “Nduwayo! Take her! That is the wife I promised you.” In shock and anger Rosalie tried to fight. She had to stop herself when the men pointed their guns at her and her son. “If you don’t remove yourself and your son from here, I will kill you both and still leave with your daughter,” the leader of the war hooligans threatened. “Please don’t do this to me. Please you can have me but not my daughter! In fact all your men can have turns with me, but please spare my daughter!” While she spoke, Nduwayo grabbed her daughter and tied her two hands. Imana, Rosalie’s daughter cried and fought to break loose but she could not. As they left with her, Rosalie tried to shut out the sound of her daughter’s cry which rent the air. She stood trembling as the men slowly disappeared into the bush with her daughter. The pain in her heart was so much that her head felt light and the ground seemed to move under her feet; to the ground she slumped in a heap sobbing soulfully. From behind, her ten year old son held her firmly. His reassuring grip calmed her a bit. The boy had learnt that from his father. That was what he did each time their mother got overwhelmed by events. Their father would hold their mother until she stopped crying.

Realizing she had to be strong, Rosalie held her son and whispered, “We will get your sister back! Together we will get her back!” The boy nodded, believing every word his mother said. After waiting for the raiding band to move some distance ahead of them, Rosalie and her son followed them from a safe distance. When they spotted their camp, they went back into the bush. With bare hands Rosalie broke branches and sharpened them into weapons against rocks in the bush. When it was dark, she handed one to her ten year old son and demonstrated to him how to thrust it. Quietly they took the risk of their lives and crept into the small camp which the raiding band made their temporary home. Amongst many young girls who had been torn away from their parents, Rosalie searched for her daughter. Most of the men were drunk and some openly consorted with underage girls. The scene in the camp cut the look of Sodom and Gomorrah before its destruction. When she saw what the rebels did to the little girls her heart almost stopped. Fearing what they may have done to Imana, Rosalie went berserk in her search for her daughter; behind, her son followed, holding his improvised spear. Just then Rosalie spotted Nduwayo, drunk, staggering and dragging a naked girl about the same age with Imana. Rosalie stilled her nerves and went after him as he entered a tent with the underage naked girl. As she walked briskly to catch up with Nduwayo, she did not see when her son headed off in another direction. Inside the tent, Nduwayo was in a hurry to defile the tender girl and did not see when Rosalie sneaked into the tent. When Rosalie saw the girl was not Imana, she got unsettled much more. Pointing the tip of her spear on his neck, Rosalie demanded, “Where is my daughter?” Nduwayo turned in shock to face the feminine voice which spoke to him, seeing it was the woman whose daughter they took earlier in the day; he jumped to his feet and tried to put his hands on her neck. Rosalie gave him no chance; in a swift move she thrust the spear into his neck, ripping it wide open. God please bless our mama dem!
 

Rosalie stood and watched coldly as arterial blood fountained from Nduwayo’s neck. Desperately gasping for breath, Nduwayo went down to the floor and slowly grew limp. Turning to the little naked girl Rosalie barked, “Dress up!” “I have no clothes. They took me naked from our house,” replied the girl. The girl’s words struck a chord in her.  With quick strides she moved across the tent and tore in half piece clothing hanging on the wall and gave half of it to the girl to clothe herself. Just as she turned to leave the tent with the girl, her son barged into the tent, breathing heavily and his spear stained with blood. “Kinigi, why is your spear stained with blood?!” Rosalie asked with her voice filled with fear. “I killed the man who had Imana! Imana needs our help! She is bleeding!” Kinigi dashed out of the tent, giving his mother no chance to think through how a ten year old could kill a full grown man. Rosalie followed behind him, hardly seeing her way clearly as tears filled her eyes. Kinigi ran into a tent smaller than the one in which he found his mother, Rosalie followed him into it and so did the little girl she saved from Nduwayo. On the floor lay Imana desperately try to tie up the wound on her thigh. Not far from her a man possibly in his forties lay dead with several spear wounds on his tummy, a spear stuck in his chest and a wooden peg in his neck. Rosalie rushed to help her daughter bind up her wound and gave her some clothing which lay on the floor to cover her nakedness.

Looking from the dead man to her son, Rosalie shook her head in disbelief. There was no time to ask him who helped him kill the man. Imana could not run, so she backed her and asked Kinigi and the girl she saved to follow her. Meandering between tents and crouching behind trees, they made it out of the camp, and just then guns began to ring out in the camp. The war hooligans and raiders had found the two dead men in their camp. To give themselves a chance to survive, Rosalie and the children went into the bush and ran as far as they could, bumping into threes and dashing their feet against stumps. They were undeterred; their drive to stay alive was more than the rage of the men who sought to kill them. There was no telling how long they wandered in the bush that dark, moonless, night; but after some hours they stopped and listened to know if those after them were still chasing. There was no sound of chasing men, gunshots or barking dogs. They sat down to rest for some minutes; they had hardly rested for about twenty minutes when they heard the sound of gunshots and dogs barking some distance away. They sprang to their feet and continued to run. Rosalie made sure the children were in front of her. With one hand she held unto Imana who firmly clung to her back and with the other she held her spear. Under her breath she prayed to God for a miracle. God please bless our mama dem!

They ran through the bush unclear where they were headed, all they wanted was to escape the war villains who were after them. Just before dawn they ran into AU (African Union) peacekeeping force. At their feet Rosalie and the children feel down, their throats dry and their strength spent from running. She had found help and God had heard her prayer.God please bless our mama dem!

END OF CHAPTER ONE        CLICK HERE TO READ CHAPTER TWO

Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: THE HEART OF A MOTHER - Chapter one
THE HEART OF A MOTHER - Chapter one
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - God, African Union, war hooligans and raiders, blood, the rebels, war.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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