BY ISRAEL USULOR
Ikenna lay with his back on the bunch of leaves and grasses which they had managed to lump together and turned into a make-shift mattress. Mimi had spread her scarf on it to make it softer. She lay beside him and pillowed her head on his hairy chest. Their legs were intertwined. They had gone very deep into the bush away from the prying eyes of soldiers who lined up the Zaka City road. Gunshots were still heard from afar, though it had subsided considerably. The bush was thick and silent, left for the chirpy noise of creepy insects and those of grasses that danced to the breeze of the airy night. Though it was a moony night, Ikenna felt it was dark, even darker than coal such that he thought he could even touch the darkness with his fingers. He knew the night would be longer than usual too. He kept gazing at the shiny full moon directly overhead. Occasionally, the moon was blinded by dark clouds that endlessly raced to and fro. The moon fought to shine amidst raging dark clouds that endlessly fought to darken it. Ikenna had never thought deeply about the moon-cloud war but was amazed that it still shone at the prevailing situation.
‘That’s how our lives are,’ he said, pointing Mimi’s attention to the moon.
‘What do you mean?’ She asked.
‘Just as the moon struggles to shine amidst dark clouds, so do we struggle to live and be happy in the midst of dangers. Just as the moon sparkles against all odds, so do we survive in the midst of deadly arrows thrown by the enemy.’ Mimi thought Ikenna sounded preachy like a Pentecostal pastor, yet she knew he was dead right. Life was a deadly battle, and they had survived one earlier in the day.
‘You are right,’ she agreed. ‘Which is why we must live one moment at a time and stay happy in spite of past sorrows. I’m happy to be alive. Are you?’ She asked.
‘Yes! Very happy. Shit happens but, being alive gives us the opportunity to push ahead,’ he answered, holding her tightly to himself.
‘Will you follow me to my village?’ He asked, after a long silence.
Mimi was taken aback and kind of shocked. Though she knew she would follow Ikenna wherever he went, she was still shocked when he asked. Indeed, there was no other place to go.
‘Of course I will. Or where else do you want me to go?’ She asked, rubbing his hairy chest with her left fingers.
‘Are you following me because you have nowhere to go or because you love me?’ Ikenna wanted to be sure they were not in a situationship.
‘If I have to be frank, I won’t say I’m following you entirely because of love. As much as I love you, I would say following you is as a result of the war and maybe, the pregnancy. Both of us were not prepared for any of these. Yet, we have to make the best out of the situation,’ she said.
‘You are right,’ Ikenna responded.
‘I wasn’t prepared for these things too. But I have realised that the best of things come out from the worse of situations. I’m the only child of my parents, I can’t let the opportunity of raising a family slip by my fingers. I’m taking you to my mother tomorrow. She is blind, but I’m sure she would see you in her mind.’ Ikenna was no longer panicky. The events of the last twelve or so hours had toughened his will and resolve to stand up and be a man. Mimi was impressed. Women love manly men.
‘I can’t wait to meet your mother. She would become my mother too and the grandmother to our child,’ Mimi said lightheartedly. It was not the best of place, time, or situation for romance, but the love they say would always have its way. And so it happened that the couple copulated once again in the bush. They dozed off afterwards.
Read part eleven HERE
Israel Usulor is a journalist and short story writer. You can reach him via @JonalistIsrael and [email protected]
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