Ndu was perpending how his meagre wage could not help accomplish his set goals. And the academic strike had lingered longer than expected. He was in the factory; a night shift. There came a faint chant from a distance. No one had envisaged the matter in that light. The faint chant came up again from the distance. An eerie shriek was heard far uptown and closer, and the rioters were chatting: Sai yaki! Sai yaki! One of the unprovoked crises in town.The night passed through without the dwellers in the metropolis having peaceful sleep.
In the morning, the rioters began burning houses and were destroying properties. The workers in the factory discovered some co-workers in their company last night had disappeared into thin air. Beko rallied the rest to get prepared and be alert for the unprecedented could happen. The rioters advanced on the rampage, ravaging. Flames were heading skyward from a distance like some sacrificial smoke seeking for protection from above.
Beko, of average height, together with co-workers indulged in arming themselves with iron bars against any aggressive attack. The riot flared up now and then, aggravating and advancing towards the factory. Beko paced up and down the factory compound and the others were alert. “Look those rioters out there are coming over here to kill and burn down this place. You all should better brace up!” Beko snarled intensely.
“Could someone tell me what’s happening out there or the cause of all this disturbance?” Ndu was asking.
“Come on, wake up. You see, they are burning houses and hacking people,” said a co-worker.
The streets were deserted save the rioters who occupied them in groups; a group advancing towards the factory. Beko and his co-workers hung in the factory ready to defend against aggression.
“I told you guys!” Beko bawled.
“What do we do now?” asked another co-worker.
The factory manager and supervisor had taken to their heels to the barracks at the break of dawn. The rioters were in the vicinity.
“We have come for you people,” yelled a rioter. They rioters were armed with clubs and daggers. Both sides were ready to strike. The rioters struck, the workers retreated, the former struck again and again, the latter retreated. Like a lion whose den had been invaded, the workers struck back and the rioters retreated. The former struck fiercely, again and again, the latter retreated. When the last rioter dissapeared a section of the factory was seen going up in flames. Few sustained injuries here and there. The crisis continued into the third day until the Army contained the mayhem.
One month had passed since the unrest and the metropolitans were getting accustomed to normal life.
A changed government, though, things seemed gloomy. Ndu was back in school. He was puzzled when he got a letter from his friend, Ukah through his parents. The letter had arrived in the village two months earlier, when he had gone back home to raise some money for his academics. According to the letter, Ukah was studying business administration at York University in Canada. He was living around the riviera as his brother in-law had made a fortune for himself. The rich getting richer, Ndu thought. He prayed fervently for a time when he would seek for his destiny in the wider world.
* * * * *
After graduating from the university, Ndu was posted to Kano for the National Youth Service Corps. Before he left for Kano, he had to travel to his village, Umudimkpa.
On arrival home, he discovered his younger sister, Adanma, a law student at Eastern University, and brother, Abua, a political science student at the same institution with the sister, were at home. Adanma, a beauty to behold in her slender figure would go on to marry Njama, a journalist, while a student…
One morning when the days were getting hot of the regime in the country, Njama – the journalist, and some human right activists were apprenhended by the captains of the sailing ship on the vigourious ground they were engaging in some acrimonies.
Njama’s case was quite different; according to the captains, he and his cohorts were trying to depose them of the regime. A mafia style of sailing irrespective of the external winds blowing the crew became the norm. Njama wondered as the ship had sailed too long since its inception without much impacts after the white masters had left the shore in the hands of the indigenous sailors. Then, the captains came incognito that they had come for good.
Njama and his cohorts could have been genial for the populace as the plundering ravaged. He saw the imminent storm coming, and shouted out to the world to hear him. The weight of their misdeed caused too much plights to Njama and the populace, causing few of the populace who had their way to flee the shore. No one had the impudence to entreat the lords of the usury for using up the proportions meant for the well-being of those wandering in the hot sun on the pretext that all was well. Those who dared were swooped upon. Impervious to the plights of the wanderers piercing through the scorching hearth…
The compound was deserted when Ndu entered with his bag strapped on his right shoulder. He walked down towards the side of the inner hut and called onto the deserted compound to ascertain if someone was around.
“Is anyone in there?” he called out on the door that was slightly ajar.
Adanma emerged from the farm behind the hut, where had gone to fetch some pumpkin leaves.
“Ndu, welcome,” she embraced him and took hold of the bag, “when did you leave North?”
“I left last night… How have you been doing? ”
“I’ve been managing…Welcome once again and congratulations.”
“Thanks. Are you the only one at home?”
“No. Abua is around. Father and mother went for a meeting.”
Ndu made towards the hut that served as his. It had gone through a simple transformation.
“Oh! brother, welcome,” mumbled Abua.
“Abua, how’s your studies? ”
“Fine, though, one is facing some constraint.”
“It will all be history in no time.” Ndu consoled him.
After he had removed his clothes, he tied a wrapper and hung his towel on his shoulder, and made towards the bathroom, a square-shape made with some reeds. He began to bath with a lukewarm water.
Mazi Eke and Ezinne came back.
“Welcome father and mother. Ndu’s back.”Adanma said excitely.
“My son is back. Praaaiiiseee be the Looorrrddd!” she roared, attracting the neighbours and passers-by. The neighbours and passers-by came in to have a glimse of what was happening. They later learnt that Ndu had graduated from the university.
“My son, at last you made it,” she said still smiling and dancing to the song she was singing. Mazi Eke came up and shook hands with him, “Congratulations. You have made us proud.”
“God’s gracious,” quipped Ndu.
“Emmm… Adanma has he eaten?” Ezinne entered into the kitchen.
“The food has been dished out.” Adanma was heard saying in the kitchen.
The food was brought out into the hut where Ndu and his father were sitting, discussing about socio-economic issues around the country. They washed their hands in a bowl and began to eat the meal from their respective plates.
“That reminds me. Where were you posted?” asked Mazi Eke.
“I was posted to Kano.”
“Kano?!” Ezinne was worried, “I would have prefer nearer home.”
“I’ll be fine, mother. It’s for a year. Before long, I’ll be back and get a job nearer home.”
“Nearer home is preferable, say, Port Harcourt or Lagos,” she paused for an effect and continued, “we hear all kinds of atrocities that are happening over there.”
“Mother!” exclaimed Adanma.
“We hear everything that happens. Do you think our staying here stops us from knowing what happens in the cities?” She paused and looked into the distance, “we hear every thing, every bit of it… Ndah, your friend is back from the city and he’s sick, lying critically in bed.”
“Sick, what happened?” Ndu asked curiously.
Ndu, done with his meal, stood up to head towards Ndah’s place when his father interrupted him, “where are you going to?”
“I need to see him,” he replied and took his leave.
At Ndah’s place, Ndu saw Ndah’s mother cracking some palm kernels on a big stone. She had grown a bit older than he used to know her.
“Good afternoon, mother,” he greeted.
“Good afternoon, my son,” she responded and could not recognize who was standing before her, “who are you, my son?”
“It’s me Ndu.”
“Which of the Ndu?”
“Ndu Eke. The son of Mazi Eke, the taper.”
“Oh! My son. You are welcome. I could not recognize you.” She stood up and embraced him.
There was a vacant bamboo seat by the corner, she offered him the seat.
“Please, be seated. I didn’t recognize you. Old age has started creeping in.” She confessed with a meek smile. He sat down on the bamboo seat.
“Mother, how are you faring?”
She sighed sadly and wiped her face with her slatternly wrapper.
“We are coping, though it’s hunger.”
“I heard that Ndah was sick and I decided to check on him.”
“Ndah your friend is lying there. No hospital we’ve not been to. Now he’s on natural medicine.”
“Can I see him,”
“Such. This way to his room,” she stood up and walked towards the room with him.
At the left side of the building, a red modern Mercedes Benz car was parked. When he had inquired about the owner of the car, the old woman told him, the car was sent in by her first son who lived in Belgium.
Inside the corrugated iron sheets building’s room, Ndu stood with the aged woman, looking at Ndah lying down in the bed. He recalled when both he and Ndah had gone on a hunting expedition.
They had gone on a hunting expedition as a favourite pastime amongst them, when a viper bit Ndah in his right hand. He had inserted his hand into a bush rat’s hole, unknown a viper had taken possession of the hole. At the time, he had screamed from the viper’s bite. The viper was killed. Ndah was taken to the medicine man – Nwadibia who cured the snake bite.