When Papa was finally resuscitated, an hour had dragged past. The sun had began to climb higher into the sky. Ikenna was sweating hard from the heat and his effort along side many others, gathered to help Papa. ‘Are you okay Papa Ikenna?’ called an elderly man who was unrecognizable to Ikenna given his very confused state of mind. He really thought he had lost his father.
Waking up to see so many people gathered around him by the riverside, Papa immediately remembered where he was and why he was there. He looked up and straight at the river. It was still black, he thought as his memory slowly came back to him. He saw many more fishes lying belly up. He wished he was dreaming instead of the harsh reality he now had to contend. My wife; my children; my family! How do I feed them?’, he questioned. ‘A man who cannot provide for his family, is no man’, he whispered aloud. Some that heard him shook their heads solemly because they totally understood the implications of what has befalling them. ‘The water has been polluted by the destroyers of the earth’ said another man who was weaving through the black slimy water. ‘The gods of our ancestors will pay them back in their own coin’, he continued in a deep sorrowful voice.
Papa slowly got up from where he had been seated. Ikenna helped him by supporting him with both arms underneath his armpit. He resisted the help initially, but he knew he needed it now, more than any other time. They walked on silently in the company two other men who had been with them through out the time he had blacked out. ‘Shelle, Shelle. Ahhh! Shelle!’, he screamed. ‘That’s is their name’. Ikenna was confused because he could not understand what his father was saying. ‘Papa means Shell company’, one of the men said while turning towards Ikenna. ‘Yes. That is the company that brought this curse upon our land. They are the ones that have caused the fishes to perish!’. Papa complained bitterly.
Two days have past now since the spillage occurred. Papa was simply inconsolable. Mama had tried all she could to calm him down but each time, he just screamed at her and continued to prance and pout restlessly around the house while ranting. Many of the words where beginning to sound incoherrent and that scared Ikenna and his sister, Nkechi. ‘Papa can’t be going..’ and they would stop abruptly. It was an abomination to utter the word ‘Mad’ especially of a close family member. This situation weighed heavily on the family and Ikenna felt the need to do something quick before their father went beyond the terrains of sanity. He cried secretly in his room while calling his ancestor and his father’s fathers. That was the only option he was left with at that point as far as he was concerned. If there were any others, I just couldn’t think of them. He just needed to see his father’s condition improve and fast.
‘My son. Wake up now. You can’t allow yourself to be eaten up by this monster’, the voice rang out loudly. ‘We had a life before we where fishermen and we will have a life if we ceased to be fishermen tomorrow’. Papa woke up and sprang to his feet. He had fallen asleep where he sat outside the hut. He thought he had heard his late father clearly speak those words to him and he felt a deep sense of energy flow into him. He felt a powerful rejuvenation of his mind. ‘What am I doing to myself and my family?’ he retorted. In a quick swing in his demenour, called out to his son. ‘Come here my son’ he continued ‘and please bring my rifle. We will be going out tonight to hunt. My fore fathers lived as hunters and we will follow in their footsteps. The black waters will clear eventually’. With a big smile on his face, pathed his son on the back and they walked on into the forest as mama and Nkechi waved them goodbye.