Madu (Letter Of A Dead Soldier) Part 3
Written By: The Clit
Then, I asked a daring solder: a young boy of thirteen or thereabout who was invigorated by the scenario, to ‘slice’ the bread. He used the knife which was snatched from the terrified market woman to slice his head. It was slow and perhaps, painful. Blood had appeared on the first slice, on the second blow, muscles forcefully exposed themselves and the last blow cut the hyoid bone into pieces. The body of the Yoruba intellect was nothing but a mess of blood and a stuck out tongue on the head lying close to his lifeless body.
His wife and daughter were executed publicly. I can still remember the shape of the daughter’s graceful breasts and sprouting backside. She looked terrified as the bullets were pumped into her body. Her eyes were not closed in death. They revealed shock, pain and betrayal; her mother shot in her presence, she being raped (a soldier remarked that she was a virgin as her pubic region displayed blood) and her father beheaded like the biblical John the Baptist for his daringness.
I have been through a lot of lessons taught by war. War taught me to love the next person for his determination to fight. Most of my boys were from different parts of the Eastern Region with different dialects, beliefs and culture. There was an incident that made me believe that the last thing to die in a man was his cultural ideology.
This was the case of Anucha. He was a young boy of fifteen who was recruited in Umuahia. He was the son of a renowned native doctor who had died. Although, Anucha was forcefully captured and put in our van, he had pleaded with the senior boys to let him go and get instruments of fetish enterprise inherited from his father. His pleading was presented with a condition: he would return. Fortunately, I came into the scene when one of the junior soldiers had recognized him as his age grade member: they were from the same clan. After a reasonable explanation from the solider about the consequences of Anucha absconding his hometown without his charms, we let him go. My boys wanted to track and drag him back if he behaved silly but I urged them to let him be. No man can lie to his Chi, except he wanted an inner war. Anucha returned. His return was celebrated by my junior soldiers with gourds of stolen palm wine from the nearby village stalls they had ransacked.
Anucha soon rose to fame as ‘the seer’. He would mediate for us on how successful or woeful the day’s attack would be. I soon forgot that I was a Catholic; I relied on Anucha’s divinations. When we got to Elele, Anucha and some junior boys had gone out for an unapproved hunting. It was unapproved because it was done without my consent. They, knowing that the terrain was dangerous, still went to hunt with the enemy fighter planes roaming over their heads in the darkened sky. They returned with a big antelope and sad news that Anucha was dead! I screamed and punished the boys by making them lie in stagnant water for three hours. They were released few hours after midnight. When my rage watered down, I asked for the circumstances in which Anucha died. The same soldier who had convinced me to let Anucha go home earlier, narrated that a stray bullet hit him. Of course, a stray bullet passed a message to me: we were surrounded by enemy troops. Anucha had told the soldier, after they managed to take him away from the area, to ensure that his body and charms returned to his homestead in Umuahia. I dismissed the words as unusual and pressed on with my attack.