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Promise AKA The Udechukwu is an Author, an Editor, and a Critic. He has a thing for perfection, hence, the reason he doesn't have so many works. His story TOTEM was shortlisted for the Inspire Us Award, and he believes that he comes from the line of great Igbo authors, the likes of Achebe, Chukwuemeka Ike, Emecheta, and Adichie. Of course, it's just a fantasy, however, his works have been mostly compared to theirs—at least the ones he wrote since grace found him. Yes, he's spiritual. Ozuol


www.We had trekked for three days; myself and the boys. Past the desert, we had lost all hopes of survival, the sun haunted us, casting searing rays on our dry souls. They said the war was over, the rebels had succumbed to a heavy defeat far North, thus, ending the glorious dream of our broken nation, but none of us thought of it, not me, not Okonkwo, not Rambo. We just trekked in silence, the burden of our past, moulding a light shadow on our path, to illuminate our guilt as we walked on. Hundreds of times I had fainted, and the boys had to wake me up with their urine, I still know that tastedesperation. It was forced, redder in colour than yellow, salty, but I drank it to sustain myself, I doubt there would be urine in me to pour on the boys faces if they fainted. 100kilometers to the west we had walked, and finally we arrived at Osha town. I had not seen such a place before, green. Very green, it had no touch of the war. The children had rounded stomachs, and perfectly shaped heads, the women had enormous breast, obviously, they had never starved or had their milks vehemently sucked, as was the case in the North. The men walked without machetes, guns, bows, or clubs. Life was peaceful there. We stayed there for five months, but it felt like years, the days were long, and the nights longer, the food was never rationed, and wine filled cups until it spilled to the ground, hell, I got portly. We had forgotten the war, what it felt like to lose ones family, what it felt like to be conscripted into the military at the age of six, the feel of AK47, rocked perfectly like a child in your arms, the repugnant pleasure derived from ending someones life, the sensation of soothing pain in the groin and penis, when it forcefully hit the flesh between a womans thighs, the heavenly tours one get from every puff of ganja, the sound of a skull when it cracks from the force of a boot, repeatedly grinding it, the power, we had forgotten. But five months later, a woman came with her daughter, who squealed like a pig in labour, apparently Okonkwo had raped the daughter. They said he hummed when he grinded her. We laughed when we were told, we did not blame Okonkwo, and we simply regretted that we had not participated. I was never one who fancied rape, I was a sucker for violence instead, so I beat the woman and her daughter senseless, after which Okonkwo and Rambo mounted mother and daughter respectively. They wailed, and it aroused me, yet, I watched. Their cries attracted the villagers who in turn came to their aid, they rounded us, we did put up a good fight, but they had the numbers. They flogged us, stripped us of our clothes and surrendered us to the Eastern desert. Thinking about things now, I should have apologised, but then we were boys, ready to give to the world as much as it had taken from us. The desert to the East was terrible, especially as we had no coverings, sometimes we were caught up in the sandstorms; it was fiery, and unforgiving. We had to spend the day removing sand from literally every parts of our body. We had walked for a days–naked, ravenous, thirsty, devoid of the knowledge of time, or environment. We finally heard the sound of a fighter jet. I was smartest one, so I knew it was a couple of days away, but we all had no strength to make it, best, we would be dead before the evening of the next day. Okonkwo was the weakest now, he had received more inhumane treatments from the people of Osha, yet I managed to convince him to walk a few mile with me just to see the stars, Rambo said we were sissies, so he stayed back, it was good. We had only gone a few miles when I clasped my hand onto his nose, he did not fight, yet he did not die, he just fell to the warm night sand, it was good enough for me. I clawed at his flesh, he only made weakened sounds, soon I was tasting his flesh, and his blood, and his salty liquid, and it was warm. I comforted myself with the knowledge that he had raped a girl and her mother, and caused our situation, the closer truth was I was hungry, and I needed to survive. When I left him, he was moaning softly, I did not kill him, I could not, not because of guilt though. He had been my comrade, and my friend, and my brother. Then my prey and meal and the spark that lit my flame of life, my flame of survival. I did not return to Rambo either, I suppose he would die the next evening, I walked alone, past red thick sand, to dampen ones, then to green again. To land. I was born into a civil war, but I will see peace. I have a family now, my grandchildren tell tales of my survival, even though they do not know the whole story. My children say they want to make a Netflix movie out of my survivor story, which is why I am writing this. I can only hope I do not live long enough to see the movie premiere. Of course I am ashamed of my survival story, I do not know what my family will think of me when they watch my deed on TV. Ha! Tochukwu, the Onitsha girl married to one of my grandchildren was right. Never trust a survivor until you find out what they did to stay alive. I do not fear the dead, they are dead. I only fear the living, they still have the luxury to hate.

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