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Passions of Patriots

By Joseph Wanshe


Chapter 1 - Whatever it Takes

(6 years earlier)


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The swirling rotors of the white EC 155B1 helicopter were almost invisible as it sat on the lawn. On its side was the logo of CASTOCO, a company specialized in the production of household products.  In the pilot's seat was a dark-skinned man who wore dark spectacles.

On the near side of the lawn stood the white-painted flat characterized by a high roof and large windows with sliding panes. Presently, the frosted glass door situated in the middle of a recessed patio was pulled open and Barry Atile stepped out with his wife, Vivian, in his wake.

Barry, a tall man, looked magnificent in his dark business suit and was with a briefcase in his right hand. Vivian was a foot shorter. She had on her nightclothes, a diaphanous nightgown and a wrapper wound around it.

The pilot of the helicopter got out from the cockpit and approached the couple.  He was a lanky, thirtyish figure in a light blue uniform.

  “Good morning, sir,” the pilot greeted as Barry handed over the briefcase to him.“Good morning, ma'am,” he extended his salutation.

 “Morning, West,” Vivian responded.

“Is everything for the journey ready?”  Barry asked in his baritone voice.

 “Yes,” answered West. “The pilot in charge of the private jet at the Jos airport called a few minutes ago to say everything is in order. He is waiting. I thought you'd prefer this new twin-engined chopper with eight first-class seats. A fuselage length of twelve, seventy-one meters, height -  ”

 “Thank you. I'll be leaving in a minute.”

 The pilot receded with the briefcase as Barry turned to his wife. “I'm not going to stay long this time,” he intoned. “Don't let my absence depress you. Don't get lonely. It's a good thing that you have sent for your cousin to come and keep you company. When is she going to arrive?”

 “Today,” said Vivian.

 “Fine. In case of any emergency, call me on the number I gave you.” He thought of something more to say. “I should be back in Nigeria in about two weeks. This official business in Brazil shouldn't take time.” He paused and looked into her accusing, tearful eyes.

  “It has always been this way, hasn't it?” Vivian began morosely.  “Business trips, directors' conferences overnight... It seems to me you've been running away from me since the day we got married.”

  “Not again, Vivian.” He was used to this line of complaints. “I promise I'll make it up to you. I promise. I'm going through a very trying time with my job. This is not the time for you to start rending my morale apart.”

  “Sorry, but you've not been a good husband to me.”

 “I know. We'll discuss that when I get back. You should be wishing me a safe journey now, not accusing me.” He held her shoulder and spoke pleadingly. “Life is not always a bed of roses. Keep aside the soap operas and let's face the realities of our lives. I'll make it up to you, so stop making me feel guilty with your looks. While I'm away, keep yourself warm; Plateau is one of the coldest States in Nigeria even at this hottest time of the year, March.”

  “I don't mean to. I wish you a happy time,” she said with a forced childish smile.

  “Thanks for that.” He hugged her  and planted a kiss on her nose, then on her forehead. “Am I free to go now?”

  “Of course,” Vivian said, affecting charm. “Bye,” she added.

Atile went and took his seat next to the pilot and the helicopter wasted no time in gravitating skyward. He was looking at Vivian who stood on the patio, waving benevolently. He did likewise in response as Vivian went back into the house.


In the affluently furnished drawing room, Vivian lay prostrate on the sofa with her eyes focussed on the floor tiles. At the age of thirty-six, the marital bliss she had dreamed of before her marriage with Barry was now an illusion that had persistently refused to be transformed into reality over the past seven years she had become wife to Barry. She felt very lonely and depressed.

  The intercom buzzed, jerking her up from her reveries. She had been meditating for long and was not conscious of time. She lifted the receiver on second buzz.                         

  “Mr. Peter is on his way to the house,” the gateman informed.

  Peter Shawon was a friend to Barry Atile - or so it seemed. They had both been the best students in their department, which was Economics, back in their days at the University of Jos. Each maliciously wanted to outdo the other. Not only were they competing academically, they became rivals over Vivian. Barry Atile had been more financially endowed and had succeeded in dazzling the impecunious Vivian and snatching her away from Peter who was the first suitor.  Peter had become withdrawn and participated little in social activities. He became deeply obsessed with his books which served as opium for the pain he suffered. The outcome was that Peter graduated with a first-class degree to the annoyance of Barry who had a second class upper.

  Feeling very cheated, Barry had decided to consolidate his relationship with Vivian and wedded her five years after they had graduated. To Barry, Vivian signified his victory over Peter who had emerged the best student in their school days.

  By fate or destiny, Peter and Barry found jobs in the same company. The rivalry continued.     

  Despite all the foregoing, the two men remained friends, at least on the surface. But deep down in their hearts, they were fierce enemies and each would mirthfully feed on the other's flesh and blood if given an impunitive opportunity.

  The doorbell rang.

  “Come in,” Vivian answered as the door opened and Peter stalked in, looking tall and elegant in his blue suit. “You are welcome. Seat, please.”

  “Thank you,” Peter said, smiling, but remained standing with his hand  behind him.

  “And what's that you have behind you?” Vivian asked good-manneredly.

 “A surprise for you. Can you guess what it is?”

 “Will you ever grow up?” Vivian queried playfully. “Mmh ... Well, I can't. Just show me.”

  “Here.” Peter presented the content of his hand, an artificial purple rose flower with a single bloom and few leaves in a slender golden vase, all covered in a transparent polythene material.

“Uh! This is beautiful,” Vivian exclaimed, taking the ornament. “You've really surprised me. Thank you very much.” She fingered it fondly and made sure Peter did not miss the glimmer in her eyes.

  “You deserve it, my love,” Peter said romantically, taking a seat on the sofa.

  Vivian walked to the cupboard crammed with electronics and little statues.

  “Where do I keep this, here?” Vivian asked pushing a little dolly aside and in its place putting the vase.

  “Looks okay there,” Peter acquiesced.

 “That is the most attractive object on the cupboard right now,” Vivian said enthusiastically. “How thoughtful of you. Let me get you a drink. Beer, orange juice, whisky, brandy...  What would you take?”

  “Brandy will be okay,” Peter decided.

Vivian hurried in the direction of the dinning room. Seconds later, she re-entered the drawing room with a bottle of cognac in one hand and two wine glasses in the other. She sat on the sofa beside Peter, placed the glasses on the glass-topped table and then served the drink.

     “To our happiness forever.” Peter raised his glass in a toast.

   “Wuh!” Vivian hesitated before clinking glasses with him. “Mind you I am married.  I keep telling you that?”   

              “How's life treating you?” Peter asked seriously.

              “Fine,” Vivian replied. “How about you?”

              “Fine,” Peter answered, nodding.

              “How about your wife  -  sorry  -  ex-wife?”

            Peter winced at the word ex-wife.

             “You surely don't expect me to give a damn about that nymphomaniac. She's out of my life.” he said vehemently.

  Vivian laughed. “Just teasing you. You're aware that Barry left for Brazil this morning on an official trip?”

    “If I don't know that what kind of friend am I? Most especially when we work in the same place. How has your life with him been over these seven years you are married?”

  Vivian frowned. “Is that not a nosy question?”

    “Not when I still love you?” Peter rejoined earnestly, his voice going deeper.

  “Peter, see,” Vivian said in a gentle tone, catching Peter's solemn mood, “It is unfortunate how things turned out to be, but it doesn't mean we have to start looking back. You are strong enough to go your way, are you not, Peter?” Her voice cracked and tears slowly made runnels down her cheeks.

              Peter bowed his head sorrowfully and listened.

             “How could I have been such a fool?” Vivian cried. “How could I have been so blind to choose him instead of you?”

              The intercom buzzed again.

              Vivian wiped her tears and picked the receiver.          

             The gateman reported: “There is a lady here. She says her name is Dalla. She says - ”

   “That's my cousin. Let her in,” Vivian said and then dropped the receiver.

   “Peter, I don't like to blame myself very much when I look back, because apart from your weak  financial position, you were too young for me. Barry is three years older than I am while you are four years younger. Even in those school days it showed in our looks. As the years passed by it became more and more obvious.

  “It doesn't matter these days, Vivian,” Peter said gently.

 “But it's too late now. I've got Barry to think about, too. I don't want to hurt him.”

 “Are you sure his heart of ice can be hurt? At most, it is his pride that will be wounded. Not that he loves - ”

  The doorbell rang and Peter lowered his voice to a whisper. “His pride is that he has taken you away from me.” He stopped to assess the effect of his words on his listener. Vivian was hypnotized.

 “I never made a mistake. I was right. I was right!” she whispered  despairingly.

            “If I hadn't been lucky, I wouldn't have been anywhere in society to get you to listen or look upon me as a human being worth his salt.  You would have been happy to see me a failure so that you would know you made the right choice.”

  The doorbell tingled again.

  “Come in,” Vivian answered, getting to her feet.

  Dalla walked into the room. She was a girl in her twenties and of average height. Her dress was given various curves and contours by the plump and fair-complexioned body underneath.

  “Welcome, Dalla. I was wondering whether you could still come.”

  The two ladies embraced at the door.

  “Sorry, I couldn't make it earlier. I had a lot to put in order before coming.” Looking  in Peter's direction she greeted, “Good morning.”

  “Morning, my dear, ” Peter answered.

  “Sit down, let me take your luggage in.”

Vivian wheeled the medium-sized box Dalla brought into the bedroom section of the house and was back in the drawing room in a minute.

  “Dalla, you're always looking cute. That's a pretty dress you have on. Looks simple but great,” Vivian said, sitting on the chair next to Dalla's, and opposite Peter's.

  “Thank you,” Dalla said.

 “Peter, meet my cousin, Dalla Dakwas. Dalla, this is Peter Shawon. Like my husband, he works with CASTOCO.”

  “It's a pleasure,” Peter said. “How is everything going for you?”

  “Fine,” Dalla answered.

  “Dalla is a graduate of Law,” Vivian informed proudly.           

   “That's fine,” Peter complimented.

 The ladies engaged in a brief session of banalities and Peter allowed a few minutes to pass before interrupting.

“I would have liked to share a few more minutes with you, but unfortunately I have an appointment at eleven o'clock to keep,” Peter said looking at his watch as he got up from his seat.

“You are always on the run, Peter,” Vivian said with a dotting mien, getting up to walk him to the door.

“Goodbye, Dalla. See you some other time,” Peter said as he walked to the door.

“Bye,” Dalla replied.

“Hope you will visit again soon,” Vivian enunciated when they reached the door.

“I will. Bye.”

“Bye. Have a happy time at work.”

Vivian returned to the drawing room and resumed her seat beside Dalla.

“It seems to me I've seen that guy sometime before with you.”

“It's possible. He's been a friend for years now.”          

“A friend or a suitor?”

Any one you choose.”

“It looks to me like some men just don't give up.”

“That may be,” Vivian consented.


Not very far from the village of Mangana it was still morning and approaching noon. Two figures worked on the expanse of farmland surrounded by tall jungle trees. Beyond the trees to the east was a river that could be seen through the lace of foliage. The two natives in smocks made of coarse fabric, bent, tilling the soil for ridges

  “Son, when we complete this ridge we'll rest. It is about noon and I'm already tired,” said the elderly man who looked about fifty.

  The younger man in his late twenties replied in Mangana, their native language, a tongue dominated by smacking pronunciations:  “I can work a little longer, father. I want to finish most of the work today.”

  “Well, you are young. You have the strength,” the older man complimented.

   Silence resumed the atmosphere.


  Both villagers stood up abruptly, looking fatuously at the bright and clear  sky over the treeline.

  “What was that, Gatlong,” the fatherly peasant asked. “I have never heard thunder in this village with a clear sky like this.”

  “It could be raining somewhere nearby while there is sunshine here,” the young native of Mangana suggested.  “The climate in Mangana could be funny.”

  “If that were the case, the sky here should have been dim,” the old man deduced. “Maybe it is an omen from the gods.”

   Both men recommenced work, hiding their worries.

  They were part of a people on whom technology had made little impression. They were geographically removed from civilization and contact with foreigners was difficult because the area was surrounded by tall mountains and deep valleys. The people knew a modern world existed, but they had little understanding of it such that an airplane flying in the sky became a sign from the gods to indicate that the spirit world was playing its role of protecting the village.

   The labor of the pair was once again interrupted, this time by a roaring, ear-splitting sound that vibrated the ground like a threatening earthquake. The racket grew louder and louder.

   They looked into the sky again and what they saw this time made them to abandon their implements and run for shelter in the trees.

   They fell on their bellies the moment they reached the trees on the western side of the farmland. In their different postures and positions they could see what was happening across the sky.

   What was left of the anterior part of an airplane appeared in the sky like a fish with fins. What should have been the posterior of the monstrous apparition was a long trail of thick black smoke which emanated from the fuselage.

   The half-plane roared across the sky overhead the farmland and vanished beyond the trees, opposite the place the terrified observers lay. There were several cracking sounds as the crashing plane came in contact with branches of trees and made a whooshing noise.

  It took some minutes before the unsettled birds hovering in the treetops became quiet again. The smoke diffused away completely except for the stench of gases in the air. None of the two men had ever been gripped by a more incapacitating fear or seen such a sight.          

  “It is a katalok” Gatlong was the first to find his voice. “I saw it.” Katalok, a compound word which, directly translated, meant  “ironfish,”  was used to refer to an airplane.”

 “Let us go and see what the gods have sent,” the old man said, breathing laboriously. “We cannot ignore their message. It might make them angrier.”

 Together they got to their feet and began to walk across the farmland with dragging feet.

 “A folklore come true,” Gatlong whispered.  “It is hard to believe we are in the same world we were a few minutes ago.”

Gatlong and the old man came to the bank of the slow-running river. They stood staring at the tattered hide of a plane completely submerged in water except for a small peak that issued ghostly smoke and made bobbles in the surrounding water.

 “I said it. That is a katalok,” Gatlong said.

 “Maybe the gods were angry with it and they struck it down.”

“Or they could be angry at us too for working on this new piece of land that is why they made it fall here. Should we keep working?”

“I think we better take our tools and go home. We've had enough for today.” They turned to go then stopped short in their tracks.

 “Look at that! ” Gatlong shouted.  “A human.”

In what remained of a seat was strapped the battered and nearly unidentifiable body of a man. Blood streamed down the forehead, the clothes were covered with blood and traces of sooth. The legs were twisted unnaturally, suggesting a fracture. The body looked lifeless.

  “He must have come with the kakalok,” the elder insinuated, going closer to the body.  He squatted near the chair and touched the body on the hand. The wounded man mourned slightly and the old man allowed a sinister smile, revealing long canine teeth in a cannibalistic dental formation  like those of a vampire.

  This would make a befitting sacrifice to the gods, the younger man thought, bringing out a double-edged knife from within his smock. He cut the seat belt away, freeing the wounded man.           

“Let us take him home first,” the old man suggested.


It was eleven-thirty when Peter walked into his office through the reserved door used only by him. It led to other offices in the building and down to the car park in the basement. It was a long large room with tobacco-colored carpeting and expensive decor.  Peter walked past the circle of plush chairs where he received visitors, to the long window and stood there with his hands in his coat pockets, staring at the panorama of  other office buildings which made up the headquarters of CASTOCO, a giant company  whose products were distributed all over West Africa and some other parts of the world.

Peter's thoughts at that moment were not exactly focused on what he saw; he was, in fact, obsessed with the office on the next floor above. He was the Personnel Director and as such, his office, like most of the other directors, was on the fourth floor, while the Managing Director  and CEO had his office on the “Highest Floor” - as the workers generally referred to it. The person presently occupying the position of CEO was about to be moved up to the position of Chairman. The CEO was supposed to nominate one of his subordinates who would take over the helm of affairs.  Now, Peter knew that the CEO had only two possible nominees: Barry Atile and he, Peter Shawon; they had been the MD's protégés. To make sure the chance of becoming CEO did not escape him, Barry Atile had to be eliminated. It didn't have to be a game of probability, because if Barry who had a good chance succeeded in becoming the CEO, Peter, would have had to wait until Barry retired.  Barry was only seven years older than Peter. That meant Peter might never have the chance of becoming the CEO since he would be near retirement age by the time Barry decides to handover. Barry really had to be eliminated, he reassured himself.

.  To Peter's right, as he stood at the window, was his office desk. He strolled to the leather-covered, upholstered swivel chair and sat in it. After loosening his necktie a little, he depressed the bell-push on the table. The door to the secretary's office opened and a smallish woman in  her early thirties walked in to Peter.

   “Sir?” said the secretary.

   “Is there anybody who wants to see me?”

              “Yes. A boy by name Bola. He has been here for the past one hour.”

            “Send him in.”

            “Okay.” The secretary withdrew.

            The door hatched open again and a young man stalked in. Bola Adebayo was a huge, tough-looking fellow.  He wore an unbuttoned black jacket over a yellow shirt and blue jeans trouser. His black trainers skimmed the carpet noiselessly as he approached Peter's desk.

            “Morning,” Bola said.  “I've been waiting outside.”

            “Sit down, please.” Peter invited.

            Bola took one of the seats in front of the desk.

            “The job is done; the plane has crashed,” Bola said, face grave. “I'm here for the balance.”

            Peter kneaded his left temple with his left index finger, his mind rummaging about something distant.

            “You can't just decide right away that all passengers on board have died.   It is possible to have survivors,” Peter said.

            “We did not discuss that in the contract,” Bola objected. “My job was to plant the bomb with the right timing and I've done just that, Mr Peter. Our agreement was that you will hand me the balance of fifty-five thousand  naira when the bird  crashed.”

            Peter leaned back in his chair, unperturbed by the rasping voice of the younger man in front of his desk.

            “And let me tell you,” Bola continued, “that piece of job cost me more than I expected.  I want ten thousand naira extra for the harassment I got from a cop on my way out of the hanger where the plane was kept last night.”

            “Are you meaning to say the whole affair is not a secret?”

            “No, no, no, ” Bola said hastily.  “I didn't say much to him. He had to let me go in the end.”

            Peter took a hard look at the boy opposite him. The lad was lying .        “Then you were not suspected or rough-handled,” Peter said. He lifted the receiver of one of the telephones on his desk and punched the buttons.

A female voice announced: “National Airports Authority.”

 “Can I speak to Director of  International  Flights?”

 “Who's speaking?”

    Peter gave his name and waited until a male voice came on the line.

  “Is that you Abdul? How's life been going?”

  “Not bad. Happy to hear from you again. How are you doing?”

  “Fine,” said Peter. “There is something I want to find out. There is a friend of mine - maybe you know him - Barry Atile. He works with CASTOCO He is on an official trip and is supposed to have left the airport this morning for Brazil. Just want to know if everything went alright.”       

  “I just came into my office. I'm not abreast of events, but if anything went wrong I should have been informed. Nevertheless, let me enquire from my assistant.”

   There was a brief silence at the other end.

   “Something went wrong and it is rather a tragic story, Mr. Peter,” the male voice resumed.

  “What do you mean?” Peter asked anxiously. “Hope it’s nothing too serious.”

            “The plane crashed,” Abdul proclaimed bluntly.

            “You mean...” Peter feigned shock.

            “I mean it crashed, brother,” said the director sadly. “A rescue team was sent immediately. They found mangled bodies, but no survivors.”

  “No survivors!” Peter said despondently. “My friend is inlvolved  for God sake.”

              “Sorry, but we did our best.  We're still puting things in order. We'll release the necessary information to the public on the Network News.”

               Peter held his peace and waited.

   “Sorry, Peter. Life is full of such. Please, take heart,” Abdul consoled.

   “Thanks. If there's any new development, please give me a call.”

    “I will.”

              Peter dropped the phone. “Well done,” he said, pulling out a drawer from the desk. “You did a nice job.”       

  He pulled out a large manila envelope from the drawer and dropped it on the table.

              “That is your balance,” Peter said.

    “How about the additional ten thousand for the inconvenience I didn't foresee?”

            “If you ran into cops or anything, that's solely your cup of tea.”

            “What are you saying?” Bola's voice rose in annoyance. “If you let me walk out of this office without the rest of the money you'll have yourself to blame.”

            Peter leaned back in his seat and began flipping the pages of a business magazine he took from the table.  From all indications, he was completely oblivious of his immediate environment.

            Bola grabbed the unsealed envelop and looked into it, inspecting the content. “For all the hell I went through.” He stood up, transferring the bundles of mint money into the pockets of his trousers. “Next time you need a job done, remember you owe me.”

            Peter did not look up until he heard the door bang. He was once again alone in his office and free to enjoy a moment of fantasies.

            Now his archenemy was out of the way. He would soon be the MD and CEO of CASTOCO.  The widowed Vivian would become his wife when she discovers that Barry, her husband, is dead. That is what he has always dreamed of. What greater victory could there be for him in the world.


The two ladies, Vivian and Dalla, obviously loved rock music. The music of Michael  Bolton  filled the dark room and the television flickered images without sound. There was a lull in their conversation and they did more of listening to the music as they sat in the drawing room.

  Vivian's eyes got reverted on the screen and she starred fixedly.   Dalla noticed Vivian's horrified expression and turned to the screen too. Something terrible had happened and the gristly pictures were being transmitted on the Network News at nine p.m.

  Dalla's hands instinctively went for the remote controls. She turned down the volume of the CD player and then raised that of the TV as the voice of a male reporter came across, loud and clear.

   “...all passengers on board are confirmed dead. The incident took place between the hours of ten and eleven a.m. today. The plane belongs to the company CASTOCO. The cause of the crash is still uncertain as investigation proved difficult in the heart of the thick jungle where the plane had descended.”

   Vivian stared at the screen with wide lifeless eyes like someone in a trance. She was almost completely paralyzed by the information. Dalla immediately turned down the volume and took an appraising look at her cousin. For a minute Vivian just sat motionless like a statue and Dalla was uncertain of what do to.

   She moved close to Vivian and clasped her arms around her. Tears started streaming down Vivian's eyes, followed by sobs, then the full dam of sorrow exploded.

  “Sorry,” coaxed Dalla who was on the verge of shedding tears herself.


Barry heard voices around him before he finally opened his eyes to behold his captors. Strange men and women surrounded him. They were all speaking excitedly. What he could see was that he was in the midst of villagers he had never seen or heard of in his life. Most of the elderly ones were covered in coarse woolen sheets tied around their necks, like togas of some sort.  The teenagers had skimpy coverings around their waists and the ladies, in general, exposed their melon-shaped breasts. Children below puberty were simply nude.

   Barry noticed he was under a tent of thatch roof supported by sticks. Beyond the circle of humanity speaking a strange, smacking tongue around him was a circular conglomeration of huts.

    There was a clay pot burning over gentle flames of fire under the tent. The fire illuminated some of the faces.

    The most elderly-looking one of them, who was in a white garb, called out to a young lady who sat on the opposite side of the tent. Sharnap was the name. When he got her attention, he said something more and the lady immediately left the hut.

    Barry had heard of cannibals living in some parts of Africa, some in Uganda, but he didn't really know where he was now. He remembered the plane before the crash and understood what had happened. Adding up what he was seeing, he did not like the experience at all.

   The lady, Sharnap, who left a moment ago, came back with a dry chunk of what looked like white clay. She handed it to the old man and returned to her former position on the opposite side of the tent. The senile figure moved forward to the pot on the fire and dropped the claylike substance into it. A thick vapor began to rise straight up to the roof and a sweet aroma saturated the atmosphere.

            Barry made an effort to sit up from his lying position on the improvised stretcher. It was then he realized his helpless condition with great fright. He had a fracture in his left leg. The pain stung his leg and vibrated to the rest of his tired body. He lay back on his back and relaxed, submitting himself to the care of his captors.

            Barrry perceived somebody by his side. The young woman was trying to explain something to him, pointing to the fractured leg and the pot. To Barry’s  surprise, he noticed she was speaking in English. In his frenzied state of mind, it was difficult to concentrate on what she was saying, but after strained listening, he got the sense which meant that the pot on fire contained some medicine and he was about to get native medication on his leg.

            One of the young men under the tent brought the steaming pot down from the fire and placed it near Barry's leg. A piece of cloth was handed to the lady who could speak English and the treatment began.

            She dipped the piece of cloth into the pot holding it at one end. When she brought it out, it was soaked with the muddy substance.  Barry saw what was happening and knew what would   follow.  She lowered the steaming rag directly on the injured area of his leg. He screamed in pain and the last thing he could see was a blurred picture of the young woman's face smiling sympathetically at him in the surrounding darkness. He passed out.


When next Barry opened his eyes he found himself in a different place. It was a room within a hut. A small oil lamp burned on a stool in the centre of the room. He was lying on a creaking metal bed and a thick cotton material was draped over him.

            Barry looked down to his broken leg. It had been attended to in an alien manner. The fractured area was covered with the muddy substance. A cylindrically carved wooden apparatus meant to encase the leg and hold the broken bones steady was held in place by a bandage of a sort.

  There was a faint sound within the room and Barry turned his head to see the other side of the lantern.

   A beautiful woman with a fair complexion was sitting up on a mat looking at him fascinatedly. Barry recognized her; she was the one who could speak English and had ministered to his leg.

            “What is your name?” Barry asked.

            “Sharnap,” she answered.

            “What do you call this village?”


            “Mangana,” Barry repeated the name. “I've never heard of it before.”

            “Now don't bother yourself,” she said kindly. “You are in safe hands.” She was getting up from the mat. “I was waiting to see that you are not getting worse but better and I'm glad to see that you are improving. It's getting late and my family will not approve of me spending the night here. I will see you in the morning.”

              “That's okay. I'm fine.” Barry watched her walk to the door.

              “Good night,” she said.

   “Good night,” Barry responded and heard the door closed gently.

             After a minute, Barry thought, She's such a beautiful woman, untouched by any trace of rustic life. Then he remembered his situation and realized it wasn't time for such thoughts.

            He relaxed once again as tiredness and sleep overcame his senses.   


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