Voice of Gun
By CHIKA VICTOR ONYENEZI (Nigeria)
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VOICE OF GUN
The Biafran war had ended; the voice of gun had died.
Nwagugu loaded the last two bullets he had with him into his Mark-4 rifle. He released the bullets into the air. The sky tasted the bullets. Many died in the battlefield. Nduka, his closest friend was shot three times at the heart. Nwagugu had to dodge flying bullets, dispersed into the air and rocketing missiles exploding indiscriminately at all sides of the hill with Nduka on his back, til he got safely to the base. For the love of his friend, he risked his own life in the battlefield.
Nwagugu sat at the back of the rusty colored Red Devils, full-tracked armored personnel carriers, very ancient, used for offensive attacks against the Federal troops, waiting for the last order from his Platoon Commander. He fought with the famous 7th Battalion along the Nsukka axis. They did all they could to sustain little victory that did not come. They also lost with pride. Nwagugu's mind was filled with pictures of his people and their homes. The town of Ogunta, a very lovely place, peaceful and serene. He imagined how his mother’s garden would be in blossom. There he used to plant maize and pepper. His mother never allowed weeds to share the plant’s food, He wondered what his father would be doing, maybe sitting on the old agada chair, facing the sky. His hand could touch the field of corn. Nwagugu wondered how many times they might have harvested it. He remembered how his mother cried when he was leaving to defend his fatherland. His father held her waist, while she tried to draw him back with a force greater than physical strength, the force of love.
Now it was all over, he would be going back to that peaceful, serene place. He forgot about the pain and suffering in the battlefield.
He could see his Commander in civilian attire, looking gentle and calm. He wondered if his Commander wore a mask during the war. He walked up to him. The Commander smiled.
‘Captain Nwagugu,’ he called him.
Nwagugu jumped up immediately, stamped his bare left foot hard on the wet soil and responded firmly. ‘Sir!’
‘The war is over, you can go back to your people. You fought well. Truly you were brave. Maybe history will remember your effort.’ His Commander complimented him.
’Thank you Sir.’ Nwagugu greeted him with all due respect. ‘Do you mind dropping me off, Sir,’ Nwagugu requested.
His Commander’s car was parked nearby, a red Volkswagen. Maybe the one civilian vehicle abandoned during evacuation.
’Where are you going?’
‘Let’s go.’ His Commander climbed into the car. Nwagugu joined him in the front seat. From the side mirror, he could see how old and haggard he looked with scratches all over his face. Nobody would believe he was only twenty-four years old. He removed his camouflage vest, which was no better than a rag, closed his eyes, felt the paradise.
He could see the red Volkswagen racing down the road. From the hill, Ogunta lay in the valley of the hill. He could see devastation in his village. He could smell exploded bombs and see destroyed land. Leaving the car, he ran down the hill into the valley.
Their house had stood beside the peaceful, calm lake running freely into River Niger. Nwagugu saw that it had been burnt to the ground. He hurried to the remains of the door. He could vividly remember dragging that door open with Adaobi, his only sister, when he picked a quarrel with her. He threw himself across the ashes. Tears rolled down his cheeks to fall and soak into the ashes. He could hear machine guns clapping on their walls. He could picture soldiers smashing the doors. He could picture how helpless his people felt facing those men.
He could not know if his loved ones were dead or alive. All he heard were the Voices of Guns, speaking harshly to his people. The wind had heard the cries of the victims; the lake had tasted enough blood. The sun had witnessed the brutality. All of this from the rough Voice of the Gun.