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Apa tapped you by the shoulder, you wriggled like an earthworm that was sprinkled with salt. You stretch till your bones made a swift kraaak sound .You rubbed your eyes with the back of your palm and Apa scolded you, he said "only women rub off sleep " you were supposed to be a man ,an 'Ebi nyiere'.
The Sun was still asleep and the air smelt of burnt wood from the smoke that escaped when the women cooked late night meals. He turned around and beckoned on you to hurry up, you walked faster to match his pace but the fishnet you hung on your shoulder weakened your pace. " we must be there before the sun rise ,it is always the best time to check the odik (fish traps) and then of course the mud is moist and the Ntuntut (periwinkle )are easier to pick " Apa said to you ,he always talked about his mbom (work) with so much pride and satisfaction. As He launched the cannoe into the water, you notice the firmness in his leg and you say to him " Are you not too old to be doing this?". He laughs as he pricks the water with his paddle but does not respond. short evening dresses
Apa jumps into the shallow Creek, in a way that now makes it appear twice shallow to you.He touches the pinned sticks and drags out a fishing net, it was a good catch .You can tell because as you paddled towards the swamp he whistled and patted your back.
The first gboooooom , then another gboooooom and then continuously till faces matched the sound.

These men dressed in Khaki shorts and stiff shirts,they ordered yourself and Apa to jump out of the cannoe .You both did with your hands on your head .They made about Eight of you kneel at the place where the water kisses the sand goodbye.The first man,he lifted up your faces with your chins and called you people spies "Nigerian spies".
He called himself the 2ic ,he screamed at one of the other soldier to "fetch him the General" in your mind you wondered if the general was water? after all Headmaster taught you that water is fetched.
General was a man,a huge man with a wide chest and long legs and a warriors fist.He inhaled smoke from a rolled paper and then threw them out in puffs.He cleared his throat before he spoke " so you are Nigerian spies?Do you know what happens to spies? ". His voice was mightier than him.You shook your head and they followed you,they trusted your comprehension of English ." Answer me " he barked
You rose your hand up and General asked 2ic to bring you foward.You shivered as you walked towards the general . " sir we are not spy people , we are fishing people ,we catch fish and sell fish in Oryokoto" you said.
" Tiger ! Search them " he ordered with the look of suspicion still worn on his face." All clear sir" Tiger said saluting the general.
"Let them go" the general responded .
As you all stood up from the floor you had knelt,the general looked at you and signaled with his two fingers .
"What is your name?"
"GunTata Sir" you replied
"Don't call me sir ,call me master" the General said.
"Which village are you from ?" He asked
" Ataba, master I am from Ataba"you said
" You are a bright boy and someday you will make a gallant Biafran soldier " You smiled although you did not want to be a soldier ,You wanted to be a head master and write on the charcoal board.
As you sat down to eat your night meal,You hear rushing steps that melt eventually into the sand.
You over hear them saying the Biafran soldiers are back.
"These ones are from the 15th Brigade " they tell Apa
" They took my son ,they took your son ,they took our sons .What else do they want? Our women too?". Apa said ,you could feel the pain knot in his throat as he spoke. "They have come to conquer our land " Ubono said.You liked Ubono, he was a good man ,he was your father's friend but your father called him called him brother.
They chorused " ogun gane gbala chien mo la Janra"
It meant " see you soon and lay well"
You knew Apa was not going lay well that night and that he feared they may force you to join the army ,the way they did to your father.
" who wants to break down my door? ". Apa questioned rhetorically .
" These are the soldiers of the 15th Brigade"
In the dim light you could see Apa's eyes widen in fear.
They barge into the room.
" You follow me" they said pointing at you. You follow them and as you walk you notice that they have set up blockades and mini camps.
" morning master" you say to the general and prostrate.

He called you Aboy, he taught you how to make tea and fry egg.You soon learnt how to polish shoes and iron clothes.He gave your mother gifts and promised to help secure Ataba if your father and the clan were loyal to the Brafian Government .
He told you stories about Ebeke (overseas) about how cold it was and that they drank Tea and spoke with their nostrils.He spoke like them .
He was a bad man with a good heart even though he looked nothing like goodness.He said " I have fought so many wars and I now perceive the smell of gun powder in my sleep".
You knew General was not pleased with his men, How they raped women and abused children.You knew this because he shot a soldier in your front and you watched the lifeless body drop to the floor in defeat.
You knew the battalion was displeased,you could smell revenge the same way General smelt gun powder in his sleep.

You knew General was not pleased with his men, How they raped women and abused children.You knew this because he shot a soldier in your front and you watched the lifeless body drop to the floor in defeat.
You knew the battalion was displeased,you could smell revenge the same way General smelt gun powder in his sleep.
When he said he was leaving,you felt someone get up from a line of people seated in the best part of your heart.He said he had been called to lead the operation Tiger claw but he will come back to take you to the city with him when Port-Harcourt fell.He gifted you left over food and his boot.He told you that someday your feet will fill his shoes.
"We depart sunrise from Ayama (new town) Creek " He said
" Go well Master" you replied but he did not respond.
You were up a little before sunrise to watch master leave .You wanted to give master a picture of your father ,you wanted to know if your father survived.
You arrive Ayama late,You are pursuing a bird inside the mangroove but you can see the soldiers arranging themselves into cannoe and you can see master commanding them .The bird flies away and you run towards the Creek. Towaaaa! Towaa ! You look foward and you watch master's body drop to the ground and the other soldiers paddle speedily away .
You look around till no one is insight and you rush to master.The bullets sank deep into the chamber of his chest,his blood has formed a pool of its own making but he is still breathing.
"Master please don't die " you say sobbing
He fixes your palm in his and presses a key into your palm.
" I want you to have this " He said faintly
" when I die push my body into the water,so it cleanses me, that if I face judgement I do so a cleansed man"
" You won't die " you say to him
" I am dying already son,I am just not dead" he replies
He's breathing begins to fade
"Master" you say to him
"Aboy, My boy" he replies
You push Master into the water and Run .

Owajioniro Benson