By Chekwube Anyaegbunam | The Biafra Post

May 31, 2021

My grandma sometimes tells us stories about the War. Those stories frighten(ed) me, even before I went online and saw documentaries of wars. Before then it was just 'fictional' war films that helped me picture what wars were like. 

Mama said that she'd kill herself rather than 'see' a war again. She has said this many times. She meant it! 

She has told us, many times, stories of how she sold her gold jewellery, clothes and other belongings to provide food for the family when everything was gone. It's the women who went out, who looked after the children; the men fought the wars or hid away. She told us about the long journeys on foot: how they walked to Nnobi, Ọnịcha, Nnewi, and some other farther places to buy things (and how they passed nights in marketplaces). Sometimes they're 'attacked' and they lost whatever they had. They'd walk home in fear, hiding at the sound of any 'rocket' or whatever it is the enemy sends them. They hid in bunkers; she's taught us some of the songs they sang about the bunkers. They hid amids clusters of bamboo trees. 

Mama also told us about the boy who was killed right before her eyes - the boy from Akonobi's family - while they returned from market one day. Perhaps I should ask Mama to retell this story. One day. I need to give some exact details. It'd send shivers down your spine. Mama still suffers the trauma! Of the whole experience. You'll see it in her eyes. You'll hear it in her voice. You'll see her shake telling these stories. Sometimes she'd cut herself short. Sometimes you'd see tears well />

The stories were not about one death, not two, not three: people who went to market to get things for their families and never returned; those who fought the war and never survived. Our fallen heros! In all these, I think the ones that pained me the most were the stories of people whose bodies were never seen; people whose deaths were not even confirmed. Each day their beloved ones looked for confirmations, with the hope that one day these stray souls would return to them. Perhaps they found other 'homes', but their people needed to know. With each passing day, the fires of these hopes went dim, and dimmer, and dimmer. Many succumbed to performing funeral rites for the lost ones that their souls might find rest wherever they were and that the families might move on, that they might forget. Yet, did they forget? They still tell these stories with their eyes glittering with hope, fear, sadness, hope again, wishes, longing, hope yet, and then loss of it. 

Many women were taken away. Some left suckling babies behind. I know of one who, I heard, returned many years later with some children. She escaped! From that far side. She searched for home. She returned.

We heard of many starved to death. I have imagined just by going hungry for some hours what it meant to die of hunger after being without food and water for weeks and months. The imagination itself is scary. What about the pregnant women who were so brutalized?

Remember that Mama didn't go to the warfront. Remember that Mama didn't take up the guns. But some people did: sons, brothers, husbands. I've heard stories from men who fought the War and survived it. It's scary! I've seen the scars from bullets. Some amputated. Everything lost. Life begun afresh. Life? Struggle perhaps. These men only smile or shake their heads when they tell these stories now. They live with punctured hearts. They moved on. But they have not forgotten these things. 

The dreams of these fallen heros aren't dead yet. And, yes, we remember!



Edited by Ndubuisi Eke

Twitter Handle: @NdubuisiEke07

Published by Anyi Kings 

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