OpEd, Politics

Win or lose, survival of the fittest in a savaging world (Part 3)

This time, I was traveling to a certain part of the country. I want to see my mother and siblings there. It has been three years since I left them to look for greener pastures, but it has never been easy for me. Mum has always prayed for me to get a job, but the opposite seems to be happening.

For the past three years, I have grown thinner than anyone could imagine. I didn’t want my mother to see me. She would mistake me for somebody else, not her son who left in good shape some years ago and if she ever found out that was her true son, mum would lose hope.

I didn’t want mother to lose hope, hope is something that gets each one of us out of the bed every day. You know, in this country, we live with constant hope that it will be fine. Maybe in the next few years, the darkness will disappear.

Maybe, when the leaders of the land are tired of eating, they will allow us the poor to pick the crumbs and life goes on. Maybe when I graduate, I will find work and make mama happy.

This is why I have been dodging mom all this long. I didn’t want her to cry for me when I am not yet dead. I wanted her to shed tears of joy not of sorrow. I have been struggling with this fantasy that there would come a time when I buy a bag of maize flour, other food items with some money and pay mom a surprise visit and letting her know that I have finally got a job.  I can’t imagine the happiness on her face that day.

She would cry, with hot tears of joy for how she had suffered to raise one son. She would invite all her friends and feel recognized. They would thank God together and pray for me too for future success.

But I am sorry, that day won’t come; I should just swallow humble pie and soldier on with hope that won’t materialize. This was why I made up my mind to see mom.

Seeing my physical body, mom would be shattered. She had never even for one reason or two expected me to come back home skinny and boney because I didn’t leave that way. But I hope my mother will understand how it feels to be a young man putting up a fight alone without any help anywhere.

I wish mom would understand that this country doesn’t work for everyone. If you don’t know anyone and you have zero connections, your future is dark. For me, it is a lonely fight. I don’t know anybody except God.

But sometimes, I don’t find him when I need him. God sometimes leaves you with a lot of questions and still tells you to be patient. In this land, everyone is patient. I don’t doubt that there are so many reasons to storm the street and ask the leaders of this country to get out of their offices or they regret their actions.

This is patience and it never works here. As we set out on a journey that would lead me to my mother’s house, I said a word of prayer. I did this several times because the road is not friendly.

There have been a lot of killings along this road for reasons that only heaven can tell with victims being poor citizens.

On the way, I have never been as frightful as I was on that day. I knew something was going to happen. A very terrible incident, I prayed again, and we took off. I had called mom in the morning to tell her that I was coming, and she must have prayed too.

When we reached a certain area, I heard a gunshot. This was not a normal one, it must have hit someone. And surely as it later turned out, two innocent women were not so lucky. They were put out of action, but what was so surprising was the fact that the two were women of God.

“Please don’t take my life, I am a servant of God and I have children to look after. God, I came to serve you, save me out of this situation”. One of the deceased prayed before the bullet pierced her heart.

Another one tried to run as fast as her legs could carry her, but she didn’t make it. She was shot at the back; she fell down and God just remained silent. I just cried. I hated this land. It was a place of all the pain. Imagine, these women, I was told, have given their lives to God but God failed to wield his power when they needed him.

When we left the scene, we met some soldiers. They were deployed there to patrol the road. They had guns, I mean new ones and some old military uniforms but there were, as I can vividly remember some other things they were missing, they had no food.

These people were so thin that I wondered how they carried those guns. One man stopped our car and guess what? We all hid our faces. We thought that he was going to shoot all of us but when he said, he needed some money for cigarettes, and we were all relieved. It was not only cigarettes, but he also meant alcohol too. They have to overdose these drugs to forget their problems, but will they ever escape this reality?

Without hesitation, I dashed my hand into my pocket and removed a note and the man just took the money without saying thank you. Given their dire situation, they have lost human feelings. They have been robbed of their humanity.  They don’t even know how to say thank you. To them, death is the thing they can appreciate.

You know, growing up as a child and up to now, I have known poverty and its fangs.  Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get out of this mess, but I am in my early twenties; maybe I can beat the odds in my fifties and make it out of this dungeon. There is hope for me if I live long enough.

But something about these men broke my heart. They were the unhappiest people I have never seen in my younger life. They know nothing but death and suffering. Anytime, any of them can go and they call it a relief, a leveler to a world of peace beyond the skies. Unless you are a soldier from the US or China, you will never find peace after death.

As a poor young man struggling in the wretched of the earth, I felt more blessed and privileged than those men. They were deceived that the country belonged to them, and they should fight for this country.

Well, they left their homes and education to liberate the land, but little did they know that they were enslaving themselves? I cried bitterly for these men. But what broke my heart to a million pieces was a picture of a young man about my age. Roughly 21 years of age.

I thought this young man enlisted in the army after trying all the means possible to survive only to fail. His military trouser was not fitting for him and from his shabby look; it was very visible that the boy had not eaten for days. Alcohol was the only thing he could afford. I closed my eyes and cried silently, I didn’t cry for the soldier boy or the entire soldiers, I wept for the parents of the young man. This wasn’t their plan for their child. They have wanted him to study and become a light of the family. The rest of the soldiers, how do their families survive? If they have children, they are the unluckiest children around. They know nothing but pain and struggle.

When I left the city to see my mother, I saw little boys rummaging through a dustbin. These must be the children of those soldiers. This is the way they have been surviving, before my journey.

I was told that one of the boys died instantly after swallowing a bone he picked from the dustbin which choked him to death.

The boy had been there on the street for a day until he almost went badly. Who will touch that child, the unfortunate one? I was greatly moved. After the incident, we were told not to continue with our journey. So, we had to come back. When we reached the city before we alighted, our vehicle was ordered not to move.

For there was a very big person passing. You know a big person in that country is a political figure that must shed blood to ascend to a political seat to rob the poor. He was driven with a convoy, and these were not just cars, they were expensive ones. But what shocked me was the fact that the man can buy cars and eat the road’s money.

He was going to see his land he grabbed from a certain poor man. The poor man, as I was told, opened a court case but it was judged wrongly. The last day we heard from this man was when his body was being taken to the cemetery for burial. You don’t get in the way of a political figure and expect to live for another day.

They won’t give you this chance. I was very angry and furious. I wanted to ask this person a question or two but didn’t know how to meet him. So, I decided to ask one of his bodyguards if there is a way, I could meet his master, but his reaction almost sent me running. He removed his gun and had it ready; the only word I heard was “You are the people who are destroying this country”.

Upon hearing these authoritative words, I ran but it was not long before I heard the sound of an Ak47. I felt something like warm water and when I touched it, no doubt, it was blood. “This slave has shot me”.  One bullet hit me and eventually I woke up from a deep sleep and realized it was a dream. It was indeed a very terrible night. Glory be to God.

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