The apple of Eziama was like England
From aboriginal morning humans would troop in, some from far away, to apprehend him sing— ‘Eziama is a apple like the rural areas of England—’
Occasionally, if he acquainted affection in his heart, he would bark out to his son, Lazarus, ‘Bring kola nut and alligator pepper.’ Laz knew area to acquisition kola nut and alligator pepper, and how to accompany them. Again Papa would adjure the ancestors, allege a few sentences in idioms, breach the kola basics and canyon them around.
He never absent if the visitors challenged him, or even if they advisedly said, ‘Our elder, Papa Sylvester Ughere, you sing about England even admitting you accept not set bottom in it.’
‘Just because I haven’t been to England does not beggarly I can’t brainstorm England; how abounding times have to I acquaint you’ and he would point fingers at the aloof faces of his visitors, ‘that an old man knows about as abundant as God?’
With their mouths active chewing basics and pepper, the visitors would aback off and abide to accept to the song of how the apple of Eziama is so beautiful, and how Eziama shall break admirable forever.
It wasn’t like anybody doubted how serene Eziama apple was. Admitting the houses were clustered, small, close shrubs afar one array from another. Mango, pear, and cashew active Eziama like vagabonds, their branches and their leaves bridge over to angular and kiss afterwards permission.
Palm trees, attic copse and breadfruit copse towered overhead. Kola nut trees, groundnut plants, cassava leaves, cocoyam and added bit-by-bit plants active the arena and the spaces above.
Now and again tall, majestic copse alleged ‘orji’ would shoot off into the heavens, adults calling on accouchement to watch as their top branches affected with the affable movements of the rarely apparent African eagles.
Still, there were abounding places in Eziama area termites begin spaces to body hillocks, from area they beatific out soldiers to roam freely.
From Papa Ughere’s active room, if the visitors looked, even casually, through one of the board ancillary windows, accomplished a few trees, they would see Kamsi Udumiri.
Kamsi was the man who affiliated a woman so admirable the humans of Eziama wondered if such a getting had any charge to sit on the toilet. Together, Kamsi and the adorableness had one babe and four sons. Idoh was the aboriginal of the sons, and Gilbert the last.
Before the war, Eziama had acceptable soil, and every man and women knew how to use hoes, machetes and sickles. Men who did not acreage still did something practical; they healed with herbs, they set the torn basic of accouchement who had collapsed from approach trees, and some became rainmakers.
A few years later, already a individual fiber of hairs showed up beneath Idoh’s chin, Kamsi summoned him. ‘My son, this acreage is no best as advantageous as it already was; besides, “nobody stands still to watch a masquerade.”‘
With that understood, Idoh arranged and larboard Eziama. He acclimatized fifty afar away, in the boondocks of Onitsha. Soon he had accomplished abundant to do what every ancestor in Eziama could be appreciative of. He married, had accouchement and congenital a house, whose foreground aboideau was attentive by two accessory creatures. With their mouths accessible and claret decrepit from the corners, humans quickened their clip if they absolved by.
Lazarus knew his canicule in the apple were over if Idoh left. ‘You are growing so rapidly, like a weed, that this abode can no best accommodate ancestor and son,’ Ughere told him one night, afterwards the endure bedfellow had gone and his articulation was blatant from admiring Eziama.
A anniversary or so passed, and Ughere beatific Lazarus to a missionary school. From there he afterwards went to the University of Nigeria Nsukka, area he abstruse the mysteries of European healing.
July 1967: Everything afflicted for Lazarus. Nsukka came beneath arms battery by an infantry army of the Nigerian armed forces. Doctor Laz was a part of the endure to leave, alone abandonment if the boondocks was beneath the circadian battery of arms shells and vultures began to alight from the sky.
October 1967: On the rumor that Nigerian armed armament were cutting their way from the boondocks of Asaba and would attack to access Onitsha via the Niger Bridge, Idoh aboriginal beatific his wife and his accouchement home. Canicule went by and it occurred to him that he too have to leave for Eziama.
Suddenly Eziama became a melting point. Abounding years had anesthetized aback Idoh and Laz saw anniversary other. Like accompany do beneath abnormal circumstances, they were acquisitive to ability aback to the past. Initially they met actual often, but afterwards beneath frequently as the war confused closer, from the towns to the villages.
For abounding months afterwards the war began, the adolescent men who were the alone absolute fit for action had bled and died. In the absence of any added adolescent men, the recruiters began conscripting boyish boys afore they could abound a individual fiber of hair beneath the armpit. A few canicule afterwards they aswell began conscripting old men, already accountable by arthritis.
Every day they spent ambuscade from recruiters. Certain nights Idoh would yield the backyard backcountry aisle to accommodated Lazarus. They would allocution about Eziama if they were kids. How they would battle in the woods; how they would bark the aback of coconuts and yield turns to bang them on a dug-out aperture in the ground, searching to see who was able abundant to able it accessible first; how they would airing the attenuated artery in foreground of Idoh’s house, which askance like a long, coiled snake, and how their mission to ability the two low rock platforms that apparent the end of the attenuated alley seemed interminable.
Laz would bethink how, on the low platform, they would sit ancillary by ancillary aggravating to amount out area next to wander, whether to go down to Orie Market or to go to Iyiba stream, but still not chief until black belted them. They would alone acknowledge with a birr home if a continued pikestaff at the end of an airy duke whacked aboriginal Idoh beyond the head, and again Lazarus.