She was just a girl. Cradling the gun as a mother would her child. Against her left breast. The right one a hard point at Bart Simpson’s temple; a bump. Even he, like the other boys, was fading away, into the worn t-shirt. A ghost. The gun was an aged Kalashnikov, probably one of the first from the old Republic. They wouldn’t use any other weapons. As if the AK’s made them closer to the Soviets. In some ways it did, the way they held them hugged to their chests like lovers… Holding hers as she did now, it looked asleep in her arm. A child. Like her. You could tell.

They called her Leftee. Not just because she was the only one that understood this Socialism shit they were all fighting for, but because she had only one arm left—the left one. The other had been blown off at the Okwi Front—the fiercest front they had fought in. The arm still lay there, dead, in the mud, with the ring her boyfriend had given her when she volunteered to enlist in his place. He was hiding in the bunkers with the old men, women and children. He was not a coward; he just had too much love in him to fight in this war, to kill, to hate… Nobody understood how she could still shoot, and kill, with only one arm. She reminded them of Boxer, the strong horse in that Animal Farm book she read to them on those nights when there was nobody to kill and no deaths to die. Those rare nights when the earth was quiet and the war was in repose, like an old man drowsing in a rocking chair, half dead, half alive, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, not going anywhere… Those nights when the air was so thin you could hear frogs gossiping in nearby ponds and crickets rubbing away in the bushes.

You could hear your heart beating inside your head… Her voice would flow out thickly, from her fine mouth, over the heads of the boys, like ‘sleeping’ palm oil, caressing their ears lovingly with words they did not, could not, understand. Socialism; this was her favourite one… On those nights, you would just forget the war and fall in love under the stars. The boys were in love with her. They were too young to understand Hate, the Hate that she poured out with her stories and fed them with, the Hate they killed for.

“Hate The Man!” The boys did not understand this. They loved her. Love was easier. She did not understand how they could kill without hating. “To kill, you have to Hate. To Hate, you have to be Angry!” They were not. They were too young. Only boys. In Love with a girl. A one-armed girl with a delicious, viscous voice that you could drink off her lips. And a dark heart that hid deep hate.

It was on one of these sweet nights that heaven opened Death upon their camp, on their heads. They were listening to BBC, huddled around an old transistor radio. The President had declared a ceasefire, and granted amnesty to all the boy-rebels and their leaders, so they could come out of the jungles now and give… Three F-16s, these new American stealth bombers, flying low, had swallowed up the President’s drone and the cheers of the boys, defecating all over the camp.

In the graveyard silence that followed, the President’s song could still be heard. “… and all our Western allies have begun withdrawing their troops, so that the rebels can confidently come out of their holes and the peace process can begin. Only the UN Peacekeeping soldiers will remain in the capital to maintain law and order and break up the pockets of street altercations that might still occur. I promise you this day that there will be no more fighting, no more war, no more killings, and no more deaths…” Leftee was listening, tears in her eyes, blood on her face, Hate seeping from the hole in her side. Her moan rose like a dirge, a question, and fell back into her throat, unanswered…

© Olubunmi Familioni


2 Responses

  1. Ijachi says:

    Deeply inspired

  2. Ijachi says:

    Deeply inspired

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