FREEDOM

By Efeh Flora 2 weeks ago

Azubike as usual sit outside with his two younger brother Chidi and Obi. Who happens to be the youngest of all.

Obi who is 7 years old always want his two elder brothers to tell him stories of animals which he enjoyed most of all. Azubike made this as a ritual for his two brothers so that he will spend more time with them as he is the type that is always busy at the farm everyday. Since their parent died a long time ago he has been the one in custody, taking care of his two siblings and provide all their needs all by himself. Azubike who is just 21 years of age, Senior Chidi who is 17 years of age. He make sure that none of them lack anything and always get them what they need.

Well the night is still young, I will tell you a story about animals but that will be tomorrow night he said.

I had a hectic day at the farm and you know we just finished eating I need to rest my body and wake up early morning tomorrow to finish the remaining work at the farm”, he said.  feeling tired already. He stood up and tell them to go inside, while he check round the mud house as he always do every night. Chidi carried his little brother and go inside as his elder brother instruct them to.

Not long, Azubike joined them inside closing the door behind him. The mud house has three rooms in which his late father and mother use one room by the right and he and his brothers  use the second room by the same right hand. The third room is used for storing items like, cutlass, axe, and all farming equipment and some things they used at the home too.

That reminds me, Chidi you are going to the farm with me tomorrow and we cant leave only Obinna at home so he is going too and you too have to wake up early so that we can finish up the work at farm early tomorrow

Okay brother, Chidi reply.

The bond between Azubike and his two siblings can not be broken. Its like the head and the eyes together. Azubike is an hardworking young man, a peaceful, kind, hearted man who doesnt roam around the village like some lazy youth do. When their parent died, they leave 4 pieces of land in which his fathers family took 2 of the land of cocoa and palm nut, leaving the one with less palm nut and cassava for him to work on.

Despite all these he still dont change his character or get angry with his father;s family. He is a peaceful and diligent young man.

If there is truly anything he hate about himself its the birth mark in his body,

 the birth mark at his lower back is a visible one and a big one, the same mark is on his face too covering his left ear.

Despite the mark isnt a painful one. Azubike has try all means in making sure the birth is cleaned away. He is always shy when talking to people, as people tend to look more at this mark on his face with a detestable look.

Anytime he is walking down the road, he always bow down so that the people that he come across with wont look at the mark on his face as he his not confidence at all about the visible birthmark on his face.

The only friend he had was late and since then he never had any friend in the village nor nearby.

There were times he was abused so much because of the mark on his face and he cant recount the time people call him out or judge him over the mark on his face as they all tend to look at him in a disgusting ways.

The only people that hes not shy of are his two siblings they are the only people he cherished most.

The next morning, Azubike wake up his two brother early morning at the Hen crow . He bathed Obinna and dress him up while Chidi washed his face,hands and legs. Chidi carry the basket on his hand where cutlass and food are arranged and waited patently for Azubike and the little one to come outside for them to be going to the farm.

Did you take the matches and salt inside that basket, Azubike ask, Oh I forget to take it you see, big head like you, I know you wont remember to take it he said jokingly, maybe Obinna will be eating fish head as from today, he said laughing at his younger brother.

Yes Azu I will be eating the fish head as from today, Obinna said smiling at is elder brother.

Chidi comes out with the matches and salt.

“Can we go now he said, lve got the two things I forget so Im still eating fish head he said smiling and carrying the basket on his head while Azubike locked the door and off they all go to the farm together. Getting to the farm, Azubike cut some palm fornds leaves and do a small hut with it for Obinna to sit under it because of the sun and for the fact that he cant cut grass. He dish him some food to eat, Chidi, face that side of the farm and I will face this side, lets cut down the grass . he said to his younger brother.

After long period of time, Chidi dropped his cutlass feeling tired and tell his brother he is hungry and tired.

Go and eat and relax your body Im tired too I will come and joined you Azubike reply him.

Chidi sit with Obinna who was fast asleep on the wrapper they spread on the grass for him. He eat  and drink water soon his elder brother joined them.

Azuibike and Chidi rest for a while and after resting he resume back with his brother to continue the work on the farm.

Obinna wake up and ran to meet his elder brother. ‘Azu, I want to pass excrete he said to him. Azu stopped cuting grass and take him to one side of the farm to ease himself. If youre through let me know, okay?

“Yes brother. I will  Obinna replied him

Or should I wait for you? he asked him but Obinna decline and tell him to go.

Azubike continue with his work and make sure that all the grasses were cut down so that he will be able to plant some vegetable pepper and some other crops on it as they are in rainy season.

Not long, Azubike stopped working immediately as if he forget something.

Obinna! He shouted

Obinna!! He call out again, he walk fastly towards the place he left him to look for him. Chidi who was not aware that his younger brother was wake up already dropped his cutlass and walk towards Azubike direction

Brother what happened? He ask is elder brother ;I left obinna here and I cant find him again, he said 

He want to ease himself so I dug a hole here for him to do so, but now I dont know where he is he replied with a worried face.

Go and search the hut wether he is there, he told chidi      

Go and eat and relax your body Im tired too I will come and joined you he said

Chidi sit with obinna who was fast asleep on the wrapper they spread on the grass for him. He eat and drink water soon his elder brother joined them.

Azuibike and chidi rest for a while and after resting he resume back with his two brother to continue the work on the farm.

Obinna wake up and ran to meet his elder brother. Azu, I want to pass excrete he said to him. Azu stopped outing grass and take him to one side of the farm to ease himself. If youre through call me, okay.

Yes brother. I will obinna replied ghim

Or I should wait for you? he asked him but obinna decline and tell him to go.

Azubike continue with his work and make sure that all the grass were cut down so that he will be able to plant some vegetable pepper and some crops on it as they are in rainy season.

Not long, Azubike stopped working immediately as if he forget something.

Obinna! He shouted

Obinna!! He call out again, he walk fastly towards the place he left him to look for him. Chidi who was not aware that his younger brother was awake already dropped his cutlass and walk towards Azubike direction.

Brother what happened? He ask is elder brother ;I left obinna here and I cant find him again, he said 

He wanted to ease himself so I dug a hole here for him to do so, but now I dont know where he is” he replied with a worried face.

Go and search the hut whether he is there, he told Chidi      

Chidi ran fastly towards the hut direction he was surprised that is younger brother is not there

He ran back to his brother immediately with fear shown in his face.

“Is not there too he said.

My god, where did he now go to?

Obinna! Obinna !! Obinna!!!, Azubike and Chidi continue calling his name

Azubike searched the entire farm and still cant find him, he was afraid maybe Obinna has lost his way, But where could he have gone to”, he thought and its getting late, they searched the entire farm but didnt see him.

Azubike prayed that he find his brother, he was afraid and scared Chidi has tear filled his eyes already.

Chidi, you have to go home, its getting late I will join you at home soon and make sure I come back home with Obinna it might take long, but I promise to bring him back he said to his younger brother who is crying already.

No, I will follow you, I cant leave you alone too, he retort

Chidi, its dangerous out there you know after the river, we will enter the big forest, I cant allow you to follow me.

No please, allow me to follow you please, you remember what our mother told us.

Never to be apart, and whatever happens to anyone of us, happen to everybody.”

Azubike was speechless, he had no choice than to allow him follow him.

Hmmmm.. he sighed, okay, take your cutlass and lets go he said

Chidi go back to where he was cutting grass to take his cutlass and go with his elder brother.

Chidi Azubike call him.

I want you to be strong he said 

Yes brother I will he reply him, “Now lets go.

Azubike and his younger brother ventured into the forest to look for their brother, they searched everywhere all to no avail, its getting late than before, the sky is tar dark and large pillows of cloud formed on the surface of the sky about to rain. They keep walking; Chidi was scared and the thought that they wont see their younger brother feared him most.

They come across the big river, that serves as a border between their village and the rest villages.

Azubike and Chidi rest at the bank of the river, they drink water, bathe and rest as it is late already.

They both sleep on the trunk of a tree that fell down, they eat nothing but filled their stomach with so many questions and worries.

The next morning, Azubike wake up his brother they bathed and get ready for the day hunting of their younger brother.

They keep walking, searching and calling their brother name all the same time.

They came across a coconut tree, Azubike waste no time in climbing the tree as he was hungry with his brother. Azubike pluck down coconut from the tree and cut it to remove the shell.

The two filled their stomach with the coconut that morning, they gained more strength than before and continue their journey.

As they were going along the thin and bushy road, Chidi not knowing stepped on a snake that bite his left ankle, he fell down, and cried out loudly holding his leg, Azubike who was at the front turned back and carry his brother up.

He was scared, little tears dropped from his eyes, he held his brother close to his chest, Chidi who was feeling dizzy already and crying tell his brother to go in search of Obinna.

“No Im not leaving you here, Im not leaving you or Obinna, whatever has to kill any of you two, must kill me first.he said in a weary voice.

Azubike, tear the lower part of his cloth he was wearing and tie Chidi leg tightly so that the snake poison will not stir up to his heart. He cleared the side of  the bush and carry him to sit there.

Azubike looked for a scent leaf believed to be an antidote for stopping poisonous substance when rub on an open wounds. He rub the leaf together in palm and squeeze out some green water in which he put on the surface of the bite.

That relief Chidi, they rest for a while and Chidi slept off while Azubike couldnt close his eyes. He watched over him as he rest his head on his broad chest.

After some hours, Chidi open his eyes and coughed.

Azubike who was already in tears of what is happening to him was happy. He hugged him and ask him how he is feeling.

Brother Im fine just weak I know, you have to be strong okay? Yes I will. Azubike stood up and pluck the same leaf this time around he burnt the leaf and placed it on his leg to heat him a little bit. This procedure hurt Chidi a lot but Azubike consoled him. Not long, Azubike carry Chidi up and continue their journey. Chidi limp as they walk for hours and still find no traces of their little brother. They rest at the foot of a giant tree. The two doze off for a while; they were waken up  by a slap on Chidi face. Azubike open his eyes only to see 4 hefty men with cutlass and axe in each hand. He was scared he stood up and try fighting them. Chidi was held by another man.

Do you want to watch your brother die!?, one of the man said, putting a sharp cutlass at Chidis neck who was crying.

Azubike hearing these, surrender dropping his cutlass, they were capture together

Azubike and Chidi were made to walk, they walk for so long, finally they got to a quiet big hut.

There were hefty men around the big hut.

Where did you see them? asked one of the men . They were sleeping so we caught them. Put them to the mens room. These men have good body, Azubike and his brother were pushed inside one room where some men are, they all look sad and pale.

Brother we are kidnapped. Sh..sh..sh. dont make noise and yes we are.

Call them out to eat said one of the hefty men who happened to be their leader.

“Both men and women and little children that were captured all come out to eat. They all sit on a long square bench. Each were served with 2 slice of yam and little red oil.

Some eat, while some reject the food, Azubike reject his own and tell Chidi to eat to have strength.

Azubike glance towards the direction of the children who were busying eating the thought of his little brother flashed to his mind he remembered how he used to smile when his favorite food is prepared, the drop of a calabash interrupt his thinking, he notice one of the children who sit alone and repudiate the food in front of him. The little boy look sad and pale. The little boy stood up to go back to the hut.

Obinna! Azubike shouted not believing his eyes he stood up.

Chidi dropped the food he was eating on the ground as he stood up and limp as fast as he could to the direction of the little boy who was running to meet them.

Azubike bend and carry his little brother up, embracing him tightly with Chidi.

This is not a family re-union place said one of the guards now u all should get up! he said dragging the little boy away from their brother. That night, Azubike was happy to see his brother again and happy that the two are with him.

The next morning, the guards marched all of them out to continue their journey. They are all going to be sold to one rich & cruel king in a far village as Azubike heard from some of the slaves. 

They walk for some days, Azubike make sure his siblings didnt go out of his sight.

Finally they got to the village, it is a very big village bigger than any other village.

There reigns a great and powerful king who is very rich and influential. He is cruel too and other villages nearby feared him. Every year each village nearby or far away will bring gifts of money, food ,beads etc to this king and the village that dont, will be wipe out and take their people as slaves.

Nobody dares question the king about his action even the chiefs under him.

He has so many slaves and many hefty guards he has dominions over everything and even people.

He is truly not the right person to the throne but based on how cruel, rich great and powerful he is, he attained the post by force. The guards always protect him and they listen only to him.

Azubike and other slaves were separated in which men stay In one big hut the women too likewise the children.

Life in that village is hard for Azubike and his sibling. No guards treat them nicely they were always beaten if nobody listen to them and make to work hard in the farm every day except the children. 

A lady, one night sneak and go to the mens hut, it is who Azubike handover Obinna to watch him as the women hut is close to the children.

Azu! She call out.

Obinna is critically ill and there is no medicine for him, you know where we are Ah! God! Where is he. Azubike asked her.

He is inside, maybe if he sees you he will be fine, She said.

Lets go he said.

Getting to the hut, Azubike held his brother close while other children were all fast sleep.

He could feel his body temperature he wished he can get medicine to treat him. The lady stood there watching  him with a worrying face.

“You two are under arrest said one guard who caught them.

You violate the rule, we put down. The guard call out on 3 other guards they arrest them leaving only the boy.

The next morning they were taken to the king.

“You two violate the order I put down the king said with an angry voice”

My lord, my younger brother is ill and she only come to call me please forgive me, please forgive us.

Shut-up! the king yelled out "guards, behead the woman because she is capable of escaping from here and flog the man throughout.he said without listening to their plea or explanations 

Ah, my lord, have mercy the lady cries out to the king.

The guards drag her out with Azubike and made to sit beside the big tree in the palace.

Ah! I put you to death! Im sorry Uloma.

Its alright Azu, Ive accept my fate, life is meaningless to me already she said crying.

Ah! My mother and father will be sad forever. Im their only child I was kidnapped in my father compound that fateful night.

Azubike, please hold on to your siblings very well. Ive accept my fate as it is and there is nothing to do about it but please dont forget me Azubike here take this neck bead on my neck”

I want you to remember me everyday she raise her hand to remove the bead and give him.

That afternoon, Ulomas head was headed which each slaves watch as they cut off her head to serve as a strict warning to people who will violate the King order again.

Azubike was flogged, all his body was full of mark.

He cried so hard and beg for mercy but they never listen to him. He was flogged for the whole afternoon.

Day goes by weeks follow weeks. Azubike get over the bad event that happen to him.

He one day planned on how to set everybody free with some of the strongest men held as slaves. He was their leader and plan with the slaves women who prepare the guards food in putting poison into their food. 

At the King's farm earlier that day Azubike cut some poisonous leaves  and give them to the slave women they agree to put the poison inside the guards food.

That afternoon, as usual the women serve all the guards their afternoon lunch they all eat and later start falling to the ground one after the other and died.

Azubike quickly, rush inside the king chamber seeing that the whole King's guards are all dead  and made way to his inner room there he stab him on his neck, he died immediately.

Azubike go out only to meet the whole slaves waiting patiently for the outcome of what he went to do inside.

He raise the knife up for them there were blood dripping from the sharp knife showing them he successed in killing the king, they all cheered with happiness beaming in their face and embrace each other.

Freedom is attained, peace and harmony. Every slaves were happy free. The chief priest and some chiefs having heard about these with some villagers rushed to the palace to confirm, they were all happy.

The chief priest look at Azubike face and quickly sit down and consult the oracle as the whole villagers watched and the slaves.

Young man, how did you got these mark on your back and your face

Azubike was scared but bodly say it out this time It is a birth mark, I was born with it. My chiefs, here is the king we all have been waiting for he is the one the god choose for us to rule us

Igwe!! All the whole villagers bow down and kneels for him with the chief and chief priest.

Azubike couldnt believe his eyes the birth mark he hated so much has meaning to his life. No wonder the mark never cleaned away everytime he applied something to it to clean away.

His brother embrace him, he hugged them 

I thank the Gods for today he said boldly. And I thank my amiable friends too pointing to the directions of some men who are all very happy.

You all are free.There will be  No slaves in this entire kingdom again, lets us live in peace and harmony and go home to meet our various families that we left behind, if you have nowhere to go, you are all welcome here, a shelter, food and land will be given to you.

Lets peace reign and lets join hands together to wipe out the people who are still out there kidnapping.

It is said no great man can ever know his/her destiny no matter how great he is and the creator has a purpose for each and individual.

Everybody was happy, the village was cleaned by the chief priest  by performing sacrifice to clean up the bad omens the next day.

Azubike was crowned the king of the village.

Some slaves stayed back and build their lives there while some bade goodbye to their friends as they all go home happily to their family.

A statues of Uloma was made at the middle of the market where she was remebered for her courage

Azubike lived happily with his siblings who now enjoyed the life their elder brother give them. 

tags

#tragedy

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Efeh Flora
@EfeFlora
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