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The Forgotten People (a Short Story) - Literature - Nairaland

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The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by slap1(m): 1:51pm On Jan 22, 2013
Good day, House. This is an exerpt from a short story I wrote a while back. I need your honest opinions on it. At your request, I will post another part of it. I hope you enjoy it:

THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE

My mind would often go back to the better days: the days before the federal troops stormed our small village and reduced it to rubble. It has been over six days, yet I find myself hoping and praying that it was just a bad dream, that I will finally wake up. However, as the days go by, I fearfully realize that I am not dreaming at all. These are the moments when tears always fill my eyes, blurring my vision. This has happened regularly for over four days, still the tears always come; it never seem to finish. I would sit alone somewhere and cry till a member of the Red Cross or one of the kind women in the camp finds me and begs me to stop crying, that everything will be fine. I don’t think that they know what they are saying. I’ve lost things that will never come back to me; I’ve lost people that I will never see again. Truly, everything can never be fine again. To avoid hurting their good intentions, I would always stop crying and wipe my tears and follow them back to the camp.

The camp is an old public school, it has no doors or windows, and a large portion of the roof is bad. A part of the wall looks like it’s going to collapse soon. Our first week in the camp was horrible. The mornings were filled with hunger, empty thoughts, and tears of the women and cries of the children. No one had any reason to smile. The nights were usually the worst moments. There was no electricity in the school and no one had the time to think of lamps or torches when the soldiers were shooting and bombing everywhere. The children were afraid of the thick darkness and cried for a good part of the night till they slept off. I was afraid of the darkness, too, but my head was filled with stronger thoughts and my conviction that I was dreaming was still high. I had no time for tears. Since there were no doors or windows, mosquitoes are welcome.

The mosquitoes in the camp don’t look like ordinary mosquitoes to me. They are bigger than the ones I know, and they don’t bite, they sting! Sometimes I think that they are not mosquitoes, and then I will remember a proverb my father used to settle quarrels at home: let everything that bite in the night be regarded as mosquitoes. The proverb was meant for us to forgive those that wronged us. When the mosquitoes attacked us on the first day we came to the camp, I couldn’t sleep. I tried to kill them but I couldn’t. If only they would just bite and stop buzzing, maybe I would get tired of trying to kill them and sleep off.

I was awake throughout our first night in the camp; I was seriously wrapped in thoughts of what has happened to us and what each passing day would bring. I thought of my mother and my twin brother. Did they make it to the bush? Were they caught? Did the helicopters shoot them down? I offered a silent prayer for their safety. God, let nothing happen to them, please. The tears started coming again and I wiped it with the back of my hand. I heard a few sobs around me and realized that I was neither the only one awake, nor the only one crying.

Unconsciously, my mind drifted to the incident of four days ago, when the government soldiers bombed the palace of our king, the Agadagba of Gbaramatu Kingdom, during the Amaseikumor (king’s purification) festival. The Staff of Office was also supposed to be handed to the king that day. I had gone to Oporoza, the neighbouring community, to visit my friend, Ebi, whose father was killed by the ‘Kill and Go’ soldiers of Shell. She told me that her father had protested with his fellow fishermen when the river they fished in was polluted by an oil spill from a rusty, leaking oil pipe. She told me that the pipe had been leaking continuously for over two weeks, and that her father had complained to the community leaders who informed Shell about the leaking pipe which was situated five hundred kilometres from the Oporoza River. Shell had promised to send engineers to repair the leaking pipe. That is what they always do, they just tell you anything to stop you from disturbing them.

Two weeks later, the river was polluted. The fishermen went to fish but there was no fish. Three days after the spill, the creek that supplied drinking water to the community was also polluted and the crude oil floating on the face of the river made it difficult for the boats to sail. The angry fishermen, about twenty-four of them, went to the community leader and complained bitterly. The women and youths joined them and they started marching to the nearest Shell station to protest. Maybe someone informed Shell of their plans as they have not gone far when a large number of ‘Kill and Go’ soldiers appeared from the opposite direction and forced them to go back. They refused, insisting that they must get to the Shell station to lay their complaints.

Ebi’s father was their spokesman, so he came out to address the soldiers. He had finished addressing the soldiers and was about to turn back when one of the soldiers ordered him to stop.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by kagari: 1:58pm On Jan 22, 2013
Please how do I open a thread here
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by slap1(m): 2:15pm On Jan 22, 2013
Apologies for the poor paragraphing, I copied the story from MS Word. I will try and work on it.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by Nobody: 4:21pm On Jan 22, 2013
Pls do. And continue.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by Yisolar(f): 6:19am On Jan 23, 2013
Moreeee pls
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by slap1(m): 10:18am On Jan 23, 2013
Thanks. I'm mobile now, but I will try and post another excerpt today.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by ludasam222(m): 10:41am On Jan 23, 2013
Mr.slap abeg come continue dis ya story jor....its making sense
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by slap1(m): 1:32pm On Jan 23, 2013
Thanks, people. continuation...


‘So you want to show us that you are stubborn and you can speak grammar?’ he had asked. ‘You think Shell is paying me to listen to useless grammar? If you want to speak grammar, you go to Abuja. You hear?’

‘We will not go back,’ Ebi’s father replied. ‘This is our land. Shell cannot continue to humiliate, maltreat and exploit us. We are not strangers. They are the strangers!’

‘Sharraap there, you monkey! I say sharap your mouth! You think the government know you exist? You think if I kill all of you the government will ask questions?’ the soldier asked, corking his gun. ‘Now go back! Go back before I shoot all of you idiots!’

‘We are not idiots!’ someone had shouted from the crowd. ‘We are human beings like you.’ The crowd murmured their support.

‘You are human beings?’ asked the soldier, infuriated. ‘Ok. If you don’t leave here before I count three I will show you that you are just monkeys. One, two…’ He pulled the trigger. The crowd scattered into the nearby bushes as the other soldiers also opened fire. About nineteen people lost their lives. Ebi’s father was killed by the first bullet.

Towards noon, I heard canon shots from the direction of my village. The Amaseikumor Festival was about to start. I gave my friend my final consolatory words, promised to check on her after the festival, and then I set out to my village for the king’s party. When I reached my village, the party had already started. I heard the sound of music coming from the various dance troupes invited from the neighbouring villages. As I got nearer to the palace, I saw big, beautiful cars that I don’t usually see around the village. The sound of the songs increased as the distance to the palace reduced.

I have reached the palace and was looking for a place to sit when another sound covered the sound of the songs. Everybody stopped to listen to this new sound. Where was it coming from? As the sound got nearer, I recognized it as the sound of a helicopter, and then I looked up. Three low-flying helicopters were flying towards the direction of the palace. Some people started clapping. Maybe the helicopters were part of the celebration. The Amaseikumor is the biggest festival in our community. I also thought that the helicopters maybe a part of the celebration until I saw the colour of the helicopters, it was the colour of the army. My heartbeat increased. What have they come to do again? Why were they flying so low?

My questions were answered when some things like balls of fire dropped from the helicopters and exploded as they reached the ground. Jesus! They are bombing us! I was too shocked to think or move. Another set of bombs exploded and confusion took over the entire palace, the music stopped and people scattered in different directions as they ran for safety. Then the soldiers started shooting at the people from the helicopters.

Someone pushed me from behind and I fell as a bullet flew over my head. The person quickly pulled me up and dragged me along as he ran through the crowd of confused, horrified people. The soldiers were still shooting and the bombs were still exploding without end.

‘What were you thinking standing there like a zombie?’ the man that I was running with asked me. ‘That bullet would have ripped your skull apart for you.’ I immediately recognized the voice and my shock and fear gave way for a little feeling of joy and safety. I was running with my elder brother! One of the strongest and bravest men in the entire Gbaramatu!

‘Pere, what is happening?’ I asked. The whole thing was still like a movie to me.

‘What else? The government have sent soldiers to destroy us, and we have to run for our lives. I heard something about it but I thought it was just a rumour. They said they are looking for General Kobo and his boys.’ General Kobo was the leader of the strongest militant group in our village. They attacked oil pipelines and kidnapped expatriate oil workers. I heard that the president recently ordered soldiers to hunt them down for destroying oil pipelines and oil installations which has made negative impact on the economy. Pere suddenly stopped and ran towards the right, away from the direction most of the villagers were running to.

‘Where are we going to?’

‘We have to change direction. The soldiers are likely to target were they would kill a larger number of people.’ He stopped a bit to avoid colliding with people. ‘And you have to be alert. And fast!’

A woman who was running in front of us with her son suddenly fell as something blasted her head off. Blood gushed out from her neck. Her little son ran back to her lifeless body, shocked and confused. Fear came over him and tears streamed down his black cheeks. My heart sank. The noise from the helicopters, bombs and gunshots seemed to increase as we ran. The little boy took off, running as fast as his legs would carry him, away from the danger. When we caught up with him, Pere carried him. We diverted to a bush path. Pere knew all the shortcuts in the village.

We got to a thick forest and the noise from the helicopters and bombs reduced. The little boy started crying and asking for his mother.

‘Your mother is coming,’ Pere assured him. ‘She went to get something. Don’t worry, she knows where you are.’

Maybe the boy believed Pere, or he was still too confused to think clearly, but he stopped crying. Someone suddenly came out from the bush. I stopped with fear and wanted to run, but Pere tightened his grip on my arm to stop me from running. I saw who it was and calmed down. My twin brother! How did he manage to get to this place? He smiled and spread his hands. I ran to him. He embraced me.

‘I’ve been worried about you,’ he told me. ‘I thought you were still in Oporoza, which was why I didn’t bother looking for you when the bombing started. Forgive me, ok?’

I nodded. ‘I’ve forgiven you.’ Within me, I felt my stomach tighten with guilt. I had not even thought of him as I ran for my life. Maybe it was the shock, or I was just selfish.

‘Timi, take them to where the others are,’ Pere instructed my twin. ‘I must go and look for mother.’ He handed the boy over to Timi.

‘Yes,’ Timi said. ‘Tina, let’s go.’ He carried the boy who was now sleeping and led the way into the forest. I followed him.

We spent two nights in the forest before coming out to camp at the primary school. The young men were still afraid to come out of the bush. The soldiers saw Gbaramatu men as militants and would shoot anyone they see. Sometimes they even went into the forests to fish them out and kill.

When the first light of day started coming into the camp through the windows and roof of the camp, I experienced a wave of relief. The night was the longest one I’ve witnessed.

One early morning, three days after we arrived at the camp, we heard the sound of cars coming towards the camp. The women had just returned from the stream where they went to take their bath. The soldiers have blocked every road that led to our village, so how did the cars enter? Who was driving the cars? We concluded that they are soldiers. Perhaps they have come to finish us off. The women grabbed their children and we ran into the bush. From the bush, we saw the cars as they arrived at the camp and parked. My heart was beating fast. I was ready to run. The doors of the cars started opening. Five soldiers came out. To my left, I heard a sound like water pouring on leaves. Someone had urinated on her dress.

MORE TO COME...
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by slap1(m): 8:53pm On Jan 25, 2013
I will update the story at your request. Thanks.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by 1kobo: 7:42am On Jan 26, 2013
Wow beautifl story
But I fink u av to rework d place where u said u cried untill sm1 found u n later on in d story u said u cudn't cry.
Kind of contradictory. N since it ws dark u cudn't possibly knw d size of d mosQuito.
It is a gud story
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by slap1(m): 12:24pm On Jan 26, 2013
Thanks, Kobo. Noted. I will post another part later today.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by ayabunmi(f): 3:00pm On Jan 28, 2013
Nice, Oliver Oliver Oliver twist, More......
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by semid4lyfe(m): 3:42pm On Jan 28, 2013
slap1: Apologies for the poor paragraphing, I copied the story from MS Word. I will try and work on it.

Please put a line space between all the paragraphs in the subsequent posts of the story.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by SlyIg(f): 3:46pm On Jan 28, 2013
.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by Nasri100(m): 4:01pm On Jan 28, 2013
Very very Nice story...imagine it is based on a true life story? Jeez
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by arabaribiti: 4:05pm On Jan 28, 2013
plsssssssssssss more more more
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by omoodeogere(m): 4:06pm On Jan 28, 2013
no comment
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by ibide(m): 4:07pm On Jan 28, 2013
Surely one day niger delta will be free
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by specialguest(f): 4:14pm On Jan 28, 2013
Nice piece... The scenes were described so well that for a moment I thought I was watching a movie.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by MyneWhite1(f): 5:01pm On Jan 28, 2013
The writing is quite good, I could clearly see the actions, and the characters. Well done!
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by Opali(m): 5:17pm On Jan 28, 2013
slap1: Thanks, Kobo. Noted. I will post another part later today.
Interesting story,cnt wait 4 d next PART..................kudos
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by ekiyor3: 5:17pm On Jan 28, 2013
kagari: Please how do I open a thread here
. What is wrong with u, dont u have a heart? Dont allow me insult u oh.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by yhellow(m): 5:50pm On Jan 28, 2013
Nice 1 bro, keep it up, d sky Ȋ̝̊̅§ Ųя limit. More!!!
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by rodeo0070(m): 6:17pm On Jan 28, 2013
***Grabs a bowl of Garri, Bottle of cold water and Ground nuts***
Keep it coming. Nice write up...

Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by Dopefiend(m): 6:52pm On Jan 28, 2013
Nice story. Pay attention to details plz cos in the first part of the story, it ws ur mom and twin brother u were worried bout while according to d second part, ur twin brother is with u and it ws ur elder brother dat went lookiing for mom.

Continue plz
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by yusuff4u2c(m): 7:32pm On Jan 28, 2013
bros please we are waiting for the rest part
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by mixdtribe(f): 8:04pm On Jan 28, 2013
ReaLly captivating...thumbs up!...oya continue naow...
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by Ola2njee: 8:08pm On Jan 28, 2013
nyc1
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by harlos: 8:18pm On Jan 28, 2013
People's comment made me go back to read this story and now i can't wait to see the rest pls make it fast...
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by Acecube(m): 8:34pm On Jan 28, 2013
1kobo: Wow beautifl story
But I fink u av to rework d place where u said u cried untill sm1 found u n later on in d story u said u cudn't cry.
Kind of contradictory. N since it ws dark u cudn't possibly knw d size of d mosQuito.
It is a gud story
general kobo shocked so you've been hiding here all this while ?.....


Nice write up... Op
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by babyajewole: 8:54pm On Jan 28, 2013
Good.
Re: The Forgotten People (a Short Story) by emk4lif(m): 8:57pm On Jan 28, 2013
Nice storified recounting of the events that occured in 2010 in gbaramatu,delta state when the govt hunted tompolo

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