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Lost in a Shadow - Episode 8

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LOST IN A SHADOW
Lost in a Shadow - Episode 8

Written by Chidiogor D-f Nwafor





Different groups were formed mainly according to their age range. Dave and Ugo had also come out to play so they went to where their peers were. The game "tug of war" was suggested and the rest agreed. It was a game that involved two groups, preferably boys and girls, competing against each other. They were to queue up according to their groups and the strongest in the group stayed in front; the two opponents grabbed each other hands with the rest clasping their hands tightly on the waist of whosoever was in front of them; the two leaders try to pull their opponent to their side. A line was drawn on the ground to differentiate between
the two groups. If one of the opponent draws the other to their side, they win or if one of the group falls, then the standing group wins. If both falls, then it's a draw. This girls chose Amara to be their leader. They seemed to have a strong confidence in her. Amara was a huge girl who looked a bit older than her age. She was a tall, dark and fleshy girl with pretty long lashes. She had yam legs and a pointed nose. Her hairs were cut low. Though she was fifteen, she had hips of a twenty years old. Her mother had been scared at first thinking men would start asking for her hands in marriage.

That very day of the game, she was on black shorts and brown blouse. The boys had chosen Ginika, a tall and fair guy with long necks and oval head. After much struggling, Amara finally dragged the boy to her side and the girls jumped and cheered. Another guy was chosen and the same thing happened. More were chosen and Amara defeated them all till the guys were in short of strong fellows. They then decided to end the game. Amara fell to the ground all soaked in perspiration when Dave walked up to her and handed her a bottle of water. Stunned she received it.
"That was a huge thing you pulled out there " Dave commented. Amara opened the bottle of water and drank a huge drink from it. She then looked at him and said. "It's nothing compared to what I do."
"And what is it that you do?" Dave asked as he sat down ready to talk. Since she had taken the water from him, it meant it was a good start. If she had refused the water or had not answered him, he would have respected himself and left.
"Well, it seems like you're a stranger here. I am the strongest person among my peers. I'm stronger than all the girls and most guys."
"Most guys?" Dave asked interested.
"All guys including you." She snapped and Dave laughed.
"Your parents must be proud. Are you the last child?"
"Do I look like one? I'm the first daughter and child of my parents. My parents were blessed with three girls but my dad always wanted a boy. He complains that he gets too tired with the farm work and he needed a boy to help with the works. He said that we were weaker sex and if time wasn't taken, he'd be just like us and would be needing a skirt. So I, Amara decided to prove him wrong by displaying my utmost power. Every morning, I go into the wild to cut firewood all by myself, after that I go to the farm and help my father with the farm works. In the evening, I pack all those heavy farm implements on my head and take all of them home. I want to show my dad that I'm far better than many boys; that I'm not fearful, weak, helpless or dependent like other women or as they expect women to be. I'm sure my dad is convinced now for he calls me Ikediegwu. My mum and little sisters do the house chores while I and my dad go to farm. So you see why I don't take nonsense from people." She said with so much vigor. Dave smiled and nodded.
"But don't you think you're neglecting some duties as a female?" Dave asked finding the conversation interesting. From the corner of his eyes, he noticed that most of the children had stopped playing and had started looking at them including Ugo who looked quite displeased.
"The fact that I don't do them doesn't mean I don't know how to. I just have to help my father. If I don't, who will? I hate when he complains. It makes me feel weak and angry, that's why I took it upon myself to help him with the works he thinks I can't do." She said as she got up and walked away.

That night, Ugo didn't let Dave rest.
"Why were you talking with that girl? What's your relationship with her?" He kept asking.
"Why do you want to know?" Dave asked in a whisper. Grandma was asleep and the last thing he wanted was for her to wake up.
"She's dangerous. That girl can do and undo. Do you know she embarrassed an elderly man simply because he couldn't pay the money he was owing her father. She had threatened to sever his hands and send it to his family in pieces if he didn't pay up the money. You can see who you are dealing with now. She also fought with a woman because she had plucked some tomatoes from her father's farm."
"She did all that?" Dave asked completely amused.
"And may I know why you find that so funny?" Dave was already laughing so hard that Grandma had to wake up to caution them.

Dave was sad when his father came to take him back. He would have loved to stay in  the village. He asked his grandma if she would come with them but she told him she'd come later. Dave hugged her while Ugo and his friends watched tearfully as Dave packed his things.

This time, Paul came with his car and so the boys didn't have to help carry the luggage to the bus stop. Ugo hugged Dave very tight and Dave could hear some girls whispering to one another. Many of the children had gathered at their compound, staring at them with longing in their eyes; longing to go to the city. Amara was standing in their midst, she wore a blue summer gown with shiny ribbons all over. She looked like a diamond that had just been refined. She was on light makeup and she looked beautiful. Dave felt she had dressed  up to look beautiful for him. She was biting her lower lips and Dave knew she was holding back tears. He knew she'd go back home and cry alone. He wouldn't be there to comfort her. The truth was that he had developed some feelings for her. The thing he admired most in her was her courage to face anything.  It hurt him so much to leave the village for he was greatly going to miss these wonderful people.

Dave walked up to where Amara was standing and drew her into a tight embrace. He knew people were watching especially his father and grandmother but he didn't know when else he'd see Amara so he decided to maximise this little time he had with her. She rested her head on his shoulder and held him tight.
"Alright Dave, let's get going." Paul called out.

As they moved,  Dave watched through the rear view mirror as Ugo and the rest kept waving till he lost sight of them. He knew why Ugo had been so angry about him talking with Amara. She had fought with him when he tried to prove stubborn and had beaten him mercilessly. Amara had informed him the night before when they met. He smiled at the image of Ugo kneeling and pleading for mercy.
"From the look of things, it seems you really enjoyed your holiday." Paul broke his thought.
"I think so." Dave muttered. Did he have to say? It was obvious enough.

Few weeks later, Dave returned back to school for a new session. It was his final year in secondary school and Dave hoped to enjoy his limited stay in school. Ever since Dave left the village, he had been waiting expectantly for his Grandma's visit. He had told his father to bring Ugo along with her.

One night, while they were having their dinner, Paul received a phone call.
"Heh!" He had shouted and Dave who had been eating looked up perplexed. He waited patiently for his dad to drop the phone before questioning him.
"Grandma... Grandma had just passed away. It was Pa Uchenna that called just now. He said grandma slumped and... and... died." Paul stammered.

The spoon Dave had been holding dropped from his hands with a resounding thud that echoed in his ears.
"What? Dad! It can't be true. Grandma said she was coming with Ugo to stay with us right? She said she was going to spend the Christmas holiday with us right? Yes, she said that. She said she was going to prepare isiewu specially for me. Grandma can't die without fulfilling these promises. So daddy, call that pa whatever his name is and tell him my grandma... can't ...die." Dave drew the words slowly as he broke down. This was too much for him. The only motherly figure he had, was gone... was lost in another shadow somewhere; a place he couldn't go, a place he couldn't see her, a place he couldn't touch her.

Paul walked up to him and hugged him fiercely. He couldn't believe his mother had passed away leaving a big scar both in his heart and that of his son. How could she leave so early?

They travelled later to the village to discuss the burial date with the umunnas(kindreds) Dave made a vow to pass the external examination as a last gift to his grandmother. He had earlier promised her that he would gain admission into the university at one sitting. That was the last thing he could do for her.

They spent few days in the village and during those days, Dave spent his time consoling Ugo. Ugo had lived with grandma longer than him so he was more connected to her. Since he was feeling this immense pain, words wouldn't describe how Ugo was feeling.

Ugo had to stay with Pa Chuks, one of the ozo title holders whose children were all married. Ugo looked so gloom when Pa Chuks came for him. It was obvious he loved staying with Mrs Okafor. Dave stared bleakly at him. He had grateful he has his father with him unlike Ugo who was an orphan.

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