A z u b i k e  A .  A h u b e l e m

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This book is a fictional representation of the bitter realities of certain aspects of life. Similarity to persons, living or dead is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

© 2014 Azubike A. Ahubelem. All rights reserved.

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Published by AuthorHouse­ 07/22/2014

ISBN: 978-1-4969-8697-9 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4969-8696-2 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4969-8698-6 (e)

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To my family and friends whose enthusiasm kept this story going.


Uju and Joe

“A man has less conscience when in love than in any other condition.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), German philosopher

My name is Uche Abdullahi. I know you’re wondering about the combination. My mother is a native of Igbo extraction, while my father is of Hausa. I would describe myself as a perfect gentleman and a devoted Christian. I am tall, good-looking, and intelligent.

I gained admission into the university several years ago. Liberation from my parents and the joy of studying had come, and my dreams came true at that time. I was astonished by what I saw. It was a different environment; there were lots of stressors and struggles, beginning with the registration process and continuing with the rest of the process. I also noticed that you didn’t have to look for trouble at the university; it would always find you. The conditions of the hostels were bad, so I decided to stay up gate.

Upgate was the name of a piece of land very close to the school gate. It had a market, restaurants, pubs, and numerous houses that were privately owned and rented to students. My room was painted blue and furnished with a rug, a table, a chair, and a mattress. Since I was a gifted artist, I decided to draw a picture of Thor on my wall.

I came to the school environment with a wide array of clothing, but I was advised not to wear certain colours. I was told that those who were linked with those clothes saw it as impersonation and dealt mercilessly with those found guilty of this charge. I also learned to avoid beautiful ladies because they always led to trouble, especially those nicknamed “high tension wires,” because a mean individual linked with any of the dirty


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groups may have an interest in these girls. All these and others made up the unwritten laws that guided our activities within the university environs.

One morning, I woke up, said my prayers, took my bath, and went straight for lectures. We were having mathematics. On this particular day, I was privileged to get a seat. There were far more students than what the classroom could accommodate. The lecture was long and boring: Mr. Isacca, a wrinkle-faced man with a coarse voice, waffled continuously. In a low, gentle voice, my neighbour asked for a spare pen. She had an attractive aura around her. I searched my pockets for an extra pen but came up empty, so I shook my head. She nodded in return. An impulse came over me. It was so strong that I began to ask everyone within my reach for a spare pen, and as fate would have it, I found one to give her. I watched her write in her notebook, which was far more interesting than listening to Mr. Isacca.

After the lecture, she returned the pen, which I later took it to its owner. I had a friendly chat with the woman who borrowed the pen and requested for her name. “Kemi,” she replied.

“Oh, what a unique name you’ve got. Where do you live?” I quizzed. She replied that she also lived Upgate, but in a different hostel than mine, so we decided to stroll out together. We reached the junction where we should have gone our separate ways, but she asked me to accompany her to a nearby shop so she could pick up some items. Once there, a tall boy with a scar on his head walked towards me and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned towards him, and he whispered, “My chairman wants you to bring this lady to him,” pointing to a nearby bar filled with seven dopey-looking individuals. I looked at the dude, smiled as if he were talking trash, and told him to pass the message to Kemi himself. He walked towards her and spoke to her. She went into a rage, raining curses on him, and walked away swiftly.

I was still trying to come to terms with the scene when he turned towards me and ordered me to go to the bar. I glanced at the bar and would have resisted, but the sight of several hands signalling me to come there sent a


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chill down my spine. I walked towards them in fear, this being my first encounter with gang members. They threatened me, claiming to have been insulted because of me. I explained to them that it wasn’t my fault, but they wouldn’t listen. All they wanted was a crate of beer. I laughed and tried to become aggressive. One dude arose from his seat, took a deep puff from his cigarette, blew the smoke all over me, and attempted to burn my cheek with it. I began to plead. He left me after I handed him 300 naira, which was all I had. Before I left, though, he said to me, “I admire your courage. Come closer, and I will make you like me.” I walked away swiftly. I couldn’t imagine myself being anything like him.

I got to my room, and joy filled my heart because it was neat and welcoming. It was indeed a place of peace. I took off my clothes and laid on my bed, thinking about what had happened. I flipped through the pages of my notebooks and mathematics textbook. It was known by all that Mr. Isacca sets his exam questions from the examples given in class, so all I needed to do to pass was to make sure I had a steady hand on those. I worked on a couple of them, and when I tired, I put on my T-shirt and jeans and left for lunch. Afterwards, I came back and had my siesta.

For several months, I had managed to live with little or no stress, avoiding problems as much as I could while finding ways to solve the few I had gotten into. One morning, I woke up and my head was pounding. My memory clouded, and suddenly it flashed back The day before had been a crazy day.

I realized I had been woken by the sound of thunderous knocks on my door. I jumped up in panic and screamed, “Who goes there?”

A little voice replied in panic, “It’s your guy, Joe. Please open.” I opened the door, and he rushed in, sweating and shivering, looking scared to death. Behind that fear, though, I could see anger and a lust for vengeance blazing through his eyes.

Joe wasn’t any ordinary guy; he was a tall, huge man with a mean face and a hint of handsomeness. It was obvious that his participation in bravado exploits caused his face to look rugged. His skin was light brown with


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prominent scars left by knives, broken bottles, and other crude implements. He had a carriage that could be described as a mixture of style and pure military masculinity.

He looked and said to me, “My brother! My friend! I just escaped death. I went to see my girlfriend, and unknown to me, an ambush had been set for me in front of her room. I could see nothing but pure darkness, and from this darkness emerged a figure I couldn’t make out. The bulge in his pocket made me realize he was armed to the teeth. I paused for a second, and I took to my heels. Instantly, several gunshots were fired as I was chased. I got far enough, and like a monkey, I hid in top of a tree. They looked for me like addicts who were looking for cocaine, but they searched in vain. They all left but one, who looked up and said to me, ‘Come down, my friend. I know you are there, and today is your lucky day.’ I jumped down, not knowing he didn’t initially see me. He looked me in the eye, and in fear, he shot and tried to escape. Thank God it was a Dane gun that needed to be loaded after each shot. Like a demon, I grabbed a tree branch and smashed his nose. He let out a sound that seemed like a squeal, but I wasn’t satisfied. I pounded his face until it looked like a nylon bag of tomatoes a train had run over. I could see he was in misery, so I decided to put an end to it, forgetting that the sound of his gun would have attracted his men. I pulled my little pen knife and went for his neck, but I was interrupted by the sound of footsteps. Again, I was in motion. My legs were tired, but fear and the will to live kept me going until I got to your door.”

As Joe concluded his explanation of the ordeal, I looked at him and asked if he was sure that nobody had followed him. He looked at me in a weird manner, which meant I had insulted him, but he replied that he was sure. For hours, I preached to Joe, condemning his membership in the gang. After all, it was wrong and against the will of God. He told me that God judges based on what we believe, and he believed he was a Warrior. Therefore, when he died, he would dwell in that great place called Valhalla, the place where all great Warriors go. He pulled out his phone and asked for a charger since his battery was completely flat. After a while, his phone came on, and several messages rushed in. His fellow Warriors had been looking for him, so he sprang up and left. I felt relief, but not for long: He


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came back with his girlfriend, and I noticed that his shirt was torn and that there were bruises on his back. His men had drilled him for endangering his life and going into the enemy’s territory after they had sent him several distress messages. He pleaded with me to allow his girlfriend stay in my room until it got dark. I agreed, and he left.

His girlfriend, Uju, was a tall, fair, and beautiful girl. She had these eyes that made me wonder if she were a girl or Venus, my favourite Greek goddess. She looked innocent, and her soft but deep voice sounded like Toni Braxton. Everything about her was drop-dead sexy, and I could feel a little tension in my loins as I looked at her. Joe wasn’t the kind of guy you would want to mess with, though, so I quickly extricated every evil thought from my mind.

Uju looked at me, and her lips moved, but not a word came out (or was I too busy focusing on her lips to hear the words she spoke?). There was a similarity between Uju’s lips and Angelina Jolie’s. “What did you say?” I asked.

She replied, “Thanks.” Not waiting for a response, she continued. “Yesterday was terrible. Three boys burst into my room with guns to do heaven knows what, but luckily for me, one of them was my brother. He shook his head in disappointment and left. I could see fifty or more hiding in the dark outside. I was gripped with fear, so I tried to call Joe, but I couldn’t get through. I heard a gunshot and the footsteps of people running.”

Tears rushed down her cheeks. “I was so terrified,” she continued. “Scared to death that Joe would be killed, I rushed out of my room thinking I would see my brother, but the whole place was like a ghost town. I went back into my room, and seconds later, I could hear them coming back and assuming their positions. The next thing I knew, I heard a gunshot, and they all ran out again. This time, they came back with my brother, whose face was completely disfigured, and they began to administer first aid in my room.”

She paused for a while and held me close. My shirt absorbed her tears, and my hand patted her back. She continued. “In the morning, we took him


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to the hospital, and when I was taking my leave, Joe called me. I didn’t know what to do. How could he do such a thing to my brother? Finally, I answered, and he told me to meet him somewhere. I wanted to talk, but he told me there wasn’t time for that. He never listens to me. I just wonder what I am doing with him.”

I kept saying, “Uju, take it easy, okay?”

She looked me straight in the eye. It wasn’t just an ordinary look. She said, “Do you want me? If you don’t mind, I want you.” It was a tough decision, but her looks broke my defences, and I made the first move: a kiss. We both kept our eyes opened. It was weird, a mixture of pleasure, fear, and extreme paranoia. It was worth the risk.

The next day, which was a Sunday, I visited some friends, and we began to talk about the fracas. I was told it all started when a member of a gang called the Assassins mistakenly stepped on a rival’s foot. Without hesitation, the rival gave him a slap, which led to a small combat. The Assassin pulled his knife and stabbed the rival, who was a member of the Warrior gang. Blood spilled, and the Warrior echoed out the rescue word while the Assassin did the same. Instantly, a group of Assassins and Warriors arrived on the scene. Nobody waited for an explanation as bottles were smashed and gunshots were fired leaving many with wounds of various degrees as they all took to their heels in all directions. We all laughed, thanking God we didn`t belong to any gang because gangs remained in hidden places as they moved in groups with the fear of being shot dead.

Joe began to have problems with Uju after then. Uju began to flood my phone with text messages. One said, “My sweet charming you, don’t know what to say, but the truth must be told. You are not just good with listening alone but also in making a woman smile. My body begs for the feel of your touch, even if it would cost me my head.” I got scared, especially with the words “cost me my head,” because everything that happened that day was nothing but fun. I didn’t have a gun and wasn’t interested in picking a fight with Joe, who wasn’t scared of death. I deleted the message and asked


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myself why I tasted the forbidden fruit. Then I laughed and said to myself, “Once you go, you can’t go back.” problems

On this blessed day, Joe sent me a message saying he wanted to meet me at Swings, a cool hangout were boys like me rarely went for fear of the likes of Joe. I was gripped with total confusion. But being a man, I mounted my feet and marched there. Upon arrival, Joe looked me in the eye as if he were trying to read my mind. He was surrounded by five guys, crazy as hell, who were known for their notorious soft touch for triggers. Beer bottles adorned the plastic table, and cigarette smoke clouded the air while rap music played in the background. I took a seat, and he said to me, “Do I consider you as my brother?”

I replied, “Yes,” trying to hide my fear.

Then he continued. “Do you see us as bad people?” while pointing to the five guys behind him.

I let out a laugh, purely fake but full of emotion, accompanied by the word, “No.” Then one of them looked me in the eyes as he held his bottle of beer, and two things came to my mind. One, this guy was about to burst open my head with the bottle and disgrace me. Two, he may have wanted to kill me.

The guy who looked me in the eyes continued, “Then why aren’t you consuming your beer?” I smiled and took a big gulp. Then Joe continued, “Have you ever betrayed me?”

I whispered to myself, “Now I see what’s going on; it’s all about Uju.” So I replied, “No,” in a voice so thin and tiny.

Then Joe lifted his hand and rubbed my head as if I were a kid and let out this strange laugh. I expected a knock, but it didn’t come forth. The next words that came out of Joe’s mouth scared the hell out of me. “Do you think my girl, Uju, is beautiful?” For a second, I paused and thought that whatever answer I gave him would be wrong. So I looked Joe in the eyes as I held my bottle firmly, even though it shivered in my hands. I had read


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that fear could make a good guy bloody. Yes, bloody. I was ready to go out fighting like a man, not for Uju, but for my pride and ego.

Then I said to Joe, “Yes.” He and the other guys smiled.

Then Joe said, “All that and much more could be yours only and only if you have the courage to let go of your boyish ethics and join the men.” Now I knew where all this had been going: Joe wanted me to join his gang. I felt slightly relieved, but scared at the same time.

Then I said to Joe, “My man, you know I don’t have the mind.”

They all laughed, and Joe cut in, “That’s how I felt before I became who I am now: No one can rob me, and no one dares challenge me.” He let out a roar, and they let out theirs. Then he said to me, “It is your destiny. What made me your friend isn’t your charming looks or your good heart. It is the picture of Thor you painted on your wall. You might not have known what it signifies, but Thor isn’t just a hunk with a hammer but a warrior who controls thunder and lightning.” On hearing this, his men screamed out something that sounded exactly like the wolves howling to the moon.

Joe stood me up and took a walk with me, telling me how much they all loved me. He explained many things I had never understood, and then he said to me, “Brother, follow me, and one day we would both have a story to tell.” I wasn’t ready to be Achilles. Joe smiled and said, “Think about its glory today or sorrow tomorrow,” as he walked away, leaving me lost in thought.

Nothing he had said made sense except for one line I could remember vividly. Guys like me couldn’t get girls like Uju. They belong to men like Joe, and for the first time, my ego was shattered. I’d been fighting my feelings for Uju not because they were not there, but because I was scared to death of what Joe could do. My heart was filled with pity; Uju deserved far better than Joe. She needed me but in this little world of ours, the most rugged takes it all. My memory flashed back to another girl named Chika. She was fine and short, and like a pet, she ruled my world. For a while, I only got to shake her hands before Bigbug took interest. One day,


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I saw both of them talking, and she called. I waved at her and pretended to have seen her wave. Bigbug was an infamous living legend; I knew him too well. Going there would have cost me much. I looked at the picture of Thor I drew on my wall and almost knelt down to beg his spirit to possess me. Of course, though, the gods won’t fight our battles.

For the first time since Uju and I got entangled, I called and invited her to my room. She was filled with excitement, but as she came in, I got on my knees. I said, “Uju, my beloved, I have never met a woman I desire as much as you. Please forgive the fact that my fear of harm has kept me from expressing my emotions to you. I truly love you, and I could swear to it.” Uju burst into tears as she pulled me up and gave me the best kiss ever, not minding that my door was wide open.

She looked at me, smiled, and said, “I understand.” She moved towards the entrance to lock the door, and once again, we were at it. It was quite different because we had pure sex. Words like, “Don’t leave me” and “I love you” occasionally popped out. We were not scared. When we were finished, we chatted a while about music, cars, and colour and had the greatest time of our lives. Then she left. Much later, this became a routine. She would sneak into my place. Sometimes, we would talk. Other times, we would kiss and then go our separate ways. Joe kept bothering me to join his gang, but I would be a loser. If I needed to join a gang, it would be one that would protect me and Uju from Joe and not put me under his authority.

One day, Joe came in smelling of marijuana and then he rolled one for me. “Take a hit, soldier,” he said to me, and I took several puffs. Don’t get it twisted: It wasn’t peer pressure. I used to get stoned back in the day. Then we began to reason in the Ganja way. He told me, “Bro, since you have refused to become a warrior, make me a promise.” Then he paused and looked at my eyes, which were blood red. He laughed and said in Pidgin English, “O boy, you don high.” He continued, “Promise me that if I die in this game, you would tell your children about me. Tell them how intimidation and revenge made me who I am today. Skip all the dirty parts, and tell them how I saved you from trouble, tell them how no one


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could tamper with you because you were my friend, tell them I died a hero and that my spirit dwells in Valhalla, a place where all great warriors go. Tell them that I am brewing [drinking] from Mimir, the fountain of wisdom with the gods.” Then he growled like a wolf.

I said to him, “You will live! Friend, stop talking about death.”

He looked at me and said, “You are a Christian, and you believe in heaven, right? If you don’t die, how do you expect to get to heaven? I believe in Valhalla, and you need to die in battle before you get there, so promise me, friend!”

I replied, trembling in fear, “I will tell not just my children but the world.” Then he walked out happy.

I then understood that my friend had been programmed to fight until he died in battle, for only then could he be at peace. I couldn’t sleep all night, not after what I just learnt. This guy was something else. If I wanted Uju for myself, I would have to be Joe, even though he wasn’t my match. His enemies feared him and often missed shots whenever they aimed at him. Mighty Joe, my hombre, friend, and foe.




Real tragedy is never resolved. It goes on hopelessly forever.” - Chinua Achebe, (1930 -)

Nigerian novelist, poet, and essayist

One day, Uju and I were on the phone when she suddenly screamed, “I love you,” and dropped the call. The next day, she came to me with a bruise on her cheek.

“What happened?” I questioned. In tears, she narrated how Joe came in and heard her say, “I love you.” He asked for the phone, but she rushed into the bathroom and deleted my number from the call log. When she tried to explain that it was her mother who called, Joe slapped her and said that whatever it was, she should have given the phone first.

Not a minute after she explained her ordeal, Joe walked in, and on seeing him, she left. I raised my voice at Joe. He watched for a while, shaped his fingers like a gun and placed them between my eyes, saying, “O boy! This one wey you get mind dey rake me because of my woman, dey focus o, na Joe you dey talk to o.” He was asking what gave me the courage to shout at him because of his woman. I kept mute, and he gave a friendly push, saying, “That’s why you are my brother; you always tell me the truth. Thanks, I won’t hit her again.” He thought I was helping him.

One fateful day, Uju called and suggested a wicked plan. She said, “I have invited Joe to come stay with me in a hotel filled with bars on the windows, and it is on the middle floor so he can’t break through the ceiling. My brother and his men will come kill him.” I discouraged her thought, but she threatened that I say nothing else, lest her brother’s men be after me, too. She made me understand that it was for our good and swore that if


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I left her after Joe was killed, she would tell Joe’s men that it was all my fault. She dropped the call.

I became confused as I tried calling back without success. I tried to call Joe because I didn’t want to lose my friend, but his number was unavailable. I got on my knees and said a sincere prayer, “Dear Lord, guide and protect Joe for he is my friend, please.” As I wept like a child, I prayed for hours. I prayed sweating and full of remorse.

Several hours later, Joe burst into my room with blood dripping from his left hand; he met me on my knees, grabbed me by the shirt, and lifted me up. Tears dropped from his eyes as he spoke, “Brother, Uju tried to kill me because of some guy. I met Uju when she was about being robbed by five men twice my size, armed with knives. I fought them tooth and nail, but it didn’t end there. They came back for me, and it led to a war. Like all wars, there are fallen heroes like my man Bigbug. He was my Hector; he shielded me away from my enemies, but it cost him his life. This was the price I had to pay to get Uju, but she tried to kill me. Yes, I know I didn’t treat her too well, but that’s because I want to make her tough.” He dropped me and apologized, and I was shocked the almighty Joe was heartbroken. He looked me in the eyes, smiled, and said, “Finally, it is war.” He asked me for some money to treat his injuries and left.

After he left, my mind was in a state of anguish. If Uju could attempt to sacrifice Joe, the one-time love of her life, what was the probability that she would not do the same to me? If Joe found out it was me Uju was in love with, what would happen to me?

My thoughts were interrupted when Joe returned and showed me his wrist, saying, “My doctor said I could still clench my fist and hold objects, but it would be bent for the rest of my life. My brother, Uju invited me to a hotel. When I got there, normal me, I looked up for any exit just in case I was followed, but I found none except the bars on the toilet window, which were a little frail, so I went along. The door was kicked open, and three godforsaken men bust in, armed with pump actions. I rushed into the bathroom and shot at them with my pistol to deter them while I searched


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for my exit. I rushed to the iron bars and struggled with them. Then Uju’s brother entered and aimed at me. He missed his shot; it hit the wall and weakened the bars more. I pulled out the burglary proof and jumped out of the window, not knowing what awaited me there. As I landed, a guy holding a Dane pistol pointed it at me. I blocked its nuzzle with my left hand, and he shot, releasing the pellets into my wrist. I screamed in pain and blew his brains out with my colt and ran straight here. My brother, your room is a fortress and a shrine. The picture of Thor protects us.” I hugged Joe, for indeed I was happy my friend was alive, but I wondered what was next.

The attempt on Joe’s life led to a long-lasting grievous war between the two rival gangs. One day, Joe came to me, trembling as hell. He said to me, “My brother, all my life, I fought the good fight without fear, but today is different. While dreaming yesterday, I saw a lady; she was fair and skinny and had blue eyes and blonde hair. She had a beauty that defied the imperfection of an everyday woman. She was dressed in white, and I guessed she was an angel. She was mounted on a horse holding a sword and a shield. On a second look, I noticed the horse had wings, but something was wrong. She flew around above me, not saying a word, like a vulture waiting for an injured animal to pass on so it could devour its carcass. Then it occurred to me she was a Valkyrie, a warrior’s angel. They hover around the bravest of warriors when they know they are close to death, so they could snatch their souls and take them to Valhalla once the final breath is drawn. They are usually armed with a sword and a shield to ward off other forces, wanting these brave warriors to be on their side at Ragnarok. The final battle between good and evil might make attempts to snatch these souls. I laughed a little, but I was suddenly filled with fear. Was I about to die? I cried out to get her attention, but she moved swiftly as her winged horse lifted her higher and faster, my eyes in an attempt to follow the speed of this magnificent beauty spun and I began to feel dizzy. I woke up sweating, but full of excitement for it has just been confirmed that in death I would be a hero: yes, a fallen hero worthy to be lifted high, riding behind the Valkyries as they fly high on their wings of glory. I don’t want to go for this mission, but my men are gingered and command must be obeyed so I don’t want to dull their spirits. Please my friend, if I die, take care of Uju


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for me. Yes, be her boyfriend, I know she likes you.” He laughed. “Who won’t like you? I have given a command to my men who are members of my cartel to treat you like a prince if ever I leave you behind.”

He smiled and was about to leave when I called him and told him I had a confession to make, but he said to me, “Brother, hold your peace. The greatest wars are the ones fought for a woman, one for which a true warrior would die.” Then he walked out, not looking back. I wondered what those words meant, but could not comprehend, so I went down on my knees once again and prayed. My prayer wasn’t answered. Joe died in the battle; he was shot right in the eye and died with a smile screaming, “Take care of my brother, for this fight was for him.”

The next day, the five guys who sat with Joe at Swings the day he asked me to join them came to me and promised me that as they had promised Joe that any finger that dared touch me would be cut off. Later on, Uju’s brother and some of his men also came. They warned me not to hurt Uju and promised me security and strength. They also tried convincing me to join them.

I tried avoiding Uju until after Joe’s burial; she confessed to me that it wasn’t her fault and that her brother made her do it. I didn’t believe her, but I couldn’t help my attraction for her. Uju’s presence had a way it made me feel; I guess it was a mixture of desire, strength, and gullibility. It was obvious she didn’t love Joe and might have gone into a relationship with him to compensate him for saving her from thieves, only for him to become a thorn in her flesh: possessive, controlling, and violent. Uju was a soft girl, both in character and mind; she must have told her brother about her problem with Joe, and he jumped at the chance to settle his vendetta with Joe. She must have been unwilling, but it was made clear to her that it was her only way out. It should have been a secret between her and her brother, but Uju, being weak, told me and had to switch off her phone so that her brother wouldn’t find out if I called back. The mission failed, but it intensified the war. Even without Uju’s evil plan, Joe might still have died. Since he didn’t when the ambush was laid, though, I felt what killed him wasn’t the bullet that hit him in the eye, but the actions of Uju that


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pierced his heart so deeply. He was willing to keep on fighting and not turn his back on danger, hoping to be taken down as a hero so he could go to the only place where Uju wouldn’t matter: Valhalla. There was no way to justify what Uju did, but I wondered what would have happened if Joe had caught us red handed.

Uju and I dated. It was a very lovely relationship. Everybody knew us, and I walked around like a prince. One day, though, I thought to myself that Joe was my brother. He protected me from harm and made me the prince I was. We called him and his friends thugs, but they were not. We lived in a violent society, and they stood against that. It could never be said that Joe stole or robbed. He only defended his pride as a Warrior. Girls liked them because they were the only ones who could keep them safe from the evils of this environment. He knew his girlfriend was crazy about me, but trusted me with her and willed her to me in his death. I didn’t put the picture of Thor on my wall for nothing; it had to be my destiny.

I told Uju, and she tried to stop me, but not even the word of Thetis, mother of Achilles, could stop him from going to battle of Troy. So I walked straight to Swings, stood before those same five Warrior brothers of Joe’s, and I said to them, “Brothers, I am here to stand by your side like Joe did. People called him a beast, but when a hero lives too long, his thirst for battle could make him be mistaken for one, but Joe was no such thing. He was a man who held steadfast to his beliefs and died for that belief. So, today, I say to you show me the way of a Warrior so that when I die in battle, I and Joe would drink from Mimir, the fountain of knowledge in Valhalla, screaming AWOO! AWOO! AWOO!”

The five of them told me to sit down and offered me beer. As we drank, they explained that I would need to apply first by selecting a form, after which I would be invited for the Warrior rites. We began to talk, made jokes, and laughed, and one of them left. I had gotten drunk, and one of the others said to me, “Let’s go to my house.” We got to the house around six. We continued laughing and talking in the parlour. I didn’t know that a place was being prepared for me to pick the form.


Azubike A. Ahubelem

Someone came into the parlour, walked directly to me, and asked, “What are you doing here?” Without giving me a chance to respond, he gave me a hot slap. I expected those who brought me there to help out, but to my surprise, they joined in and began to slap me.

One of them said “O boy wetin you dey do here? See this Jew o.” He was asking what I was doing there in the midst of the gang members. I was still in shock when they invited me to a dark room, and I saw the one who departed earlier, sitting on a chair.

He said to me, “Welcome.” He asked me to remove my shirt. I was reluctant and asked what I had done. Before I finished my sentence, I was given a terrible banging slap, and he said to me, “Go down.” They lit two candles, and I noticed there were four boys in the room; the curtain was black with a picture of a white skull with crossbones on it. On the table, I noticed two machetes, a form, and a pen. They told me to hold the table, and they removed my shirt and administered fifteen strokes on my bare back with the flat side of the machete. Afterwards, I was ordered to complete the form and submit two passport photographs. They took all the money I had on me and then let me go. My face was swollen, and my back hurt.

When I entered my room, Uju looked at me and asked if I had picked the form. I looked at her, wondering how she knew all this. Then she replied, “This is exactly what happened to Joe. He fought five robbers with his bare hands. As of then, he wasn’t a member of any gang, and just as he was to you, Bigbug was to him. So he rushed and told Bigbug. Bigbug swore to protect him, but he was killed in the process. In order to avenge his death, Joe became a Warrior. Now it’s your turn. Why am I cursed?” I saw her tears, but I wasn’t moved because my mind was made up to join the gang.

One blessed day, the five Warrior brothers took me for a stroll. That was the day I cursed my birth. Several other boys and I who wanted to be Warriors were led to the bush to be tortured. They made us dig six-foot trenches, and they to beat us mercilessly using the flat sides of machetes, sticks, and whatever they could lay their hands on.


Don’t Join

Later on, they blindfolded and ordered us to search for objects hidden in the bush. We continued looking for this objects to no avail, while they continually attacked us. We screamed and begged for mercy, but this only brought on more attacks.

I was stood up, and a double-barrel gun was placed in my hands. I was ordered to pull the trigger after it was inserted into the mouth of another intending member. I refused, and I was rushed with slaps and cleared off my feet; my head was stamped on. They lifted me up and again urged me to do it. On my refusal, one of them struck a machete on my head, leaving a deep cut. I screamed out loud, but I couldn’t cry for all my tears had dried up. Then he ordered me to do it again; I still refused, and he lifted up the machete again, but this time, he brought it down, gave me a grim smile, and turned the tables. This time, the gun was in my mouth. The boy refused to pull the trigger, but once the machete was ...

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