By Dan Akinlolu (S. Africa)
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The boy often operated the biggest of the ballistic missiles. He was also really good at AK 47 assault rifle. His fellow militia youth called him Monkey Boy. As he was oiling the nozzle of his riffle, the nozzle discharged white smoky speck to his young inquisitive face. Monkey Boy looked haggard with unkempt hair and red sunken eyes.
Since the civil war began, he’d been working for the guerilla commandant for almost a year.
He glanced at his parade captain who swore to stop girls from talking to him while on duty. He wasn’t far from him. The frail looking but wicked man was sitting under a tree playing with hand grenades, a stick of crumpled cigarette burning on his lips. He was chatting with underage girls he had kidnapped for his sexual gratification some weeks back. Monkey Boy cursed under his breath. Monkey boy was on afternoon duty and as afternoon guard in the guerilla camp; his duty was to watch against enemy signals.
Not to long, a young frail looking girl appeared from a small tent, holding a few pages of papers, love poem that Monkey Boy had given her to read.
He became proud immediately when he sighted her. She too was young, barely fifteen.
“Did he shout at you?” she asked worriedly, meaning the parade captain who punished Monkey Boy for dozing off when he ought to keep vigil on enemy signal and attack.
“I don’t care! I am a poet!”
The word “poet” struck something inside of her. She was flattered. “Will you write about him in your poetry?” She waved the scripts in her hands.
“Yes” he smiled, his hands working on ammunition, this time a pistol. It belonged to “Broken Bottle” his immediate patrol officer.
“When I leave this camp, I will write about lots of things. About our bad uniforms, hunger and long hours of shooting guns, and about how I met you. War is bad,” he concluded.
She remained thoughtfully silent and shy. She thought, Shall I tell him why I came…that I love him, that I am pregnant by him. How will he feel about it? Shall I?
“What are you thinking about? War?” he asked her.
She was shocked. “Er…nothing…. will you make me a hero in your poem?” she replied a bit confused.
“I don’t know,” he said.
What is the use if I am not a hero in his poem? she thought. She was sad and wanted to turn and go back.
“I will!” Monkey Boy changed his mind. Monkey boy stared at the girl. Her young sprouting breasts were naked and pointing behind the slack dirty and oversized T- shirt. He was tempted to cup them and play with the nipples because there was nothing more interesting about her than that.
Monkey boy had made love to her and couldn’t even remember how many times. Sometimes he enjoyed it and at another time he’d hated himself for it, especially that he had to cope with certain irritation around his genital.
The girl sighed. How can I tell him that he is the father of the unborn?
“Your mother will be proud of you.” She said so to gather her confidence.
“Mother died in the war. The rebel faction shot her in the head. I will write about her too”
She really was proud of him. Besides, all the non-combatants respected him because he wrote poems. Everyone came to him to help write love poems to their loved ones, wives and girlfriends. She felt it was a privilege to get pregnant by someone most soldiers wanted to associate with.
His poetry was popular in the guerilla camp and soon triggered a rumor that he had been nominated for award in literature.
“Is it true you’re… nominated?”
“Nobel laurel in literature.”
“May be…” he smiled and continued oiling his gun.
“I want to marry a writer.”
Monkey boy grunted.
The girl wanted to speak but she was afraid. She summoned her courage. “Will you…will you marry me after the war?” she stammered
Monkey boy stopped, shocked, and looked fiercely at her. “Father said writers don’t have time for love.” He was emphatic about it.
Could he have been dating another girl? she thought. “I swear! I will be a good wife!” she fell on her knees begging him to marry her.
“Marriage is bad for writers!” he insisted.
Tears suddenly flowed down her cheeks. What about his baby in my womb? May be if I tell him he will change his mind.
“I am sorry I won’t have the time.” Monkey Boy concluded and picked up his binoculars and looked around the thick forest for any suspicious movement. It was sunny; beads of sweats lined his dark hungry face. He wanted to forget about her presence for a while and concentrate on his military assignment. Few meters away, the chattering noise of other abducted girls and women cooking their lunch with firewood were very encouraging.
It was a relaxing afternoon. More so, there had been no external attack for about three weeks. Not even any news from the city. The rest of the soldiers have been less busy and were playing cards and drinking local rum, and then slept about with the girls.
It was a long romantic silence between Monkey Boy and the girl. She stared emptily with tears swelling in her eyes.
Monkey Boy took no notice of her pregnancy. She touched her protruding belly and turned to go.
“If I marry you…” Monkey Boy paused. “There won’t be children between us. They disturb writers you know?” he concluded.
She gasped, smiled and nearly screamed for joy. She wanted to hug him but was forced to restrain herself.
He loves me, she thought.
He looked deep into her eyes and said, “When the war is over, I will not shoot guns again. I will spend my days writing poems with you by my side, but no babies. I want to be famous and rich and…”
There was a loud explosion from the forest. Monkey Boy swirled round, only to absorb rains of deadly bullets that crushed his skull into smithereens.
Tiny bones and raw flesh splashed across the girl’s face. She slumped and fainted.
The enemies attacked and the war continued.