Petals in Blood

When I was given Crop Science to study in the university, the only reason I accepted the admission—though it was never my dream course—was because my parents were farmers. And they had wanted me to gain a good education before coming back to improve the family business. I had groaned and complained that time, murmuring that I wanted to be a sketch artist.

But when you have people who had sacrificed everything they had to see you become somebody in the future, studying their course of choice would be the least way you can say “Thank you.” And that was exactly the reason I accepted the admission, they were my world.

Some critics might say that you shouldn’t sacrifice your dreams for your parents’, but without them, where would I be? I remember when I got out of secondary school, many of my fathers friends in the village had advised him not to allow me go to the university.

“Let him work on the farms like his father and forefathers,” one had said, during a meeting I attended with my father.

“Onyemaechi,” another called to my father, “the state of the economy of this country is bad as it is, not to talk of sending a fully grown man away to study.”

“Doesn’t this their education ever end?” That was my uncle. He had given birth to six girls, and despite pleas from all and sundry, was adamant in sending them to school.

“Since my wife deemed it fit to give me only female children, I’ll just wait for them to be ripe, then I’ll marry them off. The money would be useful in acquiring more farmlands,” he would say. He was a misogynist of the highest order. Though I am a boy, I usually get pissed off whenever he makes such annoying comments.

But in all these opinions about my future, my father would always say, “Afamefuna my son will go to the university. That is what I want for him.” It always warmed my heart to hear such words coming from him. It filled me with inexplicable confidence, and hope.

So you see, there was no way I could have refused to study Crop Science. At least I could make some improvements in the farms. Who knows, maybe I could even find a way to integrate my dreams with theirs.

All these thoughts coursed through my mind as I collected my NYSC certificate, I was finally done with school and serving the fatherland. I flagged down a bike, and gave him directions to the place where I was to have drinks with my friends; it was a joyous occasion for us, also a period to see one another for, perhaps, the final time.

As I dropped at the restaurant, the boisterous faces of my guys immediately lifted my spirits, and thoughts of what I would do with my life were relegated to the back of my mind. I shook hands with them, and we got talking. As we talked, one of us, Bassey, kept us laughing with anecdotes about his experiences at the school where he was posted.

Around 4pm, the normal NTA evening broadcast commenced. I would not have given a second glance to the news, had it not been for the second headline. There was another one of the now-rampant attacks of the Fulani herdsmen; this one occurred at Ebonyi State, and that was what got me worried. The attacks happened in my home state.

As if on cue, my phone rang; it was my uncle, with the worst news of my life. My parents were dead, both of them were massacred alongside fifteen other villagers in the attacks of herdsmen. Once the call ended, I excused myself from my friends and went back to my quarters. There, I had a hard time accepting the fact that the very people I was planning a good life for were no more.

No, it can’t be true, I thought. The strange part was that I didn’t feel anything; there was no pain, no agony, there was simply an emptiness I couldn’t described. Blindly, I packed my clothes, and prepared to head home the following day. And as I slept that night, I dreamt of my father, he was saying something about forgiveness, but I couldn’t hear him well, neither did I understand. Until later.

Twenty hours later, I stepped into my father’s compound and was hit by the reality at hand—my parents were no more! There were throngs of sympathizers milling about, all of them oblivious to my return. It wasn’t until my mother’s sister, Nne Obioma sighted me, and let out a piercing wail, did they turn to see me standing at the gate like a deer in the headlights. Instantly, they parted, creating a path for me to proceed into the house, into the very place I would not like to be, but had to. I trudged along, feeling the eyes of the people I passed on me, each of them a mirror of pity and sorrow; my parents were popular with everyone.

I went into my father’s room, and beheld their lifeless bodies. I stood for full minute, staring unbelievingly at spectacle before me. It was really true! I picked up a side stool, and sat between them, alternatively switching my gaze from one rigid face to the other. I touched my mother’s hands, and they were cold, and unfeeling; similarly, I felt my father’s hands, and they reminded me that he would never hold me again, never shake my hands, or even congratulate me that I’ve finished schooling. My mother would never feed me with her sumptuous delicacies, never would she smile at me again.

That was when I let it all out; the pain, the fear of being alone, the thirst for revenge, all of these emotions and more filled me and I felt like choking on them. But I couldn’t cry, not yet. I came out, and went to the business of accepting condolences from the sympathizers around.

Three weeks later, I got my chance at revenge. We’d been receiving uncomfortable news of more raids by those savages who took everything from me, and on that particular day, they stormed my village again. They had attacked a group of women who were harvesting cassava, and killed four of them before the villagers were alerted. We all went to save them, but they had all taken to their heels. One of them, however, was unlucky, or should I say, Karma caught up with him? 

He was stripped naked and was beaten mercilessly as he was dragged all over the village. Since my father was a titled man, my opinion was sought after for the fate of the culprit. I had no other choice for what we should do to him, for me, he had no reason to live. But some of the villagers opined that he should be handed over to the police.

As he was led to the station, I felt like he was being let off lightly, and that was impossible. Not after killing my parents! I rushed back to my house and took my father’s gun, and dashed out again. He would have to meet the devil today. I sighted them coming, and positioned myself. One shot only. He looked harried and pitiable, but then again, which criminal didn’t? I closed my eyes and saw their cold, lifeless bodies, the images would always be imprinted in my mind forever. I opened my eyes and killed him.

Perhaps it was because they had each felt the pain caused by the herdsman and his cohorts, or maybe it was because they never really wanted to take him to the police and were looking for an executioner. Whatever the reason, none of them questioned me, which was fine by me.

I went into the house, and I remembered the dream I had, the one about my father telling me about forgiveness; sorry father, I couldn’t forgive him, not after I lost you because of him.

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  1. Hmm... When it comes to one's ur own future .. Ur parents are living deirs

    1. But what if in the end, they're right in what they chose for you?

  2. But do u fink revenge was the best option???most times we do sth hastily out of pile up emotion.
    Very intriguing story .

    1. I think that until we're in his shoes, we can't really say what we can do