Pacella Chukwuma-Eke is a Nigerian poet and short story writer. She is the winner of the Cradle poetry contest, Abuja Duet Slam, Splendors of Dawn Poetry Prize, and others.
The war and the hunt
Abu groans; his old life had become a new one after the war. His job and his dignity, his wife, as well as his daughter’s love, had all diffused into the past, leaving him nothing but a hefty sum of regret. I wish war no die. He remembers the sadness in Salama’s eyes when he returned; she knew that their lives died with the war. Her sadness became a drop compared to the rage she bathed him with, the night she had asked about his camp life, and he wrote in her ears a list of all the girls he had slept with; refugee or enemy.
She ran to Fati’s tent and told her about the abomination her father dipped his legs into. His daughter never looked at him the same way, after that night. Abu wondered why his family acted as though he had begun the war. After all, he could not waste his day fighting off bullets and then battle with his manhood when the sun fell into the mouth of the moon— no.
He gulps the sapele water beside him and smiles, recalling the times he and his comrades caught prey, and waited for the next gathering to brag about their game. Ah! The game. Abu missed that memory the most; after devouring their prey for the night, the soldiers would all encircle around a fire and each of them would tell tales of the women they had sex with; how well their prey tasted; better than their wives or not.
Anyone who caught a prey that was more flavoured than his spouse, would hunt her a second time, and make her his camp wife. The re-hunting was a thing of the day because the hunting was only possible during the night time. It was almost impossible to see the face of their prey, except her features, under the moonlit huts that they lived in.
One might not be lucky enough to recognize his camp wife the following day. The soldiers devoured prey every day until they found a game to be faithful to. He found his game the night before the war ended. Ah! She better pass Mama Fati! Abu exclaims, wondering why she had come a bit late. If the war hadn’t ended so quickly, he would have taken her as his camp wife!
Something pierces through his lungs, and he begins to compare his daughter’s features with his game’s. Fati was tall and slender. All prey tall! He tries to convince himself. His game cursed in the same dialect he speaks, no? Perhaps, another village girl? To wade off doubts, he calls out to Fati.
Wetin happen, Baba? Fati responds rudely. He asks if she had a friend who stayed in camp. I get none in camp. Abu, now frightened, rephrases his question. You in camp before war finish? Her eyes start to drown. I am da only Nupe girl that come to camp, I stay a day before war finish.
Abu holds on to his legs for support. Fati was prey.
Pacella Chukwuma-Eke, NGP Xv, is a Nigerian poet and short story writer. She is the winner of the Cradle poetry contest, Abuja Duet Slam, Splendors of Dawn Poetry Prize, two-time finalist for the BKPW contest, and Joint winner of the FOW Poetry Contest. She is the author of Love in its bliss and sins; runner up of the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Teen Authors(Poetry.) Some of her works have appeared or are forthcoming on Eunoia magazine, Strange Horizons, The Brittle paper, Rigorous magazine, Haven spec, and elsewhere. She is a member of The HillTop Creative Arts Foundation, tweets @dancing_poet, and can be found on Instagram @pacellachukwumaeke.
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