Man to be honest I still don’t know what I got myself into. First mission, scratching my head ya know. Like bruh, I’m in some deep mess. Got out of bed just going through the motions. I don’t want to talk to no one and I don’t want anyone to talk to me.
My whole life has been a marathon. One big race, I can’t get out of. Bruh like, life is just not fair at times. It makes me think of the national anthem. All our lives we have been brought to sing it. But Francis Scott Key the creator of the anthem, didn’t make it for the plight of blacks. Here’s some research I dug up though. “As noted by The Root political editor Jason Johnson, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom”…. “Key did not have a complicated or complex history with race. He ‘supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and… was about as pro – slavery, anti – black and anti – abolitionist as you could get at a time,” Johnson wrote in his article for The Root. He owned slaves while writing the national anthem, at one point referring to blacks as “a distinct and inferior race of people.” (Johnson, August 2016https://theundefeated.com/features/lets-take-the-national-anthem-literally-and-the-songwriter-at-his-word/).
So why y’all buggin with Colin Kaepernick? Yes he knelt down, but y’all know it was for more than a flag. Furthermore, if people were angry, he expressed his Freedom of Beliefs. But what about the injustice caused to these communities for years. Above all, one of the biggest injustice is the use of the projects. It is like a cage and the rich move out and take the resources with them. Even when beauty comes in, comes out, the image painted for these minority groups is one of ratchet, violence, struggle, and so on. But when was the last time they saw the doctors, lawyers, authors, gang members turning around and giving back? Oh and when I got my Masters, they said he “Smart” for a black guy, as if I was an alien unable to understand the lingo. Or is it that they are too stuck on a narrow scope, that they are incapable of decoding the slave folk hymn notes. So this life, I tried to live it right, but it’s hard to walk the tight rope of life. No, I’m not standing up for the anthem, if I stand I’m doing it for the ancestors who were taken from our mother land and those who were already here who had the land stolen. You know, their Native Land.
I wear my emotions on my sleeve, what you see is what you get. Feel like I got so far from God that I lost my way back. I know that in the book of James, it says that we can ask God for anything and he will listen. But that’s the thing some of society deems my brown mocha skin as a crime and don’t expand their worlds to try a candy bar they are unaccustomed with. So needless to say, buddy pulled up in his ride. Low key this feel like a drug deal no cap.
Buddy lowered the window a little. He had shades on, this top hat, and was a big dude. Couldn’t see his eyes which made my heart skip. “Yo, Omar let me holla at ya. You see nobody chose this life for you. You chose it. That bag you picked up was more than that. I been watching you for a while and that bag was a test. That robbery was real but also an illusion in a way to lure you in. Now you in the game and have to play.” I was frozen and just motionless. This man knows me, more than I know myself. He then ordered for me to hop in his ride.
Once inside, he handed me a ski mask and a glock. Yo yo hold up now. The weight of the fun felt like the weight of my soul free falling from God’s lovely graces. The man was talking but my ears didn’t hear a thing. God was calling my name audibly, but I was too ashamed to pick up my cell and answer.
“Omar!” The man yelled and I jumped and he chuckled. “Don’t blow chunks in my car. We here now. Here’s your task to prove your worth. After you done you gonna meet me at Central Park at 11:30 pm. Buddy and his people been thinking this game sweet. Thinking this they turf. Time for a wake up call. Go and off….” My heart dropped at what was said. More importantly who he told me I had to hit and rob.
I spoke up, (clearing throat) “Alright. Only way to claim life is to get mines back.” The man nodded his head and I hopped out the ride. Glock tucked in my pants. Mask in my gloved hands.
Go sing your national anthem. But I ain’t standing, since I’m part of an “inferior race of people,” I don’t have a choice but to let this piece speak for my emotions.
My alarm clock went off, five o’clock. Huff… I got out of bed. Ruffling around with my clothes, I still saw the darkness of the sky. But I knew that this was the day. This was the day I … had to get paid. So, this is not a life that I chose, it kinda chose me. Cause ah one day stumbling upon this robbery, I had this urge inside of me right.
They dropped the bag and I picked it up, now… I got this phone call. Brinnnggggg!! “Hello. Is this Omar?” I said, “Ya it’s Omar, who is this?” And they didn’t tell me anything, they said don’t worry about it and all this other stuff. Now… I have to do this or they’re going to kill my family.
Like I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go, I don’t know who to trust. All I know is like I got to get my bag. I got to do this or I might die, my family might die. As I left out the house, I continued to be skeptical of my surroundings. Like what if my cops notice something is off? What if my neighbors noticed something’s off? Ya know… this is not my routine thing. I never really leave the house at three in the mournin’. So it’s like, this is crazy, but I got to do what I got to do.
I don’t know what’s going to go on. I don’t know what’s going to happen to my sister Lisa, my moms, my girl like, my kids like you know what I’m saying like, the whole block. I felt like I just let everyone down, but I have to make this right. Ya know, I got in this but I have to get out. My own friend, he’s a ride or die, but I don’t want him in this. I don’t want my cousins in this, my brothers. I got to do what I got to do.
It has been six weeks since the passing of Absalom and my father. Yet, I still find myself stuck in my room putting on my suit as if I am going to attend another funeral. I can’t sleep at night. Suffering from PTSD, I cannot wrap my mind around everything that has happened. My fight left me like throw up leaving your digestive tract. No longer am I trying to fight. Yes, I told my town to stand strong, but my legs feel so weak. Stuck on level zero, and I don’t want to get up.
I woke up to a tear stained pillow. My family was downstairs laughing and eating breakfast. I don’t understand how they can be perfectly fine with all of this. I’m trying to fight my mind but everything bothers me now. Loud sounds, footsteps, stares from people I don’t really know. It’s a nightmare I’m walking through. Don’t get me wrong I want to fight Aminu, but I don’t want to die.
I slipped out of bed and slowly made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Looking at the mirror I see my tiresome reflection. Bronze skin like a king, but the bags under my eyes remind me of the mud I’m so close to. Mud that causes quick sand to sink. A closeness that feels warm yet, it sucks life away as you hang off the cliff trying to find a sturdy ledge to pull yourself up on.
Going downstairs the vibe was different. I saw my family but at the same time didn’t. They were talking but my mind put them on mute as tears slowly came out of my eyes. “Nephew I know your pain. It will be alright.” Uncle Azi tried to comfort me as my eyes met the sadness in everyone else’s eyes. After a moment of silence, I sat up straight and spoke.
“It’s just… It’s hard to move forward and assume leadership with this void in my spirit.” I said trying to not to choke on my words. Banjoko walked up to me and helped me stand up. “Look around cousin, none of us want this.” I looked around and everyone wore the same tiresome emotions. “To be honest I want to go to America and just escape this. Man, peace comes with a price and once we get it, I just want a restart. But the war is coming and we have no choice.” Banjoko said and I knew the truth to what he was saying.
He was right. Despite the hole I was in, if we do not fight, more will have to suffer. “Banjoko you are right. If we die, we must to pave the way for peace and a bridge to it. The village cries and we are the leaders to help elevate them to that.” I said regaining my strength and confidence. My family smirked as they felt goosebumps rise on their arms like yeast from dough. The time is now, war comes at the next hours.
Part 2: Peace sings my Hymn
The war was a day away. Aminu stayed on the news talking about this small town he was going to wipe out. He was not slow to mention the “failure” of a son he had, in whom, had failed them. To my surprise the brainwashed people ate it up. Sick.
My sister, my cousins, and I hung in our room. Might be one of our last times to do so. Sitting there fiddling our fingers trying to make the time past on. Our family was tasked with preparing our armed forces for the battle. While my Uncle Azi and mom were talking, we took a small break from the preparation. “Before we have to go to the meeting we should play a game.” Oluchi suggested. I’m down for anything that would relieve some pressure. This past week has been chaotic. Heck, the past month has been a nightmare. Three deaths and a lot of questions with no answers.
The game we played was Mancala. It is one of the oldest games in the world. There was archaeological evidence found in Jordan that dates around 8000 BCE. There are various objects you can use for the games, we use small stones. The objective is to clear your side of the board. However, you can mess the other player up and put stones on their side. It’s a game using basic math so it’s not hard to grasp but it takes great concentration.
“Big bro you still suck at Mancala.” Anwuli said to me after beating six times in a row. They laughed but it’s cool, my comeback season finna be strong. Just got a little rusty. We played for about an our more making a tournament and joking with one another. Then we heard the knock. My throat tightened up and I knew that knock. It was Uncle Azi and my mom.
We all looked at them, hanging on to the memories we knew and those we might never be able to start. Our eyes bore that of strength, fear, and sadness. All of us trained for this moment, but none of us wanted it. My Uncle had red eyes, most likely from tears. With a tear ridden voice he said, “My children, niece, and nephew. It is time for the meeting.” Those words hurt as we slowly stood, letting the stones from the Mancala board tap dance on the floor. We saluted the two of them and gathered our things.
No words were spoken on the way to the van. Hearing the doors close, made my heart beat as if the Congo was inside my soul. I don’t want to go! But… We have no choice. “Family, we will be ok. Whatever happens we will be ok.” My mom said, trying to hide her tears. “Auntie Sade, we will be ok.” Oluchi said, touching my mom’s right shoulder attempting to soothe her. The rest of the ride, all we could hear was the rocks being crushed by the wheels of the van.
When we got to the town hall, we discussed our plans before meeting with our village. In the front lines from my family it would be Uncle Azi, Banjoko, and Oluchi. I’m leading a separate group to come behind Aminu’s army and attack. My mom and Anwuli are part of the sniper team and nursing unit. “Our goal is to trap Aminu’s army and bombard them. Every step is crucial. This is not just for us. This is not for just our village. This is for the hurt and downtrodden. This is in remembrance of Absalom and my husband, your brother, your father, your uncle.” My mom passionately spoke. If you saw our faces, you would know not to dare mess with us. Hugs were shared but no tears. Our eyes lost the liquid from the tears of yesterday, now we are stone cold and ready for God to bring us to the Promise Land.
The meeting went as planned. There was commotion of course, but after grave deliberation we came to a common ground. The plan was now in motion. “Things may get murky y’all. But we will get through it. What we need is for everybody to be on the same page. Your sister and brother stand by your side. We loss so much, that we crave peace. We are craving for unity. Tonight we will rest, tomorrow we will fight.” My mom made a powerful proclamation and we cheered. This war is going to be wild and I’m ready for peace to sing my hymn. Aminu my boy we coming for you.
Part 3: The Ground Shakes
We were up at the break of dawn. Nauseous to my stomach, this war got me going through all my thoughts. I clenched the cross hanging from my neck and vowed to my father and Absalom that we will win. Wish it would be easier, but unfortunately it’s not. We are from different villages but have the same skin. Brown to brown, black to black, the shade is all the same and it’s more of a reason why we shouldn’t be going toe – to – toe with our own. It truly breaks my heart. I heard about what happens in America with police brutality and black on black crime. Yet, in those projects they have beauty but they were designed by those in charge. Yes you know who I mean when I say those in charge. These projects are like cages or like Jungles. They take away from the people and crime at times goes up. Is it by accident? Not at all, it is all programmed and they glorify the crimes even when it really only consists of those partaking in it and not the whole neighborhood. Beauty that strives from the sidewalk’s cracks is drowned out by the propagandathose in chargechose to force down our throats. But hey what do I know? I’m just a brown skin negro color boy from a place called the Jungle.
My family did a morning prayer before we met with the rest of our village. We were going to the ancient war space in the middle of the Jungle called the Gorge. Walking to the van, we discussed our plans again. The whole way to the Gorge, all I heard was the air entering and exiting my body. Breathe Toby, breathe. That’s it out and in.
My eyes fell close, as I accidentally went to sleep. Uncle Azi came to an abrupt stop and it made me jolt up. They slightly smiled, always staying with the jokes. “Toby sleeping on the job. Come on boy we got a walk to take.” Banjoko stated hopping out the van and I chuckled and shook it off. When we were walking, we nodded and saluted our other townspeople, who were doing the same. I held up my right fist to halt my family. They all looked at me and I needed to do this.
“This might be the last time we may see each other. I have to say I love you all. From day one, it felt like this war defined us. It felt like it defined our people. But it doesn’t. God chose us for this. He chose us to fight and to change what refuses to change.” I profoundly stated. Some tears fell and we exchanged hugs and sentiments. After that, we went to our positions. Let the games begin.
When I got to my position, observing the open broken old town, I watched. Out of nowhere Aminu emerged. As emerged as we were, we held still. My Uncle Azi and his team approached Aminu and his men. That sinister smile Aminu wore on his muck face, I wanted to crave off of his ugly face myself. “Azi, my brother hey. Oh, my bad. It was not my attention to kill your brother. Ya know I applaud him and praised him for his achievements. But he had a favor and ya know I fulfilled it.” Aminu still wearing his suit and gloves, spoke with a smooth gentle dagger like edge. Uncle Azi drew his weapon and everybody was pointing guns at each other. “Don’t mention my brother again! Today you die!” Uncle Azi strongly spoke.
Aminu laughed and said, “Let’s not get all messed now. We can be civil.” All I saw was my Uncle hit the ground. Aminu walked away and somehow drew his gun from under his jacket and put his right hand under his left arm and shot my Uncle. As he walked away, he did a goofy dance and spin. Uncle… Uncle Azi! Chaos broke loose and bullets starting flying. Banjoko and Oluchi fought with anger and through tears after witnessing the death of their father. Our plan failed. Instead of us trapping them, they had their army surrounded ours further back. Crap!
“Toby take cover!” Banjoko screamed. As I took cover, he hit the ground from a head shot. Crawling to his body I cried over him, “Cousin I got you.” Knowing well enough that he was dying. “Cousin, bring them… Bring us… To the Promise Land…. I… I love you.” Those were the last words he said and I looked up and locked eyes with Oluchi. No words were said but we knew. Aminu is dying today.
Oluchi and me rained havoc over the army dipping and diving, blacking out allowing our weapons to do the purging. Many were dead and many stood. I glanced and saw my mom and sister holding their own and that made me a little happy. “Toby to your left!” Oluchi ordered. “Keep it moving, but I have a plan.” Oluchi told me.
We found Aminu fighting in ninja like mode. The plan was a smooth one, just wait a sec till we get to that part. Aminu looked up in mid stride and smirked and spat at the ground. “Toby and Oluchi hello.” Aminu said laughing. “You took our family, now let’s dance.” I said. He dropped his weapon and ran forward. What in the world did I just do? Oluchi and me were getting number done to us us. “Come on boy, your old man and bro would be upset by you boy.” He said putting his knee into my rib cage and elbowing Oluchi as she approached from behind.
“Aminu, this ends… Now.” I weakly stated. Whose mans is this? Bruh, are you even human? Aminu body slammed Oluchi and she ended up on the ground next to me aching in pain. Her cute mocha skin was covered in blood and I can tell you right now, I do not look like a million bucks either. Aminu adjusted his gloves and said, “It’s a shame it has to end like this. Let’s make it fast.” He went to pull his gun and it happened. “Oluchi now!” I yelled and Oluchi pressed a button.
Rewind for a second. When we were fighting, we wanted him to draw close. Through the pain we succeeded. Oluchi planted a small bomb in his jacket pocket where his gun is. He should have switched up his plan but didn’t. His face was now one of surprise and amazement. Ya he crazy and definitely not human. Oluchi pressed a button and…. Kabooom! Aminu went up like a Christmas tree. Every… Part… Of… Aminu… Okafor.
The war paused for a second, like we just did the unfathomable. Nobody moved, except his crazy wife storming at us wearing a vest. You know what happened to that witch. She got hers, serves her right for wanting me dead at the court. I glanced backwards and saw my sister buckle down and shot a bullet right to the middle of chest. “Aim at the chest, the center of mass.” Bako used to tell her. He used to train her when we were younger. Well done sis, well done. As Oluchi and me slowly got up, we stood up to a pool of blood. The Gorge once green with flourish grass, was now a graveyard and crimson red.
The war died down as quickly as it started. With the two psychos died, their people had no need to fight. They were too scared when there was more of us and less of them. After Aminu and his wife. We rounded up the people and gave them the ultimatum. Join us or die. Wisely they chose to join. It’s going to take a long time to change their mindsets, but it’s worth it. Of course, things will happen but war shouldn’t be one. It’s time to emerge and go to the rest of the world. It’s time to join again with Africa.
As we celebrated and cried, my mom spoke to us. “Oluchi, Toby, and Anwuli, you three are incredible. We loss a lot and we will mourn and rejoice over their lives. I know how much you want to stay, but I want you to do something. I want you to go America and experience the dreams we only dreamt of. Come back and tell us stories and one day bring us with you.” Our faces wore the same expression. What are you talking about leave?
“Mom we can’t go, this is our land, our people.” Anwuli protested with hot tears falling from her round smooth face. My mom held up her chin and looked her in her eyes. “My child I know. We may not know our last second. I want you to bring your knowledge and experience and share it. Not just in America, but wherever you go. It’s time for the world to know about the Thinubu household and our people.” We wanted to say more words but couldn’t. We understood and we knew that this was a command and not a suggestion. I hugged my mom tightly and Oluchi and Anuwli joined into the hug war. We laughed and lighten up the tenseness. “Love you auntie.” Oluchi said kissing my mom’s cheek. “Love you mom.” Anwuli and I said at the same time and our mom kissed our cheeks and Oluchi’s. America, a place I distant land.
Part 4: My story
I grasped the podium as I stood in front of my class, looking at Oluchi and my sister. The topic I spoke on in my English class was my blackness and why I’m proud of it. Also, I talked about the problems that come along with it.
As I concluded this girl asked this absurd question. “How can you identify with black problems, if you are African? Like your story is false.” Hold up shorty what? Oluchi and Anwuli were clearly upset sitting there trying to stomach it all. The rest of the class was ready to leave when the bell rang, but wanted to here my reply. So, I gave one.
“Oh, you think it is false. What defines black? What defines pain? Yes, back at my village I experienced problems from my own people, but isn’t it the same. The Jungle as the people call it, was more of a project if anything. You know like the projects your people implemented to keep brown; I mean negro people like me down. But it’s crazy that despite the problems I faced, that when I was approached by officers in my land, I was able to put up my hands without fear of hitting the ground. But when over here, I was pulled over once. He was a gentle fellow but I knew from the media. I knew to keep my hands seen, not up in the air even when asked. Put them on the dashboard and speak as if English was shoved up my rear. So yes, you speak and say my black problems are false, because I’m African. But when was the last time, you took time to speak to and understand an African – American, Afro Latina, Jamaican, and the list goes on? So, don’t ask me if my Jungle or my problems are false. If you never see those living in cage like slave jungles around you, don’t speak about someone else’s story being false. Thank you.”
I’m glad I held my composure. The girl set back down and the class cheered for me. The teacher approached and told me, “Thank you for sharing your story. I read the jungle over and over and I am sorry for what you all went through. What I want to do is to help you publish your story. Hopefully, your village your people can come here someday and see it in the movies. I came from a jungle of my own and it is beautiful to learn about the others and how they survived.” Those words meant a lot to not just me, but to Oluchi and Anwuli. Our story will be a novel for the world to read about our lives and a movie to show us how far we came from our past.
Father, Uncle Azi, Banjoko, Bako, and Absalom we brought peace, we brought unity. We brought our story to the world. The jungle ends, but our story begins in a new and distant land I call… America. A land where dreams may die, but we killed a mastermind, so the world is ours.
When I locked eyes, anger swept over and I forgot where I was. As I preached about how we won’t give up, he heard every word. Do you know what pain is? A pain that the person causing it, continues to rip your heart out of your chest and squeeze it. That’s the pain I’m feeling right now, I feel sick to my stomach.
My family, was discussing the next plans and I had to walk away for a minute. As I sat in my father’s study thinking over everything, my sister came out to sit with me. She buried her wet eyes into my chest and we sat there, staring at the night sky. “Toby, you have to think things out clearly. I’m mad at Absalom too, I sense it in your eyes. But if you make a bad move, we will all be put in jeopardy.” Anwuli wisely stated. I just stared at the clouds for a while longer, letting the silence linger on. She pinched my arm and I looked at her with disgust.
“Little girl what’s your issue. I’m gonna go my way, iight.” I should have held my tongue. Ya know the most powerful muscle in your body. Rightfully so, Anwuli smacked the mess out my face. That boy stung, was going to grab her but she had me by my collar. Hold up now little sis, I was only playing.
“Do what you want to do! But hold your tongue when talking to me unless you want it rip out your mouth!” Anwuli got up and stormed past Banjoko and Oluchi who heard the commotion. They were both shocked. Oluchi went to check on my sister.
Banjoko grabbed a chair and set down by me. I was red in the face, clutching my jaw. “Toby, you know she’s right.” Banjoko was calm in his rhetoric and I did not want to hear none of it. He playfully tapped me on my arm and said, “Cousin you know we all want to catch the Okafors. But I think a well thought out plan will be the best way to go, don’t you?” To be honest, my mind is frozen right now, cannot think straight. I see where he’s coming from, but it’s much more than what it appears and he knows it.
“Cousin, you mean well, but you know you are tired of waking up everyday to somber news. Brothers, sisters, parents dying in the hands of our enemy. They attack and we retaliate. They have a noose around our necks and the branches are getting thicker, as we cling to it. For now, I will wait but I assure you there will be no more waiting in the nearby future.” I said through clenched teeth. It felt as if I contradicted what I vowed to Bako and my stance changed from that of which I spoke to my people. But this is war, and Banjoko does not need to know my entire reasoning. He nodded his head and took out his chess board game. Just like the old days, no words needed, just the pieces on the board.
Part 2: Don’t get caught lackin’
While everyone was asleep I crept out of my room window onto to the rain stained pavement. The squishy sound of the puddle leaked into my boots and now I got wet socks. Huff. Can’t focus on that now, must proceed. All I had was a black cap, slim track jacket with joggers to match, a map, gun, and my stubbornness. Might be the day I die and I still don’t fully agree agree with the motives of my flesh. Like a tug of war, God telling me to stay put but this invisible line seems more sweeter.
I blindly follow the line.
As I follow the song of my people came to my mind. Song of tears. “This ground where I dare step, the red dirt feels the soles of my footprints, the souls of my ancestors. Tears of songs trickle down, as these vocal cords sing a forbidden, yet loving cord. Aiming higher than the oppressors staff, parting the Red Sea, as this red dirt drowns me with the passion of a warm kiss, the passion of mother’s squeeze. The song of tears, the bridge to what we hope is there.”
We grew up singing this song and I thought it was just words, the children were forced to sing. Now, I know it is our note to the universe, to not forsake us. Now I know and hope that God is there ya know. I believe but I’m still shaky. And now death may await, so I’m drifting while moving forward.
It was now around six in the morning. The town was nearing me and I had to be prepared. I walked for three hours and was dying. God why am I doing this! My feet are bleeding! My heart is beating faster and I can’t keep walking. I want to fall but I can’t. My town will be here soon, but they might see a dead body. When I steady my eyes, I see a crowd of people with amused and confused looks. Look here they may think, the sheep brought himself to the slaughter.
As I made my way to the center of the streets, a figured emerged from this huge porcelain mansion. “Welcome young lad, you look lost. Doesn’t he look lost.” The man chuckled. The crowd joined him in the slander and they threw things at me, even the young kids did. I raised my gaze to him without speaking a lick. He started to proceed down the steps and that made my gut quenched up. The man wore a white suit, had black slick gloves on, and his hair was sponged up and he looked dope and scary at the sometime. He was face to face with me now. “My name is Aminu Okafor.” Those words felt as if he was chewing on my soul. I was frozen but my mind wasn’t.
Spat on the ground.
They did not like that and Aminu bite his lips and popped his collar and straightened up his sleeves. “Don’t know what streets you come from street rat, but you do not do that at my palace, my home. Now what’s your name street rat.” Oh man was my blood boiling up. Half of me wanted to piece him up, but I’m sure he would foil that plan very fast.
“My name is Toby Tinubu. I have came to challenge your son Absalom to a dual.” I felt over confidence, but it felt good. Aminu smiled and did this dance move as he moved backwards. “Man oh man everybody. Absalom you here your old friend. He want to fight you son. Come down and let’s get it rolling.” Aminu spoke with much enthusiasm and the crowd again joined into the laughter.
Absalom came down, with the hood of his hoodie drooped over his eyes. As he got closer, all sound dissipated. “The battle begins now, in the kings court. Know guns, only hands and knives.” Absalom smoothly spoke. His guards rushed me and before I could resist they confiscated my backpack the the gun I tucked under my jacket. Guess what guys, I am doubting my decisions now.
Absalom was good with his hands, and this was about to be some work.
As we got to the circular outside court, Absalom was on one side and I on the other. The crowd was cheering and rooting for their hometown hero. Here I am alone and barely standing. His mom made a spoke before we fought. She wore this beautiful dark purple dashiki. She is beautiful and insane. “Quiet everybody. Here today we have a special treat. My son, the adorned Absalom “The swift one” Okafor will defend his hand against none other than the low life Toby Thinubu.” The crowed both cheered and booed. She put up her hand and the noise quit down. “Ladies and gents we have put on the good act for so long and now the peasants want our scrapes. As they watch the broadcast, they will truly see our power. Son, this day, this battle is yours.”
After she spoke, it felt like an earthquake when the people shouted. I looked around at the onlookers, seeing the cameras, his low life grandfather Faruq in a wheelchair (serves him right), and his Mr. clean lookin boy goofy father.
Now my gaze went back to Abaslom. The lights went down and the PA made a countdown.
The lights shut on and we begun our dance.
The fight was intense and it felt as if I was the only getting hit. Absalom’s agile speed was scary. One second I slash him and the next he slashes me. This dance is a nightmare, but I have to keep going, I have to.
The shouts grow and we continue to fight. Dagger and fist and nothing in between. “Brother, hey brother.” Absalom teased. I weakly scolded him. I’m not your’e brother. “Why did you kill Bako, he loved you as if you were kin!” My emotions were coming out and I blacked out. Now I had the upperhand and would have prevailed if it wasn’t for Absalom somehow managing to stab me in my right side.
Thankfully I pulled away before he could fully thrust it in. Now i’m crawling on the ground, trying to find my feet. Absalom clenching his arm walked up slowly. “You know why, because I’m trained to be a solider. That’s all I was made to be. You guys had freedom but not me.” He angrily whispered to me as he raised his dagger to end my life. But.
There was an outburst.
“Stop!” The voice urgently pleaded.
Everybody paused. I turned around and saw my dad running through the crowd to get to the floor of the court. Dad what’s going on? My family was behind him. Aminu’s eyebrow curled up as he witnessed my father’s antics.
“Aminu I am sorry for my son’s actions but let him live his life. Take me instead.” My jaw drop and silence broke my heart. As if slow motion my family stood there with tears and trying to reason with my father. Absalom stood up straight and he nodded at me. He knew my father was going to die and I … was about to say my final goodbye to him. I clumsily got to my feet and ran over to my family.
“Dad you can’t do this.” Anwuli cried clinging to our father’s sleeve. My Uncle and mom where crying but they understood. “Toby we were scared for your life. This is what war brings, chaos. We as a family can never go back to our town.” My mom’s clam voice was shaky with tears.
Oluchi and Banjoko were upset and I knew why. “Father this is my fault. I should die here and now. None of this should have happened.” Tears poured from my eyes and they crowded around me. “Cousin, you are our family. Mistake or not, you matter. Yes I’m upset but we will get though this.” Banjoko wiped his face and playfully punched my arm.
My father circled us up in a tight knit circle and spoke to us. With somber eyes he looked at us, from Uncle Azi all the way down to Anwuli. “Family this is a tough war, but we got to fight it.” My dad said trying to smile, but his voice cracked. “They think they will defeat us but they won’t. I know each of us would lay down our life for one another and even if our family is kicked out. I can count on you all to stand up and rally with those on the outskirts and fight. I’m proud of each of you, words can’t express it.” My dad said and he broke down. We got around him trying to comfort him.
My mom lifted his face up for a kiss. True love till death, with tears forming the two separate halves of a heart. “My love, this is a hard day for us all. You are the same rock I stood on years ago. I seen you change and grow from a man ready for action to a man willing to put love first. How you decided to look up what Bako was studying each night. I saw the Bible under your bed and how you took again when Toby was reading it. I saw the silent leader you were being and I started reading. I don’t know what it was, but I hope that God whom I recently met is as merciful as the Bible says He is. Thank you for being the head of our family, our household leading us to the Promise Land.” What my mom said hit my heart hard. All this time, my dad served without being seen. He served without being heard. He wove the stitches together and made us whole. This was destined to happen, we are destined to find peace and joy. My dad said no words, except bring my mom in for a hug and rubbed her hair and her tear stained cheeks. His eyes said I love you and hers said the same back.
Then Uncle Azi come up to him to give his final words. “Toku you have been the best big brother to me. Ever since pops died, you made it your duty to show me how to be a man. I would easily die for you right now! But I know you need me to stand strong for our family in your absence. We won’t stop fighting. I don’t care that our beliefs may not align but what does is our blood.” This passionate words were an icing on the cake and my father broke down and they did their bro handshake and hugged each other tightly. One last hug between the two Thinubu legends. Brothers to the end, death till they part. Tears were pouring out of all of our eyes. We turned to Aminu and his evislish grin. Absalom couldn’t look me in my eyes. That pig killed my brother and now that my father is about to die, you wants to be remorseful. Kid I’m not buying any of it, stop the act.
Part 3: True Pain
Before Aminu could speak, while the crowd laughed and clowned us, we had one final stand. Something that would make them all mad. We were going to sing our song of tears on their ground, their turf!
“One last stand, one last dance.” That’s all my father had to say for us to understand what he meant. Our faces with dried tears, now wore warrior like furry. From the bottom of our stomachs we sang while the crowd listened.
“This ground where I dare step, the red dirt feels the soles of my footprints, the souls of my ancestors! Tears of songs trickle down, as these vocal cords sing a forbidden, yet loving cord! Aiming higher than the oppressor’s staff, parting the Red Sea, as this red dirt drowns me with the passion of a warm kiss, the passion of my mother’s squeeze! The song of tears, the bridge to what we hope is there?”
The crowd and Aminu were displeased by our show. We were ready to fight. As Aminu quited the crowd, he did a slow clap as he made his way down to us. The crowd’s cheering and booing turned down a notch and there was an eerie feeling in the air.
Soon he got down to us and looked at his son with the disgust in his face. Absalom’s hair drooped down and I could tell he felt like he let his whole family down. I don’t know why but I felt somewhat sorry for him. It’s like he didn’t choose his life, his parents forced him to live a life of war and power.
“Toku I know you’re not going to willingly die, and I am a mastermind. So let’s get these started.” Aminu quickly pulled a pistol from the inside of his jacket. As we stood our ground arms ready, he shot my father and Absalom. Things got blurry fast, we returned fire but failed, instead hitting the man in his army that ran other to fight us. All I heard was the words from him to his son.
“You are no son of mines, you didn’t finish the job. Now go and die.” Those words stung deep. I looked at him as we fought and ran. Tears stinging both of our eyes. No matter how much I hated him, he is my brother and his father made him a killer. Lost two brothers and my father within weeks.
“Nooooo.” I shouted, felt like fire from my soul. We stood a good battle, well enough for Banjoko and his father to safely get my father out of the arena. Oluchi and me got hold of Absalom and Anwuli and my mom covered us.
On the truck, it was somber. All we had was tears and sadness as we tried out best to get home. “Absalom.” My father weekly said. “This war is not for you children to bare. You are my son as well. I know you were asked to spy on us, but before then you were my son and still are.” Truth was coming out of this man’s mouth and it made it hard to breath. I wanted more tears to flow from my eyes to drown out the noise. Absalom looked at us all and nodded.
“Mr. Thinubu when my father gave me that task, I accepted it because I wanted something like this.” We each looked around and understood. “My family has been shady for years and I did not notice back then. But I was a product of my surroundings. So much so that my dreaded moment came. We were fighting on the street and I saw Bako. He just stood there and I told him to go home. We both understood, knowing that we were kin.”
Tears cut him off but he proceeded. “As he was turning my father came up behind me. He told me to make my stance to kill one of your kin. The cold pistol pressed against my head and I had no choice and Bako understood but I should have made a similar sacrifice. I shot him and each day since I lived in the shadows of remorse. Today I was not going to kill my brother and I decided to die before I let that happen. Love you Toby, Anuwli, Oluchi, and Banjoko. Gang all day, ever since the sand box.” We were all taken back by what was said.
So he was forced to kill Bako. My brother all along, now I’m happy I didn’t kill him, but angered by his father’s motives. The last thing he told us was to make his father pay and end the war. “No doubt my dude, we got you. Learned a thing or two from our last fight.” Oluchi said with a teary grin and dapped Absalom up. We all chuckled and that was a breath of air.
Eventually my father and brother took their last breath. Before then Absalom said he wanted to be bury in our plot of land. My father told him he would see him in Heaven, and at that moment Absalom accepted a faith my brother had told him about years prior. A faith, a God that kept him from succumbing to the distraction his father was building in his heart. “Love you brother. Love you father.” Absalom and my father nodded their heads in agreement to my statement. We all laid hands on them saying prayers as they transition to the father out of this temporal body.
Back home, our people stood waiting. We thought they would be against us but it seemed they weren’t. Even the man that made the comment back at the town hall meeting was there and saluted me. They followed us to the plot of land for the funeral. We told him how everything played out and what Absalom had told us. Anger and tears came as a result.
This war will end but by our ways.
The only rule was the killing that would take place is that of those fighting us, but nobody innocent. We will take the town, and have the people live with us. If they don’t want peace they will exiled to the wilderness with the wild beast of the forest.
Absalom was not always evil. His family was living it up as these notorious people but they never brought Absalom into it. He was a fair skinned freckled boy. Very stylish wearing the colorful dashiki’s that his mother made.
His grandfather and father would constantly share lessons to him, as if they were not a killers themselves. One day he came home with bloody hands as if he got into a brawl. Young Absalom was curious. “Baba Agba what happened to your hands?” His Father was stuck trying to come up with a story. Faruq looked over at his son washing the dishes and Aminu nodded his head. Faruq took a breath of air in and begun speaking.
“Absalom let me teach you a lesson. There was a man with a beautiful family. He did everything for them. One day while he was out tending to the sheep, men attacked his family. The man heard the screams and rushed back to his family, yet was too late. Pools of blood laid there marinating his wife and kids. Now there was another man who read about this incident in an article. He was people of his peoples. So he had to be proactive. The saddened Shepard had to have help. The man agreed and he had a planned. Before the evil man attack his village and family, he would be proactive and attack them. He saved his love ones and came back home. You understand my boy.” His voice sounded calming yet it there was an edge to it. Absalom wanted to ask another question, but held his tongue.
Aminu nodded to his son and his gestured for him to come talk to him. They went on a walk. “Son this world isn’t as beautiful and peaceful as you think. See they think that we are the bad guys.” Aminu said keeping his his demeanor focused. Absalom became disgusted by the statement. “Why would they think that? I’m not bad.” Aminu used what Absalom said as the perfect sales pitch. “Exactly my boy, they are just jealous that we are stronger than them. Tell ya what I got a plan that only you are wise enough to accomplish.” He won him over, Absalom’s eyes grew with excitement.
“Son there is this family that does not want us to succeed to move forward. We are here for the culture but they aren’t. It’s not the kids fault, yet it is the parents. But I don’t know, the village we are sending you to includes your friends Bako and Toby? We just need information for how we can win elections and what not.” Aminu finished his award winning speech. He sold Absalom on his speech and his son smiled, hugged his father and ran off to his room to get the plans started. Faruq looked at Aminu and they both wore sinister grins.
The Tinubu family and their neighbors have been constant resistance to the Okafor’s uprising. They move smoothly making sure not to leave anything in their tracks. They control the politics and kill people and nobody knows what they are doing it. If they find out, that person is better off killing themselves. However the Tinubu family is different. They will push and push. Getting into altercations both through politics and fighting. By sending Absalom to befriend their sons, maybe they can get close enough to strike then everyone around them will be easier to kill or recruit.
Five years passed and the plan was moving smoothly until one day. Absalom was visiting the Tinubu household. Although he was doing undercover work he grew to like the family. Slowly he started to see what his family was doing but he thought it was the norm. Absalom was helping Bako and Toby set the table for dinner…. then… his school ID dropped out of his backpack. He reached for it but not before Taku Tinubu got to it first.
Everybody looked at him waiting to see what had him frozen. He read over the ID and saw the name Okafor. His face hardened and his gaze went up to Absalom. “All these years you lied to us! You are an enemy and destroyer of families! Get out of my house before I kill you myself.” Mr. Tinubu was all up in Absalom’s face cornering him. Everybody froze not knowing what to do. Anwuli, Toby, and Bako had tears in their eyes and tried to deescalate the situation. “Father but he’s our friend. Doesn’t that mean something.” Anwuli begged but their father did not bug. Later in the day Absalom was on the run. The whole town found out who he was and was trying to kill him.
Bako and Toby found him in their usual hangout spot. He was hung over, tired of running with hair wet and drooping down. As they approached he began to speak. “Brothers I’m nothing. My family is just trying to survive and now I’m about and willing to die.” Absalom was down and out, sitting under an open viaduct as rain fell contemplating life. Death could come soon and it seemed as if he was at peace with it. “No matter what you’re our brother. Don’t care what beef our families have, we known you since we were tots.” Bako said and put out his hand to help his friend up. As they were chatting it up a car was quickly approaching. “Bako, Absalom we got to go” Toby shouted. They were about to be on the run.
Banjoko, his sister Oluchi, and their friends were riding in the Jeep hummer shouting and having blood thirsty sounds. Toby and Bako knew their cousins were out for blood. “Where y’all going! We gonna kill you Abby, give up now you street rat.” It felt like his words were cutting through their bodies. They continued to run and run until they reached a lake. Breathe… let death come.
Absalom was ready to die. He told Toby and Bako, but they spoke to him and tried to get him out of the mindset. As they were doing it their cousins and there friends pulled up. Banjoko jumped out of the Jeep with his sword in hand. “Bring me your head boy.” The way he said it made their stomachs turn. Absalom was ready but Toby and Bako had a plan. They grabbed Absalom’s hands and brought him forward. It caught Absalom off guard and he was distraught. “Guys what’s going on?” Absalom panically asked. Through gritted teeth Bako said, “Brother we have a plan.” Absalom sightly smirked and went with the flow. Banjoko paced left to right wiping his nose slightly. Oluchi and their company posed nonchalantly by the Jeep anticipating anything.
Banjoko stood facing a chained Absalom. His head drooped down as his cuffed hands hung. As if it was slow motion, Banjoko charged and Absalom moved as if he was dancing. He was playing with him. “Come JoJo I thought you trained for this.” Absalom laughed. Bako and Toby stood in amazement. Like bruh is this buddy for real for real right now. Oluchi and the others tried to help and Absalom did a dance number on them by…. Dancing! “Stay still so I can kill you!” Sneered Oluchi and that made Absalom laugh louder. All in one motion he flipped in the air ran on their heads and hopped into his invisible sports car he had cloaked. “Toby and Bako my bros I will see y’all later. They funny thinking they can catch me.” Toby and Bako tried to hide their laughter as Absalom zoomed off.
Banjoko slowly got off the ground and was upset at his cousins. “You idiots helping out the enemy huh! Must be your boyfriend.” Banjoko shook his head in disgust. “I thought you were gonna kill the street rat.” Bako slide the joke in and they laughed. Banjoko rolled his eyes and they got in the Jeep. “Despite everything we family.” Oluchi said and they nodded their heads and did they handshake.
Today, the dust settled. A figure lurking in the distance with hair in a pony tail under the hood of his hoodie. He sat on this mountain top over looking a meeting. One man looked back and Toby and Absalom made eye contact. Anger was in Toby’s heart looking at his old brother and enemy, his brother’s killer. The war continues, a battle that is thicker than blood.
I woke up early trying to get my mind right. I’m in charge of a dangerous and pointless meeting. The irrational thinking of my father led us all to this point. As my eyes become glossy with tears, I vividly remember Bako’s suit as he laid in his casket. When I saw him that last time, everything paused. All the dreams we had rushed back. Now I have to live those dreams out for him. Either win the battle or runaway to a distance land and start anew.
The verse I stumbled across today was Matthew 5:44. “But do say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.” My face frowned up thinking about this passage. Absalom did more then just hurt me, he hurt my whole town. Down the block our team was meeting, the hour is ticking until we attack.
The ride to the meeting hall, the only thing I thought about was how it would feel to kill Absalom. “Toby.” When my dad said my name it made me jump a little and he chuckled. “Son, I did not mean to shock you, just wanted to chat.” I wasn’t expecting a story time, so I straightened up and tried my best to focus to what my dad was about to preach to me.
He went on to tell me about his youth. When he was nine – years – old, my Uncle Azi and him were playing futbol in the streets. They grew up admiring Pelé, Sandro Mazzola, and Eusébio. They were playing futbol in the streets when they saw a trail of blood and heard gut quenching screams. Like any young ruffled haired boy, they unwisely went toward the chaos. What they stumbled upon made their mouths drop and they stood there frozen. This large man, standing 6’7 about 280 pounds was pulverizing this man’s face in. They saw the whole theatrics play out. He then put his bear like hands on the man’s throat. The man kicked and pawed at the man but he did not loosen his grips. Finally he dropped him like a heap of potatoes leaving him lifeless like the dirt he fell upon. Slowly his gaze looked up. Hair drooping over his eyes, black cloth mask on his mouth, all you could see was some of the red of his left eye. “You boys came right on time. You want to be next.” The man’s voice sounded like thunder.He then took out a katana sword from his long bag that slung across his body. My father and Uncle snapped out of their trance and ran throughout out the neighborhood back to their town. The man stopped as he reached the trees, peering through with red piercing eyes and an evil grin. The two brothers saw him and anger swept across their face and the village hearts broke. Like my father told me the other night, the fight was brought to them.
“Fahter I never heard this story before. I thought grandfather died from a heart attack.” My voice cracked as I spoke, trying to wrap my head around what I just found out. All this time I thought this was was for no reason, now I know. This is the first time I seen my dad cry and to be honest, he is stronger now than ever before. “Son none of us wanted this war. Your mother and me kept things away from you all to preserve your joy and innocence. Yes you were in a battle without knowing why, but that is life at times. But now is time for you to know. The man who killed your grandfather, my dad is none other then Faruq Okafor. He is Aminu Okafor’s Father. Absalom is his son.” My dad spoke with a slight tremble to his voice.
I wanted to say something but my mouth would not open. My thoughts danced around as I tried to wrap my head around what I just heard. The Okafor’s are the reason for this war, they are the reason for Bako’s untimely death. The only thought going through my mind is revenge and guilt. I should have went to the store with Bako that day but I told him I had to write my story. All I did was watch movies while my brother was gunned down.The unfortunate truth about the past is that once it is written, it cannot be unwritten.
Finally, we pulled up to the meeting hall. As we got out the van, we were welcomed by cheers. Men, women, and teens fighting with us cheered us on. I saw the children we saved from Lamlech, now they are teens freely choosing to fight with us. We went over and hugged them and we were about to cry. I continued to walk with father through the crowd. He stopped me at the podium and reach down for this box. What is going on? He opened it and inside was a dark purple cloak and a brown wooden staff. He looked up and his glossy eyes showed that of a father’s love and approval. “First son I want to say sorry for how I spoke to you last night. This world is an evil place at times and I did not want harm to come toward you. The day before your brother psssed, he gave this cloak and staff back to me. I asked him why he was doing it, I was very confused. He told me that when the sun sets on his time that you will be the one to lead us to the Promise Land. After that, that night I was searching for answers and stumbled across this book. As I opened it, the pages opened up to that of a man named Moses. I couldn’t put it down. Although his mistake caused him not to enter the Promise Land, he still saw it. Your brother did not want to make that same mistake. He wanted to be patient and listen to God. I gave my life to God that night then the next day Bako died. I was at a crossroad, I wanted to curse God and prove that I never needed him but I couldn’t do it. Something deep down told me that it was true and that Bako is going to see the land through you. So this cloak symbolizes royalty and the staff symbolizes a leader with the heart like a Lion but – also – a heart of a dove. Son I will go to any battle with you.” After he spoke he did the craziest thing, he knelt down in front me.
Time froze for a moment as my father was kneeling there, tears hitting the ground.His hands holding up the cloak and staff before me. Others joined in with cheers and crying. Yet I heard none of it. I was not worthy enough to recieve this. My father accepted Jesus into his life. My mind is spinning, I feel sick. Time came back and I grabbed the cloak and staff from my father’s hands. He quickly stood to his feet and brought me in for a hug. I can’t remember how warm and comforting his hugs were, this one made me feel as if I was — worth something more. Tears leaking out of both of our eyes, we looked at each other no words said but nodded. We on the same page already. I turned to go up the steps of the podium and before I spoke I wiped my eyes.
“Hey family, we are not crying it’s just something in our eyes.” Everybody laughed and that helped me breathe a little. “So here we are. Nobody wants this war but yet we are still in one. I know that some of you do not believe in God but that’s none of my business. In 2 Chronicles King Jehoshaphat was going through what we are facing now. He needed answers, he wanted a victory. Did he retreat? No he did not. He spoke to God and God said, “But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; than stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.” Don’t you all want that, to be able to chill and watch the victory.” Again cheers and laughter broke out. “You who are laughing now will eat your words and your laughter. It does not tell us that when we are lazy we will see a victory. No far from that. Jehoshaphat had to make an action. He had to stand and walk to the battle. We must do the same, whatever we do in life we have to do it unto the Lord. The Okafor family and there allies are not ready for this. We must stand together, we must fight, we must watch the Lord’s victory. Thank you.” As I walked off the stage there was a mixture of cheers and boos but I was in a group consisting of my Uncle, my father, my cousin Banjoko and his sister Oluchi. This man shouted out, “You are ridiculous if you think God is real and you will never be a true leader.” My dad and I smirked, like man come on we are the ones that help your family eat.
Bako my brother we will bring our families and friends to the Promise Land. Whoever is against us will be wiped away.
Read along with the audio of chapter one above 🎤🎬⬆️ Practicing voiceovers so comment below how I should change my style in the upcoming chapters ⬇️⬇️💯
Chapter 1: The Jungle doesn’t forgive
We grew up here. Every night is a nightmare and the days are the same. Once I woke up to gunfire and my family had to be on the run. “Toby we must survive, you have to learn the way.” My father Toku said this while handing me an assault rifle. I was ten years old. Ten years old! In the midst of this Civil War we lost so much. Just this last week while going to school my brother was gunned down. I was woken up by my younger sister Anwuli, “Toby, wake up! Bako was gunned down by Absalom.” Tears stung her eyes and I felt like I was in a nightmare. My breathing cut short as I tried to comfort my sister, hugging her patting her back rubbing her hair. My tears stayed inside but I felt a fire like pain on the inside.
Bako was strong willed and an older brother that paved the way. He taught me a lot more than just shooting and fighting. He taught me about life and wisdom. “Toby this war is senseless. We are killing ourselves and for what? We don’t make the guns, the pale people give them to us. They come and pretend to help us find peace but label us as if we are monsters, as we use what they gave us. There is more to life then fighting. Live laugh with love.” My brother told me this as we were on a raid of a city called Lamlech. We were sent in to attack the people but instead we went against protocol and saved some of the Lamlech children being trained as child soldiers. We brought them back to our village and after that our people outcasted us. My family kicked us out for a while and here we are talking. I admired him and now I’m angered. Bako is this what you wanted! Where is the love big brother!!! Where is the peace you preached!! I just don’t know.
Slowly I rose to my feet. Anwuli still clinging to my body, I felt like a zombie. “Big brother what are we going to do?” My sister asked looking at me with teary innocent eyes. I wanted to talk right away but my throat felt as if thorns were piercing it. I managed to say, “Anwuli…. we will get through this.” Half truth to what I was saying by instinct. It’s going to be a fight and truthfully I just want to lay and cry.
Downstairs our family had a quiet dinner. All you could hear was utensils clicking our plates as we ate. The silence was dreadful. My father was the one to break the silence and I’m not surprised. Before he spoke he cleared his throat and we looked at him. My face bore no emotions. “Family it has been a weak since Bako’s death and it’s time to fight back. Toby you’re going to be in charge for this mission.” After my father spoke he went right back to eating as if the silence was not interrupted. My mouth dropped and my eyes met that of my mother’s and sister’s. “Toku is this the best thing to do right now.” My mother questioned my father and I was getting nauseous. My father’s face grew with firy anger. “Sade our son, their brother was killed by the hands of a evil man! If you sit so be it! Toby what about you?” Father spoke with a venomous growl. Now I’m in the hotseat. What should I do? I can’t move, can hardly think. “Dad, I don’t think we should not right now. Bako preached about love and what if it is time for us to all change.” I tried my best to pitch my best shot, it felt like I was about to pass out. My father did not buy into my way of thinking.
“Love what does that have to do with anything? That was Bako’s one flaw, he loved our enemies almost more than us! I’m not having two soft sons. Either you help us fight or the fight comes to you.” My father roared as he slammed his bear hands on the table making us jump. He left to go to his office leaving us with our own daunting thoughts.
Anwuli tried her best to comfort me. “Hey you’re right Toby. Love can be the way but you have to lead us all to it. We won’t be void of fighting but it’s the price we must pay to get to peace.” Our mother nodded her head and I was thankful for what was said. It allowed me to breath move easily. I smiled kissed their cheeks and they jokingly shoed me away. Retrimg to bed I took a banana and found the secret spot where I placed my Bible. Bako gave it to me and at first I wondered what it was. I was ten when he gave it to me and ever since we had our private services. Our family is atheist and even now with what happened my faith is slightly dwindling. Hopefully the love God is offerimf prevails, but anger and devotion to my father is keeping me caged. God what would you do if you were me?