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by jaya
Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2265988
Alive even after death

Prompt Five - Fire from Round 4 January 2016

His mind was afire with an ambition to rise in the ranks of the material world as one of the most respected, rich and the most fearless. Yes, he needed to prove the fact that he was fearless.

There was a reason why he was afraid to be underrated. Few knew about it. He took care not to show it. He promised himself not to let his guard down.

Akuebe’s ambition included the resolution that he should be considered a fearless man. He knew the misery of having a weak father. Obi, his father, lacked a strong will. If a crop failed, he abandoned growing it again in the year after. He had a number of debts. He never bothered to pay them back. He sat or lay on his pyol throughout the day doing nothing. Seeing the way his father was being treated as a spineless man, Akuebe resented him and burnt with contempt at his ceaseless chatter. Obi was a fine flutist, but nobody appreciated his art. He was not man enough to merit appreciation. He was notorious as a lazy man. He died a lonely death. Nobody grieved him.

Akuebe took on the familial duties.

His father’s debtors started frequenting his compound.

He worked desperately to get out of his father’s shadow and find his own roots. He wanted to be what his father was not, namely, hardworking, single-minded and ambitious.

He borrowed money, seeds and yam saplings from wealthy farmers of his village. They obliged him because they trusted him and his promise of hard work. Akuebe did not disappoint them.

At twenty, Akuebe purchased a small patch of land and worked steadily on it. As luck would have it, the rains were good and the crop was great. With the profit he bagged, he could buy more land, grow more yield and earn more money. Soon he became one of the lords of the clan.The fire within him strengthened, fanned by success.

In his clan, a man is judged by the titles he won and the number of wives he married. He gained the former with his ability to host community meals, and the latter came with his ability to maintain a large family. He built separate huts for each of his wives, three in all, and their children.

He was always on the lookout for an outlet to satiate his hunger for fame. A tall man with prominent features, Akuebe walked like a big cat, silent, sure and alert. Women loved him particularly due to his talent for wrestling.

At the end of summer, a wrestling match between his village and a neighboring one was arranged. On the appointed day of the sport, people started gathering in the ilo,(village ground) from early hours. As the time to commence the match approached, drums began and echoed through the village building excitement in the hearts of the people.

Akuebe was a famous wrestler. His village was sure that he would win any match, however tough. He came to grips with the opponent, Nwaka, an equally famous and potent wrestler. But even he could not withstand Akuebe’s stamina and power, and was defeated in the final round.

Akuebe was taken on a celebratory procession riding on the shoulders of his kinsmen and fellow villagers. A feast and festivity followed. Akuebe was made a chief lord of a chain of villages. He slept well on that night.

Next day saw grey weather as the rain poured from a cloudy sky. It rained thick and nonstop, for three days, clearing only on the fourth day.

In the early hours of the day, Akuebe saw some strangers entering his village. They wanted an urgent meeting with the elders and the lords of the clan. It was about a border dispute. In the meeting Akuebe argued that the area in question belonged to his village for as long as the living memory of the clan went.The strangers argued vehemently that there were enough proofs that their ancestors lived there a number of years back. The talks ended in a stalemate.

A war of honor was the only option.

Clouds of sadness hovered over Akuebe’s hamlet. Wives and children were the worst hit because they were ignorant of the fate that hung on their heads.

The day of war dawned.

Soon the war drums were heard, signaling the beginning of the assault. With shields protecting their bodies, the adversaries attacked each other with tridents, swords, spears, bows and arrows.

In the middle of the violence, Akuebe noticed some of his own warriors changing sides. It was like showing a red rag to the bull. His spirit raged like an inferno. His body was charged like that of a wild ram. Single handed, he started wreaking destruction. He stormed through the enemy’s ranks and soon shattered their defense felling as many soldiers as he could. The enemy ranks were almost empty. Akuebe and his warriors stood victorious. The fire of success flashing in his eyes spread to the hearts of his soldiers.

Suddenly, taking him by surprise, an arrow pierced his heart. Akuebe, the big cat, fell to ground.

The fire of self defense he started in the hearts of his clansmen however, burnt high and steady even after his death.

Word Count: 928

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