THORNS IN MY BOOT 28

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28

Amaka came around for Christmas. I had written all my examinations and I was somehow free for the time. She was depressed after I told her of what I had been through since the month of May when she left and what prompted my being an Okada Rider. Tears rolled down her cheeks as I spoke, especially the fact that I now survive as an Okada Rider. I kissed away her tears, I told her to allow me to ride the Okada now that I could, I told her to take solace in the fact that I am also in school, and I told her that an Okada man is better than a Prisoner. She understood. She always does. We made love slowly and purposefully that night, the tears came running down her cheeks as she mourned and clung to me as if I was drifting away.
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Together, Amaka and I went to the headquarters of the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army to see the general Officer Commanding, our mission was to book an appointment with him. We got there and filled the forms handed to us by the Secretary, a Staff Sergeant with very conspicuous tribal marks that gave him away as an indigene of Oyo or Ogbomosho. He read through the form that we filled and he asked me the purpose of our visit. I said it was official

Of course I can see that is what you wrote here! But how official do you mean? He snapped.

Okay! Sorry sir, I came in respect of being recalled into the Army. My C.O has sent my letter to him.

Since your C.O has sent your letter to him then what are you here for? He asked

Oga sir! I said: it is a long story please; I just need to see the G.O.C.

You can’t see him now until after the elections! You know we are handing over to Civilian by April or May so everything concerning recruitment and recalling of Soldiers have been put on hold until after the military hands over! He said with a touch of finality.

Amaka then stepped forward and asked; are you saying the G.O.C cannot see a Soldier in distress because of elections? How is that?
Please who are you madam? Are you a Soldier or the Wife?

I am his Lawyer! Amaka replied

Oh! You see yourself now young man! The Civilians have not taken over yet and you are bringing a Civilian Lawyer to see the G.O.C! Can’t you get a Military Lawyer? Or are you not aware that we have our own Lawyers? He asked

Oga! Amaka interrupted, we are not here for any case! Everything has been settled in court already, I am just here to attest to the fact that this man here is free, that’s all!

Who told you he is free? Ehn? Who told you? The stripped face asked

Please what is going on in this Army Division? Amaka asked aloud. First! It was the R.S.M stopping him from seeing his Commanding Officer! And now you too do not want him to see his G.O.C! What are you Guys afraid of? Ehn? What are you Guys hiding that you do not want the Authorities to know?

Look here woman or young girl or whatever you say you are! Stripped face stood up from his sitting position and fumbled with his belt; who are you calling Guys? Are you mad? Ehn? Look I have daughters of your age at home no, so don’t come here and insult your father!
I am not insulting you! I am only stating an obvious fact! If you have nothing to hide, then let him see his G.O.C! Amaka insisted.

Just like that? If you have nothing to hide then let him see his G.O.C! He mimicked Amaka. Do you know the meaning of G.O.C? It means general Officer Commanding! This man is bigger than any Governor! He commands more than ten states in the east, south- south and middle belt region! And you just want to walk in and see him like that? He brought out a note book and started flipping through the pages; you see all these names? These are people that are on queue to see the G.O.C, some of them will not see him till another G.O.C takes over! Come back after the presidential elections I say!

Okay! No wahala! Ojo please let us leave this place! Amaka said as she left the office while I tagged along.

As we stepped out of the building and walking towards the Car park, we saw my R.S.M discussing and gesticulating frantically with a Captain on Uniform, he was facing our position while the Captain backed us but he stopped talking the moment he saw us, the Captain turned back too to stare as us as R.S.M told him something pointing his stick at me.

What are you doing here? He barked as he approached us with his swagger stick stretched forward, Amaka walked away to the Car while I stopped. I decided to answer him because of the presence of the Captain. By the badge and Beret of the Captain he is from the Finance Corps.

I am coming from the G.O.C’s office I told him.

To do what? He shouted; he looked visibly scared; are you mad? Look at this criminal o! Look! The fly that refuses to heed warning follows the Corpse into the grave o! I have warned you to stay of the Army premises but you are being obstinate abi? Okay we shall see! We shall see! Have you heard of accidental discharge before? Have you heard of stray bullet before? Don’t worry, soon you will not only hear of it but experience it and you will not live to tell the experience!

The captain also seemed uncomfortable as he looked from right to left to be sure other s Soldiers are not watching the scene.
R.S.M, take it easy! The Captain said, there are better ways of handling this issue.
Which issue Oga? The R.S.M asked; issue with this small rat? This silly Scallywag? I cannot have issues with him! He is a dismissed Soldier!
R.S.M, please come along! The Captain said as he hurriedly left the scene, the R.S.M followed him murmuring. Amaka was already in the Car waiting for me.

We drove to the Mammy Market so I could get my hair cut; I got to know from Ayo that I could also see the G.O.C at the Golf course the same days the C.O goes there.

To Be Continued

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