FORLORN GAZE (THE ONE PARAGRAPH TEASER)

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But as bad as life was, it felt good not having to hide under the canopy of the forests. I no longer had to run for cover as I did each time the shelling began. The new found freedom felt good and so I dedicated my days to feeling good, playing [the entire time] with the other children in the open yards. We played football with the human skulls that littered across my community. Those were the skulls of the unfortunate people who were not fast enough to escape the village as the Nigerian soldiers advanced upon us, as well as those stubborn enough to leave. There was this story of Eze for instance, a brilliant Science teacher who ran mad because of too many books in his brain according to legend. He had just been brought back to the village to be cared for by close relatives when the war broke out. Every day he sat in his late father’s easy chair telling all who cared to listen that the Biafran warlord Ojukwu was up to the task of crushing the Nigerian military. The day the Nigerian soldiers advanced deep into Biafra down to small town Igbere, Eze remained seated in that chair and refused to run with the others to the forest; he believed Ojukwu would save Biafra. Months later as we returned from the forest, we met his skeleton on the easy chair in front of his father’s house, but his skull was missing. There was no doubt to me that his was one of the skulls my friends and I kicked around in the form of football. But then again, there were those who were courageous enough to return home [in search of food/valuables] before the war ended. Perhaps my father’s skull was among those; my young mind could never know the truth to that. So I kicked those bones while having my fun, disregarding the elders’ warnings that we could get seriously injured. We were young and free, never caring about the risks of life. After all, what more violence could befall a tween who already nearly escaped bomb shrapnel cutting him to shreds! We saw enough violence to last forever, and the risks posed by playing with those skulls (with their jagged and sharp edges) meant nothing. Unfortunately, in the end the older people’s warnings came to pass when serious injuries resulted in infections that led to deaths. And it wasn’t until then that the bones were finally gathered and incinerated…

~Emmanuel Benson

Forlorn Gaze is a soon to be published novel by Emmanuel Benson. #Anticipate

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