From London with Pains #1


CHAPTER 1

1906
Never had she witnessed such a calamity before. A terrible war it was.
It all started one night when she had just put her grandchild to bed and walked to her own hut to rest her eyes for a little while after a hard day’s work in her farm. Queen mothers were never allowed to farm but still, she disregarded that rule.
She had grown up as a farmer’s daughter. As a child, she would trudge behind her father every day, to his farm, weeding and making mounds for him. It was what she loved doing and she had resolved that,  although she was married to a king, she would never stop farming.
Barely had she slept a wink when she heard loud screams and feet running helter-skelter. She thought she was only dreaming.
‘Lolo oh! Chineke! Fire! They are attacking…’
Panic ran through her as she heard it. She quickly stood up from her mud bed and ran out of her hut to see what was going on. She made her way to the palace entrance but the palace guards apprehended her, stopping her short in her track.
‘Lolo, there is a serious battle going on outside and we are under command not to let you leave the palace, for your own safety.’ The first guard informed her.
‘Why? What are you talking about?’ She was becoming impatient.  ‘Please get out of my way.’
‘Our queen,’ the second soldier added. ‘It is our duty to protect you. The people of Dunukofia are…’ a spear thrust through his chest as he spoke. He fell to the ground. The other guard immediately took a defensive position.
‘Lolo! Please find an escape route. Now!’
She turned around and ran as fast as her old legs could carry her. She searched the palace for her children and maidens but could find no one around. ‘Where could they be?’ she thought to herself, praying they had not left her behind. She called out to her children, but got no response. Just then, someone called her.
‘Mama hurry and come oh! It is me, Adaku.’ The voice whispered. It was one of her grandchildren calling. She ran blindly towards the direction the voice came from, with only the moon to guide her feet with its faint light. It seemed they had found as escape route through a broken wall. But their freedom was not long lived, as some of the children cried so loud that it attracted the warriors attacking her village. Soon they were caught.
The eldest of her granddaughters struggled violently with her captors.
‘Leave us alone you cowards!’ she spat on their faces. ‘What have we done to you? May Amadioha strike your …’ She had barely completed her sentence when one of the warriors slapped her across the face.
Lolo was surprised to witness such an outburst from a girl who had just begun to develop breasts. The little girl let out a loud cry of agony as the pain of the slap seeped deep into her fragile skin. Lolo struggled to shield her granddaughter from further pain, but she was held back by another warrior, who threatened to cut off her throat if she made another move.
‘I’ll teach you a lesson. You think because you’re of royalty, you can talk to us anyhow.’ A warrior said, bringing out a small knife. ‘I’ll show you what cowards can do.’ He smirked.
The little girl kept on kicking violently. No one could do anything to save her. The other captives just looked on in tears. No matter how hard they pleaded, it would not solve the matter at hand.
The warrior instructed his fellow warriors to hold the girl tight. He cupped her face in his palm and began to work his knife on her skin. Lolo bent her head in grief, unable to stand the screams of the little girl. She silently prayed to whichever god who was out there to save her granddaughter from further pain.
The next morning, the warriors dragged all their captives to an unknown destination. It was an open field. There were many people, chained in their feet, with long solemn faces. Some were standing, while some were on the ground, lying as though they were dead. Lolo was pushed and told to stand in the line.
‘A slave trade.’ A young man beside her, murmured to himself. Lolo wondered what such a well built young man was doing there, amongst the captives. He must be a weakling not to be able to fight his way out, she thought to herself.
One by one, each captive was taken away by a white man. She too was taken away and led to a ship. That was the last Lolo saw of her people and family.
She was taken as a slave to England and was sold to a new master. There she became a nanny to her master’s children. She desired so much to go back to see her people, but she knew that was impossible. After few years of servitude, she took ill as a result of her old age. There, in England, she died in peace, and was laid to rest.


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