Romance behind enemy lines
She spoke about the war with pains. It took away his dad and maimed her mum. James loved to hear her narrate it over again but she would not. At times she talked about it in snatches. The raiders arrived in the dead of the night she said. Sounds of Kalashnikov assault rifles flew over the thatched huts. The next day the body of his father and other warriors were recovered. The village was desolated as the looters torched every hut on their path. She was dead silent; her chest heaved. He pulled her closer to assure her of his unflinching love.
James' mum was a pain. She nagged too often. He wanted to be anywhere but home. His was relieved when he was posted to Bawku for his service. Friends persuaded him but he was determined. The journey which could take 4 hours on a high speed train took forever in a wobbly coach. He was so exhausted. The friend's voices came ringing 'it was all folly'. He was almost in tears. At Bawku he learnt his journey had just begun. He was posted to Atora on the outskirts of Bawku. The gloom caused by the war was visible at the country side. Burnt huts littered the land. Government troops patrolled the street in obsolete armoured vehicles to keep the truce.
The people of Atora were lovely. They came in their numbers. 'Toma toma'; they welcomed him. 'Toma' means welcomed Asibi told him later. Within him he wasn't. He was cut off from the rest of the world. Luckily he met Bonsu a chap from Ho Poly. He made him felt at home. He took him to the market some days after and that was the first time he tasted the donkey slur. A chap barked at them 'kabonga' when they popped up at a stall. Eager heads turned to their direction. 'Kabonga' Asibi explained means donkey. It is an unpleasant word used to describe people from the south. She also thought him that 'bugum' means fire and 'bugum saana' is fuel wood. The only word James learnt without Asibi's help was 'mbordof' (I adore you).
Asibi was an astonishing beauty of Atora with distinctive feminine features. She was a trained teacher from the College at Pusiga. She opted to be at the local school to be with her sick mum. James was smitten by her charms. 'Mbordof' he said to her. She said she was flattered and also impressed with his efforts to speak the language. She offered to give him lessons. The language lessons became steamy. The 'bugum' that flowed from her hot body ignited sparks in him. They became talk of the village. She spent much of her time in his house. They went to the river together and bathed in the cools of it waters. They plied the savannah daily romancing behind enemy lines.
Mr Abugri James' landlord despised James to bits. He stole the heart of the pearl of the village. He spoke fluent Twi. He learnt it when he was in the south, he boasted. He talked cynically about a cocoa farmer at Asante Akyem Agogo. The 'kabonga' robbed him of his youth, he moaned. James told him he was not from Agogo. He was from further south along the coast. 'A decyorated donkyie is still a donkyie'. Mr Abugri blurted. James was stunned. Asibi exploded into laughter when he asked her the meaning. He was not amused. My Abugri wanted to say 'a decorated donkey is still a donkey' She explained. The message was clear. Coming from the coast only made him a polished beast. The mark of the beast kept surfacing everywhere he turned. Their romance flourished as resentful village elders including Mr Abugri caved in; Asibi was so much in love with James.
She rushed into his arms as she saw him and clanged to him firmly. She looked terrified. It was her birthday and James went to her house to offer her a present. The enemy forces were planning a dawn raid, she said. The omen was foretold by the oracle of the baobab tree. James had witnessed two raids since he arrived. The conflict spiralled months after he arrived as government forces struggled to keep the fragile truce. The dawn raids were ferocious; villages were annihilated. On the first raid James brazenly went behind enemy lines to pluck Asibi to safety across the border. His second rescue was more daring. Against the advice of Bonsu he raced through enemy fire and pulled her from under rubbles. Her home was blown up while she slept. Asibi virtually worshiped him since these daring rescues. She owed him her life. As they burrowed through millet farms to safety; guns cracked above them. Tongues of fire licked the darkness. Shrills voices echoed through the dark. Bonsu refused to escape with them. He was busy with Akos the lady he met in the village.
It was the first time she had fully told him about the raid. They were returning from a shopping fling from Sankasi. Her dad was a brave warrior she said; he hid her in a dry well and returned to the war front to help other fighters defending the village. They were overpowered by the enemy and he was killed. She remained in the well for 5 days without food and water till she was rescued by the peace keepers. She sat behind the bicycle as she narrated the story. Suddenly she became silent and flirty. He felt her fluffy hands rubbing in between his thighs. Shock waves ran down his soul. He lost focus and almost rode into a baobab tree. At one point she placed her head on his back and held him close to her warmth. It was relaxing. Asibi knew his hands were firmly gripped to the steering and could hardly interfere.
Asibi was a master rider herself. She took over the bicycle as James became exhausted. 'Don't play any funny game' she warned. She knew he would. She loved it when he fondled her. James sat on the metal bar between her and the steering. He had direct access to her bosom; he rocked it gently. She remained calm; any wrong move could be disastrous. In their dreamy state the pair was oblivious of other traders plying the road. He floated above the baobab trees as he felt her velvety. He forgot they were in a conflict zone. In his delirium he did not notice them. They came from every where except the main road. It was an ambush. They were ambushed by enemy forces wielding machine guns, and machetes. Warning shots rumbled into the air and machetes clanked. They were all rounded up. James was so concerned about Asibi. The evil squad could harm her. He had to liberate her; liberate himself. The firing intensified.
He valiantly went to the commander of the gang. What men could do for love? The commander pointed his gun to his face. The traders wailed as he cracked it. James remained calm. He told the commander he was a teacher from the South and not a fighter. 'Kabonga', 'kabonga', the commander bellowed. The others joined in unison 'kabonga' 'kabonga', 'impale the donkey'. James had bitten more than he could chew. Saving Asibi was his game plan; it had backfired. 'Hack the ass'. 'Hang the dog'. They were incensed. 'Leave the donkey alone' the commander ordered. 'He is a stranger; he is not part of the war. James' arse was saved because he was an ass. Asibi was still in danger. He got to outwit the gang 'She is an ass too' He said pointing to Asibi. The thugs would have none of that. Such silky ladies are spoils of war.
Her innocence would not be thrown to dogs. She would not be defiled by men high on drugs. He went to Asibi and dragged her after him. 'She is a beast too, she is a beast too'' he repeated. 'Let them go; the accursed 'kabongas'. The commander yelled. It was another thin escape for the love birds. Asibi was shaken as she sat on the middle bar of the bicycle. Calling his sweet lass and ass saved her at last. She clutched to him firmly as they rode the lonely road home. They heard gun shots followed by loud shrills and then absolute silence. The bodies of the traders were collected by government troops the next day.
The parting was an agonizing one. Atora became a dangerous conflict zone. He evacuated. He wanted to do that with Asibi; go south to pursue their romance. But she could not leave her sick mum. James was gutted; he was broken hearted and saddened. She was at the station at to see him off. It was so difficult for him, as Asibi wailed and threw herself to the floor as the bus left the station. On lookers comforted her. He had not choice but to depart; it was too perilous romancing behind enemy lines.
Francis Kwaku Egu