Ritualistic Change: “The Night After the Civil War Ended”

A Short story

By Tolulope Ogedengbe

We sat beside the orange ember of an abandoned fire, and listened to our eyes tell tales our withered lips could not mutter. Our faces painted with grief, our hearts bearing the trauma of war; war that took a child from his mother, that separated two young lovers and dispersed their bodies like dry pollen grains. We sat watching our shoulders carry the weight of loss, the loss of friends with whom we gathered in blissful camaraderie, in a boogie of banquets underneath the effulgence of dusk long before we became a simile for pain, an allegory for sorrow, before the wickedness of wars trampled upon our flesh and bruised our soul. Loss of bosom friends with whom we spent moments together, outside a thatched cottage sharing our secrets in love and dreams while the evening breeze blew and whistled pleasures into our ears. Loss of neighbours that crawled into eternal silence on days when the sky broke into shrapnel, falling on our roofs; days when horror struck our land and we scampered in dark holes for safety. Loss of relatives who met their doom along the broken boulevards; whose bodies became homes to bullets shot from the guns of armed men who invaded our cities like swarms of bees, tearing the night apart with strange sounds. Of lovers we lost to the heat of raging fire; the ones we could not rescue from the sting of death, from the disaster that threatened to snatch our lives because a country was engulfed by fire, because home and everywhere familiar with our feet became desolate