Old Soldier was reclining against the wall as he bit on the last chunk of flesh on the mostly bony portion of chicken he was served by Iya Roy. He washed it down with whatever was left in a cup of jedi that Deckor had left unfinished. “Cigar”, he managed to utter and Smith promptly took out a stick of creased Cigarette from his pocket, lit it and handed it over to Old Soldier.
Few minutes ago, he entered into Iya Roy’s full of life. He had not finished eating the roasted maize when it dropped off his hand. As frail as he was, nothing ever fell out of Old Soldier’s hand no matter how big. Smith, who was close to him, knew at that moment that something was wrong with him. He sprang to his feet, but before he could reach him, Old Soldier had fallen. On the table. In the midst of spilled alcohol, butts and ashes of things smoked and empty bottles of Iya Roy’s jedi. Dokta was tipsy and unusually silent but he joined Smith and others as they attended to Old Soldier. He was revived and lifted to a sitting position.
Old Soldier: Captain! Captain!! We are…surrounded…
Dokta: This is not the time. Just relax.
Iya Roy: What kind thing is this?
Dokta: He needs to eat something.
Iya Roy: I go now…I bring food…
Smith: What happened…is it hunger?
Dokta: Yes, hunger worsens his hallucinations. But he was also depressed because his cells lacked good nutrition for a very long time. And if you mix hunger, malnutrition, depression and mental torture from the effects of war, what other person than him to hallucinate?
Truly, Old Soldier became lucid as enough to request for ‘Cigar’ once he finished eating the food Iya Roy served him.
Old Soldier: What…what are you talking about?
Dokta: Just relax…you should go home now and rest…
Old Soldier: So you can come to my house and finish me up.
Smith: What are you saying?
Dokta: I should be on my way now.
Seeing that Old Soldier was back to normal, Dokta started to walk out of Iya Roy’s.
Old Soldier: They wanted to kill me. I was poisoned.
Sifidifensi: What…kill you…
Deckor: Who? Who poisoned you? [He eyed Iya Roy]
Old Soldier: Captain…all of them!
Smith: Who are they? Who is Captain?
Old Soldier: Chief Aduku…Dokta and…
Sifidifensi: Wait…Doctor. Which Doctor? [Old Soldier pointed in the direction Dokta took as he left Iya Roy’s]
Dokta! Dokta!! [He went after him but returned on seeing that Dokta was long gone]
I cannot believe this.
Old Soldier: I know too much. They want to take me out.
Sifidifensi: Which Chief Aduku…the Chairmanship candidate of Masses Conscious Party?
Old Soldier: Yes, of the MCP, the Most Corrupt Party. And Dokta, who is his personal doctor tried to help him.
Smith: Why? What is it you know that would want to make them kill you?
Old Soldier: Chief Aduku is a traitor. He has always been!
Betrayal should be his name but he calls it patriotism. [He motioned to Iya Roy] Please,
give me something to wet my throat.
Sifidifensi: This is a criminal offense.
Old Soldier: During the war, several years ago, he was the second-in-command to my platoon’s commander. Once the commander was killed by a search party of the Nigerian troops, he took charge of my platoon. It was then we knew that he was a traitor. He has always worked for the Nigerian side, sent to derail our men.
Old Soldier: One day, he led us into an ambush laid by the Nigerian troops.
Smith: Must have been a coincidence.
Old Soldier: Co…what?
Old Soldier: It was not!
Sifidifensi: How did you know that?
Old Soldier: Once we fell into the ambush, we looked around for Aduku and he was nowhere near. He gave us up to be slaughtered.
SIfidifensi: And you escaped…
Old Soldier: They opened fire on us. One bullet struck me around the face [he ran a finger across the scar on his right temple] and I fell to the ground. When I regained consciousness, I found that I was the only one alive and the enemy troops had gone.
Deckor whispering to Smith. “I think he is hallucinating like Dokta said. We must take him to hospital!” “Shut up. Let us hear him out”
Old Soldier: The war became even more real. Who was I to trust? My commander was dead, my platoon mates were all dead and the impostor was gone. Everyone, even a stray civilian became an enemy until otherwise proven. I had a head injury to heal. It was only the…
Doctor Rumps, accompanied by Dokta, and two male nurses, poured into Iya Roy’s and went straight to where Old Soldier sat.
Doctor Rumps: You have to come with us sir.
Dokta pulled Smith and Sifidifensi aside and was having a chat with them. Deckor tagged along Smith. The nurses were trying to help Old Soldier up to his feet, but he kept screaming, “Don’t let them take me away!”