It was a cold night, not unusually cold, but cold all the same, we were getting set for bed, after a long day of writing exams; exams we had studied day and night for, under the most stressful conditions; you see, it’s quite difficult studying for an examination and dodging either bullets or machetes, and not exactly in that order, because we always dodged whichever came first, but we studied all the same, because deep down in her hearts we had the hope that someday soon, the turmoil would end, and we would be allowed to face our futures, so we decided to prepare for it sooner than later, we were not going to allow anything take away the only thing we had that was capable of giving us the lives we dreamed of, so we persevered and we studied.
That night we talked about a lot of things, we talked about life after school, we talked about the different universities we would attend, we talked about the different courses we would take, we talked about getting married, starting families, we even talked about what type of men we preferred.
For as long i can remember, i have always wanted to be a pharmacist, I always admired the local pharmacist in my village, he was the sort of person, who could always find a solution to every type of ailment, he was so trusted that people had been known to get better just by walking into his pharmacy, yes I know it sounds far fetched, but we are simple people, with simple lives, we don’t demand much, just a peaceful life, food, friends and family.
We kept talking, we laughed and we joked, and for that moment we felt safe in each others company, I wanted to attend a university outside my state, I figured it was time to experience something different, since I had spent my whole life with my parents, my friends didn’t seem to share my aspiration, they all chose to stay back in the state, so they could be close to their families, well it didn’t bother me much, and I didn’t feel selfish, all I wanted was more exposure, maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, or kept my thoughts to myself, maybe this would never have happened, or maybe it was just written in our destinies, maybe we were meant to be here at the exact place, at this exact moment, for this exact occurrence to happen, well whatever the answer maybe, what happened has happened and we lived it.
The girls were excited, some had even gone to bed, others like me, kept talking and dreaming and planning, when suddenly from the distance we saw lights heading our way, suddenly panic enveloped us, my thoughts immediately went to my family, this was an all too familiar scene, and gradually everyone stopped talking, we stared at each other as if expecting one of us to say something that would calm the rest down.
The door to our dormitory opened gently, a man walked in, his face covered, he was in all green, my heart was pounding, it pounded so hard I thought it would explode, the door opened wider, and we saw more men, and as if on cue, we gasped in fear all at the same time, the men walked in, we couldn’t even see their faces, just their eyes, I’ll never forget their eyes, they had a wild look about them, the men walked in gently, we started to scramble backwards, and suddenly they cocked their guns and told us to be quite, we obeyed and remained silent, for a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, we remained silent and waited…………….
After what seemed like an eternity, one of the men spoke up, “don’t worry, we are here to protect you from the enemy”, and immediately after he said those words, we heard gun shots outside, loud continuous guns shots, they told us to lay on the floor and keep our faces covered, and with that they left our dorm room, and shut the door. Nobody said a word, we all kept our heads down, while the shots kept ringing outside, for the whole time we had our face covered, all i thought about was my family and all they were doing at that time, i knew mama would be in the kitchen preparing cornmeal for my father, that was his favorite meal, and i always wondered how he could constantly eat it, without getting tired, but then i remember him saying once, “it’s not the meal itself that is delicious, but the woman who prepares it”, my thoughts went to my little brother, mustapha, at this time of the day he would be feeding the pigs and taunting them with his football most likely, he wasn’t a cruel boy, he just played too many games, but he always ensure the livestock were well taken care of, my mind played out different scenes from home and this gave me some comfort, and after a few minutes, the men barged in again, and this time they ordered us all outside, they told us they would take us to safety, we believed them, after all they were in green, and we didn’t have much of a choice.
One by one, we were loaded into trucks, they hurried us up, and with the occasional gun shot, we hastened our movements, but all the while I couldn’t help but remember the eyes, they haunted me, I was so afraid, but tried to convince myself that we were safe.
The trucks came to life, and we were on our way, we drove for a few minutes, I could see the headlights of some trucks behind us, I could still hear some gun shots and some screams, but I was quite, not because I was brave or confident, but simply because I was paralyzed with fear, the roads were dark and cold, quiet and unnerving, but the trucks kept going, suddenly we heard it, the men with us in the truck began to scream, they began to chant saying things like “This is just the beginning, we will take everything back, they will realize we are here to stay”, they shot several times in the air, reaped off their face masks, stared at us in the darkness, with only the lights from the other trucks to slightly illuminate their faces, and in that instant it dawned on me, we had been taken………………………….
To Be Continued.
THIS STORY IS A PURE WORK OF FICTION, ANY DATES TIME AND EVENTS SIMILAR TO REAL LIFE EVENTS ARE COMPLETELY COINCIDENTAL
Written By Arome Ameh (The Priest)