THE NIGHT I TURNED 18
Mallam Nuhu saw me in my hide out when he knelt down to beg the murderers. There was little or nothing he could do again, since the bandits had gained entrance into the building. And it seemed they were battle ready to resist the gateman defence tactics because they were more than many for him to handle that night.
The Mallam said, he knew there was no way except by miracle that my parents were going to escape deaths, because they had refused and refused to renounce their faith as requested by the bandits. My father told them, point blankly that he was never going to be intimidated by their threats, arrows, spears or guns. He was resolute in his decisions, even when he was begging him to change his mind and dance to the turn of the bandits at least to save their lives for that night.
He didn’t listen to me but rather told the attackers to stop deceiving themselves thinking or pretending to be fighting for God’s interest by taking do many innocent lives….
“No one human fight for the God of heaven and Earth! You had better go and repent of this your evil ways so as not to spend the rest of your lives in eternal damnation in hell”. We whispered with a defiant look.
His last statement broke the camel’s back because it brought out the worst anger from their ring leader who began to shout in annoyance and ordered my parents to be killed immediately without mercy.
Nuhu said, in that inevitable critical situation, how he would save was the next thing on his mind. That was why he left the sitting room, unannounced.
” You thought you were hiding but those monsters could easily
located you where you were as soon as they were through with your parents, they would come for you.
So, immediately, he left the criminals, he came upstairs using the emergency exit and was already behind me at the point when my parents were slaughtered. He was reading my emotions trying to know how I was going to react to what I saw. He was surprised initially, when I didn’t scream and he meant to gently tap me but it’s almost late before he discovered that I was actually preparing to let out a loud cry. So instead of tapping me, he decided to hit me hard enough to deal my lips, temporarily. My father had trusted him enough to have shown him all the emergency exits out of building and the compound. That was how he rescued me from untimely death the night that was supposed to be celebrating my 18th birthday.
“What if your supposed jab sent me to a permanent stillness, what would you have done?” I asked the Mallam jokingly, as we were coming back from his farm.
“Have! I only took the risk…. but to be sincere, it was my jab that actually made you unconscious naah, you were already weaken out of the shock from the terrified scene you saw……”. He responded with a thin smile.
“All the same ‘Mugode’….for saving my life…..I was only joking…..I write understand that you needed to do what you did….”. I gave him a broad smile.
It had been six weeks away from demise of my parents. I had regained my health though not fully recovered from the shock. All thanks to the caring couple. The family was indeed very kind to me.
I had been seeing Rekia and the kids, leave the camp and come back with baskets of food. I was curious to know where they used to get such much food, when we just arrived at the camp not long. I later found out from Nuhu that the plot of land that was turned to our refugee camp was one of the four plots of land he owned. He had planned to build a beautiful bungalow on the land and had been using the remaining plots for farming ever before we relocated to the camp. That means the family had been coming to the place before now.
The farm was a big one. Nuhu had planted so much yams, vegetables, beans and other food crops. Do good was not going to be our problem at all
I believed in a short time, he would start sell his farm produce. But for the meantime, he was working as hired labourers in other people’s farms so that he could be able have money to spend on other things his farm could not provide.
“I owed all this achievement to your father’s kindness. He knew about this land and had even promised to come to this place with me, to see how he could be of help, but it’s a pity he had to go in such manner…..Walahi! I have lost a good person.”…. He said sadly.
Nuhu made me to understand that it wasn’t only in our home that they experiencef such brutality and lost, there was a great massacre almost in all the parts of the region.
People were murdered, houses, cars and other valuables we’re destroyed, while some were carted away. He said, he was lucky to have got all of us to the camp safely. He and his wife were marching on dead bodies scattered all over the place as they ran for their dear lives. He had me fastened to his back, while he kept dragging on one of the kids along. His wife also had their last baby on her back while she carried their second born.
“It was the most terrible night, I would never forget in short time”. He concluded
‘Why are they wasting lives they cannot create….why are they shedding innocent blood for no just cause…..when will these unjust killings stop…..?”
“It’s okay, Abiki”. He patted me on the back.
I smiled to myself. Mallam Nuhu’s ways of pronouncing of my name used to amuse me me, greatly. He used to pronounce “I” instead “e”. But I was not in the mood to steer up any argument on omission or addition of “e”. I felt like having a super power to kill those ruthless people……I longed to avenge the death of my parents…if….my thought was running so fast , far away from my environment….but all of sudden we heard a loud cry from not too far away camp.
“Wayo Allah! Wayo Allah!……..
Oh! What was that again…..!?
THE NIGHT I TURNED 18
“It’s okay, Abiki”. He patted me on the back
I smiled. Mallam Nuhu’s way of pronouncing my name used to amuse me. He used to substitute “e” with “i” but I wasn’t in the mood to steer up any argument on omission or substitution of any letter. I just felt like have a super power to avenge the death of my parents.
It was faint bacause of the distance but audible enough for her voice to be recognized.
We clearly heard Rekia’s wailings…..”Wayo Allah…..Wayo Allah!”
We started running, the Mallam taking the lead. Suddenly, he stopped and took my hand and headed towards another path away from the camp. We left the foot path and began to running through the bush until we reached another narrower foot path, he paused and ordered me to keep running toward the right anytime I got to a cross road. I held onto him and refused to let go of his hand. I wanted to go back with him to help rescue Rekia, my friend and the kids from whatever danger that was hovering over them. But he insisted that I must leave and promised me that he would do everything humanly possible to save his family, but I needed to run into safety. I let him go eventually, after he reminded me the the longer I kept delaying him there, the more the risk of loosing his love ones.
I stood fixed on the spot with steams of tears flowing down my face. I watched his back as he hurried on until he disappeared from my view. He was my only defender…but, he had gone, leaving me to wander alone, this lonely forest. I looked round the thick bush…. “….hnmmmm, I am alone in the bush….even in this world which suddenly has become alien and dangerous than I have ever envisaged”
I must have spent some couple of minutes there, I thought I saw a movement. “Jeeezuz”! I leapt like an antelope and ran deep and deeper into the bush without thinking of looking back. I felt as if someone was pursuing me and might catch up with me, so with this kind of thought running through my mind….there was no waiting….no resting….no stopping. I just kept on running as fast as I could but always towards my right.
I never knew I could run that fast. I would have run for more than five to six hours before I got tired and thirsty. I decided to sit down and rest. I tried to survey my environment first before finally taken to my decision. I had discovered that the farther I ran the lighter the forest became until it blended into one beautiful vast vegetation. Everywhere around me was beautifully green…
I stretched to see where the vegetation ended and not too far from my view, I saw a huge rock standing still staring at me. So I summoned my courage to get to the rock side before I finally take my rest. I looked up the sky to check if I could be able to read the time. When it became this cloudy at the camp it would be around 5:30 to 6:00pm. Though I was flagged out, I hauled myself through the vegetation and managed to get to the base of the rock. I checked around and found a suitable place to settle down.
I sat down to rest but my mind went back to my earlier conversation with Nuhu. How could my father traded his life and the lives of his loved ones one one baseless faith. What was he thinking when he was challenging those murderers? Did he think he was on the pulpit? Having the gut to give sermon at the edge of death. Did he think, his Jesus would come to his aid?
“Why daddy, why did you have to die like that….even when you were given a chance to just deny your Jesus and live…. nothing bad or gravious is required from you now……just to deny and live but you refused….now see yourself…..you died and left only me to face this wicked world alone..”
My father had been too fanatical about his faith in Jesus. I had always been pretending to have interest then. But to say the truth, my faith wasn’t as great in Jesus as that… the Bible stories appeared to me like some fairy funny great tales.
Then I believed God exit but not any more…..I resent the being called “God” who called himself holy and powerful but refused to give just judgement….he allows evil to overcome good…he allows the wicked to triumph over the kind hearted….
” Who is this Jesus? Who refused to show up when his faithfuls are in danger? I raised my hand to the sky.
” Jesus, my dad died because of you….where are you?….just show me your face”…..
THE NIGHT I TURNED 18
@: Olutope Olonade
All of a suden, I saw Mallam Nuhu a far off.
“So this man has been the one trailing me in the bush…..but he should have called me, instead of frightening me and made me run like a deer….what sort of a prank is this”? I queried him in my thought.
He was moving through the green vegetation. I waved to him and he waved back as he hurried towards me in great excitement. He finally got to where I was and sat down beside me at the base of the rock, full of smiles and thanking God for bringing me there safely . He said he would have caught up with me but I was running too fast for him and he didn’t want to call my name for security reasons, he knew he was going to meet me eventually by the rock.
” I thought you had gone to rescue your family. What are you doing here again…..don’t tell me you turned back because of me…” I asked with a concerned tone. Though I was excited for seeing and reuniting with my benefactor but I was also concerned about the well fare of my friend, Rekia and the kids and more, I was amazed to see him that early.
With his usual sheepishly smiles, he informed me that his wife and daughters were all rescued and taken to the village near the camp, safely. He said by the time he got back to the camp, he was happy to find out that the Invaders had been overpowered by the nieghbouring farmers and hunters. He had to run back immediately at his wife insistence to check on me and bring me back to camp.
I was very happy to hear the good news but still wondered how he was able to cover up the distance between us, in a short time. He looked into my eyes and smiled again. His smiles were filled with deep emotions that I could not explain. As if he was reading my mind, he told me he deliberately took me the path to the place so as to get me completely out of trouble and danger. He explained to me that where I found myself was the Central Capital Area of the country; its the place that housed the Central government seat for the North, South, East and West.
” You are safe here….but you only need to be very careful so that you don’t fall prey to the wolves in sheep clothings….Abiki”. He warned.
I smiled at the wrong pronunciation of my name again. He returned my smile with a wide grin.
A tap on my shoulder, brought me out of my reverie. I must have slept for more than twenty minutes. The tap came from a young fair young lady, standing with her hands in akimbo.
It was getting dark though, but not too dark to blur my sight and sense from accessing the lady in front of me who was smiling sheepishly at me. Her long body formed a shadow at my right hand side……great hairdo, long painted nails and bla…..bla….bla…..She just reminded me of a lady called, Angela; my course mate. God! Everything about that girl was artificially expensive…….bleashed skin, tinted artificial dread lock, fixed painted finger and toe nails, fixed eye lashes and even fixed balls. I learnt from a friend that those girls that used to fixed eye balls should not mistakingly sleep with the fixed eye balls on or they will go blind, if they dare!
The thought of it alone scared me. I used to think that Angela was one of the little rich girls on campus owning to her high level standard of living. Only to found out that she wad living a fake life. She was actually living and surviving on “Aristoes”, men who were older than her father’s mate – I pitied her. I wondered how some girls endangered and finally destroyed their lived all because of mere luxury of life.
I stood up defensively and demanded to know who the lady was and what she wanted from me. She put on a wide and steady smile while she looked into my eyes; she signalled to me to relax my mind as she meant no harm.
“Evenings, Amariya” . She extended her right hand to me in a friendly manner and placed the second hand on her chest. I opened my mouth to say some things but closed it back. I wondered when I became “Amariya”….Amariya is a name given to a married woman. Almost at once I checked myself and realised she addressed me owing to the way she saw me dressed. I had been wearing Hajia Rekia’s flowing gowns with the usual hijab ever since the couple rescued me. Little wonder, an adage that says “The way one dresses determines the way one is addressed”
I also extended my hands to receive hear hand shake. She.. stretched her neck behind me and checked around.
“Where is your bowl of fresh cow milk”? She asked. I just shook my head. She started demonstrating to me with both hands as she spelt out the words again.
” I …..say….your….bowl …of…cow…..milk….fura de nunu” I could see clearly that the lady thought I did not understand English language. I giggled and told her that my name was Abike and a Westerner not a Northerner. She was taken by surprise at the fluency of my spoken English. She laughed and nodded. She later, introduced herself to me as Amaka Badmus. She asked why would I dressed in such an outfit since I declined that I was a Muslim. I told her it was a long story.
,”Am all ears, you can make the long story brief and presice as possible”. Amaka held my hands with an encouraging look.
To be continue…..