Victims – Episode 17
A Story By Rosemary Okafor
“Ewo! Nwanne nkem! Thank God you are alive”
Mmesommachi held Ukwuoma on a long embrace while few tears escaped from her eyes
“I am so sorry I have not come to see you since that day of the explosion” Ukwuoma apologized
“Isi gini? (What are you saying) where you see road? When everybody dey run as if say them dey Olympic” she chuckled and wiped few tears from her eyes
It’s been more than two weeks after the attack and the camp was still undergoing reconstruction, families improvised with cloths and sticks to make shelter for themselves.
The attack turned some dwellers to petty thieves as they grabbed opportunities to cart away things that previously were not theirs,
The Military farm was not spared, as men turned to locusts by night to survive,
“Food no dey reach us again, e get time self way we no dey see chop, that woman way dey incharge of the food say the bomb scatter all the food stuff them way Governor wife bring, but my sister me know say na lie she dey talk”
“How you take know?” Ukwuoma asked
They sat down on a pile of wood, Ukwuoma brought out a loaf of bread and gave to her friend who snatched the bread from her, tore the water proof pack with her teeth and sank her teeth on the loaf like a wolf tearing a prey.
“Where you get money way you take buy bread for me?” she tore some bread again
“They do give me little allowance from the hospital, it is not much but…it is something”
Mmesomachi looked at her friend with envy which disappeared as quickly as it came and was replaced with gratitude,
“Thank you o, I really happy for you. At least you no dey worry this thing way we dey worry, you dey see food chop and house way you and your pikin dey sleep”
Her husband walked towards them with a hammer and some nails in his hands, Mmesommachi handed the remaining bread to him
“No finish am o, make we see something chop for night” Mmesomachi warned
Okechukwu cut what was left of the bread, molded it like a big Eba and pushed it inside his mouth, he handed the bread back to Mmesomachi, waved at the women and walked away.
He was not a big man by stature, but it seemed like he had equally lost a lot of weight.
“He came back finally t you” Ukwuoma said,
“Yes na, him no get option, her sweet chocomilo army woman no want him again, watin I go do? Na to accept am na” Mmesomachi responded
“He lost some weight”
“Why him no go lose weight? The Toto way him bin dey f**k don waka, all the chopings way him bin dey get there no dey come again”
“At least you still have him”
They kept an awkward silence, both watched as people walked up and down the area that has turned into a slum.
“Joyce died, I see her dead body as them drag am, this life nawa!”
Ukwuoma groaned in pains, death has left them all lost and swallowed in a world of agony.
“Your children…what happened to them?” Ukwuoma was afraid to ask, she dreaded the bad new but…
“Then done commot for here, we beg one army man way say him want travel go Kaduna make him help carry them for their truck reach there, my sister dey for Kaduna” Mmesomma said
Ukwuoma gave a sigh of relief,
“The Army man na good person o, come gree to help you”
“Which good? Mtcheewwww” Mmesommachi bent her head and looked away
“I hear as him dey talk to him friend say him oga send am message for Kaduna, na em I come meet am say make him help my children, that
Mmesomachi pulled the tail of her wrapper and wiped sweats off her face before she continued;
“I been no gree, I leave am comot, but as fear no gree me, I don see dead body tire for here, women way their pikin dem die for hunger and sickness even this bomb own worst, I no wan make my girls them die, na only them I get…” she waved off a dragon fly that wanted to perch on her head and spat on the ground, she watched the spittle as it dried gradually;
“When I come see the mumu next day, na him I meet am na… na for this back place we do am,
Nwa anuofia no na apikasi m ara ka ona agbanye TV (the Idiot was pressing my breast like he was tuning an analogue Television” She was uncomfortable
Ukwuoma wasn’t shocked, she only felt pity for the woman, one can only be in a situation to be able to condemn another.
“when I come inside my husband dey awake, I feel say him see us, but him no ask me till today…I just pray say make the children reach
Kaduna in peace, make that Idiot no F**ck them too” the fat woman looked so weak and vulnerable, she looked at her dirty fingers and tried removing some of those dirt with her other fingers
“How your boy dey?” She asked
“He is fine, he no longer falls sick as he used to…thank you so much my friend, you really helped me” Ukwuoma said
“Hmm…watin I for do na, if na you, you go still help me, I don see you say you be better person”
Yusuf saw the women from where he stood, blending with the dwellers wasn’t difficult, with an old yellow shirt, a torn pair of jeans, and a worn out slippers, he looked like one of them.
He had searched for the woman since morning with no luck, he was about to leave when luck blew her to his way.
He saw her walking towards the place where some men were working and had followed her, though he wondered why she wasn’t with the boy.
It was easy for him to pass through the Military men at the Gate;
“Who you be! Where you dey come from!!” the boy at the gate had asked him, he looked like a new recruit for he was trying to impress his oga that was standing not too far from him,
“I go town, I wan see if I fit find my wife way lost since the riot…”
The recruit looked at him with suspicion, poked his chest with a stick and looked him in the eye, he was too close that Yusuf could feel his bad breath,
“Go there make them search you”
He almost laughed when he was being searched, if he had some arms, the amateurs at the gate wouldn’t have stopped him.
When the woman stood to go, he waited for her to work far enough before he followed, he watched her opened the door and saw the boy ran into her arms
“It won’t be long” he said to himself
“Don Allah, ka yi rahama, tana da ciki, kasha ni maimakon (please, have mercy, she is pregnant, kill me instead)”
Their visit was unannounced as usual, they have all gone to sleep when Issah and his men stormed the house, that would be the fourth house they have visited that night, leaving a gory message behind and a sacrifice of chopped meats for the ravens.
“I ba za ku zauna ba, you are not supposed to live, Allah forbid that I spare his enemy” The young officer struggled to say
With the man on his knee, Issah tore the woman’s stomach open, the first stab of the blade sent waves of pain on to the woman, her scream tore the night, Issah was drunk with ecstasy, he was enjoying what he was doing, the blade went deeper and ran from top to bottom of the protruded stomach, five men held her down and like a priest Issah offered her to death, his hands swam inside her stomach, cutting through the organs till it reached the fetus, by the time the little soul was brought out, the woman was gone.
Her husband was made to watch, his head held still by two strong arms, he called on both the known and the unknown gods, till he had no more tear to drop.
The blade stood before him, with his leg spread, and fingers dripping blood, issah gave a swing and the blade descended on the man like a guillotine blade, his head rolled down to Issah’s feet and he kicked it away.
To be continued
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