Gunshots and echoed screams filled the air. The sound of blood spills and battle cries were all I could hear. It was an unanticipated strike, it wasn’t even supposed to be a strike at all, we were ambushed or rather backstabbed by our enemies who proposed a truce. I guess this war would last a little longer than we thought. This was supposed to be an agreement for a truce, we have been betrayed, we shouldn’t have trusted the Hausa’s. These and many more were the thoughts running through my mind.
“We have to move now” Agu bellowed as he incessantly pointed to our getaway drive, a black 260hp SUV which has suffered from lack of maintenance due to the war.
“Alpha Tango 1 do you copy?” he angrily screamed at the walkie talkie as we edged for our ride and likewise trying to keep our heads from bullets and ammunitions flying around.
The Hausa’s had opened fire on us, they had no intentions to sue for peace. It is too late now, they outsmarted us this time.
We rushed in the car as lions on a prey and chanted the words “go go go” in unison as our getaway driver zoomed us out of the scene. Dike attacked the dashboard of the car with several smacks showing his frustration as the walkie talkie gave back only static.
I was mute, cold shivers running down my spine as I replayed the events all over again in my mind. Tear drops formed in my eyes as the horror of a bullet in the head of my childhood friend Kesse was replaced by sadness.
“Arrghh! they killed my friend out there!” I sobbed as the tears now freely rolled down my cheeks.
“E no go beta for those people!”
“God go punish them!” Dike cussed.
I guess this is one of the many attributes of war. A lot of people die, even those dear to our hearts. My mind wandered with thoughts of doubts and regrets.
“What’s there to fight for if no one is left to care for, is this really worth it?”. These thoughts continued ruminating in my mind. I haven’t witnessed a war before, although I have a very clear impression of what a war looks like, but now I was starting to know what it felt like.
The war which started out as mere protest for independence by the Igbos wavered off by the Hausa’s had grown into a full blown civil war and we got caught up in the middle. I was a military officer, not a combatant which could be easily predicted by my rather flat chest and unappealing attempt at masculinity, but i was an intelligence analyst who was deployed few years ago to serve at the central intelligence agency (CIA) Enugu division. I hadn’t stayed few months before the war had started.
Now it’s been three years since the war started and just today we had the slightest glimmer of hope that we had reached a stopping point only to be robbed of illusion by these blood-thirsty and empty-headed Hausa men.
The rough forward jerk, due to the abrupt halt by the driver snapped me out of my thoughts. Wiping my moist eyes with one hand I opened the door with the other and made my way out of the car.
‘Pheww!’ I sighed in relief.
‘We made it to the base’, Udemba said, he was the driver, a tall and lanky fellow, his appearance betrayed his strength and dexterity. He was the third of the five-man Alpha Tango Squad that survived the ambush, the other two being I and Dike, a tall, dark, huge guy with a face that was as rough as a newly tarred road. He was our leader and the bravest of us all.
“Those bastards, they couldn’t even settle for a fair fight” were Uche’s first remarks after Agu narrated the incident we faced back at the Unity Square, the place which we were supposedly hinted to use as the meeting ground. Uche was the leader of the (FRS), the FAST RESPONSE SQUAD. It was established few months after the war started by the CIA Enugu division. It had many departments, the topmost being the Alpha Tango squad which was severed earlier today. Uche was a young man in his early 40s, he had a handsome build and a smile that made you momentarily forget that all was not well. He was a very smart and strategic man, all the more reason why he most of all was devastated by this happening.
“I am deeply sorry for what happened today, go home to your families, I will come up with a plan, even if it means we all are going to die for this war to be won” he said as he motioned us out of the briefing room fast paced and trying to hide the tear drops that were settling down at the base of his eyeballs.
Few minutes later I had packed my stuff and was on my way home.
I boarded a shuttle that dropped me at the nearest bustop to my house. I alighted and kept walking on the muddy road, which gave my black Chinos trousers dents as well as my brown brogue boots.
“Even if it means we are all going die for this war to be won” I reminisced Uche’s closing remarks in my thoughts as I continued walking, trying to provide the best inference to this statement.
“Okpa di oku, Okpa di oku”
I was jolted out of my thoughts by the voice of three women chanting repeatedly, I turned towards them, and as if they could read words out of my face, they simultaneously opened their coolers and reached for their black water-proof nylons, getting ready to serve balls of Okpa, a native snack made from Bambara nut. I went for the one in the women in the middle, courtesy of my instincts.
“Give me Okpa #200” I said amidst exchange of pleasantries.
“Thank you ma” I answered as I collected my comestible and continued my journey home.
In less than a jiffy I was home, or what I call home you would say. A two bedroom flat with a large frontyard.
“Daddy Oyoyo, Daddy Oyoyo”, my first son chorused with ecstasy the second he saw me. He ran towards me with a face beaming with happiness like that of someone who just met his idol, which I happened to be. I carried him on my shoulder, smiling, he didn’t weigh much he was only five years and a very smart and vibrant kid.
“What of your mummy?”
“She is inside the kitchen.”
We conversed as we made our way into the house. It’s been a long day, and the one thing that keeps me going every day was my family, which was my wonder kid, and my beautiful and caring wife. My smiled dimmed as I knew I had to tell today’s tale to my wife and it dimmed a little more when I sensed that the days ahead might hold more terrible tales.
“Hey hun, how was your day?” she asked with a smile on her face which vanished when she sensed my countenance.
”Fine, it was fine, we thank God” I replied.
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