You scarpered through the corner of the streets as the soldiers began to shoot tear gas at you and your colleagues. This was the second time you had staged a protest after Sanni Abacha had refused to hand over to the civilian government. You realized that the transition which the government had promised was nothing but a hoax; and the unpaid salaries of workers had all exacerbated the situation. Thus, you called on a brazen group of other students on campus as the Student’s Union President to storm the government’s office. But things took an unexpected turn when a battalion of soldiers intervened. Someone said the government had ordered them.
Shivering beside the dilapidated kiosk where you had hidden, you watched as two officers cudgel a journalist while in his bid to cover the event—his camera broken, shirt torn down and a splotch of blood trickled down his left eye.
“Where is the guy leading this protest?” A soldier with rifle slung across his chest asked a student, brushing him against the wall.
The student lapsed into silence, glaring at him back as though his eyes housed a furnace. You knew he wasn’t going to respond to the man as they had been informed already by you. Nevertheless, something deep in your mind was saying he would reveal your identity once tortured. Just before the soldier would start to baton the helpless student, other students and thugs raced towards the battalion, yowling and lobbing stones and broken bottles at them. The soldiers retreated and escaped through their convoy. People started to sing in unison:
Solidarity is forever
Solidarity is forever
Solidarity is forever.
We shall always fight
For our rights.
You joined them back in the frenzy, roamed the streets for minutes and then, waltzed back to your various hostels. It had been a while a protest had yielded successful like that. And that frightened you because the military head of state, Sanni Abacha, was a psychopath. You could recollect the last remonstrance where an old man had been killed in cold blood after the arrival of reinforcement. Nothing like such had transpired this time and that aroused your suspicions—perhaps, everyone’s.
The night creeped in and you could only sleep with your eyes opened wide, awaiting any attack from the khaki men (soldiers). Surprisingly, there was no cause for alarm until the morning when you received an emergency call from home to return at once. What could have happened that called for this unusual call? You wondered, your heart pulsating faster now.
Back home in Ibadan, you saw a group of wailing people at the doorstep of your house. Your aunt stood by the doorway, looking unkempt and shoddy, started to wipe off tears that welled up in her swollen eyes at your sight. You ran inside, found your father and mother shrouded in white kaftan and laid on the tiled floor. From behind, your uncle tugged your shirt but you broke off and knelt before their deaths, crying hard.
“What happened to them? We still talked yesterday morning for God’s sake!” you said between throaty cries, getting to your feet.
“I… One of your neighbours called me this morning that some hired killers invaded your house at exactly 12:45pm and shot them… Dead,” your uncle replied in a sombre tone.
You plopped down to the couch behind you with your head turned upwards, tears flowing down your cheeks. Directing your eyes at the note on the glass table, your uncle picked it up and extended it to you.
“I think one of the culprits left this behind,” he said.
You knew who the culprits were as you perused the words: YOU CARRIED OUT YOURS. WE CARRIED OUT OURS. IT’S A 50/50 DEAL…
Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arówólò is a writer and student of Mass Communication who enjoys to write on child abuse, inequality, politics and domestic violence. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Nnoko Stories, Mixed Mag, Ninsha Arts and elsewhere. At his leisure time, he is either writing, reading or binge-watching animes.