FictionLifestyles

BROKEN | Part Two

She was fifteen when it happened. She and her family lived in Adamawa because that was where her dad worked. They had been hearing about the crisis happening in the neighbouring villages, but they prayed that it wouldn’t get to their side. She remembered her mum always urging her father to let them move but he always said he couldn’t leave his job because if he did, the family won’t be able to feed. So he urged them to pray instead.

***

One day, they were sleeping when they started hearing people screaming ‘they have come, they have come’ Chidinma knew who the ‘they’ were and she started to panic. Her father barged into her room, told her to get up from the bed, grab her little brother and run. She ran like she never did before, she ran into the bush and as she kept running not once looking back to see if her parents were behind her.

***

When she was tired of running, she stopped to find a place to hide. Her little brother who was three was crying and she was trying her best to get him to stop so the enemies won’t know where they were. As she sat on the ground pacifying her brother, she noticed that her shirt was stained with blood and so was her brother. She got scared and thought her brother was hurt but after examining him she found out the blood was not coming from him, it was coming from her.

***

Something, probably a branch, had cut her neck and although she didn’t feel the pain before, she now felt a tremendous amount of pain and to make things worse, it started to rain. Her brother who had just agreed to keep quiet because she promised him a biscuit, started to cry and she could think of nothing else to do but join him.

***

Chidinma was able to find a hiding place for she and her brother, it was a tunnel that was well hidden by bush. She carried her brother and went deep into the tunnel until she reached the end were there was a brick wall. She lay her brother down and started to pray that her parents were okay. Chidinma didn’t know when she slept off, but she was woken up by gunshots. She froze and started to pray that no one would find her and her brother.

***

She looked over to where he was sleeping and was happy that the gunshots didn’t wake him up. The gunshots were replaced with people yelling which went on for about five minutes before everywhere became silent again. Chidinma quietly tip toed to the entrance of the tunnel to check if anyone was out there. She saw some soldiers and she immediately called their attention.

***

She was happy to have found them and one of them followed her into the tunnel to get her brother. She saw the expression on his face change immediately he touched her brother.
“This pikin don die,” he said in his thick Hausa accent.
It felt like the blood in Chidinma’s head dried up. How can her brother be dead? What was she going to tell her parents? Chidinma wanted to cry but the tears refused to come. He must have died of hypothermia she thought. The soldier wrapped her brother up in a cloth and they led the way back to her town. The sight that greeted her was horrible. Houses burned to the ground and some were still burning, dead bodies everywhere.

***

It looked like the scene of a movie but Chidinma knew it was real. She ran to her house to see her parents and tell them Ebuka was dead but her house was gone, in its place was debris. She found her voice and started to scream. How could this be happening to her, where were her parents? Did they make it out alive? If they did where were they? These were the question’s running through Chidinma’s head. But she already knew the answer, she knew her parents didn’t make it, she knew she was now alone.

***

The soldiers calmed her down and took her somewhere to get treatment for the wound on her neck. When they were done, the nurse told her to make sure she goes to the clinic three times a week to redress the wound so it wouldn’t get infected. Chidinma didn’t care if it got infected or not because all she wanted to do was die and join her family members. The soldiers told everyone that survived to stay together that vehicles were coming to take them to IDP camps. Chidinma had heard tales of those camps and she didn’t want to go there to confirm if the tales were true.

***

So she saw some people mumbling and saying they were going to join their family in the neighbouring village so she followed, using the same excuse.
Chidinma had no money so she had to walk to the neighbouring village.  She walked and kept passing villages begging for money as she did. Then she heard someone shouting ‘Omo Igbo’ the person sounded Yoruba and she wasn’t sure if he was calling her but she looked back and saw a tall dark man waving for her to come over. She recognized his face from the people that told the soldiers they were going to meet their families in neighbouring town. She got to where he was and greeted him.

***

“Where you they go?” he asked
“I don’t know,” she sobbed
“That pickup wey you dey see so, na Benue e dey go and e don agree say e go carry people for free”
Chidinma’s face lit up. She had an aunt in Anambra, if she could get to Benue then she could find her way to Anambra and locate her aunt.
“You wan go?” he asked. Chidinma nodded and he told her to wait by the truck while he goes to find more people.
The journey to Benue took ten hours, the truck was uncomfortable because it was crying both human and cows who had defecated everywhere. But who were they to complain.

***

They arrived in Benue very late in the night; the truck had broken down twice thus making the journey longer than it was supposed to be. Chidinma had gathered one thousand five hundred from begging and the plan was to find somewhere to eat and sleep then continue her journey to Anambra the next day.

She was planning things in her head when all of a sudden she started hearing gunshots. Everyone started jumping down from the truck and running into the bush, Chidinma followed suit. As she ran into the bush, she had a feeling of Dejavu. Barely twenty-four hours ago, she was running into the bush and now it was happening again.

***

She ran as fast as her legs could carry her, the Yoruba guy whose name she had learned is Tunde, was running in front of her and she was trying hard to catch up. Then she heard another gunshot and Tunde fell. She screamed and ran up to him. He had been shot at the back of his head and the bullet went through, Chidinma knelt beside him and was shivering she knew there was nothing she could do. She heard another gunshot and she started to run again. And she had not run far when someone collided with her. She fell on the ground and hit her knee on a rock, her knee started to bleed. She turned to see who had collided with her; it was one of the herdsmen that were attacking them.

READ ALSO: MISHI

Written by ALEXANDRA OPEYEMI

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