“Junior! David! Baby! Wake up ooooh!”
She audibly called her children in a trembling voice as she quavered like one about to be slaughtered gruesomely. The violent explosions of gunshots which emitted like they could shatter a skull echoed from afar, as each second which passed drew the deafening sounds closer. The greatest nightmare she had always prayed against manifested, more horrible than she had even imagined. Their local government had been under series of attacks for a while, their village was one amongst the few yet to be raided. On comprehending the fact that any attempt to peel out from the village would turn them into refugees, she stayed put with her children and prayed against the ugly turn out of events. Since the death of her husband, Mama Junior, and her children managed to survive on the produce from their only farmland, which they barely cultivated on, for the fear of sudden attack from these ruthless armed men.
“Mama John! Ku tashi fa! Ana kawo mana hari”
She cried out while she banged on her neighbours door. She knew Mama John to be the flag bearer of raising alarm even when all was well. She pondered over what still made her obey natures call despite the wails, and howls of villagers, coupled with the sounds of gunshot which filled the atmosphere. She was panic-stricken when silence embraced her after she bashed the door, then, she realized that Mama John, and her household were not at home. Instantly, a sharp striking pain of betrayal ran through her spine. While her baby rested peacefully on her back, she held her two sons, they immediately ran to their jam-packed kitchen which was fully detached from their house.
Unfortunately, the raucous sounds drew closer. It almost seemed like they were in her compound. Within the split of a second, Mama Junior raced out with her children, they joined the villagers as their feet all travelled at a speed like olympic champions, with their eyes blinded by tears, and their ears blocked by the pounding noise. They cooled their feet when they didn’t have these men in sight, she desperately looked for her sons in the crowd, and she screamed their names with rage, each breath felt like her last. Suddenly, the fierce sounds of gunshots resonated, their feet kissed the ground in a hastier manner. Mama Junior ran without having her sons in sight, everybody took different paths.
Her feet heavily pounded the ground, she abruptly stopped when she was faced with a river. Without a flinch in her thoughts, she deepened her feet into the river to get to the end but paused when her daughter jerked, she reacted to the chilled water which touched her skin. Mama Junior sensed the depth of the river, she preferred to die a heroine with her daughter rather than turn back. With her last strength, she struggled to reach the other side of the river, her daughter screamed for the fear of being swallowed by the river. For each second she heard the piercing cry of her daughter, she drew strength to fight on. Each step she took made her feel the depth of the river, her body yelled for oxygen, the force of the flowing river dragged her like its prey. After some moments of struggle, mama junior found herself at the end of the river, without her child. The pain and anguish in her tripled, she felt like diving into the river in search of her daughter but was withdrawn by the thought of being drowned. She had to stay alive for her missing sons. Flashes of the horrible events played out in her head repeatedly. She walked through the dark path with a heavy heart and tears helplessly flowed down her cheeks. A part of her rejoiced when she saw some houses, she had reached another village. Mama Junior knocked on the door of the first house she sighted.
After she had narrated her ordeal to them, they accepted to give her shelter. They were not ignorant of the attacks happening in their neighbouring villages. After some days, they took her to the refugee camp where she reunited with her sons. The body of her daughter remained undiscovered.
Tales by Marvy
NB: This was inspired by a true life story of a Southern Kaduna crisis survivor. #KeepPrayingForSouthernKaduna