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Rotimi woke up abruptly from a nightmare sweating and was surprised to find himself sleeping on the laps of the young girl. He had just been chased by someone in his dreams with a dagger and the person had followed him into the store they were hiding.

The young girl was sleeping peacefully and Rotimi wondered how he fell asleep comfortably on the girls body. The night was dark and cold and outside was as quiet as a grave yard. He wondered if the riots had stopped? If Musa had gotten help or had deserted him?

He wondered what would be the fate of this girl he was with, if she would leave him as well in the morning and go back to her uncle? He wanted to get up but he was very tired and hungry so he quietly drifted back to sleep.

Rotimi woke up before noon feeling feverish. His temperature was high and he was feeling a little dizzy. He was surprised to find the girl still in the store. She greeted him “Good morning” and he replied her weakly.
She came towards him and felt his head with the back of her palm and then she turned back to get some water from the yellow container. She poured some on a small rusty metal container and then she used her scarf which she had previously used the previous night to make a tourniquet and soaked inside the metal container and applied on his forehead. She applied it to other parts of his body and continued till he fell asleep 30 about minutes later.

When he woke up some hours later, he was feeling strong enough to get up and he sat down and looked around the room.

The young girl came and sat by Rotimi.
“I thought you would have gone,” Rotimi said.
“No, I don’t know if the riots has stopped and if I left, there would be no one left here to take care of you.”

Rotimi looked at her and didn’t say a word, their eyes met for the first time and she looked away quickly. He felt a twitch on his injured leg and moved his hands slowly towards the leg. He could see that she was sincere in her answer and was equally as scared as he was. He was full of unspoken gratitude.

“Thank you” Rotimi said to her as she turned back in surprise.
“For what?” She asked.
“For saving my life.” He said.
She didn’t reply him and she looked down shyly and played with the hems of her dress.

The air was filled with a warm silence and the room smelled of dust mixed with sweat, dried blood and fear.

“Are you a medical doctor?” Rotimi asked her and he knew that he was asking a foolish question.
“No.” She answered slowly. “I am not in the university. My uncle does not have enough money yet.”
“Ok.” He replied feeling sorry for her. He sensed a feeling of regret in her tone.

Then he continued “I’m sorry, I thought you were a medical student or a nurse with the way you’ve been taking care of me since yesterday. I am a medical student in the university.”
“Ok.” She said.
“What is your name Rotimi asked her as he moved his hands and held her soft hands.”

She was shocked at first by the question then by his hand holding hers, then she got hold of herself, relaxed and replied him “My name is Lola.”
“Lo-what? He asked again.”
“Lola,” she said slowly this time so he could hear it very well.
“What is the meaning?” Rotimi asked inquisitively.
“It means wealth.”
“Oh! That’s lovely. Rotimi replied her with a smile and some relief.

“What is your own name? She asked him.
“Rotimi.” He replied smiling and then continued, “I thought you were an Hausa girl.”
She smiled and turned to him and replied “I thought you were an Igbo boy.”

Rotimi froze with fear immediately, his heart skipped a beat and he removed his hands from hers in an instant. He saw that she didn’t notice the fear on his mind. And then he smiled once again to her halfheartedly and said that “he was from the Niger delta.”

She then continued to talk feeling more relaxed. She rested her head on his shoulders and told him that they were lucky to be alive. She told him that she didn’t understand why the northerners were quick to fight and kill at the slightest provocation all in the name of religion.

She told him that she would leave this city once she went back home. She said that her parents had died when she was little and that she’d been living with her uncle since she was ten. She said she would like to travel to Lagos and start her life afresh. She said that her old life had ended yesterday and that today was the first chapter in her new life.

He was a little bit surprised at the mood in which she spoke and how freely she was divulging her life to him, a stranger whom she had met under the most undesirable circumstances. He felt a sudden chill then a warmness all over himself.

He then took over the discussion and told her that He was the first child out of four, that his parents were still alive and that this was his first time of traveling to the north only to get caught up in the midst of a bloody ethno-religious riot.

She laughed and said that she was sorry for the unfortunate incident, but that if not for this frequent ethno-religious clashes, that the north was one of the best places to stay in Nigeria.

Rotimi hissed immediately in sarcasm and disgust and then continued “That was what Musa told me and I foolishly believed him and followed him here.” He thought about the fence he scaled yesterday, the race he ran non stop for what seemed like eternity and the eerie sound of the person being lynched outside on the street yesterday and he was filled with anger.

He wanted to tell her bluntly that if only her people had agreed to join the southeastern region to pull out of this useless Union of a country during the civil war, that all this killings and atrocities wouldn’t have happened in the past and now, but he hesitated after a while.
He didn’t want to complicate  issues further, he wanted to remain on the good side of Lola because he knew that he wasn’t fully safe and that He still didn’t know how to get away from here not to talk of finding his way home. He would be foolish to throw all that away because he was angry. He concluded that since he was still alive, then he should count himself lucky and look forward to tomorrow…to the future

They continued to talk at length and discussed several issues freely and honestly. Rotimi told her that he had left his bag and all his money when he ran away and that he didn’t know how he was going to travel back to school. He had also told her that he was heartbroken from a failed relationship.

She in turn told him that she hadn’t known what it felt to be with a man and that her uncle was planning to marry her off to one rich Alhaji as his fourth wife by the end of the year.

Rotimi wondered, if she was as excited as he was in their discussion. He sensed that Lola had been looking for a way to get all this burden and emotions out all her life and he felt some sort of pity for her. He wondered if she had ever had any one to listen to her. Maybe all her life she had been searching for someone to listen to her.

He too hadn’t had that privilege of pouring out himself to someone. He was surprised at the emotional tension building up between them, how often their eyes met and held each other’s gaze as they discussed, the way she smiled at everything.

The light trickling in from the hole in the ceiling was getting dark and he wondered and feared what had happened to his friend and the extent of what had happened out there.

Rotimi yawned heavily and stretched out his arms and exclaimed “I’m am very hungry.”
Lola took a look at him, and told him that she was sorry, but that they would have to wait till the next morning before they went outside.

She then smiled and said that “if he was very very hungry, then he could have her for dinner.”
Rotimi eyes opened wider in surprise and then he understood the joke. He shook his head and said “No! No! No! Laughing. I’m not that hungry yet.”

Then he thought in his mind that Lola was the most intriguing woman he had ever met. She was a beautiful girl too, and his savior. If it ever got to that unlikely point of having someone for dinner, it would be the yeye Sharon and not this lovely Lola.

Rotimi asked Lola impulsively “What is your favorite color?”
“It’s blue, she replied. What about you?”
“Hmmm! I don’t really have a favorite color, but ehmmm! I think I’ll chose oxblood.”
“Why oxblood?” Lola asked.
“When I remember the color of the dried blood on my leg, I want to remember you.”

The night quickly drifted away and both Rotimi and Lola had both been immersed in a new and separate world, free of fear and danger. A world filled with laughter, passion, uncommon intimacy and a bright hope. He hadn’t even thought about his family again or the harrowing experience he had witnessed only just yesterday.

He had never felt so safe and secure, even in the face of frightening danger. He felt he was in a dream and that he was in heaven.

The night was cold and they had cuddled up together on some makeshift carton they arranged on the floor and shared the bliss of their newfound warmth, passion and togetherness. He was certain that Lola had fallen for him and that he too had found something pure and valuable, a raw diamond.

He slept off peacefully into another world. The boundaries of realities between both worlds became blurred and he saw himself going to and fro across both.

***

Rotimi saw himself standing in a garden filled with blue rose flowers and green carpet grass. He turned his back and saw a figure standing some distance away from him.

He walked closer and discovered that it was a woman. He couldn’t see the face clearly because of the bright light that shone from her face. When he got very close, he recognized the smile, the scarf and the face. It was Lola.

She smiled back at him and he embraced her in a tight hug. He felt the now familiar warmth of her supple skin as he caressed it smoothly with his hands. He was filled with pure passion and Lola was leading him to the floor. He tasted her strawberry lips and kissed them till they were pink.

His hands moved to her full breasts, and he fondled them gently with such dexterity and he heard her moan softly from pleasure. He squeezed her oranges and licked the juices with his tongue. The pressure in his loins was building up greatly and Lola was opening up herself for him to penetrate on her own volition.

The moans increased for both Lola and himself as he carefully entered her and began thrusting his passion delicately inside of her. Gliding slowly back and forth, He felt the inner warmth of her moist thighs and the pleasure for both of them was immense.

As the thrusts increased and went deeper, the pressure in his loins got to the brim, and there was a sudden explosion of pure ecstasy. Then it was followed by a sporadic release of euphoria and then everything became white, as the last drops of his passion flowed into her.

They looked at each other as they cuddled together on the grass and smiled in consonance of having shared something so pure, a heavenly bliss.

She then kissed him on the forehead and he fell asleep again into a subconsciously familiar world…

Dry Bones…

HISTORY CLASS

Now some intellectuals & literates are saying we should apply reasoning in the wake of recent developments in the country. Some are saying now, that it doesn’t matter which region of the country Mr. President picks his cabinet, so long as they deliver, (Good & fine).

Now I’m going to crave your indulgence to finish this article because I want to go back 50 years ago.

In the years leading up till 1966 – 1967, the Igbo’s suddenly emerged the leading ethnic group in all sectors of Nigeria apart from the Military, as a result of 30 previous years of hard work. The Igbo’s individual hardworking spirit had gradually pushed them to occupy virtually most top positions in the Railway, Police, Civil Service, Coal mines, Radio Corporation, Business enterprises, Educational institutions and the Universities.

Up until that period, the Igbo’s were only concerned about building a better country  (Nigeria) & had no ulterior motives for ethnic domination over the other two major ethnic groups.

As a result of their percieved success, around 1965 – 1966, there was growing rancor and bad blood developing among the other two major ethnic groups. They began to hate & accuse the Igbo’s for allegedly trying to take solitary control of the country. The Northerners published articles in the news papers and started airing inciting comments against the Igbo’s in BBC Hausa radio service. The westerners followed suit releasing wild and totally unfounded statements and condemned the actions of the Igbos.

What followed next, was the deliberate, calculated and coordinated attempts especially by the North & the Federal Military Government, to attack & kill the easterners first in their thousands, then later during the event of the civil war, 3 million easterners were killed and millions more were left with an indelible physical, emotional & psychological scar.

Now, Fast forward almost 50 years from that harrowing experience to now. These same Northerners who I believe are poor history students, are now trying to follow the same past trend now. The same people who complained of “Igbo dominance” and probably brought in ‘Federal Character’ then, are now the propagators of a full scale “Northern AgendaAgenda” without reservations or apologies to anyone or group.

Now, we (the victims or the Losers so to say) are supposed to sit back, look at everything and apply reasoning like some people are suggesting now. If we refuse to see their reasoning now, they will call us bigots.

The cold truth about this country is a very bitter pill to swallow…

My people have a saying that “An old woman is always uneasy, whenever dry bones are mentioned in a parable.”

The current actions of the new government will pose a problem for all parties in this country and it opens up ‘old wounds’ for some group of people. Wounds that led to the bloody civil war…

My Hospital Experience

It was an early Tuesday morning in June. I walk past the Accident and Emergency unit of the hospital and I see a dying man been carried out of the ambulance on a stretcher. I turn the other side to see a small crowd of people gathered near the entrance. I see the despair, anguish and uncertainty in their faces. Their eyes see me as I walk past, but I know they don’t really “see” me. The women are crying on the ground, the men are quiet with red eyes.I see the faces of those outside as I walk inside. The faces filled with worry inside are considerably better than those outside.

As I walk upstairs to my Unit. My mind flashes back to the faces outside. I understood their predicament and I was also indifferent. It came with the familiarity of having been or seen…It was what my French tutor called Déjà vu. I’d been in their shoes about two years ago. Some part of my mind chided them for crying so much for an old man who I guessed was over seventy, and who wasn’t even dead yet. The other part of my mind sympathised with them in advance for the loss of their father if it happened along the line.

I walked through the corridors with white walls and white ceilings and I reflected on our role in the society. We were the ones who stood at the crossroads between Life & Death, Light & Darkness, between Laughter & Despair. I saw our roles as more of a ‘calling’ to humanity. But those outside and others, saw it as a job. And some envied us bitterly for that.

I settled down in my office and waited for the H.O.D or the ‘Chief’ as we called him to come in for daily briefing. I remembered that languorous evening, when the cold hands of the man in a black hood stung me, made me numb & stole my old man forever.
That night was when I realised the reality of life in totality… That was the night I first saw the hooded man called Mr.D.

I see him more often now. In the corridors of the clinic, walking away with the souls of poor mortals like me in one hand and a sickle on the other. We call him the ‘Reaper’. Others call him Death.

A patient comes inside and sits down. He calls me “Doctor” and I keep quiet. I direct him to see another doctor in the Consulting room. I think about my acquired Indifference lately. I remembered being able to feel. But now I had be numbed by the Reaper into a frigid soul.

The Emergency alarm goes off in an instant. I rush out with a pair of gloves into the Male Private Ward. Two nurses rush in with me as well. It turned out to be the old man I saw earlier. He was having a second heart attack in a day. We barely manage to defibrillate him back to life.

I take a long look at him after stabilizing his situation, then I think back with the benefit of hindsight. What I could have done two years ago. With the knowledge I had now. I would have been able to save my old man from the Reaper. I would not have had to bear this guilt on my mind, that I could save others but couldn’t help my old man, when he looked at me to save him as Mr.D put his sickle on his chest and ripped out his soul.

The Doctor said “He died of cardiac arrest and cerebrovascular accident”. That was the irony of my career and the guilt I had to bear everyday. But I had moved on and made a promise to him and to myself. I promised him that If it was within my powers, no one would pass through the quagmire of despair I passed. I promised to stop the Reaper. I promised him that I’ll save lives. That I’ll put Laughter on the faces of many people as possible. That I would be a Humanitarian.

That was why I kept quiet when the patient called me a “Doctor.” To me, a doctor was a job like what those outside & some few inside saw it. Very few others like me, saw ourselves as humanitarians. People who did the work, not because of the salary or the unnecessary local fame. Rather because it was an obligation, a calling I had to answer. Something I had to do for my own absolution.

Day After Tomorrow.

Day After Tomorrow

​Amaechi decided he was going to travel to Kaduna in two weeks time. He had never been to the north before. He wanted to see firsthand and confirm for himself, what he had been hearing about the north, especially from his father and Musa. He was not going to tell his father because he knew was going to reject it vehemently and discourage him from going.

​School had resumed as usual last month in October and he had almost adjusted to the move to the medical school in a new campus. He found the medical school to be interesting, challenging and fascinating and he spent hour’s daily, reading large volumes of medical texts. He had gotten an accommodation in the same hostel outside the school campus with Friday, Chima and Musa. He needed another new challenge, to free and totally clear his mind from his past, the last one had been abrupt.

​It was now over six months since his breakup with Sharon and he still felt some pain up till now. It was really difficult for him during the examinations period of his first year. He had barely scaled through the first semester exams by the hair of his skins and then fared slightly better in the second semester exams three months ago. Only the world cup distraction and the long summer holidays at home succeeded in clearing his mind partly.

​Musa had told him some nice stories about Kaduna during their first year days and this contrasted heavily with those his father often told him. He was going to ask Musa to go with him and act as his tour guide. His intuition told him that the solution was going to be found in the journey he wanted to embark on.

​He had travelled last week with his parents to his brother’s matriculation at Nsukka. Nnanna had finally gotten admission into the university. He was still a little bit sad that Nnanna didn’t choose his school and rather opted to go to Enugu to study Law. He had told his father then that his department was planning an excursion and that he needed some money.

***

​“Take us to the national museum,” Musa told the middle aged taxi driver. I was excited and Musa was excited as well. Even though I was a bit surprised that he didn’t bargain with the taxi driver for the fare. I quickly cleared my thoughts and entered the taxi. I glanced at Musa and I smiled. He looked at me and smiled too. He probably didn’t understand why I looked at him. Here he was, savoring and enjoying his opportunity as a tour guide. He had an all-expense paid vacation trip in the middle of school and I was footing all the bills. That had been the agreement back in school, before he agreed to come with me.

​We had arrived Kaduna yesterday night on the 16th of November, from Onitsha after a ten-hour journey in the luxurious bus. We had lodged at a small inn in the predominantly Christian part of the town. A kind hearted man had told us of the place at the park. This morning was time to go out and explore the city and I had one week to explore and enjoy this famous city, the old capital of northern Nigeria.

​“Do you know that this city, this state, is named after a crocodile?” Musa asked with an air of superiority, of someone who had more information about something than the other.

​I said “No” in surprise.

​“Kaduna was gotten from the Hausa word Kada, which means crocodile. And Kaduna is the Hausa plural word for crocodiles, many of which were found in river Kaduna.” Musa said.

​Do they still have crocodiles in the
river? I asked inquisitively.

​I am not really sure. Maybe poachers have killed all of them to sell their skins to the white men for money. Musa replied.

​My eyes opened wider in admiration and in further surprise as we sat at the back of another taxi-car. We had boarded another one from the museum who Musa told to just take us around the city.

​“Musa, maybe tomorrow, we’ll go to the market so I can buy some souvenirs to take back with me.” I said as I ate from the pieces of dried suya Musa called Kilishi, which we bought back at the museum.

​“Ok. No wahala,” He replied.

​As we moved round the city, I was surprised and happy to find it very different from my Father’s opinion. I gradually observed the faces of people everywhere from inside our taxi. Some of their faces showed people who were content with what they had. Some showed people who were accommodating. Some other faces were too focused and desperate on trying to make money. I concluded that they were probably my brothers across the Niger; the Igbo business men and women, with their distinctive faces and clothes. They were ubiquitous around the country and around the whole world, hustling in almost anything that could be called a business to make profit. The last group of faces I observed, showed some form of faux-tolerance and unspoken reservation. I imagined that there was something hidden underneath the visible cloak of leeway, waiting for a chance to come out.

​I was already looking forward to travelling back home to see my father. I was going to tell him when I travel home for Christmas about my trip, and I was going to enjoy seeing the look on his face. How could he have known, that he himself was the one who sponsored my supposed excursion. I was happy and I could feel my heart healing in this city as we moved around.

​“I didn’t even know that Kaduna was home to the ancient Nok civilization.” I said.

​“Yes” Musa said. “I guess you probably saw some artifacts back at the museum.”

​“Yes.” I replied.

​When we got back in the evening, we took a walk from our inn, to the junction of the street. As we walked past the shops and the houses, we passed some men who carried water filled in yellow containers in special barrows. Musa called them meruwa. We also passed some small mosques and some group of beggars sitting in front of a makeshift shed by the side of the road.

We stopped at a small kiosk at the junction, where a young Hausa man, probably in his late twenties or early thirties, dressed in a sky-blue caftan was inside the small wooden shop. On the counter, columns of instant indomie noodles, peak milk, bread, sardines and eggs were arranged side by side. On another table were two small stoves with small pots. Plastic cups and aluminum plates were arranged in front of them. Outside the kiosk were two benches, where three okada men were seated and were eating. A small transistor radio was playing a song in Hausa.

​Musa spoke to the man in Hausa and he said his name was Malik. At this stage, I didn’t really know the difference between a Hausa man and a Fulani man. To me, they were all the same. We sat down on one of the bench while Malik prepared our evening supper for us, noodles, fried eggs and a cup of tea. Musa told me more stories about Kaduna, stories about the legendary queen Amina of Zaira, other cities like Kafanchan and the Nigerian army military headquarters at Jaji, as we cheerfully ate our food in the calm evening.

​At the market, the next day, Musa and I spent the whole day walking through the busy markets filled with thousands of people, buying and selling. I bought a lot of things; some Senegalese materials, a brown leather sandal and a bag. I also bought a nice bracelet. I bought more kilishi for my friends in school. I was amazed at the size of the market. I had never seen a market this big. It had to be bigger than the famous main market at Onitsha.

​I bought a nice handmade kaftan for my dad and a matching turban to go with it. I laughed in anticipation of the response I was going to get on my dad’s face. He might probably fling it away in disgust, or might just keep it in his wardrobe never to wear it.

I finally left the market when all my money was finished. As we made our way home, I told Musa that I would love to see the famous university at Zaira before I left and we concluded that we were going to go there on the day after tomorrow.

***

​The morning of the morrow, the 19th had begun like every other normal morning I had witnessed here. We had as was now our habit, gone to Malik’s shop at the junction where we had our breakfast. I had not been privileged to watch TV for the past three days so I didn’t probably know the recent developments in the country. I thought about an old joke my dad used to make when we complained that he was forcing us to watch too much NTA news. He always replied jokingly that “he did it so that we would all know when it was time to run again,” and we would laugh in return and ask him what exactly we were supposed to be running from. I always thought about it. This was 2002; a new millennium after all.

​I was resting on the bed with Musa, who said he was going to see an old friend in Sabongari later in the day. I thought about all the notes and lectures I had missed. I thought about how I was going to make the new seventy five percent examination eligibility requirement. I didn’t know why the medical school administration put up such a stressful and inconsiderate law. I had argued with Chima, Friday and Chuka back at school. It meant we had to always attend the long and boring anatomy, physiology and biochemistry pre-clinical lectures. The dean had threatened fire and brimstone on all potential defaulters and from what we had heard about the man, Prof. Samuel Chukwuemeka from the older students in the campus. They had told us to avoid falling as scapegoats. I concluded that I was going to try my possible best to make up for this missed week when I went back.

​The morning remained calm till around 11am when the first smoke started rising in the air of the city. I had quickly thought that it was a house burning though. The harmattan was not yet in full swing, but everywhere was dry and the sun was hotter here in the north as if they had no ozone layer. Maybe someone had mistakenly burned a bush too close to a building. I quickly brushed of the thoughts and then went inside.

​By midday, I noticed the increased noises and the quick steps of the people walking outside on the street. The voices were now too disturbing. I rushed outside to the balcony of our inn, and to my amazement the whole sky was filled with smoke rising up from different places around the city. Rooftops were on fire. Shops were burning, and people were running helter-skelter from street to street. I could hear the raucous chanting of voices from a distance I couldn’t see.

​I rushed inside and shouted “Musa! Musa! Something is happening! People are running everywhere.”

​Musa rushed out from the toilet and rushed outside, by now we could see a group of people clashing far away at the junction. They were fighting each other with woods, machetes and daggers. Malik’s shop had been destroyed along with other shops at the junction.

Musa said it was a riot as we rushed back inside to avoid being spotted. He told me to pack my bags quickly that we were leaving immediately.

​I was shocked, scared and confused all at the same time as my heart beat increased and I stood still, thinking on what I had gotten myself into. What the hell had gotten into my head in the first place? This was just too surreal to be true suddenly. The reality was damn too scary! Goose pimples appeared on my skin and it had some rather sharp tingling effects all over my body.

Musa told me quickly to put on the kaftan and turban I bought yesterday and we hurried downstairs. I was surprised to find the compound empty and the voices from the street were now closer.

We rushed to the back of the compound and we scaled the fence in seconds as we heard banging on the gates of our inn. We ran into the bush at the back of the inn and continued running, with Musa leading the way. I was terrified and was sure I was going to die today because of my stupidity, and my father was going to sigh in disappointment, shake his head and call me a fool.

​The only sound I could now hear subconsciously as we ran out of the bush into a now lonely street which had probably been busy about an hour ago, was my now audible heartbeat, the quick slap-slap sounds of the leather sandals I wore and the little distant sounds of fighting and shouting.

Musa was still in the front and as we got to the next corner, we quietly ran into the next street and then I heard the sounds of another footstep at my back. I couldn’t turn back, as I was so scared. Musa stopped in the front of an unburnt shop abruptly and signaled for us to go inside and hide.

Only then did we properly notice the person behind us. The voice said “No not there, let’s go inside this one,” pointing at the back of a half-burnt shop on the opposite side of the street. “They wouldn’t look for us in an already burnt shop.” We then climbed quickly into the back of the shop, through the small wooden window which creaked as we climbed in together with the other person behind us, who I now saw was a young girl.

​Inside, the store smelled heavily of smoke and of burnt wood mixed with the smell of old cartons that were piled on top of each other at one corner of the shop. This part of the store was a little bit large and had an iron door which led to the outer smaller store, parts of which were already burnt. It was probably a warehouse. A dusty wooden cabinet rested on one side of the wall, close to the small window through which we entered. On another corner was two yellow gallons which looked exactly like the ones I saw before on the streets; the ones those meruwa guys used to fetch water. The light from the outer part of the shop trickled into the warehouse from an opening on the ceiling caused by the fire.

​“Shhh…! Quiet! Bend down and move away from the window,” the now familiar voice of the young girl echoed softly in a whisper as we heard some footsteps on the street and some conversation in Hausa. The voices were very close to us, probably at the front of the shop. We heard the eerie shouting of a victim from inside and we heard the raucous chanting of a crowd lynching a poor innocent fellow in few minutes.

We crouched terrified at the back of the wooden cabinet; Musa hid at the back while the young girl held my hands tightly in front. After a few minutes, the voices disappeared and then Musa said that they were gone and that they had been looking for people who escaped from the market and the streets.

​ I was still frightened and my hands continued to shiver. The young girl said that “it was a riot and that Muslims and Christians were fighting each other.” I asked her what caused the fight this time. She said “her uncle who was a police officer had told her that a young southern journalist had published some inciting article about their holy prophet in the newspaper few days ago.” She said “it was a serious issue and that this fight was not going to be taken lightly by the Hausa Muslims.” Musa said that “it was best we stayed here till the next day.”

​I had been oblivious to the pains on my leg and I sat down finally after about thirty minutes of standing close to the window, waiting anxiously to hear the next sounds of terror on the street.

As I looked down at my trousers, they were stained in a dark red color at the part below my knee. I now felt the sharp biting pain on my leg and I knew I had injured myself when I scaled the fence. I moved my hands slowly to raise my trousers up to enable me get a good view of the injury.

​“You’re hurt,” she said as she saw the shallow cut on my leg still dripping with blood.
​Musa moved closer to me and raised my leg properly to view the injury.

​“We have to clean it up and stop the bleeding,” she said to none of us in particular.

​I smiled inwardly and looked at her properly for the first time. She probably didn’t know that we were second year medical students.

​Inside the not too dark room, I saw her features properly; she was brownish in color, had average height and was not too slender, with long legs and warm wide eyes that probed into whatever was in its gaze. She was wearing a flowery designed gown, almost a little bit more decent than the popular mary-amaka gowns housemaids wore then in the cities and village girls wore in the village.

​She moved around the store on her knees and found a small metal container at the back of the cartons. She brought it and collected some water from the yellow container. She told me to give her my turban and she used a part of it to clean the cut with water. The pain stung me harder at first but later her soft tender hands on my skin provided a soothing effect as Musa held me from the back.

She used the turban to make a tourniquet around the injury and I watched her closely and keenly as she attended to me with the dexterity and care of a trained personnel. I knew intuitively that she was not a medical doctor; she was just too young. Maybe she was a midwife, an auxiliary nurse or something like that. I now observed that she was naturally beautiful, even with her scarf tied naively like those village mgbeke’s.

​Musa rested his back behind the wooden cabinet and gently dozed away from all the stress and horror. I readjusted my leg so that my back rested properly on the wall above the window while she sat near me by my side and pulled her knees close to her, so that they touched her bosoms and she held them with both of her hands.

***

​As the darkness of the night gradually seeped into the warehouse from the opening on the ceiling, I continued pondering about my experience today; tomorrow, the Niger Bridge and then, the nice young girl who was half asleep beside me.

I wondered what she might have been doing out on the streets. Did she come for a stupid excursion like me too? Was she a medical student? I wanted to ask her, but I hesitated. I didn’t want to look stupid, just been terrified was enough for me to deal with now. She did not look like a northerner but she had probably lived here for a long time to know the language and way of life. I knew she was still scared, from the way she folded herself.

​I thought about my parents, what they would say and do to me when they heard about my stupid act. “This was not a case of youthful exuberance; it was pure stupidity” my dad would say to my mum. Then my mum will cry and shout that I wanted to kill her before her time. My dad will then continue “What in God’s name did this boy go to look for in Kaduna of all places all in the name of a goosy excursion? He’s a fool!” Everyone would blame me and nobody will sympathize with me.

​All this would definitely happen if I got out of here alive eventually tomorrow. No! No! No! I shook my head and I decided. I wasn’t going to tell anybody about my private experience, not even my parents. This secret would forever be known by just me, Musa and this nice young girl whom I didn’t even know her name yet.

Emeka Obiora. 2015
All Rights Reserved

7

2015 Writivism Short Story Prize Submission Guidelines

Writivism

Opening date – 1 February 2015

Closing date – 30th April 2015

Entries must be submitted online. No mark as to the identity of the writer should be made on the story itself. No entries will be considered if submitted after the deadline. Winners shall be announced on Short Story Day Africa, the 21st of June 2015 at an Awards Evening during the Writivism Festival 2015 in Kampala, Uganda.

1. The Writivism Short Story Prize is an annual award for emerging African writers administered by the Center for African Cultural Excellence (CACE). The first prize is worth 400$ and each of the four shortlisted writers who do not win the prize receives a cash prize of 100$. All the five shortlisted writers travel to Kampala from June 16 to June 22 for The Writivism Festival.

2. Entrants must be unpublished writers, resident in an African country. One is deemed published…

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Beyond An Unfortunate Country.

An Unfortunate story.
28 January 2015. Issue 2

Beyond the noise, the sentiments and ethnic affiliations that resurfaces every four years. Beyond the cacophony of Propaganda’s and White elephant promises…

Beyond the Incompetent Transformer and the Ironical Saint of Change, beyond the corrupt politicians hovering and recycling themselves around the corridors of power…

We find ourselves in an Unfortunate situation in an unfortunate country. The unfortunate realities of what our leaders (both past & present) have caused us with their greed, obsession and incompetence.

Beyond the unfortunate story we’ve been telling ourselves for the past 100 years. One can only dream and hope of a time when we’ll all be ready to move beyond all this…

Right now, a good number of us are not just ready. We just brood & make noise everywhere, because we are still waiting for who will bell the cat.

Emeka Obiora. 2015
All rights reserved.

2015/01/img_1387.jpg

Thoughts About our Health Sector.

25 January 2015: Issue 1.

Thoughts About our Health Sector:

When ordinary people call me a Doctor outside the walls of a medical school. What am I supposed to reply them? Do I say Yes in delusion to myself or say No to leave them more confused & slighted. To them basically, I went to a medical school, so I’m either a doctor or a medical personnel.

But in the Nigeria health sector today, the contributions of you and I, graduates & members of other allied Health professionals are often sidelined, relegated & almost absolutely ignored in favour of the ‘Medical Doctor’s’ (with all due respect).

My Opinion is that the roles, contributions & achievements of Medical Doctors have been well established and is not being questioned. On the other hand, the roles of other allied Health care professionals, no matter how little it may seem should stopped being overlooked and unrecognized.

The truth is that, the lives that they eventually save through their contributions are no less significant in value than those saved by Medical Doctors.

We are all partners in progress & players in a bigger team. Our health care sector needs to be restructured for maximum efficiency, specialization & improvement in the quality of service offered to patients.

Emeka Obiora. 2015
All rights reserved.

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