“God is indeed watching over us” Bright shouted as he felt so excited. HE gave me a big hug and I hugged him too with a smile. I have never seen such a warmly affection from someone who wasn’t my brother. Right from when I decided to believe that the man in the sky never existed, I have lost countless number of friends. Not because I did something bad, but they always gave me my distance and I was forced to keep my belief to myself. I participated in Church activities and did more good more than them, yet they felt I was a devil.
“Yea God is watching over us” I said sarcastically. He came out of the hug and looked at me surprised.
“What?” I asked surprised with my two hands spread apart
“Did you just call God?” He asked
“Yea” I responded back “You called him and I called him too” I said. He gave me a warming smile and we were headed back to meet our new platoon friends. The feeling of staying together and being in the same platoon with bright wouldn’t just get over me.
“At least I got his back” I kept repeating inside my mind as we walked down to where our platoon guys were located.
“Which one do you recommend for me” Tunji asked me.
“Who owns it” I asked back with a smile. He simply smiled while looking at the picture and kissed it so hard. I smiled and looked at him as he was so in love with the girl there.
“That is my fiancée” He said “I love her so much. I can’t wait to get back and get married to her” He kept on blushing over the picture.
“I have a fiancée too” I said. “Wow” He responded “Can I see her picture” he begged. I brought out Genea’s picture from my wallet and showed him. Just when I thought he was going to compliment my girlfriend…
“But my girlfriend is more beautiful” he said with a harsh tone. “Really” I asked surprised. It became an argument I didn’t want to involve myself in. I quickly agreed to his opinion and it died a natural death.
You may be wondering who Tunji is right? Well he is one of the guys that were in my troop. We were being led by Major Banji. He was very determinant commandant who was so jovial but very strict when it comes to accomplishing orders. I found four friends during our few days at Bama base and we were always together. Bright, Tunji, Fred and I. Fred was a very hefty guy who was frowning more than he was smiling. No amount of jokes could make him laugh. Various times I tried asking about the reason for his seriousness; he kept telling me that there was nothing fun in the world today.
“I wish say I go just die tomorrow” He would keep repeating. I tried talking to him about seeing life from a good point of view, but it was like pouring stone on water. Maybe there was something else to it; I just decided to keep my cool. It was a beautiful and wonderful moment we spent together, and the laughter was always there.
“I wanted to be Doctor” Tunji said while looking down and with a sober mind “I am just imagining how my mama would be coping now” He added.
“All will be fine” I said while holding on to him. The whole place was becoming very sober, and I had to chip in some jokes which actually made only me to laugh. It was such a horrible joke that the rest of the guys stood up and left without even smiling, talk more of laughing.
“It wasn’t that bad na” I shouted as I stood up and ran up to meet with them.
Ist September we heard heavy noise that was likely bomb detonations in the market arena at Bama town. I kept praying in my mind for it not to be what I expected. I am not a lazy soldier, but handling weapons and rifles was the last thing I dreamt of. I saw the way some soldiers were brought into the base inside a truck.
“Oh God” I mustered to myself. Those were dead bodies of people who were fighting for their father’s land. They were dragged out of the van, just without respect.
“Is this how they treat dead soldiers” Tunji asked me. I wished I had an answer for that, I would have given him. I just smiled and looked at him and went closer to see what was happening. There was much disorganization within the camp Hierarchy and an attempt to get to the main headquarters was futile. Some commanding officers were already mobilizing there troops to check out what was really happening inside the town.
There was an intelligence report that the terrorist detonated twin bombs in various segments of the town, report also heard it that they were advancing towards our position. I quickly searched around for my platoon leader and saw him with a higher ranked officer, discussing some things on a map. I saluted and asked him for the situation report.
“Nothing for now” He said as I eased and left their presence. I saw Tunji coming from the center hall with his face not so bright.
“Are you okay?” I asked him
“Mama is sick, and my cousins have taken her to the hospital” He said “But they are requesting for money, and I don’t have anything on me for that.” I almost felt bad and downhearted but decided to smile and give him the support he needed.
“How much is that?” I asked him
“Don’t worry about the amount” He said with a face that could break the heart of any strong man.
“You have to tell me Tunji, and I insist” I said with a firm voice.
“50,000 naira” He said. I quickly went to the center hall and asked them to do a deposit for me. I collected his cousin’s account number and we wired in the money.
“Do you believe in your God to heal her?” I asked but deep inside, I said it just to fall in line with what he had in mind. With a smile on his face, he gave me a resounding “YES”. I nodded and smiled along.
3 days later; we heard that the terrorists were getting close to Bama town, having overpowered other units with their superior machineries. We were sending out calls to the Headquarters but we weren’t getting any serious response from the commanding chiefs there.
They were continuous attacks on various places within the Bama town. Soldiers who were caught around were killed and most of them, their corpse were nowhere to be found. We were clearly lacking weapons as compared to what we heard from the gunshots being fired.
Several attacks including two major ones earlier in the year, were carried out in Bama, then the second-largest business hub in Borno State. The attack left scores dead, with markets, parks and other businesses worth millions of naira in ruins. They left with so much disaster and cries.
15th September, 2014 the sounds of heavy shilling and gunfire woke us up that night… we were sleeping in a very jam-packed room and a lot of young private soldiers were snoring so badly. It was probably few minutes after midnight before we the sound of mortars filled the compound. Sporadic sprays of bullets everywhere. Shouts of “alllah ‘akbar” rented the air. We woke up, confused and wondering what was happening. It was almost resulting to stampede. Some of the scouts that survived the terror at the gate ran back and rang the bell at the center of the base.
“This is not a drill… run to the bunker room and grab your weapons” Was the announcement that kept flowing in.
“Bright” “Tunji” I kept calling out. I could hear their response but couldn’t actually get to see them.
“Move…Move…Move” Was all that we could hear from our platoon leader. The sound of the Bugle was everywhere and confusion surrounded us. I was sleeping with my khaki so I had no need changing again. Alongside others, we ran as fast as we could. Every step I took, I assumed it was my last. We continued to run and our target was the bunker room. Some soldiers fell on the ground and were been trodden upon. We quickly assembled in the bunker room. Our worst fear came to reality, the terrorists had surrounded ever where and was firing from all angles. We had lots of tents around the compound, and I was wondering what had become of the soldiers who were there.
“Arrrrhrhhgghhh” Went the voice of… as he fell to the ground.
To Be Continued.