“Have you killed today?” He asked Bright. The question brought shocks to my body and I wondered why he was asked that.
“If you lie, I will blow your head off” He told Bright “I have been watching you and I repeat, have you killed anyone since you came here?” He asked in a more angry tone
“NO sir” Bright responded. There were shouts of disappointments all over the whole place and I myself was more shocked at the answer he gave. I quickly bent my head in shame and looked away from the scene.
“Do you know you are the cause of the death of other comrades?” He asked Bright. While the questioning was going on, I covered my eyes expecting to her hear the sound of gunshot. I kept closing my eyes with my hands while pretending that the sun was quite hot. After few seconds, “boom!!” was the sound I heard. Out of reflex I turned around immediate to find Bright kneeling on the floor.
He was crying and the terrorist was lying lifelessly on the ground with his brains littered all over the floor.
“If you try this again, you will be the one lying next on the floor” The commandant warned Bright.
“We keep moving” He ordered. As we were about starting our movement down the road, I quickly moved up to him
“You have to drop emotions aside” I said to him while holding on to his arms. I dragged him up and helped him pick up his rifle that was almost fully loaded.
“That’s bad… you haven’t released a single bullet” I said in disappointment “This guys will kill you if they find the slightest chance” I repeated. He kept mute and didn’t say a word. He got up; picked up his rifle and we joined the rest of the troop. We were moving in a desert we had no idea about. Everybody was weak having gone for days without food and water. I knew it was a survival of the fittest and only the strong in mind will conquer.
“You have an idea where Tunji would be?” Bright asked me. I looked at him and couldn’t just know the answer to give to him.
“I just hope he is not dead” I replied Bright whose countenance had changed already.
“Someone is down” One of the soldiers shouted. We quickly rushed to his position and his eyes were becoming dim and yellowish already. We searched around for what to give to him but obviously there was nothing
“I think he needs water” A higher officer said
“We don’t water to give and there is nothing we can do about it” Commander Banji interrupted our little discussion
“What do we do Sir?” Another officer asked “We can’t leave him here” Another added. I peeped through his badge and saw “Usman” written on it. “Was he not the guy that lost his brother few hours ago?” I whispered to Bright
“He is the one” Bright responded “Oh God” I cried silently.
“We are moving” Commander Banji shouted. One of the officers went to explain to the commander but he was clearly in no mood for such explanations
“If he doesn’t die now, he will still die when we are under attack” He explained. Looking at him weak and struggling for life made me wonder what kind of life we were living as military officers in this country. We continued trekking without any direction and the other soldier carrying Pvt Usman had to call for help from another soldier. Another soldier took over carrying him and it wasn’t for long before our attention was called again.
“He is dead” The soldier murmured bitterly. I removed my face and couldn’t watch how a gallant soldier died because of water. We were trained to survive insurgent’s bullets not a free gift of nature. Close friends to him took their time to dig a shallow grave after he was buried with a small Islamic prayer. Everybody was downcast, and we were clearly looking like rejected outlaws. Just then we found a nearby tree and one of our scouts hurriedly climbed and using a binocular he could see farther away from where we were at that moment.
“Oh God” He shouted as he hurriedly climbed down from there and was panting heavily
“Seems like they are coming” He said
“Who” a soldier asked from amongst us
“The terrorists” He replied
“How many are they?” Our commandant asked him
“Probably about 10 or thereabout” he responded hurriedly. Everyone looked at one another and I guess we knew what would happen next. It was time to hide and we just have to. We realized we were short on ammo and we needed to safe guard ourselves. We quickly ran into some little bushes around and disguised ourselves and stayed very calm. They kept on passing and repeating various lines I couldn’t really understand. They came to the place we were standing a while ago and halted. They seemed to be having a little bit of argument about something, but no one knew what was happening.
One of them turned carefully and looked our direction and was kind of coming close till someone called his attention and distracted him. I was breathing heavily and I know it was the same with every other soldier right there. The argument among them increased and it was becoming hot like they were disappointed about a result. We stayed in our position without moving for a very long time. It was a scenario of life and death, and nobody wanted to die. The argument kept on till they continued their movement up the road. We allowed them move farther away and carefully came out of hour hiding place and stayed low till it was night fall.
We had to start moving at night to avoid meeting our greatest nightmares.
“beep…beep” was the sound we heard next. I was farther behind and we couldn’t understand what was going on till we heard that sound…
To Be Continued.