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Audu is my name,I’m the son of Alhaji Mohammed and Hajia Mariama Aliyu.My dad is the famous leather skin trader and my mum a ‘fura de nunu’ seller. I am the oldest of 3 children,next is Aminat who is 17years of age and two years younger than I am and Aishat;the youngest who is 10years of age and my father’s favourite because she was as he described her, “the child of his old age.” As a kid,I,along with my sisters had everything we wanted and needed…everything!!We lived in a bungalow(yes a bungalow;which had only one competition for the most beautiful in the whole of our village,in the form of our Emir’s house) with 4rooms,each of us to a room and Hajia and Alhaji in one room,we attended the best school in the whole of Bornu,whilst most of our neighbours did not go to school at all,we ate and drank whatever we wanted and had the best clothes to wear. Money was not a problem. We led a good life until…
One night;one Thursday night at about half past 8,we were having dinner;a delicious meal of ‘tuwoshinkafa‘ and ‘nama’. It was unbelievably delicious, super tasty I should add but for some uncanny reason we all ate in silence,deafening silence. There was no humming and tapping by Alhaji,which he often does when he is enjoying a meal nor was there any disguised request for an additional piece of meat by Aishat “Hajia,how come you and Alhaji get to eat the larger chunks of meat and we get to take the little ones? How come I cannot request for and get an extra piece of meat on days other than my birthday?How come the world is so unfair?Yadda ta zo(meaning how come?” Followed by her best trick out of the books,the look of one haunted by a demented soul from the pit of hell. Which meant she wanted an additional piece of meat but didn’t know how to go about requesting for it,nor was there any disgruntled murmur from I and Aminat when she got her additional piece. It was just different,in a queer way. Now I understand why it was different,what this difference was;what it felt like. It felt like the last supper of Jesus Christ;the Jesus of you Christians I mean… I managed to break the silence,telling Hajia as we fondly called her,that it was the best meal I ever tasted. Indeed,it was the last one I was going to have with any member of my family. “Na gode dana” she replied before asking Aminat and Aishat to assist in clearing the table and doing the dishes,which they did with lightening speed. We sat in the living room after the meal,I excused myself asking to use the toilet momentarily because the water I drank went directly into my bladder.
It was in the toilet that I heard this ferociously loud bang that sounded like the heavens were falling upon the earth. This was accompanied by series of sporadic gunshots. I was leaving the restroom to find out what was going on when I heard strange voices pouring out of the mouth of strange people in the living room;Alhaji Mohammed’s living room, barking commands at my parents and sisters in Hausa,I remained in the toilet,locked the door as stealthily as possible,took the key out and peeped through the door or keyhole(as you like). I saw several masked men clothed in military uniforms clutching Ak 47 rifles and pocket knives. Hajia,Alhaji and my sisters were crouched at one corner of the room trembling at the sight of the men brandishing their weapons blithely in their faces and barking commands concurrently… Aishat and Aminat were separated from Alhaji and Hajia. I couldn’t really tell why because my view was obstructed by the gigantic image of one of the intruders. I mounted the toilet seat to get a better view,still as stealth as a ghost .It was then that I saw Aminat laying on the living room rug with legs spread in opposite directions and gown raised upwards to her belly,Alhaji protesting this vehemently and fighting anyone who tried to get within yards of Aminat,“Zauna bayyanna ku da diya maza na karuwa” meaning ” stay clear you sons of prostitutes” the men would not have anymore of it,one of them squeezed the trigger of the gun he held in his hand mercilessly and the bullet went straight through Alhaji’s heart,he hit the ground with a heavy thud,sickening fear overwhelmed me and chills ran through my spine,what followed was silence; the deafening kind,then blood,sweat and tears…Alhaji had unlocked the monsters in the men,they were now animals,deranged;psychotic animals.
One of the men pounced on Aminat,forcing her thighs further apart and thrusting viciously in and out of her,hateful blood poured from beneath her,tears and groans of indignation and pain could not be held back,hot tears swelled in my eyes. I experienced a concoction of emotions,pain,pity,hate,grief and much more but the most pressing of them all was anger. I really wanted to kill someone at that moment,nothing could stop me then,nothing…but my brain did.
The first man got off of her and the other men took their turn(s),the same happened to Hajia and my ‘littler’
sis Aishat. She was only 10 and this kind of evil was befalling her,on my last count 8men had gone through Aminat,1 less Hajia and 3 less Aishat;then she stopped breathing. I went through hell and back,Aminat on her part was numb with exhaustion and pain,she was breathing but still;motionless,Hajia too. Then the men decided they have had their fill but before they left,they wanted to,had to leave their mark;their destructive mark;DEATH…