“We are leaving in 5mins, Stay close or you would be left behind” That was the one of the officers around shouting. It was a feeling of mixed emotions, and every one of us kept looking like people who missed their way in a foreign land.
“Hi” I greeted the lady beside me.
“Hi” she replied but with a voice that clearly showed that she wasn’t in any mood for any conversation. I gave myself a deep breath before looking around for other cadets who were probably in a jovial mood. It was going to be a long journey from Enugu to Maidugiri and I braced up for such a tiring journey we were about to undertake.
“Hey bro” I finally spoke to my seat mate, who was busy reading the Bible since when we left the Division in the east. He was really prepared to talk much, but I know I need to make him talk. I quickly brought out a bible discussion and like a wolf, he jumped on the topic and was about devouring it.
“I am not a sinner” He kept repeating after I asked him a very tempting question
“But you are going to kill when you get to the war front” I asked him in a tempting manner
“Yes…because I am under threat” He repeated while smiling and thinking he was winning the argument. I had a lot for him, and I was prepared to keep bringing the question batch by batch.
“What if you were at home, will you be under threat?” I asked him with a smile. He smiled back because he noticed the aspect I was coming from. The laughter that followed it was enough to bond both of us together.
“I am Bright” He said with a smile. “Nice to me you” I responded and immediately told him my name. We shook each other’s hand and we continued this time around with a neutral discussion.
“I am the only child” he said to me while we discussed about our backgrounds. “My dad is late, and I have only my mum to look after” He continued. I was so shocked and almost peeped on my trouser.
“Do you know you know that you might end up dying” I asked him with a surprised face but filled with emotions. He simply “God is watching over me” He said as he pointed down to his bible. I was trying to figure out how exactly God was going to save him from bullets and grenades. I didn’t want to spoil his belief, so I agreed alongside.
“My mum is getting old and I really need money to support her. That is the reason I had to become a military man” He added. My heart felt so weak at the words coming out from his mouth, and I felt so bad inside. I wish I had my way; I would have given him all my money just to disembark from this dangerous mission.
“We are all gonna die, you know that?” I asked him plainly.
“I am not scared of death…it can only kill the body but not the soul” He responded affirmatively
“So what happens to mama” I asked with emotions. He paused and brought out his wallet and looked at the picture there. It was a picture of a frail looking old woman.
“I am sorry I asked the question” I apologized
“Not your fault” He replied almost with tears “I pray God keeps me alive to see her when I come back” He said with tears.
“I don’t attend any church tho” I said to him. He looked at me shocked like I was about picking his pockets.
“Why?” He asked
“I don’t believe in God” I responded back immediately. “You are an atheist?” He asked surprised
“Yes I am but just within me. Nobody else knows about it.” I replied with a smile. I was expecting the normal insults and harsh words I normally received from other Christians that I explained same too.
“That is good, but I hope you find Christ soon” He said with a very warmly smile. Truly speaking, I have never seen such a Christian in my life. The way he presented his belief actually made me wonder if all Christians are truly the same. He held my hands closely and from the look of things, he was actually scared.
“I have never killed before” He said with eyes filled with emotions “I don’t think I can kill anybody” He added. This was a tense situation and I wondered how he survived the ordeals that came along in our camp at Zaria.
“My mom is calling” He said before bringing out his phone and I went back to the Nothing I was doing before. He and his mother talked for long and I saw the way he cleaned the tears that came out from his eyes. He kept repeating “Amen” and I concluded that probably his mum was doing what my mum did the night before I left.
“Speak to her” He said to me as he gave me the phone. I quickly greeted and it was now a discussion between me and his mom.
“Please look after my son” She said with a very sorrowful voice. I wish I could explain to her that I was also in danger of losing my own life. I guess she wouldn’t believe too.
“I will try ma” I spoke with reassurance.
“I am a sick woman, and why I am living is because him. If he goes, then I go to” She said. Those words were heartbreaking, and the way she was sounding was almost forcing tears from my eyes. I reassured her again, and told her that all will be fine with the both of us. I ended the call and was too cold to talk.
“Are you fine” He asked
“Yes” I replied fast. He smiled again and we entered into normal discussions.
****Many Hours later*******
We reached Barma camp late at night, and we were ushered into the base where the other soldiers were staying. We were given a small room and everyone quickly rushed to get their positions of comfort. I made sure I was with Bright and we luckily got the same position close to each other. I couldn’t sleep well that night because he was having his vigil with serious prayers.
When I finally found time to sleep, the Bulge sharply woke everyone from sleep and we were off to the parade ground. The normal morning parade took place and some aerobics and drillings. They spilt us into troops according to our capabilities from the academy we graduated from.
*****Voice of the commandant******
“We don’t have much time for funfare. The terrorists have decimated a lot of our soldiers and we are at the brink of losing this battle. You will be trained more on commands and weapon handling before you will be deployed in troops. No matter what you do always find a reason to survive” He said before leaving the parade ground with his ADC and some other top military officers with him.
I did all my possible best to get in the same troop with bright and I knew that once it happened we would end up in the same platoon.