(Tale of a Survivor).
“Who did this for fvck sake?” I shouted out of anger. Someone deliberately polluted the air right there in a stuffy room. We were clearly lacking oxygen and someone added more salt to our injury. The rush to put our nose in between the little space meant for air became serious.
‘Oh God’ One of the soldiers shouted. At first we were all angered but laughed over it when we realized that even the person who dropped the fart followed us in search of fresh air. We had to resort to the ancient days method of looking for who polluted the air.
A guy volunteered and we started pointing at us while reciting a specific poem “If na me mess, make I no mess again.” The pointer finally fell at me and they all laughed that I was the person that fart.
“Not possible!” I shouted as they kept on with the laughter. I had to do mine and it fell at Bright’s position. The friendly argument continued till we were disrupted by an announcement.
“You shall be visiting the Military court tomorrow, so get prepared and wake up early”
“Wetin dem wan do us for court?”(What will they do with us in court?) One of the soldiers asked
‘See the kain stupid question you dey ask! They wan do wedding for the court” Another soldier replied him harshly.
“But I no ask you na” The guy fired back
“When you ask the question, you attach anybody name to am?”
“Guy it is okay.” Bright pleaded as the place went back to its normal serene nature. I couldn’t tell what time it was or whether we it was evening or Night. But I knew it was approaching evening, when the brought in a bowel of food for us inside the cell. Nobody cared to know what kind of food it was as we quickly devoured it and one of the guys was almost eating up the plastic.
“This food no get taste ooo…” One of the guys lamented bitterly
‘Na after you chop you come notice say e no get taste abi?”
‘No mind the mumu”
“Him for no chop na”
“And na him still hold the plate dey lick am ooo…”
Immediately, everybody went into laughter and he flung the plate forward.
“They no carry water come give person ooo” The said guy lamented again
‘You go drink piss?” One guy offered
“Even me, piss no dey my body again. E don finish” Another soldier lamented. It was actually funny because I laughed so hard at that statement.
“So wetin go come happen tomorrow” someone asked as he channeled the topic being discussed to tomorrow’s issue.
“To be frank.” Bright started “We are going to be treated like animals.”
“How” I questioned
“There are people called deserters in war, and that is what we are! As simple as that”
‘So wetin them go do us now?” one guy asked
‘Killing” Bright replied immediately
‘But someone ordered us to run and it was the commander” I argued
“Nobody will hear that from you, believe me” Bright firmly said “They will execute us one by one”
“Oh Jesus” One of the guys cringed. It was really a sober moment as everywhere became so silent and I bent my head and hyperventilated. One other guy visibly carried his hands onto his heads and shook it vigorously. Everywhere around us emitted particles of sorrows till a guy broke the silence.
“E better make I die than make I stay here”
“I swear” Another guy added
I thought about the statement and didn’t even know whether to support the notion or oppose it. We continued with various discussions till we all fell asleep one after the other.
“Wake up you fools” Was the good morning we heard that morning from the soldier that bashed inside our cell and started kicking us like animals. He kicked me right there in the stomach as I bent and held onto my left abdomen. It became swollen immediately and I couldn’t just move from that position.
“you no dey hear stand up?” He queried as he landed me yet another slap in the eye. Bright stretched his hand to help me up and received his own portion of slap that landed on his face. He immediately left me and went outside while the guy continued kicking me. I cringed and held on to protect my face as he continued kicking and punching me in various part of the body. Most of my body parts had swollen and I never felt any pain more than I was feeling now. I finally managed to get up and noticed my nose was bleeding, alongside a deep cut in my left eye. Crying would drain the little energy I had in me. Even though I brought out tears, I didn’t make it visible to him. It was in the cold hours of the morning and they brought us out to be inspected. Schedules were given coupled with instructions and areas of assignment were shared. I wondered how I would cope, with the hunger and the injury I already sustained this morning for doing nothing. I and my cell mates were apportioned a large area to dig a trench for whatever purpose it was going to serve. We never knew we were in hot soup till the measurements were given to us.
What?’ One of the guys almost shouted but remembered he was under severe punishment. They gave us all the necessary tools that would aid us with the task at hand.
If we go this court wey we wan go, I go accept say I run” One of the guys said with tears in his eyes “I never chop, I never bath, I never drink water for how many days, and they say make I dig wetin pass 6ft. Just because say I say make I join Army.” The other soldiers sat there looking dejected as no one had any strength to even lift a digger talk more of using it to excavate the ground. We barely started digging when they reminded us that we need to get back to the cell and bath in preparation for the panel.
We hurriedly went back to our cells and found a bag filled with our uniforms on it. Everybody rushed to make sure that they took theirs on time.
“Why is blood inside your eyes na” Bright asked as he drew my head closer. I reminded him of what happened to me. We finally found a way to bath using water drawn from an old abandoned well. It was smelly but it was better than not bathing at all. Some other determined guys drank from the water, all in a bid to quench.
One of the guys started a song as we poured the dirty water on our body.
We shall overcome someday.2x
We shall over come…
We shall over come…
We shall overcome some day…
Oh deep in my heart… I do believe…
I shall overcome someday.
We sang with joy as tears crept out from my swollen eyes. I remembered all that has ever happened in my life, even as a kid to this point. There is something I would I would to say… but..
To Be Continued!
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