She had this annoyingly loud screeching scream that we believed could wake up a patient in coma. She played a significant role in my child hood memories as my playmate and best friend.
When we were younger, we would play games running around the house scattering things while my mother shouted at the top of her voice, one of our favourite games was hide and seek, I really loved being the “seeker”. However, my search pattern was very predictable, “first peek under the bed, then inside the cupboard, then inside the bath- tub”, Bolanle was really skilled at hiding herself and always gave me a hard time, I really don’t know what pissed me off more, the great difficulty in finding her or the scream she gave whenever she was found.
Our lives these past months had been really adventurous, moving from one town to the other in search of safety. Last week, we finally found this small hamlet on the outskirts of Maiduguri, we were sure that this would remain our abode for a while. The villagers only reassured us of this fact when they boasted of how long they had lived peacefully.
It was a pretty normal day for Bolanle and I, she decided to spice up the weekend by making something new and even asked for my assistance in the kitchen, well, “I am preoccupied with other things” was my excuse as I couldn’t tell her blatantly that I couldn’t cope with her cooking because of the mess she created whenever she did. And so I put on this serious expression and buried my head in the book I was reading like I had found something that could be of help to humanity. She just stood there with this hideous smile on her face, then walked away casually dragging her feet to cause some sort of distraction as she headed for the kitchen.
We both ran towards the same direction when we heard the blast, it sounded quite close and so we put off the light as we systematically peeped through the holes rats had bored overtime on the red curtains shielding us from the piercing eyes of the world. Was this really happening?, suddenly the house next to ours burst into flames and that was all we needed to answer the questions looming in our hearts. They were here!, they had found us!!.That vicious group of religious extremist that derived joy in butchering humans like chickens. The sound of multiple gunshots followed by shouts greeted our ears and before we could properly process our thoughts, we scampered in different directions, we would survive this.
How I got myself under my broken bed cannot be explained. It was as though pieces of a puzzle had been purposely disconnected and sent floating around in my mind, I just couldn’t pin my thought down to one thing…the kind of fear that seized me greatly surpassed my fear of the likely insects, rats and probably geckos that had made a mansion out of my present hiding place. The noise grew louder and I knew they were getting closer but I had no idea how close they were.
Suddenly, my bedroom door flung recklessly open, and footsteps came crawling, I could see 4 pairs of feet from my vantage point. One who seemed to be the leader paced around, yanked my wardrobe door open and started barking something out loud about animals playing games with him. This used to be my favourite game but this time, it was devoid of all the excitement that normally accompanied it, and just fear was left. Within that moment, my life flashed before my very eyes in uncompleted pieces. Was I really ready to stare death in the eye and still claim to be a Christian?
I suddenly felt a sting on my thigh, a creature was creeping up me and for the first time in my life I lay still, paralyzed from fear!! Now I could see a pair of feet, the others had probably gone to search other parts of the house. The feet drew nearer and for a split second, I pressed my eyes closed hoping this was one crazy nightmare I would wake up from. I opened my eyes to see his battered and torn feet so close, then, I knew it was over as he was most likely bending over to search under my bed. Suddenly, a smile spread across my face, faith like I had never had before suddenly overthrew every iota of fear, doubt and worry without a struggle… “I would die for Christ…Yes, I would die”….I muttered.
That was when I heard that loud familiar scream that pierced through my heart like a slow and final dirge. The pair of feet scampered noisily out of my room as if to celebrate its new found Victory.
Bolanle was gone and I knew it, I pressed my eyes closed one more time until I heard nothing but silence.