Word length: 400-500 words
Jos, 24th Dec 2012.
“Mama, I’ll be back by Sunday,” I shouted into the phone as the tricycle sped to the popular tomato market along Bauchi ring road.
I noticed some young men loitering in a corner and my chest tightened a bit. I quickly chided myself for being paranoid. It was two O’clock after all and the afternoon prayers had just ended. As we got closer to the market I began to relax again.
The ground vibrated heavily and the phone I still held flew out of my hands. The tricycle struggled to come to a halt only to run into a stationary vehicle. There was thick smoke everywhere blurring my vision. I staggered to my feet and observed as several vehicles and shops were razed down by fire. Shrill cries pierced my ears. Pandemonium broke loose as children and mothers tried to locate each other in the chaos.
I should have gone home before now, I mused. I was the only Corps member left in the barracks. Zainab and Tobe, the romantic duo had gone to town earlier in the day. I was to meet them at the park on Sunday so we could go home together.
I stood perplexed in the midst of the ruckus. Suddenly, a detached limb dropped at my feet, jostling me back to reality. Too shocked and scared to move, I stood glued to the spot thinking through my options. Down the road, the mallams had regrouped butchering everyone who slightly resembled an ‘infidel’. Up at the other end, the natives fought for dear lives, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Here, I was in a dilemma. Mama is from Fulani descent and Papa is a titled man from the ancient Nri Kingdom. Up the road, the natives would never have believed I am Igbo because I have Mama’s slender features and long curly hair. Down the road, I was doomed to roast like cow skin since I could not recite a single Quaranic syllable.
In the distance, I suddenly heard the wail of sirens. Thanks to the Jos cold, I had worn my khaki trousers, so I would be easily identified and rescued. Stealthily, I moved towards the sirens careful not to draw attention to myself. I stooped behind a car and scanned the area; my fear knew no bounds. Suddenly, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder …
It was Colonel, and he had come to my rescue. He led the rapid response team of the JTF to rescue the other survivors.
Written By Chizzy Odilinye
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