The cold evening wind blew vigorously, ushering the dancing of the wooden window. I was laying on my back with my face up staring at the brown old aluminum zinc roof. I kept closing my eyes all in a bid to capture sleep but my efforts were all to no avail. I looked at my right side, young Aliya was deep in sleep with her hands wide spread consuming almost all the space in the little mattress. She had just clocked 4 a week ago. I was just 4 years older than her. Dad and mom were in a competition as usual every night, yes! a competition of who had the loudest snore. I could pay less attention to that, I was already used to it. The door to our little hut was open. Dad and mom were lying very close to the door.
Ganduga was indeed a peaceful village situated at about a hundred kilometers east of the capital city. The major occupation of the people was farming. Education was new to the community, the first school in the community only began functioning barely two years ago thanks to the state government. Crime rate in my little village was almost at zero. All we did in the village was to farm, harvest, consuming what we produce and sell the leftovers to earn little money. We were contented and happy.
I looked at the old wall clock on my right and it was 1:32AM… 1:32 AM! and I, Aisha was still awake. Sleep and I were good friends and it comes to me anytime I call on it but this night there seem to be something wrong, I was feeling uneasy. I was still buried deep in thought when I heard a slight noise from a distance, it sounded like that of a van, I heard same noise coming from another direction. The noise kept increasing and this time I was sure cars were approaching. I thought to myself, what could people with cars be looking for in Ganduga by this time of the night. Suddenly, the noise disappeared. Once again mom and dad’s snore were the only noise I could hear in the room. The next sound I heard signaled a whole new phase in my life, a whole new chapter, a real twist.
Gunshots from every direction. Women, men and children screaming. Explosions! The huts with thatched roofs were on fire. All these happening with mom and dad still lying down.
Young Aliya was already awake and terrified with her eyes wide open. I crawled by the wall to wake mom and dad. Close to them, I placed my hand on the floor only to feel a pool of liquid. It was blood. My parents had been hit by bullets that came in through the open door.
My heart was about to jump out of my body, my whole body was vibrating. I turned back and looked at young Aliya, she was in a state of serious shock.
The invaders were shooting sporadically and moving from house to house slaughtering people like animals. No one has entered our little hut yet but I knew I and little Aliya had just few minutes or probably seconds to live. People were running helter skelter, I could hear a voice shout run! run!! to the Buluka Mountain, the military would soon be here. I heard another voice scream hurry up, we have to leave soon, of course that one came from the invaders, maybe their leader.
I had to take a decision. Remain in the house with my little sister and die or run to Buluka Mountain and risk getting shot while running or making it to the mountain and surviving.
Then another thought came in, (all these thoughts happening in a flash of seconds) what would life look like for I and my little sister if we were to survive this, our parents were dead.
Aliya tapped me and said in a little, scared and shaky voice ‘Aisha I don’t want to die’. I had to take a decision, I had to, and I did.
Bullets were flying, sporadic gunshots, smokes from burning houses, people screaming, all these echoing in my ear. It was life or death. It’s better to die fighting to live than to lay back and embrace death. I was running upfront holding on to Aliya’s left hand with my right.
We ran, not minding what was happening around us or if we were going to die. We ran to life, we ran to survival, we ran without looking back.
We made it to the bottom of the Mountain panting heavily, gasping for breath and without any strength to make it to the top of the mountain. Young Aliya placed her hands on her knees with her face down, she had burned up all her energy in the race for survival. Everyone who got to the mountain proceeded up immediately not caring or paying attention to two young girls who were completely exhausted and couldn’t climb. Two young men who were also in the survival race got to the mountain and were hurriedly about to climb up. One of the young men who was slim and tall looked back, saw us and said to the other, let’s help these kids up.
To us these men were Angels. They carried us on their back, struggling with our little weight and their tiredness to the top of the mountain. By that time we could hear the sirens, the MILITARY and JTF were approaching in full speed. From the top of the mountain we had a clear view of the destructive plague that went on in our little village. Almost all houses were burnt. The invaders fled the scene before the military got there.
At such a young age, I and my little sister saw blood flow like a stream of water, we saw people in severe pains with different degrees of injury ranging from gunshot wounds to burns, we saw our parents die right in front of us, friends we played with became dead bodies, our homes were destroyed, we saw cruelty, destruction and wickedness at it’s peak. We were taken by the soldiers to an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camp in the capital city. I and little Aliya went into a state of traumatic shock. We couldn’t speak, our eyes were still and hardly moved, appetite was murdered. The doctors and other officials in the IDP camp helped a lot. I can vividly remember the first day Aliya spoke since we arrived the camp. She asked me a question. A question I had and still have no answer to, a question I always ask myself, a question that can have no reasonable answer, a question I wish to ask the invaders someday.
The doctors were delighted Aliya finally spoke, to them it was a sign indicating she has entered the recovery process. This was what Aliya asked me… ‘Why? Why Did They Do This?’
This fictional piece can be related to someone else’s true experience. A lot of kids at the IDP camps had worse experiences. These people need our help, support and prayers. We can aid these people by remembering them in prayers and helping out in any possible way, be it financially or in selfless service.