1. The Attack

It was 6a.m on a Monday morning. A typical work day of hectic routine. There are things that would happen ordinarily on a day like this; Some students struggle to fix up school assignments which were long over-due, others hide away one or two vital school material so that it will be almost impossible to make it down to school – these are the extremely lazy ones. Anyways, I am not trying to report myself to you. I am only recounting what happens in my neighbourhood.

Another set of people involved in the Monday morning rush are the parents, wards and nannies who have to tidy up their schedules for a new week, which I believe is a vital part of some great organizational skills.

For me, a Monday morning is like every other morning where scents from dishes mix with those that have escaped from creams or perfumes and all try to get into my head at the same time. I am a student recently enrolled in a close-by secondary school, an action informed by the long distance between my house and my previous school.

This particular Monday was a different one because instead of a sweet fragrance which characterizes the rising-ups; the unpleasant smell of burning papers and plastics woke me up. I found my younger sister next to me trying to say something. I noticed that it was a bit smoky and pretty dark. She was crying already. As confused as I was, I stood up from bed dragging her right behind me. We staggered to our parents’ room but could do nothing for the smoke had increased and we have to escape danger. I pulled her up, ran out of the apartment, and there we met answers to the questions we never asked.

There were hoodlums around the house. They had set part of our house on fire. I knelt down immediately, holding my sister watchfully.

“Please, spare us. Please” I cried.

One of the men came closer and opened the gallon he was holding. The smell of petrol escaped into my nostrils. I closed my eyes and held my sister so close that I heard nothing but the mixture of our heart beats. The next feeling was the pain of a knife cut on my right arm. It was as sharp as death.

“Stand up and get out of here! Little messiah” one of the young men broke out in devilish laughter.

I opened my eyes. Then, I saw them all; they were 4 in number, mostly guys we meet on the street every day. They were holding knives and axes too. I sat still and looked at the one closest to us, he must have spoken a million times but I kept looking at him, as if trying to comprehend his words, then, he carried the gallon of petrol in anger.

Pedetin and I sprang to our feet and made quick steps to the gate. By the time we got to the street, it was grave quiet but with smokes here and there, except for a bit of distant noises.

Then, we heard a group of people running towards our direction, they sounded like angry mobs. I quickly pulled Pedetin into the gutter and hid beneath. From their footsteps, they should be about 15 people charging violently as they ran past us. Some of them even stood on the gutter where we hid before moving on. We held our breaths, every single second. And when we thought it was over, more people actually begun to troop to the street. We sat there, locked in one another, for about 5 hours. Soon, another group arrived which launched a counter attack. Although there were no gun shots, we clearly heard attacks, counter attacks and retreating footsteps.

After a long period of silence, in great fear, we peeped and jumped out of the gutter. We trekked through a fairly bushy footpath for about 40 more minutes. Each second of the walk was done in pronounced anxiety for the unknown. We were not aware of the goings-on and neither did we know our destination. We finally got to a major road where we began to feel the tremor of earth. It’s now mid-day.

The energetic sounds of feet, crackly sounds of strained voices, thunderous sounds of guns and something close to shattering bottles enveloped the air. The sounds, and atmosphere mixed in such manner that one couldn’t differentiate them all. That was when Pedetin cried out.

“Seyon, I’m tired”

More people left their wares and ran for their lives. Some were confused on what exactly to do; whether to leave their stalls out or pack some with them.  It got smokier and at some point, distant sounds got closer than expected. I pushed my way through the crowd and dragged Pedetin right behind me.

“Pedetin, mijalebo, please, come along, we can make it out of here”

She looked apparently scared and coughed out in chokes from the smoke increasing by the minutes. The sun came out in full force as if in support of the entire situation and therefore ready to add to our many pains. But as hot as the sun was, I was not sure if anyone paid attention. People kept running away, and in an attempt to cross the road, my hand slipped off Pedetin’s.

A man drove his car across the road almost immediately, and like a confused man as the rest, he fidgeted on the steering, parked in the center of the road, left the door ajar and joined the rest in the struggle for survival. I cursed that man in my heart as I screamed Pedetin’s name. I wasn’t sure she heard me due to the state of chaos characterized by so much noise. But I shouted again.

Becca Maulome Padonu

Edited: 02.05.2022

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