On Lonely Road to Bama

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Everyday life of a soldier in North Eastern Nigeria was faced with terrible experiences. He watched his colleagues die and is faced with dead too from Boko Haram. With Love and piety, courage and strength he must not give up.

"On the Lonely road to Bama" is a fiction that tried to tell the story of the in Northern Nigeria.

Submitted: May 26, 2017

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Submitted: May 26, 2017

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AT WORK ON LONELY BAMA ROAD A Short Story By Bbangi dimso I had just finished patrolling our area of the lonely road. I was waiting to receive the usual evening phone call from my wife Amina. I had expected the call for about half an hour because her calls usually comes in before the Maghreb prayers, she said she always ensure she called me before settling down to pray. She is always doing the calling since I resumed duty at the Bama road block because most of the villages were deserted and nowhere close to get recharge cards for phone until we returned to base. It was a long time I had served there since the insurgence where sent out of Bama area in February of 2015 I was redeployed to work there. It was quiet and quite terrifying out in the field. We lost three of our colleagues in the period of work on Bama road, and you can never know which minutes or from which direction the insurgents will come. I love to fight for my father land Nigeria and I always remembered what my father who is a devout Islamic cleric told me one day. He said to me, “Bashiru my son, Allah has caused with hell fire anyone who refuses to fight to defend the truth or anyone who did not fight against injustice, inhumanity and all vices either because he is afraid or because he sympathizes with the perpetrator.” I often tune to his voice in my mind as I console myself in this war against the insurgency. My father said, “It is not Islamic to kill innocent people, children and women. Islamic forbids barbaric murder and senseless killing. Jihad is purposeful and so it must be maintained.” According to my father, Nigeria has never witness such brutality and senseless killing like the Boko haram insurgency. He wondered why someone who professes Islam will do such things. As a soldier in the Nigerian Army I encountered a lot of difficulties in trying to explain what Islam teaches to my fellow soldiers especially those who came from regions where Islam is scarcely practiced. I always recalled with embarrassment what one of our wounded officers said as he groaned, “Islam has caused me all these.” To the hearing of all of us around him trying to help him survive; three of us helping him were Muslims. Ahmed my colleague softly told him, “Sir, some unscrupulous and senseless people who thought they practice Islam caused us this. I am a Muslim myself and I am here making sure you are alive.” He kept quiet for a moment and said, “You want me to believe you? These people shouted the same Allahuhakbar you would say while they shot at me.” Ahmed unperturbed said to the officer, “Sir only Allah knows his true worshipers and this I am sure you will agree with me that as you are here today God preserved your life, if not so you would not have been alive. I think it will be better if we’d faced our enemy than thinking that some religion is the cause.” The officer nodded in pain and sigh for some kind of relief as we rushed him up the road side and into the truck. I always recall these experiences. “Why do you always call me at a particular time in the evening?” I asked my wife one evening when I was on one of those rare casual leaves. We were seated at dinner with my three daughters Aisha, Zainab and Khadiza. My wife a very deep and bashful Fulani woman, she has a way of showing her romantic façades to her husband. She turned and looked with deemed eyes that portrays are intrinsic love and devotion me and to Allah and said to me, “Amma, (which means Elder-brother, a pet name she calls her husband) Allah is with you and I pray to him all the five times of my daily prayers and I always want to hear your voice to assure me that my prayers are answered. And to know how you are feeling and also find out the state of things in the war front. When I get these details I will take it to Allah in Prayers and I am positive that he has always heard me, that is why you are fine today.” I love to be with my family. My mother had taught us how close family members should live together. My Eldest daughter Aisha who bears my mother’s name is a very interesting planner and her sister Zainab who is only a year younger is very authoritative, Khadiza is her mother’s look-alike. I did not have a male child but my daughters mean everything to me. I consider them equally a great blessing to me from Allah. Whenever I tell them that they should pray that Allah preserve my life to see them all grow up and get married one day, Zainab would look at me straight in the eyes and say confidently, “Baba, Allah will keep you, no evil will happen to you. I have prayed and I am always praying for all of you.” Been far away from them I felt dejected; sometimes afraid that something might happen to me and if I die what would happen to them. I think every soldier feels that way once in a while. I was upset, I did not know why. Could it be because I had not heard my wife called or what? I could not tell. I went out of our tent on the lonely Bama road. I took some water to perform ablution and observe my prayers. As I began the ablution on getting to where I will wash my feet, my phone rang. I left the ablution process and picked the call, “Asallam mualeikum Bashir” I heard a familiar voice from the other end. “Salam aleikum” I replied. “It is your brother Abdullahi.” The voice continued. “Abdu, hope all is well?” I asked. Abdullahi my brother does not communicate when it is not very crucial. “Baba has died this afternoon. May Allah reward him Al-janatul-Firdausi” “Amen” I said. He told me they were about to go and bury him at the time he called and said the old man died peacefully in the room. I was pained that I could not hear a last word from my father. I was pained that I will never share in the blessing of burying my father. My father a very old man died a peaceful man, about that I was pleased. My late father preached that Islam is peace and that Muslims are supposed to live in peace with people of other religions. His parents brought him up in Lafiya town. He a Fulani man has a lot of friends from other tribes in the area. David Saba a Christian, Egong by tribe is one of my father’s closest. They spent a lot of time together. Since the dead of Mr Saba three years down my father has been practically a lonely man. But now he was gone. I prayed for him all through the night. In the morning I heard a child’s cry but it was faint. I have heard it before in the night so I told my colleagues I was going to check out where the child’s cry was from; after I observed the Fajir prayers I went down a bush path. After walking about three kilometers on the pathway I found a woman laid under a tree with two children. A little boy of about two years was hitting her to wake up while the other child who was about 7 years was seated some yards away from the woman. The little boy was drawing the mother’s breast to feed on it in the morning. When I got closer I noticed that the woman was laying still. I called out to see if she could respond, no response. I called the bigger boy and he calmly came to me and tearfully said in Hausa, “Ta ki ta tashi.” (Meaning she refuses to wake up). I moved and touched the woman, behold she was stone cool. The woman was dead. I stood there the ground seemed disappeared under me. I have seen people died and I shot enemies to dead but I could not stand the dead of a mother with two young children. I felt dejected for the children and burdened by the dead before me. I just lost my father less than 24 hours ago. But my father died a peaceful dead that was why I could not weep for him. My wife called earlier in the morning weeping because her husband will not partake in the blessing of burying a father. But to me in the service to my nation and to mankind Allah will reward me. I asked the boy how and when they got to the place. He said two days ago. “Where are you from?” I asked. “Gwoza” he answered. The woman must have followed a bush part running with her two children to get to Maiduguri but she could not make it. She came close to where she could get help but died. I wept. I thought of how this woman has been on this lonely and risky path and through the bushes she had passed through. I thought of many things including the little boy who was sucking the breast of a dead mother without him knowing. I became so sad and weakened. I have never felt that way before. I asked the small boy what his name was and told that his name is Dahiru and his brother Bukar. He said their mother was Mairo. From the names I knew they were a Muslim family. I held the little boy up and told him that his mother has gone to Al-janatul-firdausi. I thought the boy did not understand what I said but I was not bothered whether he understood it or not. I was telling him my conviction as a Muslim. I carried Bukar and asked Dahiru to follow me. Dahiru turned to me and asked, “Soja, what about my mother.” “Your mother is dead.” I told him. The boy looked at me and said, “I know it.” I looked at him as never before. He said, “She told me she was dying and asked me to pray for her. I did. She said I should stay here until someone gives her a befitting burial like she did to our father. I joined her in prayers when my father was killed by Yan mallam (referring to Boko haram).” The boy looked at me as if to say, I am not scared again. After all, the worst have happened. He said, “You are a Muslim right?” I nodded in tears I could not look at the brave young boy. “Please help me let’s bury my mother. Allah will reward us.” I walked closer to Dahiru and patted him on the back and told him we shall bury his mother but we must first get to the checkpoint where my two other colleagues are so that Kabir (my colleague) who is also a Muslim will join us in burying his mother. He agreed I should go with his brother to the checkpoint while he stayed back to watch over his mother until I returned. I returned to the checkpoint with the little Bukar, he cried all the way. When I got there I narrated the whole story to Kunle and Kabir. Kunle asked us to go and burry the woman while he stayed with the boy Bukar. We went and gave Mairo a befitting burial according to Islamic rites. After the burial I was consoled that at last I did not miss the blessing of burying my father. I knew my father will be happy that I rendered such service to poor Mairo a brave widow of insurgence victim. After the burial, we got back at the tent Bukar had slept. Kunle had given him hot tea and bread; I guess the first descent food he has eating in a long while. I sad at tea with Dahiru and he narrated his story which he punctuated with questions about my work and the life in the bush. He said they stayed in the open for days before they got to the tree under which his mother died. He said at the place where his mother died he would go to a stream (about four kilometers away) to bring water for the mother and his younger brother since the mother could no longer walk. He would also pick some wild fruits for food. “She said her chest was paining her, she was not breathing well and she told me she was dying.” Dahiru finished sobbing tensely. I promised Allah that I will take care of Dahiru and Bukar and I will give them same love I would give to my children. Insurgency has exposed small children to brutal life. They saw how people died and how human beings were slaughtered like animals. Dahiru said many people were slaughtered like animal. When my wife called at Maghreb I told her about the two boys and how I was willing to do everything possible to get them to my care.


© Copyright 2017 Bbangi dimso. All rights reserved.

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