A year earlier...
A live broadcast of the President addressing the country was about to hold. In exactly three minutes, he would be on air and I was highly expectant of what he was going to say.
I was sure I wasn’t the only one waiting. Executives, governmental staff, civil workers, and even youths, waited. In short, the entire country expected the nine o’clock news on this fateful day, as we would mark it on the shelves of our history.
Suited for work, I whipped up a cup of coffee and settled myself on the large office chair in my home. The morning sun’s ray slapped me in the face and I grumbled. It had robbed me of the last bits of drowsiness in my eye. I was fully awake. Annoyed, I stood to pull the blinds closed, then I reached for my radio on the table and drew it closer.
I ran through channels, listening in and searching for 92.8fm, the most popular radio station.
I preferred a radio. Like every other millennial, this was what we had grown up with.
Here, most people associated radios with high credibility. The belief was that TV stations faulted for bending to the will of the government despite autonomy. There was no way to gauge the truth, but the majority had worked on this belief. I stood in the middle regarding this matter, though. It was simply the memories it held that affected my choice.
The radio’s crunchy sounds filled the room. I fought the urge to bang the equipment. This wasn’t the time or day for a poor signal, but it had made me remember my childhood. A smile came to my face. I remembered sitting on the front porch of our house, listening to the hottest jams with my father.
My mother sang while making our breakfasts. She would sway her hips to her own tunes and if you asked me, it was the best sound I ever heard. Even playing a hard game of chess with my brother Tayo on Sunday evenings; the memory of it all had made me smile heavier. My home was a warm place to be, but don’t get it twisted; that was in my head, not in reality.
My past defined me. I had a good childhood, and some would say I was a blessing; that my family was lucky. But so many others called me a monster, including my mother.
I lived in a well-furnished, three-bedroom apartment with my dog, Gent, who had only passed away last week. I could afford more, but I wasn’t crazy about luxury. Simplicity was key. There were things on every wall. Paintings, sticky notes, photographs of every milestone I had achieved, and awards gifted to honour the sacrifices I had made in this life. These were the things that made up my home and my entire life.
A part of me wanted to sink deeper down memory lane, but I had found a signal just as soon. The program was in by four minutes when I had tuned in. The host of AM Naija gave the beginning headlines and the feminine voice on air could calm a raging storm and drive to action.
I sat back and waited some more. I had halved the contents of the cooling cup in my hands already.
After a few minutes, she introduced the President, who immediately started off his address.
He started off with a simple premise, mentioning the twin bombings that took place yesterday in the northern parts of the country. Then he identified the culprits.
The Jama’tu Haram pervaded terror even in their sleep. They hunted our dreams every night, and we feared them like they were our gods. They played with lives and properties--the nation was on its deathbed because of these terrorists.
The president had arrived at the body of his speech. He mentioned the kidnapping of the two-fifty-six school girls and my head dipped in anguish. This nuisance needed to stop.
Somewhere in the North, a group of female children were going about their daily lives as boarders, until these scary men raided their high school and abducted them. It was an unspeakable tragedy.
He had concluded his address with an apology and vowed on his father’s grave to stop the terrorist attacks. The president didn’t know yet that a piece of paper and empty words were as useless as chaff.
Comments rolled off as soon as he dropped. His speech didn’t go anywhere in calming citizens, it seemed to aggravate them. They voiced their minds without care, insulting his tenure; some even dared to demand that he stepped down.
I had to turn it off. I couldn’t listen to anymore of it.
We desperately needed a hero.
I worked for the ICS. It was a government-funded organisation, comprising a special force team and a pool of private investigators. Nothing happening at the top of the ladder could skip our sights and ears. We were a third eye, only summoned officially in state of emergencies, and this was one of them.
The chief of Defence arranged a meeting today at the armed forces barracks. He invited big names like the army, National Intelligence and, of course, the ICS.
I was wary of my fate. Until now, I had never been on the frontiers of any battle. My teammates and I handled mild incidents around the country and now, duty called. A storm was brewing, and we were running towards it, head first.
It neared to ten am on the clock. I quickened my steps. The meeting was scheduled for eleven sharp and my rank expected me to arrive before the time to attend the daily briefings.
I fastened my shoulder gun holster and fixed in the Glock 42 with haste. My black long trench coat had come last.
From a mile away, any eye could sight that I was on edge. I had paused for a short while to regroup before leaving. The Jama’tu Haram was a network of criminals. Webs like that always proved stubborn. It would not be easy.
But I assured myself.
I was strong. My thinking abilities were the best out there and, as a veteran in this line of work, I was going to trust these skills today.
Releasing a long breath, I masked my features into the usual cold and inaccessible look of a typical officer of the law. Then I shut the door of my apartment and began my journey.
It was abnormal to see the streets of Ikeja, Lagos, free of cars and idle on a weekday. I had thought that I was in the wrong place, and I was hesitant to gas the Avalon. An hour’s journey had turned into a fifteen-minute drive but I took it as the heavens, giving me a chance. It was a windy morning, and the weather was reaching meat-locker standard. It also wasn’t a good day to get on Commander Young’s bad side. Driving through a highway, my eyes wandered about. I embarked on this route to work every day, but today, I was feeling nostalgic. It didn’t happen all the time. I had buried the truth about where I came from at the back of my mind. But at every point and part of the landscapes I crossed, there was a story waiting to be told. I knew the drill. I was born and bred on these streets; It was my home as a proud Lagosian. Yellow Danfo buses struggled for passengers at the curb. A ride in one of those could be the craziest thing a person experienced in their entire
"You should have seen their faces," he said while laughing. He actually laughed, Unbelievable!"It's not a joke, Emeka," I replied, not sparing him a glance as we walked down the halls. He had always had this nonchalant attitude to him and it was nerve racking sometimes.My mind was even still hovering on the fact that I might have issues with the Commander because of this guy beside me. Richard Young was strict in his dealings, never failing to spare any of his boys that defaulted and broke rules. I had a fall out with him last month for some personal reasons and another one following it up in line would just be destructive.It was unbecoming of me to keep disappointing Richard, I still had so much to pay for.
I had caught the attention of a few eyes with the show I had just displayed. The almost audible gasp of the now drenched woman had not gone unheard but thankfully the large spaces drowned out the sound –– such that, people from afar could not hear or realize what had just happened."I'm so sorry," I apologised immediately, just as she struggled to find something to clean off the drink spill on her clothes before it became permanent.My voice came out in a whisper so as not to drag back the eyes to us again but she wasn't even listening, she looked more concerned about the damp patch on the upper part of her clothes.It was the only distraction I could think of, it wasn't all that smart but at least it worked."What the hell is wrong with you!" She bawled in a harsh whisper before making an attempt to push past me. It was successful, but only because I had decided to move my body the exact same time she rudely
My breath came in pants as I crouched forward, hiding away from the now shattered glass above me. Reflexively, I shielded the lady with my body as more of its pieces began to fall unto us.A frenzied disarray of actions, building up the chaos by the minute. It was unexpected, the turnout of events that had violently jerked my attention towards the outburst. In one minute everything changed, and at this point, we could lose everything. It was almost impossible how a minute of resolute peace erupted in a series of pandemoniums, heightening swiftly by the clock. I had to buckle up and be prepared, and at the fall of the last glass piece, I expertly reached out for my gun, awaiting the next masked face.The woman behind me was trembling and the muffled
It had been ten days since the tragic event that remained packed up in our hearts and minds, refusing to let go, happened. Almost the whole of my lifetime was built upon this career path and truly, it was never even my decision from the start. I loved my job but if anyone had asked me on that fateful day ten years ago, where I saw myself in the future, the most honest answer I could have given was a thin line between dead and hopeless.He had vouchsafed me a choice when I had had none and he had stuck by me throughout, fulfilling every promise he had made to me when I was twenty-two. The countdown had started because no one was safe anymore...all our lives were in danger. There was a very slim chance that it hadn't been the Jama'atu who had manned the attack at the barracks but currently, we were running low on possible suspects.
Kings International Church, Ikeja was filled with mixed circles of people from across the country and overseas too. Military officials in their uniforms and their various medals pinned to their clothes, stood in an angular row, saluting at the altar where his body lay.I felt an excruciating pang of agony overwhelm me as I took in the sight of his widow and only daughter. They were sitting at the front, using each other as a support for their tears.It was relieving though, at least they had shoulders to cry on, they had each other unlike Tayo and me."How is the hand," Emeka said while slapping me lightly on the back. He was referring to my now cast up hand that I felt like tearing off every minute. It was really impairing my movements and I almost felt useless without the complete full use of my hands."I can't wait to take it off," I replied as we both walked down the aisle, heading towards the altar"I heard it's a lady charmer," he said and that made me look at him with my eyebrow
"How are you doing?" She asked once we reached outside the church building. We stood in a circle, round the large gaping hole as they lowered his body 6 feet into the ground. I was standing with Crystal and Faith and I had to support her, so she wouldn't crumble.His first cousin, Lee, was giving his own tribute and It was heartfelt and so sincere. Some families of the other victims were looking absolutely distraught while some managed to compose themselves but above all, funerals were the worst occasions to attend. I silently hoped I won't be visiting here anymore or worse end up as the one inside the box.It was Crystal's time to speak and I watched her as she gracefully walked towards the podium. The once fearless girl I knew looked shrunken and frail and my heart broke a little more seeing her like that."Dad, my rock, I don't have the strength in me to ponder on why they had to take you away from me. If I did, it might break the remaining threads holding this shattered heart of mine together.I would never find the answer, I know and as a wise person once
La Requiem Chapter 9: the course
We stood in a circle, round the large gaping hole as they lowered his body 6 feet into the ground. I was standing with Crystal and Faith and I had to support her, so she wouldn't crumble.His first cousin, Lee, was giving his own tribute and It was heartfelt and so sincere. Some families of the other victims were looking absolutely distraught while some managed to compose themselves but above all, funerals were the worst occasions to attend. I silently hoped I won't be visiting here anymore or worse end up as the one inside the box.It was Crystal's time to speak and I watched her as she gracefully walked towards the podium. The once fearless girl I knew looked shrunken and frail and my heart broke a little more seeing her like that."Dad, my rock, I don't have the strength in me to ponder on why they had to take you away from me. If I did, it might break the remaining threads holding this shattered heart of mine together.I would never find the answer, I know and as a wise person once