A LATE NIGHT LEMON

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That night, I remember running into my parents’ room the first time I heard the blast. The explosion of the church down my street was so loud, I felt the ground under my feet shaken, it felt like in the action movies I was used to seeing. But nobody told me it was that loud.

I cuddled into both my parents’ arms longing for safety, hugging my mother so tight it felt like I wanted to enter her womb again. My dad wasn’t wearing a shirt and his body felt warm against mine.

With each minute that passed, the noise seemed to grow closer. I heard so many voices, loudly chanting words I couldn’t seem to figure out. I remember the fear that gripped me when I heard the banging against our door, how I heard the window glasses shatter against the floor.

The door could only hold for so long, my parents asked me to go under the bed. I hid there shaking, hoping all that was a dream I’ll wake up soon from. I heard the doors of the rooms in the house fly open, getting banged resoundingly against the wall until they got into my parents’ room.

I remember hearing that familiar voice, the one I was sure had to belong to Umar. He often came to our house and mummy would serve us food together, sometimes on the same plate. I heard them converse in Hausa, asking ‘ma su gidan ke nan?’ That voice which I desperately wanted to believe didn’t belong to my friend, sounded so thin and cold, without any trace of emotion; anger or grief. He then said ‘su ne masu gidan’.

I heard what sounded like a blow landing and I heard my mother pleading to them. But then, my father told her “God who sees all, knows my heart”.

I heard how his voice sounded without any fear or regret to what was about to happen to him. He had accepted his fate. I suddenly heard the sound of another blow landing sharply on my father. This time, my mother’s voice pierced through the room with a loud cry, a deafening and emotional plea. She shook so much the bed frame was shaking.

As I remained under the bed I felt something hit the floor. It was my father’s body without a head!

I felt as though the world had gotten silent. I couldn’t hear a single sound. All I felt was a screeching pain in my heart, trying to come to terms that my father had just dropped dead before my very eyes. I heard my mother shout out, saying they were the only ones at home. I heard what sounded like a slap while they demanded, ‘fada gaskiya, talk true madam’.

I couldn’t believe what was happening because it had to be a dream. At that moment, Umar called out ‘ina Joshua yake?’ I heard some mumblings and then a blow seemed to have landed on my mother as I heard her shriek in pain. Shortly after, I watched their feet begin to leave the room and silence fell upon us as a cloak, as though nobody had been there few seconds ago.

I wanted to move. I pleaded with my feet to hearken, but I couldn’t feel my legs. My knees felt numb. I made an effort to crawl out but I just felt stuck, like my body had lost the ability to function. All I felt was this sting  in my head like a bomb had exploded inside. I thought about what I’d see when I came out from under the bed but that only made my head hurt even more.

***

I woke up to someone shaking me and for a moment, I thought I was dead. As I opened my eyes, I saw a face I wasn’t familiar with staring down at me, saying something I couldn’t decipher to another person standing close by.

Studying the movement of her lips, I knew her voice was loud enough but still, I couldn’t hear anything that was being said. I felt them grab my shoulders, supporting me to sit up.

My eyes caught a glimpse of a pair of white eyes staring into the distance, looking pale. And immediately, a sharp pain was fired into my brain. My body came alive trying to let go of the hands holding me as I tried to charge for the bed. It was my mother’s body lying there white, cold and lifeless. I knew my sanity was leaving me as I fought with all of my strength until I managed to free myself and reach for the bed, crying so much that I couldn’t see anything as I held the cold hand in mine.

I heard loud crying but I wasn’t sure if it was my voice that sounded so hoarse. As I kept wailing I felt my leg touch something cold, only to see another body.

My father’s body lay there lifeless, his head detached from his body. As my pain increased I felt a dark swoop descend on me, my head spinning as I struggled to take in air.

***

Laying on this hospital bed has been hard for me as I keep playing the events of that night over and over again. I hate the way the hospital smells of the antiseptic used in cleaning the wards. I can’t even close my eyes to sleep, because each time I do, I hear that shout, the one with my mum’s voice, filling my head as they struck my father.

Each time that happens, I pass out.

I think about what could have made Umar do what he did? How could he be so cold to kill people who were always nice to him? I hope when we meet in the future I’ll have a blunt machete to his throat and while he screams out in pain, I will look into his eyes coldly and take payback for this hurt he has caused me.


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