“…of darkness then light.
Of complete cession.
Boom boom, boom boom.
Of silence eternal.
I am Dubem. I woke up this morning with a stifling sense of foreboding. Lo, my wife Uchenna lay shivering in a pool of her own sweat.
It’s a hot day in Yola and I am sweating and panting as I climb up hill to the Church of Assumption. I’d had to park at the bottom of the hill as the car park is full. I love my wife Uchenna and I would die for her but this errand is one I wish I didn’t have to run. It is a Sunday morning and my wife is home alone and ill in bed and I would much rather be at home with her. Unfortunately Felicia her best friend is leaving for the States tonight and Uchenna has a package for her sister, so here I am. A young man brushes past me and hurries on up without an apology. His yellow caftan makes me uneasy but I brush off the feeling. I have to hurry back to my wife is my one consuming thought.
I haven’t been in a church since my wedding three years ago and to say it feels strange is an understatement. I sit myself at the back and wait as I have sent a bb message to Felicia. I wonder how much of the mass I would have to take before she comes to relieve me. I try to listen as the priest talks about God’s love. His voice has a hypnotic quality and for the first time today my sense of foreboding eases off a little. I say a little prayer for Uchenna as a fat lady with two kids squeezes past me to sit at the other end of the pew. One of the kids a little girl of about four years old smiles at me. She has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen. I smile back.
Suddenly, I hear a sound like a banger and I feel intense burning heat from my inside. It started at the back of my throat and in the blink of an eye it consumes my whole body. I do not know what to think. I black out briefly. When I come to, it’s cold, very cold and misty. The church is empty seems like mass is over. Where is Felicia then? A yellow fabric clad limb catches my attention. Why is there a severed arm lying on the aisle? I pick myself and Uchenna’s package up off the floor and take a few steps forward. My foot encounters something which rolls slightly. It is the slightly charred head of my little friend; her eyes are glazed in an eternal question. I begin to cry.
“What is this?”
My eyes suddenly seem to open and all around me is death. A woman with both legs blown off stares ahead in a state of shock, the priest is slumped against the podium, impaled by a large piece of metal. I can neither hear nor smell anything but I feel fine except for an overwhelming spring of sorrow in my soul. I can’t take much more of this; I have to get home to Uchenna. As I turn to look once more at my little friend, I see me. Half of my head is blown off. I stare in fascination as grey matter tinged with blood seep out of the jagged gaping wound.
I will myself to wake up from this bad dream. It works as the gruesome scene fades away.
Uchenna goes to the table and tries to eat the breakfast that Dubem made for her. She smiles fondly as she feels the stone cold boiled yam. It hadn’t occurred to him that by the time she’d be ready to eat, the yams would be quite cold and inedible. She eats the cold eggs and swallows the analgesic. They are going to the hospital as soon as Dubem returns. She flops on the sofa and turns on the TV. “Breaking News on Aljazeera, a suicide bomber today detonated himself…….” The bell peals four times in sets of twos. Dubem is back she goes to get the door.
“The steady unrest and menace of boko haram is steadily working on everyone’s nerves…..”
She thinks as she opens the door to Dubem. A news reporter’s voice comes on on the TV;
“…..the body count so far at the church of Assumption in Mubi, Yola State has been placed at thirty; there are no survivors from the main auditorium of the church.”
Uchenna opens the door slowly. There isn't anyone there, only the sticky taped wrapped package that her husband had taken out this morning lay at the door step.