27 – 01 – 02

   I’m doing this because I think I’ve missed you, because I’ve been busy with school related work, because I feel like telling you a true life story, because I feel so much compassion for the children hurt in   bomb affected states aaaannnddd because today is the 27th.

The 27th is one special day, here’s what I can remember…

 27-01-2002
   It was a really lovely Sunday afternoon and everyone was chilling at home. In that year, my parents and I used to live on Igidi street in Mende, Maryland. I was particularly excited about this day because it was the Sunday after my 5th birthday which was on Friday and everyone was really warm and friendly towards me from church till home. I remember that day as if it were yesterday.
    I wore one of my loveliest dresses with my ball gown inner wear, it was one of a kind but what’d you expect? As per post birthday girl, my mum made me look the best even if she was Ill that day. We then went to church, a typical Sunday thing to do then we returned home sometime at mid day. We were all casually enjoying the Sunday just like everyone else before the unexpected, untypical Sunday thing happened.

    The house began to vibrate and it was not normal. The glass cups and plates on the shelves began to drop one after the other, even the windows began to fall off. We were speechless. My uncle then went out to find out what may be happening. He returned with the most heart ripping news.
People were screaming, shouting, crying, running, people were everywhere. That was when we got to know about ongoing explosions at the military cantonment in Ikeja.

   We stayed home for quite a while and didn’t want to leave because Ikeja was not just two blocks away but the intensity of the shaking, vibration, shattering, people running and the thick smoke visible from the windows upstairs made our adrenalins kick in. People began saying “it’s coming here, the fire is coming here”. My mom was Ill but I’m telling you, the illness itself got scared and left her. She got up, threw on one of her bubu clothing, carried my younger sister who was just 10 months old at the time and strapped her to back. That was when our run began.
My aunty and one of my sisters, Beulah, who is soooo much like a tomboy didn’t even say jack to us, before we knew it they had scaled the fence and off they went.
   I was left with my mom and three of my sisters; my youngest sister Jemimah, my eldest sister Sonia and Vikki who is Sonia’s immediate younger sister.
(At the time of this event, my dad and brother were in two other states).

    So we got out of the house gate and ran to one place that had a hill, which was somewhere like the only way out of that arena. As young as I was, I was baffled by how something as serious as a bomb blast was happening and people had the time, strength and courage to be carrying household furniture and appliances on their heads and in their hands while running. Anyways, when we got to the hill, there was a swampy gutter there so crossing was not as easy…for my mom. The thing is, there was a plank put there but the large number of people stomping on it broke the plank. So my mom was about to cross the quite large gutter with my sister strapped to her back but guess what? She missed her step and fell in, and it was swampy so she began sinking in. My eldest sister Sonia was trying her best to pull her out and was even asking people around for help but everyone was busy saving their own lives. I stood there just watching.
My mum then told a man to cross me over the swamp but you won’t believe what he did.

“Please help me cross my daughter to the other side”, as simple and as clear as the English was, I guess the man did not understand. He crossed me quite alright be he took me half way up the hill and left me there. I could still see my mom and sisters from a distance but they couldn’t really see me. They were distraught and I could see it.
While I was half way up the hill, I made a move to go down the hill to meet them but being the little girl I was, someone took pity on me and thought I had lost my parents and carried me and took me to the top of the hill which connects two roads. At this point, I had lost sight of my mother and sisters. Last I could think of was my mom sinking in that gutter and my sister trying to pull her out.  All I could do was cry.

   After I had lost sight of my mom and sisters, I remember taking a road that led left from the top of the hill, I was very confused because the person that took me to the top of the hill just abandoned me there but I kept on walking. I didn’t have a watch, but what did I even need one for? I was too little to tell the time but what I wasn’t too little to know was, the day began turning to night. I was just walking like the way it is in the movies and I got tired, the multitude of people I saw reduced so much, that adrenalin had dropped and everything just seemed calmer than the former. For some reason I wasn’t scared, just really sad.
   I took my rest on one bridge that evening, but before sleeping, I remember a young girl walked up to me an offered me an orange. I honestly don’t remember of I accepted it or if I refused it but she stayed with me a while until I fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night only to find myself in someone’s house with that young girl no where to be seen, the tears that poured from my eyes were unbelievable, all I could say was “where is my mummy?”, “take me to my mummy”, “I want my mummy” and I would cry more. The people around me tried to calm me down, they gave me everything possible, they gave me one tantalizing food like that but I just couldn’t eat, all I wanted was my mummy then I fell asleep again.
   I woke up at day break again but guess where I found myself… I found myself on the staircase to my house. I was mute. I was just staring. Then my sister came out and saw me, she was shouting, “Mummy, Mummy, Sharon is home, Mummy someone brought her to the house!!”. They all rushed out. The joy and the tears…priceless.
     We now waited and hoped for my aunt and my sister Beulah, to come home, which they did sometime later. Everyone thought it a miracle that I returned home because a lot of children were missing and some dead. Apparently, it was my neighbour who found me, about two days later she came home to tell my mom of how she saw me sleeping on a bridge and she carried me.
Then, I didn’t see it as a miracle but now that I think of it, it actually was. God used her. We were all grateful to her for that act of compassion. Who knows where I’d have been now?

   It might seem odd to some people that a 5 year old can keep such an event in her memory but you know different things leave different impacts on people. That day is one of the many days that can never leave my  memory.

    Imagine what such an unintended blast did to a lot of families, ones who were displaced, the ones who were lost and the ones who died. Then compare it to those intended ones in places like Baga and the likes, it’s not easy. You can’t really know how those people are feeling unless you’ve experienced something similar. All you can feel is the pain that someone was hurt because of another person’s act of wickedness.

All we can do is pray for the peace of those people and those places and for the peace of Nigeria.

Have a blessed day!!

– PS – That dress circulating the internet is white and gold to me.

   

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