I am remembering the night when the war is starting. Even before they are arriving to killing us the air is feeling sticky like okra and people are not happying.
I am sensing that something is wrong but my mother and father is saying that everything will be fine. But if everything will be fine then I am wondering why they are naming baby before she is seven days old. They are saying that sometimes it is OK to be naming baby very soon. I am thinking that I will not be calling baby, Agnes, until in two days time.
That same night, I am knowing something is wrong when I am not able to be sleeping and I am hearing father’s footsteps walking back and forwards in their room. I am hearing mother whispering loud to father and trying to stopping baby crying at the same time.
Then I am hearing father is walking outside and mother is coming into my room to waking me up and saying that we are having to go. Father is angrying, and telling us to going back inside but we are not stopping. We are seeing others too walking and I am thinking that we are walking towards Babalawo. We are all resembling ghosts and no star is shining in the sky and nobody is talking. Nobody is really knowing what is to be saying, so only baby is crying.
But we are not reaching Babalawo before the soldiers are coming and everybody is running back to their houses. Father is pushing us inside and shouting us where to be hiding when they are coming but there is no time to be hiding because they are already here and they are asking father what he is doing standing outside like big man. They are slapping father, but he is staying quiet, and mother is telling me to hiding under blanket and to be not saying anything. She is wrapping baby inside yam cloth and putting her inside cupboard.
I am hearing when soldier is coming inside and they are saying they are killing father and will be killing mother too if she is saying anything. They are telling her to bringing them food and they are walking into my room and lifting blanket and pulling me into kitchen to be bringing food.
They are telling mother they are wanting yam and I can see that mother is touching her cross pendant and praying that baby will not be crying when she is opening cupboard and taking out one yam.
I am bringing them water to be drinking when one of the soldiers is telling me to remove my dress. I am shaking my head and he is slapping me, and I am crying only because I am realising that father is dying, not because he is beating me. The soldier is holding gun in one hand and using the other to unzip his trouser and saying I should touch his soldier. I am not understanding what he is meaning and mother is saying that how can one child be telling another child to be doing nonsense. She is saying that she will kill them all if they are not leaving me alone. The other four soldier are laughing at mother but she is not laughing and she is coming to pulling me away. Baby is still not crying and I am wondering if she is dying because there is no air in cupboard. The soldiers are removing my dress and they are also removing mother’s dress and then they are doing some things to me and mother. I am not knowing what they are doing and I am paining but I am only thinking about baby and whether she is dying. Then somehow I am seeing mother taking gun from one soldier’s pocket and shooting him. KPWAM. I am hearing baby crying and the soldiers are shooting and mother is dying. I am running to cupboard and then I am running out of the door and then I am running and running until my legs are stopping to running.
I am not dead, I am thinking.
I am not dead, I am thinking.
Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.