The good Samaritan who had helped her up when she was fallen beside her dead daughter had taken her to a house where most Igbos had run to hide. Nene’s mother looked around the house, there were both adults and children. Some had sustained injuries from falling, and they had been treated. The Igbos before this time were hardly united, their competitive spirit and pride made them rivals of even their own brothers. But crisis had united them, and fear had brought them together. She saw some aiding children that were not theirs, especially those who had lost their parents.
The good Samaritan walked up to her, he had introduced himself as Dike, he was working in the Ministry of Interior before everything had gone to hell. He shuttled between Kano and Abuja because of his business. Aside his government job, he had a shop where he sold electronics. It was the reason he had not been able to leave on time when there was smell of trouble. He had lost his wife in the crisis, and Nene’s mother wondered why he was so calm about it.
Nene’s mother: “Why are you so calm, did you not love your wife before?” she asked when he approached her.
Dike: “You have thinking a lot, haven’t you? But contrary to what you think, I am not calm about it, I just appear calm. I loved my wife, we have been married for 25 years and we have been trying for children. Despite the pressure from my family to get another wife in the village, I stuck with my wife. We were considering adoption before the country burst into flames” he said and paused. He held his hand and Nene’s mother saw that talking about his wife was hurting him.
Nene’s mother: “I am sorry” she said. Her husband was in prison, one of her daughters was missing and the other was dead. She had lost more than this man, but she had always been empathic towards others.
Dike: “There will be time for grieving, for now, we need to stay alive, and God has given me children whose parents have been killed in this crisis” he said sadly.
“We cannot stay holed up like this, we have to fight back. These Awusa goats have killed us like rams, burnt our houses and made us homeless. We have to fight back, we can stage a counter attack if we plan” a middle- aged man stood up and said passionately. Some people shouted their support and cheered him on. The people who supported him were mostly the young ones. They were not alive during the civil war, they didn’t know what war did to both the victor and the vanquished. But, couldn’t they see the disaster that hate had caused already? Couldn’t they learn?
“We don’t have to do anything, our brothers in the East are slaughtering their people too” an elderly man said weakly.
Dike: “We should stop the hate, we have lost enough. Nobody wins in a war, things are bad enough without any help from us, why make it worse? Our primary concern right now should be staying alive and the children in our midst. The hate stops now!” He looked around the people, they were shocked into silence by his passion. Nene’s mother nodded at him and stood up to face the crowd.
Nene’s mother: “I am the wife of Mazi Okeke” she announced and everyone began to talk at once. Since Mazi Okeke was arrested, he had turned into a demi god, people saw him as the one who would lead the Igbos to their promise land.
Nene’s mother: “My husband has been charged for crimes, my eldest daughter died before my eyes shouting ‘mama’, and my other daughter, I don’t even know where she is, if she is even still alive. I have tasted first-hand what war can do, and no reasonable human being should want war. I was a baby when the civil war happened, but my mother barely escaped with me and her life. My father died and until today he does not have a grave site. Look around us, is this what we would be doing if there was peace? We would be in our different places of endeavour, making a livelihood. But look where we are hiding. Let us embrace peace before it is too late”
“What about the Hausas, who is going to tell them to pursue peace. Do we fold our hands and allow them kill us all?” the man who had stood up to talk before, said.
Nene’s mother: “Kill them with kindness” she said simply. There was a moment of silence and then they stood up and erupted into an applause.
Nabila waited in vain for Nene to call her, but Nene did not. She concluded that despite having offered to help her, Nene did not trust her. Nene was not stupid, Nabila told herself, but she had a lot in store for her.
“I will tighten the noose around your neck that you will not escape except through death” Nabila mused. She stared at the message from a Facebook contact. She tasted the hate for Igbos on her tongue as she read the message. The person sounded like a fan and she wondered if she could use her to fulfil her plans against Nene. She typed a reply.
Nene could get a Chador from the store which was owned by a Hausa man just beside the hotel where she had lodged. The Chador transformed her instantly to a northerner, and she knew that nobody could recognize her looking like this. As she stepped out of the hotel, a Facebook message buzzed in her phone. It was from ‘Mistletoe’. She opened the message and read it.
“I need your help to stage a propaganda on all social media platforms. You must make everyone believe that the Hausa man that was killed, was killed by Nene, the author of the Facebook group agitating for Nigeria’s unity. I will send you details later” the message read.
“Who is the Hausa man that was killed. Which of our brother was killed?” she sent back, making sure she sounded as angry as possible.
“Details will be sent later” the reply said.
Nene looked at the messages and she did not know what to make of it, except that Nabila wanted to frame her up, for a murder she was not sure had even been committed.
“Will Nabila kill an innocent man, to frame me for murder? Oh God, for the sake of the friendship we had, I hope Nabila is not Mistletoe” she thought sadly.
Nene waited until afternoon and did not see any messages from Mistletoe. She was running out of cash and was wondering how she could cope without cash. She decided this was the time to go back home, perhaps her family had made it home. She hailed a taxi and in perfect Hausa asked to be taken to a street before hers. When she alighted from the taxi, she walked until she got to her street. Everywhere she looked, there was no one in sight, people were locked up in their houses, or they had travelled. As she walked towards their house, she saw the curtain move in a house opposite theirs. People were scared.
But she suddenly halted as she looked where their house stood. The house had been reduced to rubbles, burnt down to the beams.
Nene: “Oh God” she held her chest, as she bent down like she was going to throw up. She couldn’t stand the thought that something bad had happened to her mother and her sister. She went through the rubbles to see if there was anything that could be saved. There was nothing other than a picture that was in a glass frame. She picked it up and it brought tears to her, for it was their family portrait. She traced the faces of everyone in the picture as sadness over whelmed.
Nene was brought out of her melancholy by the buzz of her phone. It was a call from Wale. She had forgotten she still had his number in her phone even though she never called him after they stopped communication.
Wale: “Hello, I am in town, let us meet up” he said and they arranged to meet up at the hotel.
Her world exploded though when she looked through her feed and saw this headline; “Najim Haruna, Kano’s finest found dead in a hotel. Killer still unknown but believed to be female”
The phone fell out of her hand, as she slowly went to the ground.
Question: Will Nene be accused for the Murder of Najim, could Nabila have been so heartless as to kill Najim? Where will all these lead?
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