Woman: “They shot somebody!” A woman who had been hiding behind a kiosk by the roadside shouted.
Woman: “Somebody help! There is someone in the gutter here, he is shot!” She could not see him, but earlier, she saw him drop to the ground and then into the gutter. NEPA had struck, so people could not make out which way to go. She ran into her kiosk, took out a lantern and ransacked her drawer for a box of matches. She struck a match against the abrasive side of the matchbox and lit the lantern. She ran frantically to the gutter yelling.
Woman: “Bia kwa nu biko…owelu onye no na gutter oohh!! (Please come and help, there is someone lying in the gutter!!)”
A man on the other side of the road who had hid behind a truck on hearing the gun shots sped across the street. The weak light from the shady lantern illuminated the body of a young man lying in a pull of blood. The woman felt a wave of convulsion rocketing through her stomach. She nearly threw up. She had never seen that much blood in one spot. The man took the lantern from her. She retreated from the gory sight, sat on bare ground in front of her kiosk and threw up.
Man: “Somebody call a taxi please,” the man yelled.
This was 1999, before the mobile phone technology took off in Nigeria. Passers-by ran around and got a taxi driver off the main road and onto the street. They lifted Chukwudi’s body off the gutter and into the back seat of the taxi. The number of people who had converged to help had grown.
Man: “I know him. That is Chukwudi, Udoka’s younger brother. They live on Umuchu Street, right around the corner,” A voice in the crowd yelled.
Man 2: “Go and alert his family,” another voice replied in sheer desperation. Within minutes, he was rushed to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital. Chukwudi’s parents were utterly dazed when the news broke. His mother flung herself to the ground in utter anguish. His father tried to calm her down to no avail.
Chukwudi’s Mom: “Is he alive at all?” She asked anxiously.
Chukwudi’s Dad: “Udoka, look after your siblings,” his father ordered. He and their mother drove frenetically to the hospital. After a brief search, they found out that Chukwudi had been rushed into the operating room immediately on arrival. The sat outside the operating room, pacing the floor endlessly. The wailing of Chukwudi’s mother was uncontrollable.She would stop for a few minutes, only to take it up to another gear the next minute. His father would sit for a while, and pace aimlessly up and down for a few minutes, only to sit back down. He was not the type to cry, but for once, it dawned on him that he might lose his darling son. Hot, wretched streaks of tears burst out of his eyes and zigzagged down his face. He felt a sudden twitch in his chest. He could feel pain physically walking through his body. He clenched his fist in anger and pain. He wished he could lay his hands on the perpetrator of such heinous act. He gazed blindly at his dear wife who was sprawled on the floor, almost immersed in a raging pool of her own tears. He dragged his battered spirit up, went up to her and raised her to her feet. He managed to guide her to a chair. Shortly afterwards, his close friend, Mr. Chiakwa arrived with his wife.
Mr Chiakwa: ” Udoka rang us. We had to come right away.”
Chukwudi’s Dad: “Thanks for coming,” replied Mr. Igwesi, Chukwudi’s father. Neighbors and family friends trouped into the hospital in their numbers. A massive vigil began in the waiting room as friends and family prayed for Chukwudi’s survival. Their pastor who got wind of the ugly incident through a church member drove straight to the hospital. Chukwudi was well-liked. The fact that anyone would want to harm such a loving, innocent soul was unfathomable to them. Chukwudi was known to fetch water for elderly church members. He taught Math, English and Sciences to elementary and secondary school pupils free of charge. There was hardly anybody in their street that did not know and like him very much. He played football with amazing dexterity, which made him popular with his peers.
Mrs Duru: “Each time I see him, he wears a warm and welcoming smile on his face,” said Mrs. Duru. She was a sixty-five-yearold woman who lived in their street. She insisted that her son drive her to the hospital as soon as she heard.
Neighbor: “What a sweet boy,” replied another neighbour. When the doors to the operating room finally flung open, two doctors walked through. One was a stocky, bearded man, about five feet six inches tall. The other was a bespectacled fellow, also bearded, but much taller than the first one. They both looked exhausted. A sad, grim look happily sat on their faces.
Doctor: “We have done all we could. Right now, we cannot say what will happen. He has a slight chance of survival, but only slight,” said the shorter doctor. He took out a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face. A sea of sweat had been hugging his forehead.
Doctor: “We managed to extract pellets of bullet from his shoulder and abdomen. He was hit twice, and he lost so much blood, which threw him into a shock. We are going to be working all night to make sure he gets enough blood transfusion, but the bullet to his stomach hit some vital organs, so we can only pray and hope he makes it through.” His chilling words were like a dagger with two jagged edges ripping through the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Igwesi. Friends and family alike were overly shattered by what sounded like a slim chance of survival.
Chukwudi’s Mom: “God, please save my son. He is a good boy, please save him. If you are going to take him, then take me with him. I can’t live without my lovely son, please intervene,” Chukwudi’s mother pleaded fervently with God
…. Stay tuned for Episode 11