First Prize winner  2015 Teecoks writing competition; ABDULFATTAH NUSAYBAH O from INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS, AKOKA


‘A kwe abinchi? Is there food?’ I asked the maid. She smiled nodding, going into the kitchen.

‘Safiya! Abubakr! Time for lunch!’ I called as the maid laid the table.

My siblings came running playfully down the stars followed by our parents holding hands as they gently climbed down.

Suddenly, everything became fuzzy…

I groaned as I open my eyes to the soft rays of the late morning sunlight streaming through holes in the roof.

It was a dream.

The same dream I had been having since I got to the camp a week before. The camp was buzzing with activities. I immediately noticed new people had arrived. I stood up from the thin mat I had been sleeping on moments before, walking lazily towards the open building entrance.

Someone was walking towards me in the distance, I squinted, my eyes narrowing and they widened when I realised who it was ‘Zeinab!’ ‘You were attacked too?’ She nodded sadly. The usual glow in her eyes were gone.

‘Ya Allah! Kina lafiya?’ ‘what about Danladi?’ I asked anxiously ‘they took him’. ‘I’m fine’ she said, her second statement sounding like she was convincing herself.

I gasped staring past Zeinab. Her brother was a kind-hearted soul. He did not deserve that.

‘Are you okay?’ She asked snapping me out of my thoughts. ‘I’m not. Our lives are being destroyed by ignorant men who say they are fighting for Allah. Both our parents are dead. I can’t’ find my siblings. Those men took your brother’ ‘How can I be okay?’ I asked angrily with teary eyes. Zeinab hugged me saying ‘I believe in God’s plans, Hadiza you have to be patient.

I stepped back, staring at her, unable to comprehend her statement.

‘Ina kwana, mujel’ A man called out to us from the dining area. ‘Finally, breakfast’ I told her and walked towards the man. Few days later, a new group of people arrived. They all looked unfamiliar but I recognized a face.

‘Danladi!’ Zeinab screamed his name and ran to hug him. ‘Salam Alaykum’ he greeted, his face blank.

‘Walaikum salam, kana lafiya?’

I watched the siblings in silence as they conversed, feeling uneasy.

Something was not right.

‘Ayna zan samu abinci?’ Danladi asked Zeinab in a flat voice. ‘I will go look for food for you’ she responded and left. ‘I’m doing this for our parents, or all of us’ Danladi said to me. ‘Ban fahimtaba – I don’t understand’.

‘I’m sending a message to Buhari. That’s why the men took me’ ‘what message?’ I asked in a small voice.

Danladi laughed and answered, ‘ka tsaya, you’ll soon find out! ‘Senator Okechukwuemeka Adamu was the one who gave us the order’.

I just stared at him shocked. This wasn’t the Danladi I knew. Whatever the message was, it sounded politically motivated. Not religious. I wondered if he had been brainwashed. Politics had never been his forte.

‘Be careful’ I said warily.

He smiled knowingly, speaking in that eerily flat voice, ‘I have to go now. It’s happening soon’.

My pulse quickened, ‘what’s happening soon?’

No answer.

Danladi just smiled knowingly again as I watched him walk away.

Minutes later, Zeinab appeared with a covered plate of food. ‘Where is he?’

‘Something isn’t right. He left.’

She frowned, ‘What do you mean?’

‘Danladi- He’s up to something and I have a bad feeling about it!’

Zeinab’s frown deepened, ‘what’s he up to?’

‘I don’t know Zeinab. I don’t know’

‘Let’s go find him then’ she said pulling me towards the main building of the camp.

When we entered, we spotted Danladi exiting through the back entrance.

‘Danladi!’ Zeinab called out.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

He didn’t even turn back. I looked around curious to know where the sound was coming from.

Out of nowhere came a loud deafening noise followed by a rocking explosion.

The impact of the blast threw everyone in different directions across the large room.

As I lay on the floor amidst scattered bodies writhing in pain, I wondered what message was being sent to the president this way.

Gondori, IDP camp in Borno bombed, scores dead and others critically injured.

Searing pain racked through my body as I turned on the floor to look at Zeinab lying across me, blood trickling down the left side of her head.

‘Zeinab’ I croaked. No response.

‘Zeinab’ I called again, sobbing. I couldn’t lose her too. She believed in His plans. I didn’t. This was too much. I had no one left. My parents were dead. I couldn’t find my siblings. Danladi was now a terrorist. I was alone. Would this ever be over? Would I ever find my siblings? Would I ever find solace?


(Finding Solace)



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