We got a distress call
After about 48hrs of Red Alert.
48 hours no sleep.
Hours filled with fear of the unknown.
The terrorist we heard had over ran 2 companies ahead.
Would be heading our direction at any moment.
We stood guard.
Ears to the ground.
Eyes filled with fear.
They had struck barely a month earlier.
Halved the battalion strength.
Carted away weapons.
Captured the battalion headquarters.
And hoisted the forbidden flag.
We had scattered in different directions.
The commanding officer to the brigade headquarters.
The surviving troops where either captured alive or lost in the bush.
From our hideouts where we watched the sky for signs of rescue jets, we saw vultures hover over the ground we once camped.
They feasted on bullet ridden flesh.
It was Musa who alerted me to a familiar sound.
With his accented English.
He told me the direction he heard the sound.
It was the airforce jet.
After six days in the bush.
With my rifle and Musa as company.
We heard the sound of rescue.
The bombardment began.
Every echo gave us hope.
The hope of surviving that day.
Hope of seeing our loved ones again.
The news always gets to the them.
The thought of our cute faces lying among the mangled corpses displayed on the internet kills them before us.
We survived that.
Just like many others.
After the distress call.
The Commanding officer addressed us.
Terrorists would no longer be allowed to bring the attack.
We go after them.
We were on roll call when the RSM pointed to Musa’s head.
He had forgotten his ballistic helmet in the trench.
He dashed down to get it.
His eyes were empty.
I understood him more than every other person on that ground.
That look was the same he had when bullets were flying past him in the last attack and he stood and gazed in shock until a sergent shot his boot and dropped him to the ground just before an RPG was launched where his head was.
he lived to die another day.
He had returned with his helmet but left his fragmental jacket.
Everyone except me laughed as he trotted towards us, confused.
I excused myself and rushed to the trench.
Got his Frag Jack.
We had a good laugh as our truck charged through the desert ground to the spot designated for ambush.
I noticed beads of sweat trickle down Musa’s bald head through the helmet down to his face.
I had goose bumps immediately, surprising myself.
I was about making a joke out of it when we heard a lone bullet.
The vehicle coughed and stopped.
Everyone was in shock, struggled to peep through the canopied corners of the vehicle.
We heard platoon ahead scream “Snipper! Snipper”
That was when we knew the driver had been hit.
It was at the dusk hours of the day.
We corked our riffles and fired at the direction of any tree on sight before dashing down to crawl for cover.
No object was good enough to shield one from the Snipper’s bullet that had dropped the CO and six other soldiers.
We found a sloppy ground.
Musa as usual was beside me.
My rifle pointed ahead as we watched for signs of the Snipper.
It was obvious we were ambushed.
Musa, was looking ahead.
His rifle slanted beside him.
At first I thought he did that because I was already covering him.
I heard him breath hard and yelped.
I look at him.
He was smiling at me.
Everything was not normal.
I saw his palm hold tightly to his side.
“Dem don fire me” he said.
The pool of sweat on his face shimmering in the dark.
I held his hand up to see his wound.
I screamed in shock as fresh hot blood splashed over my face.
We both laid in a small pool made by his blood.
His intestines dangled freely from the side of his burnt camouflage
He held the coils up with his blood filled palm.
We heard a shout ahead.
The Snipper had been gunned down.
I held Musa up by my left shoulder.
Our two rifles by my right.
My body was heavy with the loads.
But no weight could be compared with the fear in my heart.
I didn’t want my friend to die.
He had stopped groaning.
Little sounds were coming from his heart as he layed his hot head over my shoulder.
In a low tone he muttered something to me.
I didn’t hear him.
I wiped my misty eyes and took my ears closer to his mouth.
“will I die?” he asked again in an even lower tone.
I could not answer him.
The answer was struggling with the cry that wanted to escape my mouth.
I didn’t know what to tell him.
His breathing was matching my small whimpers.
I was going to remind him of the story he told me about the ‘nyarinya’ his mother introduced to him.
How he always begged me to accompany him to the Hill beside the camp, where we could access network.
How he beams with smile each time her giggles rang through the phone.
How he concluded he has found his ‘Amariya’
How he laughed hard when I told him I didn’t know his tribes people ‘fall in love’
I smiled to myself.
Turned to him to just tell him anything that could make him smile.
The hand holding his bowel danced freely on the vehicle seat.
His intestines spread over my lap.
Cold blood soaked into my pants.
His head lay stiff on my shoulder.
He died in my arms.
(Thank you Okello Peters)
Today, The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is for every Musa, Chukwuma Alabi and every other soldier who made the supreme sacrifice for the world to be a better place.
You are always in our hearts.
Rest on, Warriors!
SW&SH is a weekly series on Procyon News, join me.
I’m done, I’m gone, I’m ghost.