Memories of Midnight
written by: Oseremen Iwayemi
Explosions, smoke and bullets. Shrieks, screams and the blazing of guns. Bodies scattered on the grass. Grenades move swiftly in the air showing the impeccable skill behind the hands throwing them. I run amidst the chaos to Salim who has been gunned down. Charles told me there was a safe spot we could drag the wounded ones to. I check Salim, his knee is badly injured with the insides sputtered around but he is still breathing. I use all I have in me to drag him to the safe spot. Charles is there waiting to receive him.
“You are welcome, sir.”
Charles is tired and exhausted. Who would not be?
“Bring as much as you can, Dayo…try to save as many as possible.”
“I will sir.”
I salute and quickly run and look for more wounded men. I see James lying on the floor trying to raise his hand. I run towards him and begin to drag him towards the same spot. The chaos intensifies and the lifeless bodies on the ground increase. As I drag James, I suddenly feel a sharp sting in my back.
Distinct darkness slowly engulfs my body from the inside. I am not sure what happened but I am now unstable. My legs stagger as I push myself to continue dragging James. However, luck is far from me. My legs give away and I collapse to the ground. The sounds of gunshots and shouts become fainter and fainter. Life gradually leaves me. Before my eyes close, I catch a glimpse of the time on my watch which now has its cover glass shattered. It is exactly midnight.
My eyes slowly flutter to the sky. It looks so beautiful with the millions of stars that light it up. God is amazing. I think to myself. Life continues slipping away and at some point, I cannot hear the voices or shots anymore. I struggle to keep my eyes open and then I see her.
She is as beautiful as always but this time she looks different and has an aura of light around her. Behind her I see my fellow soldiers running helter-skelter. I know they are in trouble but I cannot do anything to help. Enem notices, walks up to me and takes me by the hand. To my surprise, the weakness is gone, my eyes are open and she smiles at me. She helps me up. I am surprised. I am about to say something but she puts two fingers on my lips shushing me.
She tells me to walk with her. We walk away from the chaos surrounding us and she begins to reminisce about when we met. We met in Bayelsa when she had gone to visit her uncle and two years later, we got married. Her uncle had warned her about the downsides of marrying a soldier but she did not care.
She talked about how much she cried whenever I had to leave and how she cried even more after I left. Nights were lonely and days were boring. She said a prayer for me every night before she went to bed. She told me how scared she became when I had not returned her calls and replied to her messages.
She talked about how attending gatherings was difficult for her because other women always had their husbands with them. They would glance at her with sad eyes and tell her to be strong at all times.
Whenever someone told her a certain base was attacked, fear always crippled her because she always thought it was mine. At some point every time a call came from a number she did not know, she would think it is the call she had been dreading. The one where they would tell her I was no more.
Tears well up in my eyes as I hear her speak. I knew it would be difficult for her, but I did not know she hurt this much.
She stops walking, turns to face me and holds my other hand. “Dayo please do not leave me alone in this cruel world.” There is pain in her voice and the tears finally fall to my face.
“I love you always.”
“I love you always too Emem.”
She lets go of my hands, turns and starts to walk away.
“Emem, where are you going?”
She keeps walking.
“Emem please come back”.
I try to move but I cannot. I fall to the ground and I begin to hear gunshots and shouts again. I am horrified. My back is in excruciating pain. I look and see James beside me. He looks lifeless. I wade off the thought that comes to me, stretch my hand, hold his wrist and shake it. He does not move. I push myself a little further to check for a pulse. None found. Tears fill my eyes again. I look up to the sky there is not one star. Then the thunder billows and the rain pours down. I hear Emem’s voice again.
“Dayo please do not leave me alone in this cruel world.”
“I am sorry Emem,” I say.
My eyes close.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Dedicated to all our fallen heroes.
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- Memories of Midnight - July 28, 2021