War has started! Ruuuuun!
The Commandant’s voice filled the air, sinking in the noise of the city into battle commands.
Soldiers ran in wild fury, guns in hands. Some stopped to breathe heavily and continued. I stood there, transfixed, watching the mad crowd go by. Guilt tucked into my heart, I began to sweat on my forehead. This, Moma always said I inherited from Baba whose forehead told stories of the fear locked in his heart, hidden from eyes of women who should carry the burden of fear.
I was still there when Butu rammed me, both of us rolling over the mound beside us. His eyes dashed everywhere, the glint interjecting stories time wouldn’t allow for. He was panting heavily.
‘You almost killed,’ I blurted.
He was silent. He stood up, picked his gun. When his tongue broke loose, he whispered, ‘They’re close, sir. Jidi is dead. I escaped. You should leave here.’
‘Go; I’ll b-b-be fine,’ I ordered.
He scuttled into the woods.
The gunshots and loud thuds of approaching feet were closer now.
‘Go over! Kill them all!’ a voice shouted from the other side.
My whole body quaked. More sweat gathered.
The thought of dying broke me but dying without fulfilling my vows to Kimorah cut my heart even more.
All that took me to the front was Kimorah whom I had sworn the previous night to shield. But there I was, a flick of a trigger away from death, unsure of her safety.
‘Do you really love me, Gani?’ she’d asked.
‘I’ll readily die in your place.’
‘Then, always protect me.’
I heard feet rustle dry leaves behind me. I jumped to take cover behind a tree. My gun ready to drop a body. First, it was a leg, then a head. It was Kimorah. At the sight of her, my heart became light, body, floating.
‘Where have you been? We must leave now. They’re close,’ I managed to say.
As I scurried towards her, she lifted her pistol and in a nanosecond, my chest was dripping of tomato paste.
‘I killed you, Gani. Don’t cheat. Just die!’ she shouted.
‘But you loved me, Kimorah,’ I said as I took what might be my last breath.
‘There’s no love in war, Gani.’
My heart sank. I just shut my eyes to let my body drop.
The war continued.