The Rash: A Letter From A Citizen

By Chinagorom Dilibe 4 months ago

Dearest Fellow Citizens,

    I stood dumbstruck as flaming tears oozed out of my eyes in torrents, saturating the upper part of my roughed blue shirt. My paired hallowed organ swelled as blood was ready to burst with the tears. I tried to gulp back the emotion but could not help it. The pool of blood, the cloud of fumes, the dismembered charred bodies, the pieces of shrapnel,  the broken glasses, the destroyed shops, and the sudden crowd added to my confliction.


    "Am I in a reverie?" I muttered to myself with a stare flickering with curiosity. "I wish to get over this daymare," I prayed and shambled closer to the scene, peering at the ground. "It is death," I let out a shout that ricocheted off the decrepit walls of the market. "Oh my God! What a doom to Monday market!" I joined the mourners with a voice reaching out to the four walls of the universe. We initiated a cacophony of wails with our oral gongs.


    Two minutes ago, a teenager identified as Ashai had hurtled into the market, crashing into people and things like a fugitive looking for a hideout. She had bumped into me at the entrance to the market where I stopped to give 50 naira alms to the crippled almajiri. Despite her fishy move, nobody suspected that she had an incendiary explosive concealed within her. She had been recently a regular to the market and hence nobody knew she had death with her, right under her Jasmin-embroidered gown. She disregarded everyone that greeted her even the chubby Fatima, her market crony. And on getting to the popular cycle rickshaw near a fish pond, she mingled with the ignorant throng. That was when death called as she blew herself up with immediacy, marking the seventeenth attack on the citizens of the country.


    The land was corrupted once more with the blood of innocent citizens. Wails ravaged the air. Pandemonium was at its peak like the bloodred time of the 1966 pogrom. The explosion intoxicated the god of death with happiness; its putrid joy drilled us with a united sorrow and regret that would never elope from our broken minds. The country turned into a theatre of loss of blood for just no cause with the atmosphere reeking of death.


    "If only death could slice its dagger through my throat cutting all the tendons and veins, I will be grateful. I knew the country has no hope and future from that cursed day the midwife evicted me from the comfort of my mother's womb," I said, roving around the entire scene with a pale and pasty mien. “What story do our citizens have if not the story of hunger, anarchy, death, tyranny, terrorism, assault, suicide, marginalization, and grinding poverty?" A drop of tears streamed down my eyes, I shook my head. My mind became immersed with a vortex of remorse. Thus, despite being a man, I cried for the two hundred people that were roasted to death and the fifty others that sustained terrible wounds which might lead to amputation.


    Monday market was closed at the moment. Businesses were halted and shops locked up as the marketers formed a crowd of disordered mourners and sympathizers, gathering around the ghoulish scene. I was there too. I watched as a group of people with tears dripping down their cheeks from their eyes were rummaging through the pieces of shrapnel, iron, block, concrete and glass to sort out the dismembered charred bodies of their loved ones.


    I felt coldness running down my ventricles, my body going numb. But I managed to join the devotees in sorting out the casualties. Soon, sirens wailed as three fire engines and three military pick-up trucks raced into the scene. The military fired five shots in the air, dispersing the crowd. The devotees stopped and stepped aside for them. As the military stepped out of the vehicles, I counted them. They were 15 able-bodied policemen with guns in their hands. At once, one of them brought out pointed sticks from the third truck. Another four policemen joined him. Pegging the sticks in the ground, they tied a yellow rope at the top of each stick to cordon off the scene.


    Within five minutes, the news circulated over the land and beyond the contour of our country. On the internet, over the radio, on television, in newspapers both local and international, on Facebook and Twitter, it was trendy. Terrorism had been born. Boko Haram was prepared to sacrifice the citizens to the god of death, fathered by rebellion. It was a war against the citizens but we were mandated to call it insurgency.


    I remembered being questioned by a Reuter's newsagent. My body vibrated as I talked. Goose-pimples burst out of my pores, looking like freckles. I could not remember the exact question he asked because the shock was too much on me, especially when I learned that my little Bello was among the dead victims. Words ran through my vibrating oral orifice uncontrolled.


    "Roasted dead bodies covered the ground, many of which burnt beyond recognition. I helped to load thirty-two of the wounded victims into three ambulances." Not wanting to talk further, I used my left hand to hold my mouth. Tears drizzled from my sudden bulged, reddened eyes. I looked into the agent's eyes. He had no tears in them and was hawk-eyed. The initial voice in my mind said that the agent lacked empathy. But the second voice said that the agent was doing his job. "Sentimental and impressionistic feelings are not part of his job." I concurred. I then lose my mouth, thinking that the lips had exhausted their parrot-like energies but words rushed out like a flood from river Niger. "There is grave terror in the country. The government needs to act fast. Our president needs to put an end to this mess. It is getting out of hand. Since 2009, the god of death has refused to exit from our country. It is one death story or the other every day. May God save us." I slammed my mouth. It became obvious that the words had run out of supply. I shrugged and waggled my head, spitting on the ground.


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A good read? The above was the situation that triggered the "change concept" in 2015. 2019 was a ruse, 2023 is on its way... What are we going to do as the citizens of Nigeria?


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