The very next few days after the Bomb Blast in ’02, we were still finding it hard to recover from the shock, the pain, the hurt. The families that got divided, things we lost…….those we lost. The chaos….the damage…..the destruction…..the death….
At least we were alive; Dad, Ruby, Mum and me. Thank God! Some friends of the family were missing. Even family. The most hurtful part of it all was my sister. I love her. I jokingly used to call her my wife. Unlike my other sister, she was quiet. She barely said anything. The sound of her cry was soothing, nothing like that of the average baby. She never gave me any form of stress. We never fought. Above all, she had an insipid personality. Never was there a moment where she gave an irascible response or anything of the sort whenever I might have annoyed her even if she was light-skinned. As bizarre and inappropriate as that sounds, I mean it. I really fancied it. I was barely seven years old but I didn’t like noise or stress. It was one of the reasons I was kind of quiet in school. I don’t even want to begin with how soft and tender her baby skin was.
She was five days old. Mum, on countless occasions within the period of my sister’s birth and that time, told us we weren’t meant to carry her around. Something about her bones not being fully developed if I remember well. I never obeyed. Whenever Mum wasn’t watching, I would lift my sister from her crib and play with her. Mum was still recovering from the delivery so she barely had enough in her to beat me or shout at me. Many times, I would pretend to breast feed her. My God, I had never been so attached to anything, talk less of anyone. But she was different.
Prior to her arrival, we were just two, that’s me and Ruby. Till now, I feel indifferent regarding how I truly feel about that. I love Ruby but we have way too many differences. I like football and games and she doesn’t give a damn about it. She fancies baking shows, fashion and her dolls but I honestly have no atom of care for it. Differences such as this make us fight and stuff. In all of this, I still love Ruby with my whole heart. But this little sister was different. She knew nothing about anything so I had a chance to make her grow into liking everything I liked. For me, she was going to be mini-me.
Throughout the five days of her life, I didn’t know her name. Her naming ceremony was supposed to be later that week, the eight day after her birth. I asked my parents to tell me what her name was going to be but they told me to wait till Wednesday the 30th (If only they told me then). I call her ‘baby’ or ‘my wife’. With the way I used to go by her crib and stare at her, any passerby would believe I was a budding pedophile. Three more days and I’d get to know what I would call this baby forever. But I guess life had alternate plans.
27th January 2002..…….the entire 24 hours of that day, I remember perfectly. Five days ago, we were celebrating a new addition to the family. From then on, we were going to celebrate two birthdays in January. Mum’s on the 3rd and baby’s on the 22nd.
It was like every other Sunday morning. Well it was meant to be like the previous Sunday and the one before that one and the one before that one. Church was fun that day. That was the last Sunday of the first month in 2002. We had a thanksgiving service. The dancing was nice but it was the feast that followed that made my morning. After eating, dad having different meetings, Ruby and I chasing each other, it was time to head home. Mum didn’t go with us to church. I don’t know why but she always looked tired after delivery. So she stayed home with Baby.
The sweet aroma of Mum’s signature stew welcomed us. I ran straight to the kitchen to see what was for lunch. White rice, mum’s stew and the classic ‘drumstick’. Rice on Sunday afternoon I believe is part of the culture of Nigerians.
After eating, I retired to my room, well our room. I shared a room with my sister. Weird, but it worked fine. After what was probably 2 hours of sleep, I got up and went about the house. Dad was going through a newspaper while Mum and Ruby were in the kitchen arguing about whatever it is they were talking about. Baby was in her crib, sleeping, as usual. I watched her sleep for a couple minutes after which I went to ask Dad what the plan for the rest of the day was. He gave my question some thought and decided it would be nice to visit one of his old friends.
Few minutes later, we were in the car. Myself, Dad and Ruby. Again, Mum was too tired to be going about town with us. After hugging Mum and waving her goodbye, we were off. I wanted Baby to go with us but Mum gave me the whole ‘she’s still to tiny’ lecture. I was a little disappointed and teary-eyed but what could I do? With a couple jokes from Dad, I was back in a good mood. Then we took off…… And this was when it all began…..