The Last Bus Ride

THE LAST BUS-RIDE (the last 30 minutes of a member of BOKO HARAM)

As he stepped out of the dilapidated Toyota corolla, the dewy salient morning air caressed his face. The rousing orchestra of dawn tickled his senses and sent his mind into a heightened state.

There every subtle detail seemed to have an in depth meaning somewhere between its lines.

He stood for what seemed like interminable seconds sucking in the freshness of this special time of the day.

THE EARLY MORNING…

God knows he had always been a big lover of early mornings

It seemed weird to him that he hadn’t noticed this sensation before and also ironic that he had to notice it now.

Then he was interrupted from his reverie by the coarse voice of the cab driver who had conveyed him through to his destination.

“Oga you no wan pay me, abi you no know say time na money?”

He stared at the cab driver for few seconds before getting a grip on his surrounding, noticing the default sneer on the acne rampaged face of the cab driver. It seemed everything about his demeanor exuded innate frustration and a reflexive willingness to vent them on any accursed fellow who fails to live by his personal don’t fuck around me code.

He wondered what on earth has made this man so angry at life and people and then it occurred to him that this kind of personality is what embodies a quintessential emblem of the average hustling Nigerian man.
But instead he replied calmly.

“I’m sorry, it’s inside my jeans pocket” he quickly reached for it as he spoke.

The taxi man stared at him in impatience “you dey behave as if you be mallam, abi you no know say you go pay me before you come down?”

The moment he heard the derogatory use of his religion, he felt a surge of murderous intents rouse inside of him and had to quickly quell the urge to do something stupid and spontaneous.

Why? He thought. Why do they always have to view us with such demeaning bourgeois? Why must everything lame, bad and lousy be accrued to us?

Quickly, he left the scene.

As he walked away quickly so as not to tempt his rousing homicidal intent, he reflected on the day Mallam Shehu known popularly amongst a closely knit circle as wiz Khalifah had paid a special visit to the camp mosque while he was studying in his room after saying the last prayer of the day.

He was shocked that day when he was summoned and even more shocked when he saw who it was.

“Rashid” he had called out simply with an expression that Rashid knew meant something must be amiss.

Rashid went ahead to greet him in their religious manner

“Allah has chosen you to do his good works” Wiz Khalifah finally said after they had expended formalities.

Rashid knew the wiz Khalifah well enough to understand that he doesn’t waste time with words, so he wasn’t surprised when the next thing he heard was the question.

“Are you ready?”

Rashid had wanted to reply with questions like does it matter if I’m not ready? But he knew better than that. No one questions the wiz khalifah. His reputation was so ethereal that he has been rumored to receive direct messages from Allah. So Rashid simply nodded in concurrence encouraging himself in the thought that perchance Allah had decided not to speak directly to him because of his level in the spiritual hierarchy.

That was three weeks ago.

Thinking about wiz khalifah made him grips his backpack subconsciously, reflexively searching for reassurance in its proximity. He scanned the Nyanyan motor Park idly, noticing for the first time things that once seemed vaguely cursory to him. He noticed with renewed interest the level of activity that characterized the humdrum, the gargantuan buses poised like road monarchs, the way the red and the green buses were parked in little clans parallel to each other, the endless stream of hawkers, preachers, beggars, stores, kiosks, the vacant look in the face of both the ticket sellers and the busboys and the contrast of people that filled the park, from the chatty teenagers that had opulence reeking around them, the average university girl trying to look very attractive and rich in sparkly clothes and a coy façade , to the edgy and raggedy young man whose accent betrayed an eastern origin and most startling of them all, the little kid who could not be more than 9years begging for money with so much rehearsed eloquence that you could tell instinctively that her folks or guardian put her up to this.

Then he saw her!

She stood out from the crowd without much effort. You could spot such beauty miles away in a crowd of thousands of people even if those people were all extremely beautiful ladies. This Rashid reasoned must be courtesy of the unique and languid grace that she effortlessly carries, even in a most routine task as stooping to retrieve a fallen neck kerchief. Her eyes, another of her unique features had a hypnotic intensity that lightened up her already beautiful face and she walked with a gait that was not sexual as much as it was sensually poetic.

But then this could be just his emotions swirling up like a vortex from a lull.

“I must talk to her” he told himself. “At least I owe myself this little vanity before everything wraps up”

With a boldness that is uncharacteristic of his usual melancholic disposition he loosened his left grip on the backpack so that it swung free supported by only his right hand then adding a bit of swagger that saw his normal walk metamorphose into a hip swaying strut, he sauntered towards her.

“At least let me put this tall, dark and handsome looks into one final use” he thought to himself as he finally approached her.

Reaching out his hand reluctantly, he said with feigned chivalry

“Hello, I don’t mean to intrude but are you not Rose from the University of Maiduguri”

The moment he finished asking the question he felt completely stupid. Of all the pickup lines in social circles he’s chose the oldest and lamest

So much for his swag and chivalry

He kept a straight face through all this, grasping on tiny straws of possibility that perchance she might not be amongst the arsenal mouthed girls that waltz around with an armory of esteem sucking words for any unlucky guy with less than a perfect pickup line.

When finally she smiled politely and shook his hand, it was all he could do not to breathe out in relief.

“I’m sorry. I don’t school in Borno, probably you’re mistaking me for someone else” Her voice sounded silky in his ears like a fragrant liquid trickling from her soft lips.

On any other day or occasion this might have seemed overtly weird to him, but armed with the inevitable knowledge that hers might be the last nice voice he’ll hear and admire, he has no qualms indulging his excesses.

“My bad, I’m sorry but I thought you were one of my friend’s course mates, gosh! You really look like her”

“I can’t believe I’m building on this lame start” he thought to himself. She must have had same thought because the next thing she did came as a shock to him.

With a sweet smile she looked up at him and said.

“Are you really going to build up o that lame start, I’m beautiful doesn’t mean I’m dumb”

He was completely speechless and could not conjure anything witty to salvage it. He was already going to throw in the towel when she laughed softly and added “Anyways I’m Dikachi and don’t kill yourself about the pickup, I’ve heard worse”

“I seriously doubt that” he thought but quickly replied.

“Rashid, and it’s a pleasure to meet you”

Then it happened!

As quickly as the smile that lit up her face came so did it evanescent the moment she heard his name. All that was left was stone coldness and an unwillingness to communicate further.

With a storm weathering glare and a sharp flick of her long hair she walked out, leaving him pierced with her last snide comment. Said she;

“Sorry I got to go, should have known you were from the North, can’t believe I wasted my time talking to people like you who have made this country unsafe”
Rashid was awestricken!!!

All through his life from secondary school till date he had always been a victim of religious discrimination, spited because he was a Northerner and according to one of his friends more prone to the dark side. But never has he been confronted with such open hate and disgust.

This was pure and uncivilized hate.

Once again this morning, he felt very confused

Was it a wrong thing for him to have desired that everyone around him who will be part of the fulfillment of his destiny be happy or was it wrong that he wanted to keep an objective mind around him so that his actions will be based on belief in Allah, his messenger and the Quran and not hatred for his fellow humans. That his last moment will be of fulfillment and not regret and when he finally sees life clearly at the brink of death he will not be disappointed! Was it wrong?

He could have given up on his mission save for the recurring words of wiz khalifah urging him on and reminding him that Allah’s work comes first before personal needs and feelings.

So he shrugged of the sinking feeling in his stomach and walked towards the ticket sellers nursing his second murderous intent of the morning.

Damn her, Worthless product of civilization and western nonsense!

“How much is the ticket please” he asked knowing the price fully well.

“Eighty naira sir” The boy replied without glancing up.

He paid quickly and joined the long queue in wait for a bus; it was divided into two different lines, one going into the central area and the other into the main business area. After split seconds he made up his mind and joined the bus heading for the central area.

“Better do it to the elitist bourgeois than to the average people” he thought.

The long minutes spent waiting for the buses witness a hubbub of random conversation that seemed unimportant until it digressed into the recent tide of insecurity in the extreme northern states.

What piqued his interest was the sheer hate that emanated from the mouth of a young woman as she lambasted the totality of the Islamic religion calling it a gathering of cattle herders and ignorant idiots.

“Why they even allow us join each other sef, they for just let us stay alone, wetin they even dey do for this country apart from wahala here and there” she ranted on hysterically.

“Actually you do have a point there” A bespectacled man chipped in. “Life would have been easier for us if that amalgamation in 1914 had not occurred”

“That one na correct lie” The raggedy dressed young man said “Naija wen I know, if one wahala comot dey go create another one from nowhere. E just be like say we like wahala pass beta thing”

And so on the barrages of insults flowed, targeted at the entirety of the Islamic religion and the inhumanity of its patrons. Each snide comment and dry humor struck Rashid like a dart into his heart, tearing the essence of what he had always believed to be a beautiful way of life.

Could wiz khalifah be right, is it true that learning has altered the religious depth of modern man?

Personally he had his doubts, if anything; knowledge has made him a better person.

“So why am I doing this?” he asked himself.

Somewhere in his subconscious it occurred to him that one of the major problems he has always battled as a person was living in a constant state of uncertainty and a besetting lack of identity. Perhaps by doing this he’s trying to reaffirm to himself that he has the ability to believe in something to the utmost point.

He looked at his wristwatch. 10 minutes gone; he still has 20 minutes left and he plans on making every single tick count.

Finally after a few while of waiting, the buses arrived on both sides of the queue and the hustle began immediately. Normally there would have been no cause for any form of ruckus if the buses on the central sides were not less in number in comparison to the two queues lined and waiting.

The once organized queue broke into a stampede of flailing arms, ragged breathing, volcanic altercations and total disarray. The old Man with the big words suddenly turned maniacal, pushing everyone including ladies aside, nicely cultured feminine chit chat metamorphosed into tap flows of vulgar words and icy glares.

Rashid stared at it all from his vantage of thoughts, seeing it all from a fresh philosophical perspective. The madness struck him as symbolic of his emotional state and more importantly an emblem of the psychological state of many young people around; a rat race of uncertainty and rabid undiscovered passions.

Less than a minute later a second bus arrived and those who could not hustle for the first comfortably strolled into the second bus.

Seated comfortably in the second bus, Rashid noticed that the first bus had been revving up for quite a while without positive results just as he moaned the futility of his efforts to secure a seat beside Daisy the pretty snob because much as he hated her guts he still wanted to relinquish the sheer pleasure of watching her when destiny ticks.

“I didn’t even get the chance to know more than her name” he moaned vindictively.

Instead he was shucked with an overtly hyperactive young guy who had excess of energy and a smile that he found excruciatingly annoying.

“Hi, I am Azeez” The boy said immediately they were seated.

“Rashid” He replied half heartedly staring out the window and noticing that the inhabitants of the first bus were exiting in an order less rabid than their entry.

“Most probably bad engine” Rashid thought. “And they were the ones in haste, imagine the irony”

His thoughts were interrupted by the voice of the Azeez.

“Yau kana farin ciki ee” he was saying, smiling sheepishly. “Kana da farin ciki?”

“Now he wants to cajole out a conversation because we both share same mother tongue” Rashid pondered angrily but nodded in response, averting his gaze to the window to avoid further conversation.

After making certain of no intrusive conversation on his thought, Rashid turned slowly to observe the people in the bus and for the second time he felt the same unique feeling he had experienced outside. Everyone had a unique look about them that transcended the ordinary.

The bus whirred and hummed to life as the doors clicked close automatically and the driver snaked the machine through the maze of cars, buses, and myriad kiosks.

“Might as well get to know the people around” he thought to himself.

Few days ago while reading a book online about literature; Rashid came across a piece that elucidated a lot on observation. According to the writer, a lot of people do not take out time to notice the subtle but important things about an environment instead they are caught up in trivia and fickle details and go through life in a vague and semi blind state missing out of what really quantifies the quality of the environment, its aesthetic significance and the amazing inference gotten from it.

Very often we see cases of people who have resided in a particular area for quite a while but still possess limited knowledge of the basic routines that characterizes that environment, this very often is due to lack of direction in the thought pattern of the average Nigerian man.

But today everything seemed different to him; every single person seated in the bus had a certain appeal and charm to them, a certain quintessential story behind their looks, gestures and their conversations and a unique personality that resonated through the hubbub of clashing personalities.

His primary interest still rested on Daisy- the snobbish girl he had met few minutes ago and he kept a tab on every of her movement, nursing an erstwhile feeling of untended longings, the kind that comes from wanting what you can never have. This aroused a queer mix of an aching desire and a steaming loathe for her kind. Memories of rejections, indifference and scorn roused from the darkest parts of his thoughts where unpleasant memories are stored and this in turn stirred a hornet nest of bottled emotions.

She was completely engrossed in her blackberry phone and paid little or no attention to the people around and her attitude was indifferent towards the attention she was getting from the male folks around. Rashid noticed as her dark hair fell sideways when she leaned to retrieve her fallen phone pouch and loathed her more for being so beautiful and wasting it with a flawed character.

Seated next to her was a young lad with frizzy hair and a nervous look. He kept on stealing furtive glances at her while pretending to chat on his phone, insouciant to the obvious fact that he was being completely ignored by her.

Rashid quickly averted his gaze to two students who were giggling at themselves, obviously sharing a private joke. From the semblance between them Rashid inferred that they must be sisters and from the obvious protective instinct displayed by the one farther from the window, it was obvious who the older one was. She was quick to withdraw the other sister’s hand from the window when the latter mischievously slid it through to let the gush of air smack it and she kept her right arm around the latter’s shoulders in a gesture of sisterly instinct.

The sight of the untainted affection between both sisters seared through Rashid’s heart like a gladiator’s knife and he quickly averted his eyes again.

His guilt trip was briefly interrupted by the sound of clearing throat and a husky voice.

He turned towards the direction of the sound and saw a middle aged man with a queer looking back pack.

“Good Morning to everyone my name is Doctor Olawale and I am a professional herbal Doctor” he said

Rashid stared up at the shabbily dressed middle aged man whose expression was as impassive as a slab of stone and whose voice rung through the length of the bus as he proceeded to elucidate on the magic of certain herbal treatments and how his efficacy in administering them has been proven infallible.

All he could think was?

“Alas! What an irony?”

“How can health be so fervently preached in a cauldron of death?”

The elucidation continued for as long as Rashid could bother to notice with occasional bouts of laughter from the passengers and random questions thrown at Doctor Olawale who obviously was enjoying the attention of the passengers and bidding the perfect time to pop out his herbal chest and solicit for the ultimate aim, which is to sell his products.

All this while, Rashid kept his attention outside the window, sucking in the idyllic scenery, the rotors of noise and the humdrum of chaos that characterized the machine of modern day society. Everything had a subtle tale behind its vacuous façade and every seeming routine action spewed hidden knowledge of mysteries he’d never imagined possible.

“They say everything becomes clearer at death”

Somehow, the thought prompted a sharp wave of fear through him, he felt the sinking feeling he’d always read about in novels and shivered reflexively at the oppressive thought that drowned him completely for a while. All religious jingoism and inner conviction eroded and he felt human again, plagued by the fear that has hunted humanity since the inception of its knowledge.

The fear of death!!

In a bid to distract his thought from wandering too far, he stared at the skies and drank as deep as he could of its aesthetic healing, sucking in the details of its bright white and flaky clouds layered over crystal blue background and the sun peeking through the moving white clouds creating altering temperature changes and radiation intensity.

He observed closely the trails of various cars gliding past in haste to beat the traffic and get to work early, he stared for a while at an ensuing argument between a bike driver and a bus driver each throwing witty insults at each other before getting wrapped up in the traffic throng and for a while he felt relieved from the fear that threatened to drown him.

As quickly as it started so also did it end, once again the voice of Dr Olawale invaded his thoughts and he was forced to reverse his attention from outside.

Apparently Dr Olawale had told a very hilarious joke for nearly everyone in the bus was caught in a fit of raucous laughter including Azeez whose high-pitched laughter was solely responsible for distracting Rashid.

Enjoying the attention from the audience Dr Olawale continued.

“You don wake up for night to perform but small Oga say ode chi?”

More laughter

He continued, smiling mischievously.

“Every time big oga say wake up, small oga still dey sleep. I get medicine wen go make sure say small oga respect you anytime so those madams go dey respect you well”

“Of course it has to be a dirty joke” Rashid thought, sighing in a resigned manner.
He looked at Azeez whose face was caught in a rapturous smile. It was almost as if everything amused this young man and Rashid found it very disconcerting and annoying. This time his eyes were on his phone and it looked like he was chatting with someone.

Somewhere in the bus a phone rang and incidentally the ringtone was the song Nostalgia by Yanni. Hearing the sound of violins and stringed instruments quickly roused emotions in Rashid that he knew could be dicey to his purpose. And even when the owner picked his call and the music stopped, the latent sound of the symphony still racked his emotions causing him to seek refuge in a most unlikely place. He decided to chat with Azeez and take his mind off the vortex of emotional wrenching tension plaguing his psyche atmosphere.

Picking up a conversation with Azeez turned out to be quite easy; all he had to do was make a cursory observation about his jellabia and switch comfortably to their native language.

“Nice dress, where did you make it” he asked, smiling as nicely as he could conjure.

Azeez stared at him nonplussed for few seconds then quickly regaining his wit; he smiled back in his easy going manner, one that Rashid has already gotten used to seeing in the most mundane of situations. “Thank you, a tailor made it for me in Kaduna when I went for a music fest with some friends” he replied

Rashid nodded in response casting a quick glance around the bus in search for anything to distract him from the awkwardness of trying to spice up a conversation with a guy in a bus without any socially plausible reason.

He needed to keep his mind as busy as possible if he wants to retain an incisive sense of judgment

He decided to gaze around again

In the process of trying to look up the entire length of the bus, his gaze subconsciously went towards the spot where Daisy was seated and he was caught off guard when their eyes locked in seconds of unspoken communication. But it wasn’t the coincidence that spooked Rashid; instead it was the look in her eyes that completely unnerved him.

It seemed like she was trying to say sorry without being as dramatic as their previous meeting

What she couldn’t say with her mouth was boldly scrawled over her bright eyes shielded by incredible curly lashes. It was a look that said I am sorry more than a thousand roses could dare and Rashid was rendered dull sensed and witless for some brain racked seconds.

“Something suddenly changed about her?” he thought

Finally she averted her eyes slowly and lowered her head to her phone paying too much attention to its sleek silver features.

Once again, the voice of Azeez brought him back to reality. This time it came in the cloak of a question.

“So, what are you doing in Abuja, do you live there?” he asked

It took Rashid some seconds to conjure a good answer to his question.

He hadn’t planned to get involved in a conversation like this and had no idea that he would in the process drown in the quicksand of panic attack. What kind of lie could suffice in a situation like this and how the hell was he supposed to wrap it around the head of the most optimistic human he has seen in his lifetime that nobody in the bus would be getting to Abuja and that he might have chosen this bus because he was being Vindictive to a beautiful girl who just melted the sprouting rock of hate growing in his heart with a very unique apology.

Instead he said,

“Yeah I live there and I’m going to see my Dad for the weekend”

This was not entirely inaccurate, considering the fact that his Dad actually has a house in Abuja, but he sure as hell was not going to see him as much as ever living there.

“That’s funny, my Dad actually lives there and I’m going to spend the weekend with him and my elder brother” Azeez replied with a faraway smile on his face.

Something ticked inside of Rashid and he suddenly became very interested in the conversation.

“You are sounding like you do not live there” he remarked feigning insouciance.

Azeez paused for a bit too long before replying him with a cursory wave of his hand.

“Been out of town for a while” he said dubiously.

Rashid wasn’t fooled by his lame theatrics but made no move to imply that whatsoever. Instead his mind wandered to a hurtful memory that his Parley with Azeez has stirred up.

He remembered the day his Dad returned from the mosque so excited that Rashid was scared he had finally married a second wife. But he had been wrong, and soon when he discovered the secret of his Dad’s excitement he jumped so high that his Dad was scared his head would reach the fan.

HIS ESTRANGED YOUNGER BROTHER WOULD BE COMING TO SEE THEM IN A WEEK TIME!!!

According to his Dad, his Mum who hadn’t been really drawn to Islam even though she was born into it, got converted to Christianity 4years after their marriage and absconded with his younger brother to somewhere in Lagos to be as far as possible from the probable wrath of his father and the unquestionable wrath of the Islamic circle.

Since then none of both parties have heard a word from each other. Neither father and son nor mother and son, And so it came as a pleasant surprise when his Mother called few weeks ago to inform his Dad that his second son has been itching to the point of rebellion to see his Father. His Dad was so excited so much that neither the fact that he was a very respected Religious leader nor the fact that the religious circle might frown at the idea of him reuniting with an infidel son as both his wife and son has come to be known popularly amongst the stout believers, could stop him.

But out of respect for his reputation, he decided instead to entertain his son in his house in Abuja far away from the judging eyes of others.

Rashid could not be more pleased; he was living in the seventh heavens and soaring in the ninth cloud.

So he could not be sadder when few days later, he had to announce to his Dad that he has been chosen by Allah to perform the present ultimate test of faith.

His Dad had nodded in concurrence being amongst many other things, very versed in the virtues and doings of the Islamic religious circle he served under, but Rashid saw the glimpse of despair and shock in his eyes and watched it quickly replaced with a solemn resolve. The same he has seen countless times in the eyes of his religious brothers when on a mission.

So it was no surprise for him when few days to his ultimate test, his Dad pleading sick went to his house in Abuja for what he called a much needed relaxation for health reasons.

Rashid knew immediately what his Dad’s relaxation meant, and couldn’t blame him for his decision. Not everyone could bear to watch his only son walk away from him for the final time and even though it hurts, Rashid couldn’t be sure what he would do if placed in that position.

Still he wished everything happened differently, he wished he had gotten to see his Dad and his younger brother for at least once.

Why is a simple decision like talking to a strange guy in a bus leading into a swirling vortex of rabid and uncontrollable emotions?

“Maybe talking to him was such a bad idea after all” he thought

His personal epiphany was once again disrupted by the voice of Azeez.

“So where do you stay in Abuja, maybe we can hang out once in a while” he said still rooting for conversation.

Rashid had to rack up his brain to remember the address of his father’s house in Abuja.

“Asokoro” he finally replied after some seconds of thinking.

“Whoa!! Seems like we up to our neck in coincidence here” Azeez exclaimed

“What?” Rashid demanded. He was getting really piqued.

“It sounds like the address on the message I got” Azeez said oblivious of Rashid’s switch in emotions.

Rashid felt a jolt of nervous tingle run up his spine reflexively and had to hold himself from screaming in shock at what seemed to be unraveling itself before him.

“Where in Asokoro?” he asked as casually as he could enact.

Azeez in response scrolled through his phone and read out aloud when he found the message.

“No 23b TY Danjuma, Asokoro”

EVERYTHING CHANGED FROM THERE…

The riddle that had been spinning in his head became clearer to him.

They say everything becomes clearer at death…

It seemed like fate and whatever twin sister she had was having fun at his expense. His decision to chat up Azeez and take the thought of time off his head worked well. He checked the digital clock in his phone and noticed to his alarm that he had just 10minutes left.

10 FRIGGING MINUTES…

But all he felt was despair at the irony of everything happening around him. His decision to hasten time was now mocking him with open sarcasm because all he wanted after all was time to figure out the shocking information that just jogged him from his numbed resolved state, the same time he so wanted to pass in an uneventful idle chit chat.

COULD WHAT HE WAS THINKING BE EVEN REMOTELY POSSIBLE, OR WAS HE JUST BEING PARANOID?

He could give up anything to be paranoid now because the other possibility was way too devastating to consider.

Yet the possibility gaped at him with stunned equivalence of its own.

Time was running fast against him, everywhere he looked it seemed like this had been a grand conspiracy to nibble his senses to shred and there was nothing he could do about it.

He knew what he had to do, or at least what he must do before everything becomes too complicated to even ponder on. But time was hot on his heels, her hasty feet clattering through his mind, mocking him and his erstwhile decision.

There was no time to hemorrhage for subtle details, he looked at his phone again and saw that 2minutes had elapsed; he could almost hear the haunting laughter of time and could feel his soul racing in fear and apprehension.

8 MINUTES MORE…

He remembered something that might ease his pain after all and give him one last laugh before everything becomes void.

During one of their many discussions about his estranged brother, his Dad had mentioned to him that he hopes the difference in religion will not be a problem for him when he finally gets to see his brother. Rashid’s answer came in the form of a joke, he said that he was okay and even enthusiastic about seeing his brother and had no qualms about the religion as long as he won’t have to call his brother Jesus. His Dad looked at him with a hint of smile in his face and said “his name is Daniel”.
The bus decreased in acceleration and the voice of the conductor rung through its length.

“AYA, Drop here oh, after this place na the next bus stop I go stop oh”

Several voices echoed that they would be stopping here and so the bus grounded to a halt with the driver opening both doors from his control switch.

The sight of the open doors brought mixed feelings in Rashid and he watched conflicted as three passengers stepped off the bus, he wished Daisy would come out of the bus now, his tongued clung to the roof of his mouth while his heart gushed with spirals of rival emotions, he looked at Azeez, seated comfortably, his eyes bright with hope and expectation, his smile unfazed and untouched by any form of doubt and he wished he could scream out loud.

OR COULD HE?

Time was running in full gear and there was nothing he could do to stop her daunting progress and everything he once believed dearly came back to mock him.

“I have to be sure” he thought to himself. Nothing would hurt more than realizing that he gave up everything for a mere assumption.

HE KNEW WHAT HE HAD TO DO

He turned to Azeez and without thinking asked with a look of mock amusement on his face.

“Daniel, don’t you remember me again?”

The next few seconds were as decisive as they were excruciatingly slow, Azeez turned to him with a look of both shock and surprise and kept at it for a while all traces of smile eroded and all gaiety washed away in a curious expression.

This was intensely agonizing for Rashid but he kept his drama face on while praying inwardly for Azeez to laugh and say things like “who is Daniel?” or “very funny huhh?” anything but the other agonizing possibility that stared back at him with defiance.

But it seemed like fate had a completely different and more heart wrenching scheme for him.

“How did you know my other name?” Azeez asked with a look of genuine surprise on his face.

NOTHING WAS EVER THE SAME AFTER THAT…

He looked at the time and almost choked on what he saw

5 MINUTES MORE…

There was no time to muse on the cruelty of fate or even groan his ill luck.

During one of his doubt phase he had drafted a message on his phone to his Dad and to two phone numbers his Dad said belongs to his mother and brother. He was too scared to call though he wanted so much to communicate with them but now there was no time for fear and he hastened to do what he had to do.

The last passenger just left the bus and the driver was about to close the doors for the bus to move on when Rashid after clicking the send button on his phone, stood up and with a blood curling shriek exclaimed.

“Bomb, bomb, bomb, there is a bomb in the car!!!”

The bus erupted into a volcano of confusion and disarray, the driver who was about to close the doors and continue his drive, abandoned that duty and without much as a glance back, opened the door and ran out of the vehicle. The passengers who were settled and ready to continue their journey jumped from their seat and scurried towards the doors closest to them. Both front and back doors were insufficient to contain the throng of people flooding them and the conductor who was once in charge of maintaining movement was already running down the streets of AYA. Amidst the confusion Rashid heard a beep from Azeez’s phone confirming his erstwhile conclusion and just as Azeez made for the front door, Rashid mouthed “I’m sorry”

Azeez stared at him for nonplussed seconds before making for the front door without much as a glance back.

Nobody paid attention to the fact that he was not running; they were all concerned about themselves first like all living things survival first.

He caught a glimpse of Daisy sandwiched between a man and a plump woman as they all struggled to get out of the bus as fast as possible, he heard the cry of one of the teenage sisters as she tried to maintain contact with her sister amidst the mad throng, few feet from where he was standing laid the bag of Dr Olawale crumpled foot trodden, lying like a bedraggled lover whose beau has found a more wanton company.

“Run innocent ones for your lives needs serve no penalty for my own pre demise clarity” he thought.

He looked at the time.

2 MINUTES MORE…

The bus was already empty and half the people around were already joining in the race for survival, only few people or even noticed him. But then they were too scared for their lives to even care.

This is not a country for heroes and even if it were, the recent rise in the death toll from suicide and other bombings has made people ever conscious and vigilant towards any form of anomaly in crowded areas.

He sat down and sighed, feeling floods of emotions gush through him and willing a sense of calm to his subconscious.

I WON. I DEFEATED DEATH… He thought smiling maniacally to himself.

He could now see clearly as the time ticked on and as death drew nearer. His life replayed before his own eyes and for a fleeting moment he felt panic over uncorrected hurts and unexpressed love. He felt a growing sense of desire to go back in time and correct all this, probably a change in what he believed and how he thought, a change in the company he kept and the people he trusted. He wished dearly that his final act could suffice for the better things he could have done and felt the overpowering hands of death and fear grip him just before he had the final bang.

The explosion rung through the streets of Abuja and sent everyone into a state of shock for few minutes

The last thing on Rashid’s mind was a mental picture of himself standing before Azeez, his long lost brother saying,

“I AM SORRY”

He died with a smile on his face. His only hope was that his message gets to be read, if that is done alone, then his death would not be for nothing.

The words remained fresh even in death…

Dearest Reader,

By the time you get this, that’s if you get this message,

I’ll be dead and my death would have been based on a wrong decision.

But I knew this might happen and so in one of my moments of doubts I decided to create a backup plan in case everything I believed in eventually lapses into incertitude.

Recently I have been having a series of doubt plunges, where I reflect on everything I hold sacred and weigh them on the scale of love and happiness because to me every believe conceived and practiced by man is sprung forth from an innate desire to express love and to feel true happiness.

But over and over again I find myself wanting in so many areas. I feel a vacuum where love ought to be and in the place of happiness I am drowned in occasional bouts of tension. Then I ask myself…

Where did we lose it, why is it almost impossible to feel and express the most natural feeling given to man by Allah?

Everything I have done today is spurned from an inner cry for understanding and insight on that elusive idyll called love.

But if you are reading this message then I have failed and for that I am sorry. It is because I was surrounded by a sphere of influence that used the rod of religion to pull me away from my lifelong goal.

They told me I’ll find peace. why then do I feel tensed and uncertain, why is it difficult to fully comprehend that which I am sacrificing for, why should my sacrifice bring pain to others, what virtue or good is there, how can Allah be glorified in that?

But I am just a worm who knows naught of Allah’s will and must obey those who have better access to his voice all the while ignoring this persistent voice in my head telling me to see the truth for myself and not what any other man says.

Still, I am too cowardly to stand for what I perceive to be right because I am plagued with uncertainty and do not want to rock the boat while the sea is still tidal.

I have failed everyone and have disappointed the voice inside my head because I couldn’t stand to face the truth.

But I do not wish you to make the same mistake hence this message.

Don’t let anyone choose your belief no matter how important. Dare to belief and be sure of what you choose to belief and most importantly, if your belief does not propagate love and happiness then it is wrong and you need to re evaluate.

DARE TO BELIEF.

DARE TO LOVE

DARE TO DEPEND SOLELY ON GOD

DARE TO TRUST IN HIS UNFAILING STRENGTH

DO NOT FAIL AS I DID…

RASHID

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