I walked over to my bedside and gradually lay down face up as advised by the nurses. I looked at my mum who lay fast asleep by my right and instantly froze.
“No, no, no, not again”
“Shhhhh! Sit down. Be quick!” he said in a loud whisper as he pointed the gun at my mother’s head.
“Addy, sit down please. Just sit down.” my mum pleaded in a whisper with her eyes shut. When did she wake up? When did he enter the room? I was shaking so hard both from cold and fear. I slowly walked towards my bed dragging my squeaky drip stand along. I got to the bed and sat down quietly, trying hard in vain to be calm.
“It seems I did not hit you hard enough. You’re very lucky we were in a hurry.” he said.
Then it came to me: I knew him. He was the one with the gun pointed at my face. I remember being dragged out from under the church pew and I remember staring at this same face I was staring at now before I suddenly blacked out.
“I heard you were alive and decided to pay the only survivor a visit with a warning.” he said pressing the gun harder into my mother’s head. “You are only alive because we don’t want media attention. Speak to no one about whatever you feel you saw, or heard. If you do, I will kill every member of your family, let you suffer and then kill you. Do you understand? Do you understand?!” he asked impatiently.
“Addy answer him nau” my mum whispered with her eyes still shut.
“Shut up!” he said, slapping my mum from behind.
“I’ve heard you! I have heard you!!” I cried out. On hearing this, he left the room. Few minutes later the nurse rushed in.
“What is happening? I heard your voice from downstairs.” She asked panting.
“There was a-“ I started before I was interrupted by my mother.
“She had a bad dream” my mum said, faking a smile.
“Oh okay, you need to rest and stop moving that drip around. Goodnight.” the nurse said before leaving the room.
When the nurse left, my mum made a sign of the cross, picked up her phone and dialed my father’s number. I just sat there staring into space wondering how my life had just turned into a thriller movie in less than 24 hours.
The next morning, I woke up with a huge headache to my dad and mum discussing by the window. The TV was tuned in to Channels television and I squinted a little to see the headline clearly:
‘Ozubulu Shooters Arrested by Nigerian Police at the Early Hours of Today’
“Mummy! See!!” I said pointing to the TV.
“Ogini? Ewo! They have caught them?” my mum exclaimed moving closer to the TV set. “Addy, is this the man? Is that the man that came to the room last night?” she asked as they displayed the arrested suspects.
I looked closely and I felt my heart drop into my stomach.
“Addy? Is it him?” she asked again.
“No… He’s not the one. He’s not the one” I said as tears began to roll down my cheek. My mum ran to my side to console me.
“Your father called the police and they kept redirecting him to different people until he got tired and ended the call. When he went there himself, they dismissed him and asked him to come back tomorrow when their oga would be around” my mum lamented. I looked over at my dad and he just stood by the window head bowed over his shoulders.
“Mpa Addy! Mpa Addy! What do we do?” my mum said cleaning my tears and trying hard to control hers. “Mpa Addy!” she said again as my dad didn’t reply her.
“We have no choice; we have to move.” He said, finally looking up
“Move? To where? How? When?” my mum asked
“I don’t know, I will figure it out. The system has failed us, we just have to run and come back after a while. I am coming.” He said as he slowly walked out of the room.
The rest of my day went horribly as I kept looking at the door expecting him to walk into the room again. I couldn’t sleep or eat. I finally got some sleep around 5 pm when the nurses gave me something to help me sleep. I woke up some three hours later to my mum packing my things out of the room.
“Baby, you have been discharged. We need to go and pack at home. Your father has decided that we will be going to Aba to stay with your aunty until this whole thing dies down.” she said. I heard the frustration in her voice and I immediately felt bad. If only I had listened to my father, all these things wouldn’t have happened.
“Are you people not done? Be fast let’s go!” my dad said as he walked into the room. “Mama Addy, what is remaining? Ngwa Addy stand up. Stand up! Be quick!” he said as he walked over to help me up. While he did this, two syringes fell from his breast pocket.
“Oh I even forgot, the doctor said when we get to Aba, that we should look for a nurse to administer these injections for your pain.” He said pausing to pick them up. “Hold it well oh”
“Mpa Addy! Mpa Addy!!” my mum yelled
“What is it?! Pack let’s g-“ my dad started to say until he saw his wife being held at the throat with a gun pointed to him.
“I told you people not to talk to anybody. I left specific instructions.” the man from the previous night said.
“Please don’t hurt my wife, I beg you in the name of God. Please” my dad said as he walked towards them. “Please let us go. We won’t say anything to anyo-“ he was interrupted mid-sentence with a gunshot.
My dad fell to the floor and I saw blood.
“Noo!! Daddy!! No! Why?!!” I screamed in terror. I saw my dad move to hold his right leg in pain.
“Vincent! Vincent!! Chimmoo!!!” my mum shrieked and received a punch to the face.
“You! Come here!!” the man said and I began to walk towards them slowly because I was tired, I had a headache, I couldn’t control my tears and I was terrified. As I went by my dad he whispered:
“The syringe! Use the syringe!”
I had forgotten that I was even holding it so I hid my hands behind my back. When I got close to them, his gun was pointed at my mother’s head. I looked at my mum who was looking at my dad like he was telling her something because she suddenly looked at me and then at my hand. My heart was pounding, my mum was being strangled, my dad was writhing in pain on the floor behind me and the shooter’s eyes were on me with the gun pointed at my mother’s head. As I approached, I slowly pulled off the plastic covers of the needle on the syringe, then my father yelled:
A wave of strength passed through me and I aimed for his eyes. I don’t know if I got him because, he immediately hit me with the gun at the side of my face before he dropped it, let go of my mother and staggered back. The gun fell in front of me and I stretched my arms and grabbed it. As he staggered, my mum lifted the wooden chair in the room and threw it at him.
Recovering from it, he lounged blindly in my mother’s direction, hit his head on the metal bedframe of my bed and slumped. My mum held another chair above her head waiting for him to make any sudden move and I shakily held the gun with both hands towards him even though I had no idea what to do with it. We just stood over him waiting while my dad crawled over to him and lifted his arm and it fell limp. My mum slowly put down the chair she was holding, walked over to him and put her head on his chest.
“We need to leave, Adanna. Drop that thing gently on the floor” my dad said realizing what had happened. I did as I was told. My mum ran to my father’s side and took a look at his leg. Apparently, the bullet brazed his skin and didn’t do much harm. Heaving a sigh of relief, she ran to the windows and shut the drapes and went over to my dad to help him up.
She motioned for me to open the door and I did. I checked the time on the wall clock in the ward and it was 10:23pm. We walked into the hallway and everywhere was quiet like the whole place was empty. We went downstairs and no nurse or doctor was around like they were dismissed or something. We made it to the car, mum drove us home and the next morning before six we were on our way to Aba.
The journey started quietly as my siblings were sleeping, mum was driving and dad was making a phone call in front. I just stared blankly out the window at the trees and the early morning sky as we drove out of Anambra. When my dad was done with the phone call, the car suddenly became quiet.
“Mummy, put on the radio.” My dad said obviously frustrated by the silence.
“-was found dead in the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching hospital at the early hours of today. Cause of death is unknown and the police are currently investigating to-“ abruptly, my mum switched the radio off before the reporter could continue. Apparently, the police was quick to investigate the death of the person whom they refused to convict. The system had failed my family. I just sat in silence, staring out of the window.
“God help us” I said, looking around and seeing the silent “Amen” on all of their faces.