Written by Maryrose Onejeme
I sat by the gate waiting for my father; he had gone out with the house keys.
As the night got darker, I wondered why he had not yet returned. I couldn’t call him; the qwerty phone which also serves as my torch light is his. He gave it to me when I lost my phone to robbers sometime last month.
“Hum pa pa pa pa pa paa…” the noisy sound of my neighbour’s generator rent the air as bulbs flickered on illuminating their house and extending dimly to ours.
I detested the sound of that generator, but there has been no power supply for a month, and I couldn’t deny that it had come in handy for me several times.
Our area of town is a sleepy one, especially at that time of night. People hardly passed that way for fear of the police. Their duty post is a few blocks away.
Recently, they arrested Justin, they said he had the appearance of a yahoo boy. Justin was my neighbor’s twenty-one year old son who had been at home since the ASUU(Academic Staff Union of Universities) strike that stretched out for months. They set him free after a week when his father could raise the money for his bail.
As I continued to wait, I saw what appeared to be the silhouette of a man walking toward me.
“Who are you?! What do you want from me?! I asked in trepidation. I tried in vain to catch a glimpse of the features of his face through the dim light as he ambled to the spot where I stood rooted.
Warm liquid trickled down to my feet below. My senses offered many escapes, but my feet wouldn’t yield. As he got closer, I searched blindly for something I could use in defense.
I begged him not to hurt me. He had a piece of white clothing strewn over his shoulder barely covering his chest. Even at night, the stain of blood on the white was visible. There was a hollow on his chest that went right through. It looked like a bullet wound!
I shuddered as I looked on. He came even closer and stopped abruptly. He regarded me pitiably for a brief moment and turned away, staring into the distance. As if addressing an invisible person, he said in a deafening pained voice:
“Our fathers’ hearts are heavy. Our mothers continue to weep! Our wives mourn. Our children are asking “where did daddy go?” “When will mummy be back?”
I tried to move away from him but I couldn’t.
“We stretched out our hand to you”, he continued, but you broke it and threw it to the dogs. We cried out in pain. But you silenced us forever! Our brothers and sisters continue to suffer the same fate as ours daily”.
He turned his face towards me, and in a soft pleading voice said, “do not let our labour be in vain. Do not let our deaths be for nothing!” For the first time, I noticed the blood-stained tears that flowed unrestrained down his cheeks. He seemed harmless but I was still terrified at the sight of him.
“Wh-who a- a- are you?” I stuttered.
He looked steadily at me for a while. Then, he took a step back. It was then I saw that he was not alone. I couldn’t count them. All their bodies were stained with blood like his. Some of them had the same bullet-like hollow on distinct parts of their bodies.
There was a little boy among them carrying a metal plaque with the inscription: WE ARE THE FALLEN HEROES OF 20:10:2020!
As they turned to leave, I saw that the piece of clothing over the ghost’s chest was not all white. The other sides were green. The green sides also bore the blood-stained signature on the white.
Just then, a loud ring jolted me to wakefulness. “Phew! It was just a dream”, I exclaimed but I ate my words as I saw the date showing on my phone screen- 20th Oct., 2022.