Monday, 15 April 2013

Gripping: The worst phone-call of my life: How Boko Haram killed my friends


I hear bomb blasts as frequently as people in major cities see planes fly by. And there are so much gunshots, you’d think it was mischievous kids at Christmas eve playing with bangers – and the attitude I had now developed toward these sounds were exactly the type people have towards planes and bangers.

I was dreaming and a beautiful song was playing in my dreams. I was singing along and having the type of good time we only achieve in dreamland when suddenly I heard a loud explosion!
I woke up with a start and turned to my best friend and roommate Ola Blaq, who was now awake as well. He looked around and pointed out, “It’s the curtains – they fell down”. I was so relieved.
Before you put me down for overreacting, let me take a step back and let me introduce myself. I am Stephen Amaza– a Computer Engineering student in 400 Level, University of Maiduguri. Yes – Maiduguri! I hear bomb blasts as frequently as people in major cities see planes fly by. And there are so much gunshots, you’d think it was mischievous kids at Christmas eve playing with bangers – and the attitude I had now developed toward these sounds were exactly the type people have towards planes and bangers. But this one got to me because it was right in my room, I could only assume the worst. You can only imagine my relief that it was just the curtain rods et al crashing down.
Then that song that was playing in my dreams started playing again. It took me a second to figure out that it was my phone ringing. I checked caller ID and saw it was Von D, another of my best friends. I was wondering why D will be calling me already when we just left his house just two hours ago. He lived in his mom’s place on campus while I and Ola Blaq lived off-campus just 10 minutes walk away. He also has another apartment off-campus as well that he rents with our fourth friend, Shizzy D, but because of the curfew in Maiduguri he just prefers to stay on campus where the curfew isn’t in effect. We would all be staying with him there if not because we didn’t want to inconvenience his mom. By now you might have noticed that my friends have these weird names. Well, we are all musicians and in the usual manner of musicians, we all changed our names to some unique stage name. Music is what bought us all together as friends.
Back to the phone call – I picked it and strangely my brain was trying to still decipher the reason for the call even as I was picking it. Did I forget something? Well, I can get it tomorrow – I go there everyday naw! Or is he looking for something and he wants to ask me? Or does he need immediate help over the phone with some stuff? Or… I finally shut my brain up to concentrate on the call.
And then Von D said these words, “King, I don’t know how to say this so I’mma just say it. I’m getting calls and texts that Shizzy and Heych were found dead today…”
I removed the phone from my right ear, put it on the other one and said, “Sorry, what did you say? I did not hear you clearly.”
And he repeated those same words again.
Now, Heych is Shizzy’s closest friend and girlfriend. They were having the most perfect relationship I’ve ever been a witness to. They had the perfect combination of brother/sister and lovers. They did everything together and they went everywhere together. There is the general misconception on campus that these two are identical twins. Heych was a rapper too and a huge part of our circle. We all love her to pieces.
When those words sunk in, I became confused, and agitated, and devastated, and shocked, and thinking it’s just a dream, and thinking they messing with you, and a million other thoughts entering my mind and leaving at the same time, but the thought that prevailed was “they are mistaken. Somebody died but not Shizzy and definitely not Heych”. To support my analysis, I asked him how he found out. Von D now told me how someone called him and asked him if it was true that Shizzy and Heych were dead. Von D didn’t have a clue of course and this was the first he was hearing of it so he started calling their neighbours around the off-campus apartment and the ones that picked his call just relayed the same rumour that was full of holes. He told me that we couldn’t go and check ourselves because of the curfew but if I have fuel in the car, we should go early morning and find out for ourselves. I told him I’d come as early as possible.
I told Blaq that we should start praying, that Von D just told me Shizzy and Heych might be dead. I started praying to God asking for a miracle, begging, threatening, making promises and trying to cut deals with the Almighty. I prayed that this whole thing should be a mistake. I finally cried myself to sleep. I didn’t really sleep though. I kept waking up every few minutes, hoping it was all a dream and getting disappointed. Reality was just too bitter. When it was finally 5 o’clock which is the time curfew ends, I called Von D and told him to walk to my house since uni gates won’t be opened till 6. When he came, he told me that he has tracked down the real story. He got to talk to the guy who found the bodies. It was one of their neighbours who entered the house in the evening to charge his phone and found blood everywhere. He saw Heych’s body and some other guy but Shizzy was not there.
Devastated as I was over Heych’s death, the prospect that Shizzy was still alive was just so awesome that I started feeling better. I, Von D and Blaq drove to see Heych’s sister and that moment was so heart-breaking. She was so devastated and was weeping uncontrollably. I couldn’t even say anything because that was the first time I was seeing her – Heych was supposed to introduce us sometime soon. I and Blaq just stood outside mourning Heych while Von D and friends of Heych’s sister tried miserably to console her. We later left, went to another place where Von D was looking for people that will have other clues of Shizzy’s whereabouts. That was hard because the people that will most likely know were all in the car and didn’t have many clues. We decided to check up on D2 – another rapper friend of ours who lives close to the Shizzy/Von D off-campus apartment. He and Shizzy usually hang out together when Shizzy and Heych are in the area. Von D had tried calling D2 earlier but couldn’t get through. Of course Shizzy’s phone wasn’t going through as well. When we got to the house, it was locked and the people in the neighbouring houses said they hadn’t seen D2 since the previous morning. It was all so mysterious. We couldn’t go to the murder scene itself because we suspected the soldiers who had already carried the body since the previous day will be watching and will make trouble for us. It was said that Heych’s phone was not found on her body but that her car was still parked outside the house even though the keys were not on her. We left and came back to my house after a couple of other stops. When we reached home, I got us together and prayed that God will protect Shizzy wherever he was and that He will get Shizzy safely back to us.
By that time I couldn’t dwell on Heych’s death, I was only concerned with being optimistic about Shizzy’s case. I decided to cook for us and went off into the kitchen to start the process. I think I was even happy at this point; such was the faith I had. When I came into the room to pick some stuff, I saw Von D outside talking to another of our friend, Zoe D (yeah, musician too). I decided to join them and maybe console Zoe too, since the shock was wearing off for me. And as I stepped up to them, I saw the look on Von D’s face and I knew something worse had happened.
Von D told me, “the other body found beside Heych’s own is D2…”
It was just too much too bear, and as grief came anew, Von D continued and said, “…and they just found Shizzy’s body.”


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