The sun was bright in the afternoon sky. Halima sat under the avocado tree in the back yard humming and smiling to herself while she combed her hair. That was a hobby she had recently developed, it helped her forget and she often got lost in the utopia she had made for herself inside her head. She lived in a luxurious home with her kaka. Their lives were turned the wrong side up one hot Friday morning.
Halima was at school, suddenly there was a loud rumble followed by a vigorous vibration, then the sun was eclipsed by a pall of smoke. She managed to crawl under her desk for safety even though she knew there was nothing safe about it. She stayed there quietly, horrified. Is it the apocalypse, she thought to herself. She was too shocked to cry and too scared to pray. She listened to the noise that filled the once serene atmosphere. They was a mix of screams and sirens. It went on for hours.She was jerked back to reality when she heard kaka’s soothing voice. She had fallen asleep under her desk. Kaka had managed to maneuver her way through the fracas to find her grand daughter. Halima clung to her grandmother as they made their way home. The explosion had destroyed a church, everything wore a cover of dust, the streets were spotted with pools of dried blood and pieces of clothing. To Halima it was a vivid description of hell. She thought she had seen it all until they took a detour through an alley.
A toddler was sitting on the ground rocking back and forth cradling something. He was whispering something in between sobs, “It’s ok mummy, it’s ok mummy”. He was cradling a limb, it was severed from the elbow and there was a silver bracelet on the wrist. Halima instantly became light headed, everything around her began to spin and she sank into the darkness that was her own mind.
She woke up hours later, panting and wrestling with her sheets. Kaka was right beside her and she gently patted her hand, “It’s ok mama na, we are safe now”. Kaka was a gracious lady in her early fifties with creamy white skin, evidence of her Fulani heritage and alluring almond shaped eyes. Halima looked more like her than her parents. She lost them when she was only two years old. It was during the genesis of the holocaust, they had gone to the pediatrician for a routine check up on her mother’s pregnancy. A group of masked men had invaded the pregnancy ward, they were ruthless with the devil in their eyes. Their blades were thirsty for blood and they made sure to get their fill. Spine-chilling screams filled the air as the men carried out their mission, chanting something under their breath. Halima’s father’s heart raised as he followed the sound of the screams, he found his wife lying on her back with blood oozing from where their blades had kissed her flesh. His heart stopped beating momentarily when he saw how pale she was, the dim light in her eyes scared him even more. He made to pick her up, he had to do something, anything, he couldn’t stand there and watch her die. Just then one of the masked men spotted him and with one swing he landed him a blow with his machete that split his head. He fell face down next to his dying wife. In that very moment on the ground, the world crumbled before him; thoughts about Halima were the last he had before he slipped into an abyss.
A Sunbird pulled Halima out of her reverie, it was on a leafy branch just above her head. Its song was melodious and it looked so free. Sometimes, she wished she was a bird, so she could fly to lands unknown and all the adventures she dreamed of. A twig snapped behind her, she turned to Abba’s warm smile. “Day dreaming as usual?”, he with a chuckle as he sat beside her. They had been friends for sixteen years now. He lived next door with his family. He had been her anchor since she lost her parents. He was her best friend. The cool evening breeze swept over them as they talked about the shootings of the previous week, the beggars that keep banging on their gates and the refugee camps that were springing up everywhere. They enjoyed each other’s company, there were no secrets between them. Kaka always teases that they would end up together someday. Halima always laughed and waved it away but deep down she hoped so.
The sky had turned into a dreamy shade of blue tinged with pink and purple when Abba got up to leave. He decided to use the gate rather that go over the fence. She hugged him goodnight, his arms were so storng but his eyes were so soft. The hug lasted longer than usual, maybe it was because of the uncertainty that surrounded them. They were never sure of when the shootings and massacres would start again and if they would be victims. When he pulled away he gave her a kiss on her button nose, squeezed her hand and went his way. She entered the living room with a goofy smile, reminiscing on what had just happened. “Where have you been?”, kaka asked looking up at her granddaughter, her only family. “Outside with Abba”, she replied. “Oh, I see.”, kaka volunteered with a mocking gesture. “Oh stop it kaka. What is for dinner?”
“You will find out as soon as you wash up and cook it”, kaka replied with a smile.
That night the shootings began again. Halima clung to her grandmother, praying silently for the end of all this madness. She thought about Abba and her late parents and wondered if the chaotic world they lived in would ever have room for love, happiness or peace.