It’s a blissful morning, a great day to demand for a better life. The peaceful protests have been effective; the government is finally listening to us…so it seems. I’m still excited about the new Nigerian flag I bought. Feels weird but there’s something patriotic about owning a flag. I love the feeling; it will definitely go with me to the tollgate today. At least it stops the soldiers or police from shooting at me. A peaceful protest is the best way to get your voice heard as a noble citizen. I’m wearing all black today to honour the people that have lost their lives since the protests began. On my way, a news pops up saying the state governor has imposed a curfew. Well, it’s fine I have four hours to make it back home before it begins. I’ll spend two hours at the protest and make it back home with the remaining two.
At last I arrived at the protest ground, the atmosphere gives me goose bumps. Patriotic Nigerians waving their flags as they sing the national anthem in unison. Despite the fact that the curfew was announced, it felt like a safe zone but I knew not to get carried away. I set my timer to leave in two hours. Two hours went by in seconds but another news just came in confirming the governor has extended the curfew time. It was good news and I could hear people telling each other excitedly all over the protest ground. That means I have an extra two hours before I start heading home. We sang the national anthem over and over again but I had goose bumps every single time. It means more to me than it ever has. The moment feels precious; I don’t want it to stop.
This moment is invaded by gunshots, people dispersed in fear. Some lying down to prevent getting hit by stray bullets, others are sitting and waving their flags in trembling courage. I sat down and start to wave my flag as well because it is my best chance of surviving this. I hope that the bright green and white flag will convey our peacefulness and readiness to cooperate. The gunshots are getting louder, as I look to my right, I see a man holding his belly with his hands covered in blood. He tries to hold his body together and protect his intestines from falling off. I look around and realise that a lot of the bodies are people that have been hit, not people lying down to avoid stray bullets. The slight beam of hope I have is non-existent at this point. The flashes of the man’s inner body part keeps replaying in my head. I start to pra—
THE OTHER SIDE
In that moment I felt a quick sharp pain on my chest, I knew this was it. The authoritative bullet had sealed my fate, there’s no going back now. I knew it was about to be my last few moments, I thought about everything that could make me happy so I die a happy man. I thought about my mum that had called to pray for me earlier that day. My beloved brother that is expecting the twenty thousand Naira I promised to give him on Friday. My girlfriend whom I wanted to propose to in December. Lastly, I thought about my new flag, not looking so new now as it was drenched in my blood. I used my last strength to clench my fist and hold the flag tighter. At this point I was weak, the harder I tried, the weaker my grip on the flag.
Everything faded, it seemed like I was siphoned into a black hole. My point of view changed, now I could see my own self from a bird’s eye view. I wanted to get a closer look so I moved closer to my body. How beautiful I looked, with a smile on my face even in death. I was happy for a moment but it didn’t last long, a body of a lady fell on mine and this made me realise the massacre hadn’t stopped. I tried to protect the people living, but my hands went right through the soldiers. I screamed in anger because I couldn’t take their guns away or stop them from using it. It hurt me more than my death did, now I’m looking for other alternatives. I tried to call on God to assist me but there was no response. It seemed I couldn’t get justice even as a dead person. I always believed the dead would get their justice once on this other side.
I’m on the other side and the only thing I can do is watch. The view is appalling, it felt like I could see everything and hear everyone at this same time. Surprisingly, I understood everything being said or done despite it being simultaneous. I roamed around helplessly watching people live in terror and some burning down properties out of anger. I watched as they reported our death as fake news, this was my reality debunked like a rumour. I felt a cold breeze over me and a few other souls stood as they watched in fear. I said to myself, even in death we are still terrified of these people. The flag did not save me; my country has failed everyone of us on this other side. The protection is a myth, love is a myth, life itself became meaningless in that moment. I wept knowing people living could join me any minute and they would feel the same way I felt. I felt like an empty ship, with no destination, left to roam the endless seas. Just then I realised there are three types of people, the dead, the living and the politicians. Only that the dead don’t have a voice, we are invisible and non-existent. This country is an illusion; we are just numbers being used as collateral for loans from the world bank. I will never rest in peace knowing what I know.
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