Slowly the sun descended down the slope flowing across the earth like a molten lead. The clouds were gathering into a long ash grey pool, ringed with little islands shadowed in amber and being drawn to the pool by the wind.
The jangling of bicycles and old rusty cars roused me from my torpor. Nothing around looks familiar, not even the air which was thick with fumes and smokes from exhaust pipes of vehicles. Not even the people under the parasol nor the shoal of people under the obeche looked familiar.
Could this be angels in heavens gate?
I saw myself lying on the tarmac with my eyes moving to and fro to know if I can know where I lay or anybody that could help me find out. Questions that I don’t have the answer to clouded my mind: what am I doing with a torn army uniform? I asked myself. The huge ash grey building that lay in front of me with windows like potholes added colour to my perplexity.
Westward from me lay a vast azure sea with different sea beats towing north and south. I wobbled unsteadily and supported myself with the pillar closest to me. My body ached badly and my head severely bandaged, the army uniform on me though I still don’t know how that came to be was wet with blood and water.
My subconscious took notice of the crumpled note in my hand. I read through the lines, trying to make meaning out of the words that were badly scribbled down.
I read the note in a sotto-voce:
“I’ve no much time to explain the events that I warned you that will happen. This is the best I can do for you. Sorry that you found yourself in a sorry state. Allamdulilah that you still draw breath. I’ve made arrangements for your family to be smuggled down to Enugu from Sabon-Gida.
“Don’t worry, I’ll personally see to their safety. Colonel Madu and a hundred others have been charged for mutiny and will be executed by a firing squad at cockcrow tomorrow. Words from reliable sources have it that Ironsi is no more and Gowon has taken the oath of office.
“You’re no longer in command of the 3rd Infantry Brigade and the Head of State has declared you wanted and will offer a bounty to anyone who brings you dead or alive.
Do not move away from the building where you are. My older brother who is a sailor will smuggle you to São-Tome and you’re to stay there till the tension is doused. Act carefully for you not to fall in the hands of the enemy, this is the best I can do for you for now.
My eyes clouded with tears. The question changed from who I was to where I would go from here. I sunk in despair as thoughts about my pregnant wife and kids clouded my mind.
A smallish man whom I couldn’t discern his features as a result of the darkness that have descended so quickly drifted towards me. I brought out my 15mm revolver which lay inside my tunic ready to fire the last shot if that was what it takes to live.
It turned out to be Major Mustapha’s older brother. I followed him quickly to that path which I believe will lead to my safety.