It was a moderate size bungalow, with a very rough plastered wall outside but cool milky paint in the inside. It stood alone, with yellow bushes fencing part of it, the other part fenced with hibiscus flower. Over the rusty zinc, the gmelina branches peeked from the backyard. She used to lie on a makeshift hammock she made with her mum’s wrapper.
To others, this is just an old bungalow fenced with flowers but to her, just seeing it causes an avalanche of emotions. This was the house she grew, she lived, she loved, she laughed, she cried and she left.
She had served her country well, she sacrificed for men to sleep at ease. For years, land-mines were her closest companions, bombs and gunshots were the music on her stereo. Well, she had just that station so she had to listen. She dug pits and laid in them, she dodged bullets like she was dancing salsa. Her companions were oozing testosterone as they marched to war. She was aware, that it was a predominantly male profession, when she signed up to join the armed forces of Nigeria in the military.
There were good times and bad times. Times when they received letters from loved ones, usually Saturday mornings after drilling. The last she got from mum said her sister, whose wedding she had missed had a baby, her little brother who wasn’t so little anymore was in sophomore year in the state university. Her grandfather had died and was buried, her cat Mr fluffy had died of old age. It said in the letter that they prayed for her everyday, and that they hope she comes home safe. It also said that Samuel, her boyfriend from secondary school was transferred to the area and he came visiting, he was at her grandfather’s service of songs and her sister’s baby’s naming ceremony.
The one she got the month before had broke her heart just as much, and was from her boyfriend who told her he was getting married and he apologised it was ending like this. She had cried her eyes out.
She was only doing a noble cause. She stayed awake so people can sleep well, she bore the pain and terror so people could rest easy. She had sacrificed her family so that others could have and hold theirs. The war zone was hers to face so people could live in their comfort zones.
So as the doctor told her he had amputated her right leg from the knee down, she was devastated. She was however thankful to learn that she was one of 2 survivors, 6 men in her platoon had died from the explosion.
She was dressed in full regalia when the men of the armed forces of Nigeria came to award her, it was her last day in the hospital and also her last in the Nigerian army.
Speaking to the representative of the Minister of defence and TV crews she said, “I have paid my debt to my country, I have ran the good race, I have finished well. Men of my platoon (God rest their soul), have done their part. We have sacrificed a lot to make sure our children only read about terrorism and never get exposed to what it is. Today, I say to everyone here present and watching, that I can go to my grave happy and content, I can go empty because I have done my part. Long live the armed forces of Nigeria, Long live Nigeria and Long live Africa.” She bowed her head as the tears ran down to the medal on her neck, she was wheeled away as she ran her hands on her engraved name on the award ~ Jummai Ishaku.
On the journey back home, she thought about the rejection she’d face, from friends, jobs, people and society. The neglect she would face even from the Nigerian army. She will be referred to as ‘handicapped’ before and behind her. She will be pitied by many, which wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted to be seen as a strong woman that she is, able to work in conditions most men could not, she scaled through the rigorous training in the military when many men and women she thought were stronger could not. She wanted to be seen as the herculean woman that she was.
And so when the car started approaching the bungalow in which she was born, she was flooded with memories too much for her heart to carry. She brushed a tear and spoke to her little brother who had come to the airport with the driver to bring her home “Is there a party?”, she sighted the ‘welcome home warrior’ banner across the main door.
“Mummy made you a full course meal”, which was exactly what he told her in the airport, when she said she was famished and wanted to eat in airport restaurant.
She got her crutches and walked across the door, and she felt it, that familiar smell, the familiar atmosphere she had so dearly missed. It was so strong, the love in the air was palpable. She stopped between the main entrance and the living room door, she inhaled deeply, that love; the love that said ‘mama is home’, the one that says ‘home is where mama is’. She steps into the living room as her brother carried her duffel bag. It was her only possession.
“Surprise!” screamed a living room full of people, not just people, the ones she loved, the ones she hadn’t seen in years. The ones she thought she’ll never see when the explosion projected her 10 feet and knocked her unconscious. Them, they were all here with smiles plastered on their faces like it was painted. Samuel was there also, he looked really happy to see her.
“I saw the news Jumi, you are still one brave woman” he said as they leaned against the bar separating the living and dinning rooms.
“Still?”, she asked.
“You always were, since secondary school. I guess you held onto some virtues even in such trying and harsh times. And so, I will like to take you out to dinner tomorrow, what sayeth you?” His eyes smiled as he flashed his perfect dentition.
She searched his eyes and she sees in them something she was very much familiar with. They had that same mischievous light to them, as they did when he passed her notes in Biology class. He was so good at it, he never wrote his name or hers in the note so that when it got caught on transit, no one will claim ownership of such love notes.
She felt like she was back in school again, young teenage love. She smiled and declined his invite politely “Sam,things have changed. We can never be like we used to. I am not the same person I was anymore.”
“Why? I think I can tough it out with an army girl like you. I don’t plan on ever hitting you because that will be a fight I will loose woefully. I also do not plan on doing a press up competition with you because the last time I tried it, I almost passed out at 5. Regardless of all this, I think I am sturdy enough to be considered.”
“Surely, you are not oblivious of my current condition are you?”, she knew he loved her back in the days of yore, but it was different now, things were different.
“Oh hey, I didn’t see you lost a leg. But I think the doctor said he didn’t cut out your personality with the leg, so we are still good.” He had always had his way with words, and after so long, he still maintained his charm.
She laughs “Samuel Yusuf, you didn’t change one bit did you?”
“I’ll take that as a yes to my offer then. I will pick you up by 6, so that means you have to be ready by 5:30. We’ll go to hard rock cafe for dinner.”
She gave him a nudge “Hey, I was in the military for long enough to be time conscious, I will be on time. So, there is a hard rock cafe in town now huh? What else did I miss?” she said laughing.
“Oh sorry I forgot you lived in a hole for so long. What else did you miss, uhm lemme see….. do you know that lizards now breastfeed and a monkey evolved to a human right in the city zoo? Oh and we have facebook now.”
She was laughing heartily “Come on, be nice. I am on facebook.”
To every uniform man or woman serving us in one way or another, we are eternally grateful for your service.


  1. Good update

  2. Ok

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