The Soldier And His Bloody Civilians - By Onuoha Day Claire


I was seated at the fries joint with my friends, chattering and waiting for Mama Tee to attend to us. I craved bread and akara all through Friday night and was up early on Saturday in order to beat the crowd that usually came to Mama Tee's joint. Everywhere was rowdy as there was a football match going on across the road.
We were soon served and we decided to eat breakfast there, enjoying the morning scenario.

Barely thirty minutes into the meal, my friend, Chika, pointed out a young man on a pair of black shorts and camo singlet with a matching camo cap on his head among the people waiting for Mama Tee. He was making his way to the front and was gradually drawing attention to himself. One girl made a disgruntled comment and that was all it took for hell to break loose.

“Who dey yarn that kain tori here? E be like say una no sabi me o. Sebi una dey expect Soldier man like me to dey wait with una? Bloody civilians!”

By this time, a thick cloud of silence enveloped the entire area as his voice boomed. Even Mama Tee's noisy children were very still. No one dared to pacify him.

Satisfied with the effect his presence had created, he said to the hearing of everyone, “Madam put yam 250 and potatoes 150. Add pepper well o.”

There were audible gasps as many wondered if he could finish the meal alone. He cocked his head and had a lewd smile on his lips. When it was time for him to pay, he searched all his pockets fruitlessly. In a bid to 'keep face', he drew nearer to Mama Tee and started whispering to her.

“No o, I no gree. You go pay me now or you forget the food. You no go comot here with this food if you no pay me my money. Lai lai.”

It was Mama Tee holding a tip of the nylon that contained the man's food. People started gathering again and demanded that the man must pay up.

In the middle of the chaos, the man made a dash for the road with the food. Shouts of 'Thief!' rent the air. The screams were however short lived as an oncoming shuttle bus at full speed, knocked down the escaping man. If he survived it, I wouldn't know because I left almost immediately for fear of the Police.

Nevertheless, the picture etched in my memory whenever I pass that spot is that of the man lying in his own pool of blood. This was the same man that had screamed 'bloody civilians!' at us.

I wasn't alone in my thoughts, as few days later, I heard someone addressing that junction as 'bloody civilian' junction.