My war injuries conferred on me some sort of hero status, though I only found out when it was nearly too late to milk it for all it was worth. Back at abuja hostel where I shacked up with my good friend Colonel, I witnessed firsthand the effects of conflict; Shortage of food and all other staples set in resulting in acts of sheer desperation. A shop owner that sneaked in to retrieve some necessities for personal use got more than he bargained for as his shop was looted by students. I had the presence of mind to purchase a box of biscuits and a large bottle of squash as soon as we arrived at the hostel the previous evening, and this was deposited with Ruky whom I had lodged in my cousin’s room. Time spent with her during that weekend was so blissful. We took long walks, shared opinions on almost every issue at hand and generally constituted a nuisance with our presence.
I really didn’t see the need to express my amorous intentions at that time, after all, we were at war!! I was just content with holding hands and sneaking the occasional embrace as the need arose. Meanwhile, men had become hungry and help wasn’t forthcoming, this was day two mind you. By that evening, the corn farms in the vicinity had become the main source of staple for the entire student body. After seeing Ruky off to her room, and being treated to a dinner of noodles and sardines(How women mange to hoard these items, never ceases to baffle me..), I trudged off to my hosts for some chatter before turning in for the night. Colonel offered me a choice between roast or boiled corn for dinner, which i gracefully declined. A knowing look came into his eyes and he accused me of having had dinner elsewhere, which i did not deny, before he launched into a diatribe about the need for guys to stick together- Especially in times of hunger and lack. I pledged allegiance once more and we ended up having a laugh as we chatted about my dinner.
Day three wasn’t any better nor different but it did expose some of the evil that rests in the heart of humans. A group of students had somehow ambushed some miscreants, taken them captive and brought them back to the hostel. There were 3 of them, all teenagers, with their arms and feet bound. The problem was what to do with the hostages. Ruky and I were attracted by the screams and shrieks of horror coming from the group gathered at the football field. The 3 boys were dead by the time we understood what the brouhaha was all about, their bodies being doused with petrol and about to be set alight. Their killer turned out to be a final year student in my department who had suspected cult ties; he had cited student casualties as justification for their execution. I recall that he walked alone for the rest of his time in the school after the crisis had been quelled.