‘Miss, please fasten your seat belt, we will be arriving Nigeria in twenty minutes’ the stewardess said good naturedly.
I smiled at her and did as she said. I leaned back in my seat and replayed for what could have been the 53rd time, the sweet family reunion awaiting me in less than an hour.
The last time I was in Nigeria was 5 years ago, when I was 20. I never thought I would stay away from my beloved family for long but fate had other plans.
So when I got married to Khaleed, who happened to be 13 years my senior, I had to leave my beloved home for a foreign land as my new husband had been posted to Liberia. Since then, I had never returned home, till now.
I pressed my throbbing head no doubt from anticipation and smiled again unable to wipe the foolish grin out of my face for more than two seconds.
So much has happened since I last saw my family, my elder sister now has a four year old daughter and my younger sister is a graduate and is about to get married, not to talk of all the other gists awaiting me, I let out my ill- contained laugh followed by a series of sneezes which i had been experiencing quiet lately. ‘This is not a good time to come down with the flu,’I chastised myself.
I dragged my lugagge and dialled my husband’s number as soon as I had made it through clearance, which got picked up at the first ring.
‘I see you have been waiting for my call darling,’ I said jokingly.
He murmured an incorrigible answer.
I looked up and saw my family at the arrival lounge waving enthusiastically at me
‘What’s wrong dear?’ I asked, and waved back jumping slightly in anticipation.
‘Missing me already?’ I joked, ‘don’t worry, you will come next week’
‘Zee, you are carrying the bomb’ he blurted out.
‘I’m in the hospital, I don’t know how to break this to you…’
My steps faltered and I came to a complete halt as my husband told me a life altering information I would have never believed could happen to me.
The world stopped moving, all voices merged into one and exploded in my head like a band of restless sirens.
I let go of the phone and fell on my knees trying to think and not think at the same time.
‘This can’t be happening to me, to us’ i thought ‘but it’s true, he won’t lie to me, not about this, I’m deadly, I carry the bomb’
‘Ma’am are you alright’, a young woman bent to help me.
‘Get away from me’ I screamed
I noticed that I was getting much attention.
I can’t let them come near me.
‘Move back all of you’ I turned wildly
I looked up and saw my Sisters baby, Meena her thumb in mouth, my beautiful innocent niece that I will never meet. I was sobbing as I met my Mothers disbelieving gaze.
‘I love you but I have to do this for your sakes’ I shouted knowing she wouldn’t hear me above the ruckus I had created.
My sister was pregnant again, I noticed, I hoped she would name the baby after me, I half laughed and winced at the pain searing through my heart as I saw my family for the last time, the reunion was never meant to happen.
In a split second, I made a decision, my life will soon be over anyway.
I made a bee line at the police officer coming towards me and like in an action movie, grabbed his gun and waved it frantically around before he realised what was happening.
‘It will affect you all if you don’t leave’ were the words Airport Chief Security Kabiru Loka heard as he ran towards the suspected terrorist holding the gun.
‘Don’t fire’ he shouted at the all the security in range.
‘Ma’am please lower your gun, I’m sure we can sort this out’ he said trying to catch his breath
She turned, fear clearly in her eyes ‘Just a drop of sweat and you all will die, that is all it takes for it to burst’
‘I’m sure my team can handle the bomb you are carrying just drop the gun’
She positioned the gun at the frantic crowd behind her, tears falling uncontrollably from her eyes.
Suddenly, her hand went limp and and she staggered back, she heard her mother’s indiscernible cry in the distance and watched as a red patch grew bigger around her chest.
Kabiru Loka, a bulky man ran to the woman on the ground while hurling insults at the man who shot her.
He arrived just in time to hear Zainab Khaleed’s dying words.
‘Get them away from me, don’t touch me, I have EBOLA’
A physical blow couldn’t have sent him scrambling away with more speed than he did. But not until he grabbed her ringing phone.
He ordered the security to restrain her hysterical mother, get the crowd away from the goddamn scene and call an ambulance right away!.
He pressed a shaking finger on the answer button of the persistently ringing phone of Zainab, his rioting mind, never registering the fact that Ebola was indeed contagious.
‘Hello Zee’ the other voice said excitedly, ‘darling there is no need to panic afterall’ her husband rushed on without waiting for a reply ,’we do not have Ebola my love, the device was faulty you see and kept giving the wrong result but we are alright…’
The airport chief security lowered his bulky self to the ground near the dead woman.
‘I have surely lost my job’, his fuzzy mind mused , but that poor family have lost a loved one all because of a God forsaken faulty device while she was trying to protect the people she never knew, what a cruel cruel world’
Kabir Loka did what he hadn’t done in a long time, he wept.
I know most people will wonder why Zainabs story is first person narrative, I guess it is because I felt that there is no better way to experience her terror than to hear from the horse’s mouth.