By Yahuza Abdulkadir
Many a time, I listen to people expressing their feelings and emotions, telling their beautiful and ugly stories, talking about the experiences they encountered through their journeys.
But then, there’s this story I wanted to write, but I couldn’t. Whenever I tried to, fear overwhelmed me. So, I overcame my fears and summoned the courage to write this story today.
In April 2021, while travelling to Funtua in Katsina State, I had a dreadful experience that left a big scar on my heart.
On that day, I reached Kano at around 6:30 PM and boarded the ‘Adaidata Sahu’ tricycle to Rijiyar Zaki Park because I was told that it’s only there I could get a car that would take me to Funtua by that time.
We started the journey to Funtua at around 9:00 PM. It was late and a lovely friend who happened to know how the road used to be at night advised me to stay till morning. But I couldn’t heed her advice because I wanted to reach Funtua that night and complete my assignment the following day.
I started regretting why I embarked on the journey when our car spoiled at Malumfashi. The driver tried to get the car back to work for almost an hour but no progress. Finally, he decided to walk a few metres away to get a mechanic. And we were lucky that he came back with one. After several trials, the car engine started, and it got back to work.
I can still echo the voices of the two women seated at the back, pouring blessings upon the mechanic who helped fix the car’s problem. He really tried, but God’s miracle has taken place, I believe.
As we continued the journey – chatting and listening to other passengers telling their stories, I fixed my eyes on the road, and many thoughts knocked me on the head. When I noticed no car coming from the other side of the road, fear robbed my mind. My heart kept beating. I wanted to tell the driver that I was uncomfortable with this journey, but silence kissed my lips. I kept mute for some minutes. But deep inside of me, I wasn’t feeling okay.
A few kilometres to Bakori, we spotted torchlights reflecting from a close distance. And I heard the driver saying, “Inna-lillahi Waa Inna Ilaihir-rajiun,” meaning: “From Allah we are, and unto him is our return.” He tried turning the car to escape the trap in our front, but the sound of gunshots flying in the air made him stop the car.
I couldn’t remember what happened, but I saw people with guns and torchlights telling us to get out of the car. We went out, and I was terrified. Some voices began to whisper into my ears, “Had I known, I could have stayed in Kano till the following day like my friend said, but my stubbornness got me into this, it’s not my fault; this is my fate.”
That night we were robbed. “The Children of the Night” collected all our money and that of the driver. Then, they took away our cell phones and walked into the bush, shooting in the air.
When they left, I got into the car, shivering. Then, I realized that my smartphone was inside my small travelling bag, which I kept close to where I sat. I put the phone into the bag earlier because its battery was flat. So, I was lucky that my smartphone was still with me, though they took my small phone I used for calls. I know that we were lucky enough to be alive that night.
We stayed there till dawn because our car couldn’t get back to work again. We were thinking of what to do next when a car carrying bags of maize showed up. We waved hands for the driver to stop. And he did. He got out of the car and headed to where we stood. We told him about the incident, and he showed his concern, sympathizing with us. He told our driver that he was rushing to get to his destination. Then I saw him removing some money from his pocket and offering it to our driver. The driver thanked him and asked us to do the same. This man is very kind. Humanity lies in his heart, I whispered.
We kept waiting there till an empty commercial bus came. Then, after discussing with its driver, he asked us to get in. And we headed to Funtua. Our driver left his car with the intention to get a mechanic at Funtua who could repair it.
When we reached Funtua, I wished the other passengers well and prayed for their safety everywhere they would be. Then, I took my travelling bag and walked to my destination.
Although I have been travelling along the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, I have never felt shocked and frightened like this before.
This was the most dreadful experience of my life. It’s a memory I can never forget.
Yahuza Abdulkadir wrote via email@example.com.