Ngozi walked in a silent stride under the October night. Flaring flames in the distances cast eeire shadows on his solid face.
He turned into a compound and proceeded to walk up to the front door. Just then the door swung open and a girl rushed out with thrusting a heavy bag onto her small shoulder.
She froze as she saw the man in front of her, the surprise turned into disenchantment as she realised it was Ngozi. They stood looking at each other for a moment that could have been forever. The silence was only broken by rustling behind the door
"Come Mama, we have to hurry, or they will leave without us."
"Emile." Ngozi uttered fruitlessly.
The girl pulled up her mama's shawl over her head and guided her past the Ngozi. She walked a few paces then stopped.
"They took Estan."
Emile proceeded to walk on but she struggled under the weight of the bag. Ngozi walked up and caught it. She hesitated to let it go for a moment the finally relinquished it.
They turned into the streets that was alive with people jostling around trying to get onto the huge trucks.
Ngozi helped Emile's mother onto one of the trucks. She held his hand as he raised her up. When she was seated on the side bench she examined his hand, she saw the and pulled him towards her
"Son, I have heard of those like you. I know what you are. Please go and save my dear Estan"
"Mama" Emile adjourned with some alarm. She looked searchingly at Ngozi with eyes that hoped but already knew what to expect.
Ngozi squeezed the old woman's hand and then let go.
"You said they would never come here. Where will we go?" Emile asked as Ngozi turned.
"The drivers have been instructed to go to the west border, if they can't make it they will go into the mountains. It's safer for you there."
"It's all so easy huh. I will never know what it's like to be strong."
"Oh my Estan, please save my Estan. They came and took him. Three army trucks came and rounded up all the young boys including my Estan."
A chorus of women started pleading for Ngozi to save their son's.
"We have to get you someplace safer first." he replied
Ngozi made to help Emile onto the truck but she withdrew her hand and climbed up her self
"If Michel were here, he would have helped them." She said then looked staright ahead away from his face.
The truck thrust into life and the engine rumpled like an old saw mill as it slowly started rolling away.
Ngozi looked up. Emile still looked straight sideways from his gaze. She did not look back.
Emile sat there being rocked to and fro as the truck moved away. She could barely resist looking back with her sad glassy eyes. Look back at the man who was the world to her. Love and anger in an fierce tug of war. Angry that he did nothing but Love. Yes love, the fear that this could be the last time. Love prevailed.
The truck meandered. Her head slowly turned to catch a blurry glimpse of Ngozi as the tears welled up in her eyes streamed down her cheeks.
Ngozi stood there. His mind raced to make sense of what had happened. This town was remote. What was the army doing here so near the neutral border. Why take all those conscripts.
He walked along the street passing the corpses of men who had been shot. He started walking down a dirt road towards a raging flame near the undergrowth. As he neared he saw three burning cars.
There was nothing odd about that except that these were pretty damn expensive cars. A Mercedes, Lexus and Pajero. Realisation dawned on Ngozi. He turned sharply round and looked on the muddy road.
Big tire trucks. Army tire trucks. Leading to and from the burning cars were army boots. Amoung them were civilian shoes. Womens shoes, little girl's shoes.
Ngozi rushed to check the cars again. The plates had been removed, on all of them He roshed round to the least burnt up car, the Pajero. On part of the blown out windscreen was a partial licence sticker.
A smile slowly creased on his face. It read
'Ministry of Inter....' That is all he needed.
Ngozi pulled out a cellphone
"There was a high level rendezvous pick up here."
A low, resonating accentric voice on the other end replied
"Suka, give me an order my mastaa."