Sunday, 29 July 2012


Nigeria, 1996.
Its 2 AM. The little boy wakes up at the sound of gun fire. He doesn’t get up yet. The shots have stopped. He listens hard. It starts again. He can hear shouting and screams too this time. He gets up and goes to the window. He can see the street. He sees men with machine guns and revolvers. He sees his neighbours on the ground. On their knees. A man is lying on the ground, surely dead. His wife is crying and cursing the robbers. They ignore her. As a rule, they don’t hurt women and children. Men are not so lucky, though. He hears a sound that chills his bones and in a second, he knows what will happen next.
His beloved Doberman, Tiger bounds over the wall, barking and attacks the robbers. Tiger is a ferocious dog. People almost pee in their pants when he bares his teeth at them. He buries his razor sharp teeth in the arm of the nearest robber. He screams out in pain and tries to shake him off. He can’t. The screams are loud and shrill in the night. But no one dares to come to their windows to see what’s going on. They already know. They also know that if they go out, they die. They silently thank the lord for it’s not them on the street tonight. The silently mourn for the neighbours.
The boy watches the leader get angry. He watches him pull out a small revolver and shoot his beloved Tiger. He watches as Tiger goes limp and let’s go of his arm. He watches as the leader puts three more bullets in. Each shot is felt in his heart. Each shot wounds him. At the third shot, he can’t watch anymore and goes back to bed. He doesn’t know what to do. He feels like crying but the grief is too great. He feels the tears running down his cheeks. He can’t control them. He lets them flow and cries himself to sleep.
The next morning, he doesn’t get up till his mother comes to fetch him she has worried look in her eyes. She sees that he is awake and comes up to him. She smiles gently and says “Aren’t you hungry?” He looks at her. “Tiger”. Tears well up in the mother’s eyes now. She knows that her son knows. She hugs him hard. She cries because she wasn’t with him last night, when he needed her most. He doesn’t cry though. He doesn’t have any more tears left. He feels empty inside. Hollow. His mother looks at him. She too had lost her dog when she was a teen. She knew how hard it was. But she was seventeen when Bruno died. Her son is just three.
She tried everything to cheer him up. He got out of his bed after two days. He started smiling after a week. But the spark in his eyes was lost. He no longer cried or threw tantrums. He alienated himself from his friends.
And every night, he went to his window and stared at the patch of road where it all happened. Every night, he relived it. Then he used to turn and find Tiger on his bed. Waiting for him.

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