He stood on top of the bridge watching the cars move below him. Nobody paid attention to him, they were all in a hurry. They never paid attention; that was their biggest problem. It was the biggest problem of the whole country. The people did not pay attention to the signs and consistently voted in bad leaders. The leaders did not pay attention to a supposed small terrorist group until it overtook the whole northern region. Now, these men in the south were not paying attention to the war because it was not happening close to them. That was going to change tonight.
He walked down the bridge, crossed the road and joined other pedestrians on the sidewalk. A few meters from where he stood, he saw a newspaper stand and several people gathered. He walked over to them and ran his eyes over the newspaper headlines. None of them said anything about the war going on in the North. It was almost as if it was over. He listened to the men argue about football and politics. He stood for a few minutes, wondering if any of them would mention the war and the many soldiers that had lost their lives to it. They didn’t.
“Did you hear about the soldiers that died last night in Borno state?” he asked, hoping to hear their thoughts.
Most of them just looked at him and continued their conversation.
One man turned to him and said, “That is not news anymore.”
Another one said, “Anybody who joins the army knows his days are numbered already.”
The third and last person who paid him any attention said, “The government is trying. Why do you think they have not been able to get to Lagos?”
He stepped away from them without a word and walked down the road. He was right. All those years he spent in the North fighting, he’d always known nobody cared about him. His wife had left him for another man. All his friends in the army were dead. His pants covered the deep, infected wound in his leg but it did not hide the limp. The people he had lost everything to protect did not care.
They would tonight.
He stood on the same spot he had stood several hours before. The road was still busy; this time people were returning from whatever they spent their day doing. He spotted a couple of prostitutes standing by the road. His soldier friends had frequented prostitutes but he never did. It was tough but he always believed his body belonged to his wife alone. She believed her body belonged to whoever was available. He looked away from the prostitutes to the cars moving slowly below the bridge. Some of these people would not be getting home that night. He felt some pity for them but they were just collateral damage. He had to send a message to the people living in the south and he needed to send a message to the government.
He adjusted the bag he carried on his back and started down the bridge. The years he had spent detecting and defusing bombs had taught him a lot about making them. He had a natural talent for things like this; a talent the army used but did not appreciate. They would appreciate it now.
He got to the bottom of the bridge and walked towards the spot he had picked for maximum impact. The heavy traffic on this road meant that cars would be stuck on the spot. The ones who did not die from the explosion of the bomb would die from the explosion of cars around them. He could imagine the carnage he was about to cause. It would not be worse than the ones he had seen during this war but this would shake the country. This was not a small Northern village, this was in Nigeria’s biggest metropolitan city.
He pulled out the switch that would signal the end of this life. He was a soldier and he had sworn to protect his nation with his life. And he would. He would gladly die if it was what was required to awaken the country to a war it was ignoring.
He stepped into the middle of the road and…
12 Hours Later.
Newspaper Headline: 30 DIE AND SEVERAL INJURED IN SHOCKING SUICIDE BOMBING.
Ellipsis is the Story of the 30.