Home Writers Creative Essays Unnecessary Crossfire by Peace Habila

Unnecessary Crossfire by Peace Habila




It was dawn but the brightness of daylight was yet to spread itself generously over the city. I was awake in my small stuffy room yelling for any form of light. As soon my phone beeped, the ray of light from the tattered screen of my phone  enveloped the room and I could not deny its impact on my indolent eyes. I stretched my left hand sluggishly to pick the phone. It was an invite for the final stage of an interview later in the day. From the formal composition of the brief text message, it was obvious that the timing of the message was deliberate; a decoy to discourage those of us out of town from attending; some sort of elimination strategy.

My mind was immediately clouded by an array of emotions. I was mad at them for being so insensitive to the plight of poor citizens of mother earth like me. I was sad that my account balance was not  looking  pretty. It was not even handsome to say the least.  I was excited that I made it to the final stage. I felt sorry for poverty because it was becoming obvious that our five years union cemented by joblessness was about to come to an end. As those emotions fondled my mind, all I wanted to do was to rush to the tap to get a bucket of water, freshen up before my community of neighbours  begin to assemble or form the usual everlasting queue at the entrance of the bathroom.

I dashed out of the bug-infested bed as soon as I could even though my bank balance frowned at my decision to travel out of town for the interview. It was 4.a.m and the darkness of the dawn shaded my intention from the prying eyes of  gossips posing as neighbours. I got kitted early and at 6.a.m I was at the motor park. The near empty car with worn out seats and shaky frames gave me ample room to nap and rest my sorrow away. It took less than 30 minutes  for the car to be ready, in every sense of the word, for take-off.  Prayer was said and the driver started the engine of the car. As soon as the car made the vumvum sound, we adjusted our compacted bodies;  a demeanour to show our readiness for the trip.

At the exit, the  macho fellow manning the toll gate at the park positioned his broad body graciously. Cars filed for exit. All was going on swiftly until it got to the car before the one I was in.  Obviously, the driver came to drop off someone. The nice-looking car has a tail  like  that of a Toyota Venza but the rear at first glance  looked more like one of the latest Hyundai designs.  The position I sat in the car  didn’t even  give me a vintage position to have a perfect view of the car at first. What caught our attention, however,  was the prolonged whispers between the man manning the toll gate and the driver of the fine black car. Seconds grew to minutes; our patience grew thin in no time. Our driver and few others mounting other wheels began to honk. It was like a call unto the great tribulation. It was not only annoying, but it was also ear-splitting.

The  pimpom  sound also irritated the man at the toll gate.  His voice soon  became audible and it was laced with traces of disgust. He began to throw his muscles into the thin air. He also shook his strength-laced body parts at the man in the car aggressively. In no time, it graduated into a crossfire of do-you-know-who -I -am kind of  rant. We became restless and  we began to alight from our cars.

The balance of power was obviously not in my favour; I had everything to lose should this power battle escalate into something else. I made my way to the man at the toll gate. In no time, I was within close range to assess the whole negative vibe delaying our trip. I was dazed by how hot blood rushed down the veins around their necks and foreheads. The veins came close to bursting at some point. The saliva bath was so irritating to the point that my intestines were willing to let go of the pap I had hours earlier.

We  pleaded with both parties to do the needful by allowing other passengers go about their businesses since  none of them was willing to state the real cause of the  problem. Our plea for almost an hour yielded no positive result. The attention of the management of the park was drawn to the case. Their presence meant nothing to the ego battle fuelled by insensitivity.

Those who rushed out to get the police are yet to return. Those who were suing for peace got tired of the child-like attitude of the two grownups. Those who got frustrated left like a flash of light.

I pleaded with my driver to refund my fare but like a girl with blood stained skirt, he vanished into the thin air. Now, I’m stranded.  I can’t afford to miss the interview. I can’t afford another fare.

As for the two adults displaying their bruised boyish egos, na their matter we still dey settle so.


Peace Habila, a resident of Jos, Plateau state is passionate about creative writing. She wrote in via peacehaila2017@gmail.com

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