Safe Places

It felt good to be home. The past five years had been a blur of trips, trainings and travel. Morocco, Denmark,Houston, Bangkok, everywhere the services of excellent brand and media strategists were needed, they were there. Sidax Consulting had changed her life. Within months of working there, she had been exposed to a world of opportunities and affluence beyond anything she had ever known. It had been good while it lasted. And it would have lasted longer if her manager hadn’t gotten greedy. In the inquiry that followed, she was found to be innocent but the company felt it was best to fire the entire unit. The severance pay had been generous but the shock of being unemployed was a jolt that singed her soul.

Home was the only place to go. Her parents recent move to the village made the Abuja house an easy choice. There she would have time and space to think and plan. Or so she had thought.

Incidentally, things had changed. Abuja had changed.

The city wasn’t the way she remembered it. The carefree, secure, moneyed, air the city once wore was now a stifling cloak of fear. Everywhere you looked there were reminders of the terror that gripped people’s hearts and minds. It was in the metal detectors at hotel lobbies, the frisking one got at the church entrance, the long queues into places like the Shoprite Mall as boots were opened and mirrors passed beneath car hoods.

Yet, the bombings continued. Forty killed at a blast in a motor park, fifty slain while another exploded at a crowded shopping centre, two dozen dead and many more injured at a viewing centre last weekend, numbers where once were lives.

She shivered in the mild evening breeze and opened her tablet to read the day’s news.

Two airplanes were missing, 230 people aboard.

A man suspected to be carrying the Ebola virus had died in Lagos.

A pro-Gaza riot in Zaria had escalated into a clash and at least ten were feared dead.

She switched the device off and took several deep breaths. The walls of the room seemed to close in on her do she dressed quickly and left the house. A chilled pack of juice would help, she thought, and the fresh air too.

She got back feeling better but her mood was soon changed. On her bed, lying at the exact spot she had been reading, mangled in her mattress, was the carcass of the overhead fan. Flecks of foam and cloth were strewn everywhere.

Her legs wobbled and she collapsed at the door in a pile of quiet gratitude. Then the tears of anger and frustration she had not cried since she got home came and she let them flow.