No one tells you that loving your country will make you bleed, or that standing in line for what is right—truth and justice—can lodge a bullet in your chest. No one tells you that the national anthem you so earnestly sang as a child, palms raised to your chest, was in fact a call to war. Arise O Compatriots, it said. Except that your rising brought you into nights of fear, of rage, of bodies snatched by uniformed men, pockets dipped into, guns waved at the air, pointed at flesh and bones, the crack of a bullet, the sigh of a life now ending—empty spaces, tell me, how many friends do you now have missing?
Did anybody tell you that October would become the space for your grief—a season so wide and uncontainable that a thousand lifetimes cannot exhaust its hunger? Its questions: where are the bodies? Did you imagine that your question is now an abomination, so abhorred by the world you resist, there be no room for that truth—Even though the truth are the galaxy of young men and women marching towards their freedom, except that freedom was the double barrel of a gun, in the warm moist night, amidst the croaky cries of disbelief and desperation. #EndSars. Arise O Compatriots. They are shooting at us. Tell us, which of these were your final words?
No one tells you how the day would go, where the evening will find you, or the ways your body will acquire new tremors – new scrapes, and scratches. You stop to search for clues: your morning prayers – eyes clenched shut, an effort at your sincerity, except that in the world where you exist, sincerity is a bounty. You mean well, but that is why they have come for you. So now, as you hover above your own frame, you wonder: Were there secrets lurking behind that Amen during devotion? Were there mysteries at the other end of the phone when your sickly mother said, ‘be careful out there!’ How did your voice become this wild and treacherous thing that had to be silenced? You, who could barely speak for yourself at family dinners? Tell them, how does it feel to have your voice taken from you?
No one tells you that the danger of injustice is all the ways it persists—the ways it evolves and insists on itself; that this is the posture of power, its masterful trick to self-preserve. So that now, after this flesh-eating country has digested your bones, it lies in wait, hungrier than the last time, ready to devour its children. This is the nature of power, to escape its sins and to come back to repeat them. Did you imagine? That the ones who sinned against you, would stand on guard prepared to do it again? Did you imagine that the ones who watched your blood bath the earth will rise again, as compatriots, march again, grieve again—face the nose of the bullet while thinking of you again, again, again? Tell me, after so much pain, did you imagine we would be indestructible?