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Fireflies from Azare

 

They watched him as he ate..grudging him every mouthful he took. Hungry eyes traced the path of each morsel as it began its descent down his gullet. They waited patiently as he gorged while they starved..they knew their time would soon come..and it did.

Sidi nugded his companion to combat readiness as he anticipated their target’s next move..Bingo!

 

As the man rose to wash his hands by the tap near the bukateria,he dashed for the remains of the meal while his accomplice blocked their fellow comrades from snatching their prize. They made away with their loot as the curses of the man who apparently hadn’t finished his meal rang in their ears. Another meal another day for the fireflies of Azare..

 

Sidi and Mika both hailed from the  village of Azare. Released by their parents into the custody of a Scholar/Guardian along with other young boys of their age. They roamed the streets of Kano foraging for food and bringing any valuable they acquired to their Mallam who sold them and shared the proceeds as he deemed fit. He was their teacher, protector and benefactor. He was God to them.

 

They learnt very quickly that the world had no place for them and that begging was the world’s most difficult profession. People had become cold and distrustful. To survive in this world, you had to make do with whatever you could find..or steal. Love was a word that only existed in theory but violence was a language easily understood. Their education was coming along nicely. The fireflies would soon become dragons.

 

Due to their resourcefulness and intelligence, Sidi and Mika naturally became favorites of their mallam. He would send them on missions and they always returned victorious..until he finally turned their thoughts to murder. Mallam told them there was a certain cleric in the town who had become a thorn in the flesh. He looked them in the eye and told them to do the necessary. Sidi was the natural leader and took to violence like a fish to water. Mika on the other hand was a bit retrospective and given to much reading.

 

The duo undertook the infamous mission and succeeded but tripped an alarm on their way out. Sidi managed to escape but Mika was not that fortunate. Beaten within an inch of his life and left to rot in jail, all seemed over for him. But for some strange reason, the brother of the cleric who was murdered took an interest in him and paid him regular visits in prison. By divine providence, Mika was released from prison and started a new life under the tutelage of his new benefactor. Mika soon grew to be a mallam himself with children entrusted to his care. The firefly had become the Phoenix; the bird that rose from the ashes of its own cremation.

 

One day, Mika took the train from Kano to Maiduguri on a scholarly mission. Aboard the train, he noticed a face that was vaguely familiar. He almost jumped out of his skin! It was Sidi! Same watchful eyes! Same devil-may-care grin! It was Sidi all right. They embraced and started to catch up on old times. At a point,Sidi motioned him to an empty coach and revealed his true reason for boarding the train. He was on a suicide mission to Maiduguri with explosives strapped to his chest..Mika was horrified! The firefly had become a dragon

 

Eye-witness accounts said they heard sounds of fighting in a nearby coach and hurried to behold a strange spectacle. Two men were locked in a death-grip as in a grotesque dance and as they swayed together, each step brought them closer to the edge of the train..one of them was obviously trying to free himself while the other held on with tears streaming down his cheek..he managed to tip his companion over and they both fell out of the train and tumbled down the ridge. A moment later, they heard a loud explosion..the human-bomb had exploded.Their bodies were never found.The fireflies had come home.

 

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