He could not feel his legs and all he heard was a sharp ringing and high-pitched sound. There was so much dust in the air and debris all over. He could not see where he was and could not recall how he had gotten there. He must have been the only person there because he could hear nobody and nobody responded to his continuous cry of anguish. He was gasping for air… his head was spinning really fast and his breathing was escalating with every passing second. Was he going to die? Or was it just panic?
12 January 2001,
That is the day was the day Ayo Bongani Babatunde had to leave his young family to serve in the army. He did not want to go but he had very little choice. He had to do it for his country at the expense of his twenty-two-year-old wife of six moths and his new-born baby only days old. He was ready to die for peace.
He convinced himself that it was for the greater good. Peace in the country meant that it would be a happy place for his daughter Lavie and his wife Chacha. This peace that he was going to fight for meant that he could live with the only two people he had ever had in his life without the worry that foreign troops would burst through his doors at night, steal his baby rape his wife and torture him to death, or watch them starve to death because his little helpless country was under siege.
The soldier above all other prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war
All he wanted was a place where his baby Lavie would go to school through the seasons and go possibly camping fishing and sight seeing with him during her breaks. He wanted to come back to a place where he could have a stable job that would assure his a soft spot beside his wife every single evening.
They gave their tomorrow for our today. For those they love they sacrifice.
His life has never been easy but this was the hardest part of it all. He had no Idea what he was getting himself into but he had to at all cost. He was not the bravest man. That he clearly knew, but he had to put on a strong front and faith. He was ready to take a bullet at least a couple of pain relievers would take away the pain…what he dreaded the most was seeing his wife’s face when he got on the military van. It would break his heart piece by piece every single day until he could see her again.
When you go home, tell them of us, that for their tomorrow we gave our today
This was his favourite day being at the war front. The grapevine had it that the war was over and they were going home. He could not wait to kiss the tender face of his wife and have his baby girl in his arms again. He had been leaving for this day…wished upon it. He felt like he was reliving the moment even though the official order to leave the battle front had not been given.
As no action had taken place over the few weeks all they did was stay their shift at their different positions eat, sleep and repeat. As nothing out of the ordinary had arisen, the group began exfiltration back towards the extraction point. With Him was the Commanding Officer and several cadets. They were about 20 people. The rest had given their lives and died by the gun.
They had been walking for several hours through the scorching hot sun for several kilometres. His mind had shifted from the usual looking for insurgent elements, to just getting him home. All he could think about was a fresh shower and good home cooked food.The fresh air and soft clothes…his list of the good things he couldn’t wait to experience again went on and on.
He was subconscious when firing coming from nowhere his mind could register at that instance. His first instinct was to duck into the closest alley approximately 20 feet where he found an alcove, in the building wall that was relatively to the south. It was open to enemy fire, but it was the closest thing he had to a barrier.
All that was going through his head was that he was going to get hit in the head most probably. He prayed so much to survive this. He had no idea where the rest had gone to. He was alone with no one to duck and cover with thus increasing the chance of survival. Only God could save him or at least the biggest miracle.
The firing stopped for about five minutes and he thought it was clear to come out. Maybe the miracles he had been praying for had come his way he thought. As he was about to get out of the alley, he had a hissing sound and instantly knew it. A missile was coming his way. He had no time to take cover when it hit…
Laying there in pain, he had no idea if he would get home or get rescued or probably land into enemy arms and get tortured to death. He was uncertain of what was coming his way…But one thing he was glad about was the fact that he was alive. Being alive meant hope, and that is all that mattered at that moment.
‘Not all superheroes wear capes’