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“Home” is a touchy African short story about a time when humans were forced to leave earth, written by Jenita.

 

“HOME”

I still can’t believe I’m in another planet. I have lived all my life on Earth without thinking of living it someday (well, except to the cold hands of death). I can still remember the shock on both of my parents’ faces when they heard the news of the emergency evacuation of all living beings to Mars after people began to fall sick from various diseases, which according to medical experts, was an after effect of the chemicals used in the nuclear war among the super power countries, which made Earth inhabitable.

“But why Mars?” I almost asked my friend Suleiman who stood right beside me in the spaceship that brought us, which we were all asked to remain inside for safety measures, as some medical experts and Astronauts go to survey the new area.

Even though millions were killed by the nuclear war and its aftermath, and mother Earth was no longer safe for her children anymore, I still can’t believe I have to live the rest of my life henceforth with a different set of people, from different continents, and with different cultures and values. “No. I can’t.” I thought to myself. But reading from my facial expression, Suleiman tabbed me and smiled, and said “Allah ya san komai”, meaning God knows everything. And that statement, in a split second, relieved me. I then smiled back at him.

But while still in the vast wilderness of my thoughts, a lady who was part of the evacuation team suddenly approached and instructed that we all moved closer as the astronauts have just returned with a comforting news. We were all asked to line according to our countries, and closer to our loved ones. So I hurriedly went closer to my parents and siblings and so did Suleiman. We were then shared tags that carried the flag of our countries and other stuffs in a big bag which included; tents, oxygen – just in case, first aid box, and sleeping items, such as sweaters, head warmers, hand gloves, and so on, because the temperature in Mars was way lower than Earth’s. We were also told that since it was an emergency evacuation and there was not enough time for them to prepare a comfortable environment for us, we have to make a camp right outside the ship, so it will buy them more time to plan and strategize on what to do next.

At this point, everything seemed like the world was starting all over again and we had to build from scratch. But anyway, after setting up our tents, I went straight to Suleiman’s. I met him praying so I waited, and when he was done, we exchanged pleasantries and headed out for our own special survey.

While taking a stroll around, I noticed a guy struggling to put up his tent, so Suleiman and I decided to help out. But lo and behold it was Emeka, a very good friend of ours. He was very excited to see us, and so were we. We hugged and helped him out with his tent.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any surprising, we heard yet another familiar voice boastfully say “Welcome to Marscelous”, a word only one person can ever utter, and only us could ever understand. That was Kunle Ajayi, our friend who had always wanted to visit space his entire life, particularly Mars, and whom we nicknamed “Marscelous” as a result.

Kunle, unlike, Sule, Emeka, and I, was the only science student who made the official survey team. He loved everything about Science except for the non-believe in God who made wisdom profitable and knowledge easy to access, as he strongly believed.

So in excitement from seeing us, and having finally made it to Mars, he rushed and hugged us. And then welcomed us with an air of hospitality as if we were his visitors from Earth. The gesture got all of us laughing on the top of our lungs. Then he asked us to follow him so he would introduce us to his fellow Science Nerds. But being Art students that we were, with zero interest in what we all believed Kunle was likely to walk us through, we almost declined. But in our bid for further exploration of the new environment, we agreed. We passed by so many tents occupied by different people from different countries. I could see some already relating well with each other and others separated by language barrier, cultures, and traditions. “Anyways that didn’t matter because I believed with time we will all grow used to one another”, I said to myself.

And finally reaching where Kunle’s new Science Nerdies were, we sat down pretending to be interested by their discussion. Everyone talked about what they knew about Mars and how to further improve the chances of survival and how to build something out of nothing. They all spoke brilliantly well that I felt proud of my African brothers. I saw a rare crop of young Africans decide the fate of humanity. And nothing blew me away like the kindness and empathy in their vision. It spoke fundamentally of the pure love and rich cultural values of Africa. And in the twinkle of an eye I was overwhelmingly proud to be African and Nigerian.

I noticed two pictures hung in the tent. And when I enquire to know more about the pictures, I was told one of the pictures was the first picture taken from Mars, and the second one which had a blue striking sunset, was Mars at Sunset.

The pictures were really captivating and it reminded me of Earth and that gave me hope. I looked at my friends and I remember Suleiman telling me God knows everything. And looking at Kunle’s facial expression and how happy he was, I admitted it was God making things possible for him. Emeka who was always absent from anything Academics looked cheerful and already mingling well with Kunle’s nerdies. I smiled, believing all will be well, and that life was a journey meant to be taken through unpredictable and adventurous roads. I planned to live every second here like it was my last. I will make friends, I will explore. I will learn. And most importantly, I will make it my HOME.

Written By Jenita

Edited By Jock Milly

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