Will you call it luck, destiny or divine intervention? For Nancy, the decision not to attend the Christmas Day early morning mass is kept her alive. Despite pressure on her by her father and siblings, Nancy, 13, the last of her parents’ three children, declined to go with them for the early morning Mass.
She pleaded with her parents to allow her stay back at home to enable her dress her hair. When it became evident that she was not ready to go with them, her mother, in annoyance, left some money and asked her to prepare food for the Christmas .
Francis and Jennifer Maduka, parents of Nancy, and their two elder daughters left for the church. They did not return.
There was no premonition that death was lurking in the corner. Not even the directive by the Parish Priest, Rev. Father Isaac Achi, that all parishioners should wait for a Christmas gift from “Baby Jesus” after the mass could stop the family from leaving immediately.
Far away from the church, Nancy was preparing to dress her hair when a loud and ear-deafening sound rented the air. Like a wild harmattan fire, the news of the bombings at St. Theresa Catholic Church went round Madalla. Suddenly, Nancy remembered that her parents and sisters were in the church. She dashed to the church to find her parents and two sisters burnt in their car.
Recounting the gory story, Nancy said: “I was not with them. I had to go and do my hair because I was in church throughout yesterday, preparing for the Christmas. So, I was unable to make it to mass, despite the pressure mounted by my father to dress up.
“At about 7:30am, I went to do my hair and from there, I heard some people talking about bomb blast at St. Theresa Church. So, I went to check. As I was about entering the church, and was making enquiry, I saw somebody lying on the ground, dead. I know my dad’s car; everybody in the car was dead. The first person I identified was one of my sisters; she was dried up by the fire from the explosion. I saw my parents in the front seat, and they were all burnt in the car. I lost all; my parents, my sisters. I lost all. I was crying because I can see a bleak future ahead of me. Where do I go from where I am? I was not only confused; I initially felt all hope was lost. The only thing I recalled was that some people came and dragged me away from my father’s burnt car.”
Now living with the Parish Sisters, Nancy is hopeful of a good future. “I don’t know why this happened, but since this is the way the good Lord wants it, let it be. All I know is that all hope is not lost. I strongly believe this is not the end of the world for me. I know God has a plan for me to have spared my life,” she said.