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THE SNIPER

He shot eight men; not just men, but policemen; not just policemen, but his colleagues. He shot eight of his colleagues in cold blood before he was felled but his story begun long before this.

He had always been aloof. Even during the rigorous and intense training that often saw the most socially awkward of them all develop close friendships that often lasted a lifetime- friendships borne out of the harsh conditions and need for survival – even in this environment that saw recruits develop a deep-seated camaraderie, he remained alone.

His colleagues at his first posting said he was unfriendly and point black hostile. Any attempts to befriend him were ruthlessly rebuffed. He ignored greetings, he ate alone, he walked alone, he lived alone. The wall around him was so high and thick that everyone soon gave up on trying to bring it down. This was who he was, and they had to accept that.

One man however was not so easily placated, his senior. Behind Ahmed’s aloofness, he sensed sinister motives; behind the ice, he sensed fire. He surprised everyone when he gave strict instructions that Ahmed should never ever be allowed anywhere near a firearm. He also ensured that Ahmed was assigned only the lightest of duties. As can be expected, Ahmed made numerous complaints of victimization and discrimination, but his boss stuck to his guns; his instincts borne out of years of experience in leading men told him this was a man never to be trusted.

Not everyone agreed with Ahmed’s boss. Many thought him to be high handed and grossly unfair. There were many who sympathized with Ahmed and many who even tried to plead his case to no avail. But the events that unfolded shortly thereafter robbed Ahmed of any of his sympathizers.

The villagers lodged a complaint against the town’s new Imam. At first, the faithful were impressed by his fiery preaching and charisma. He had a way with words and would often sway the faithful with his oratory skills and apparent deep knowledge of the scriptures. The tide however soon turned against him. He soon revealed himself to be an Al-Shabaab sympathizer and begun radicalizing the youth. His confidant was none other than the mysterious Ahmed.

Ahmed’s association with the Imam sent tongues wagging. Everyone was at pains trying to understand what a law enforcer and a suspected Al-Shabaab recruiter had in common. A few people thought Ahmed was just a pious young man, many imagined that he was simply devout, others thought him to be an eager student, but no one could guess just how sinister their friendship would turn out to be.

In a strange turn of events, Ahmed’s keen boss was transferred and a far less canny man who saw nothing wrong with arming Ahmed replaced him. Then the Imam was arrested on charges of radicalization. These two unrelated events set the ball rolling for a night that no one would ever forget.

On that fateful day, Ahmed tried to have the Imam released but his attempts were unsuccessful. Seemingly distraught at his failure, Ahmed walked out of the station in a huff towards his house. No one thought much of his departure, they imagined he was simply retiring for the day. Everyone would soon try to ask themselves if they had ignored any signs of the terror that was to unfold.

The first shot was heard coming from the staff quarters, everyone but a few brave souls ran for cover. The shooter was making his was towards the station and shooting anyone brave enough to be in his way. Once at the station, he strategically placed himself behind the reporting desk with a clear view of anyone approaching the station. From this vantage point, he would proceed to gun down eight of his colleagues. The shooter was none other than Ahmed.

I heard the shots all the way in my house and soon the area was abuzz with everyone making frantic phone calls to each other trying to piece together what was going on. No one had the full picture, but the directive was to stay put.

Reinforcement soon arrived. Ahmed had a clear shot of the new arrivals felling the first man out of the vehicle, but he was soon overpowered by their collective attack. The nightmare was over.

However, for me, the nightmare has lived on. Being Ahmed’s colleague made me distrustful and suspicious henceforth. I felt that I could not afford to let my guard down and that I had to be always alert. This eternal suspicion dealt a huge blow to my relationships with my colleagues and turned my work station into a place I was always eager to avoid.

It was not until I attended a Wellbeing and Resilience sessions that I understood what I was suffering from. Due to what happened at the station, I have been dealing with complex trauma all this time. Now I not only understand what has been ailing me, but I leave the sessions a healed person who is eager to get back and spread the healing to others.

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