The narrative switches to Olanna days before. She is relaxing at Mohammed’s estate when he enters and says she must leave immediately. Olanna has heard about rioting but she thinks it is nothing dangerous, and she wants to go back her aunt and uncle’s house. Mohammed says that their village is no longer safe, and he has heard there are Igbo bodies lying out in the road. Olanna sees the gravity of the situation and she begs Mohammed to take her to her aunt’s house.
Mohammed is an upper-class Hausa man, but he never even considers joining in the massacres of the Igbo. Olanna has been relatively well-protected from ethnic tension in the bubble of Nsukka and her own wealth, but now she suddenly sees the reality of the situation.
Mohammed dresses Olanna up like a Muslim woman and drives her to Sabon Gari. They reach the village but everything is burned and destroyed. Olanna gets out of the car and sees the cut-up bodies of her Uncle Mbaezi and Aunty Ifeka. She doesn’t see Arize but knows she must be dead too. Abdulmalik, Mbaezi’s old friend, approaches with a machete and says that he and his companions finished the whole family, as per “Allah’s will.” Mohammed hurries Olanna away, saying that “Allah will never forgive this.”
Adichie shows the horror of the personal betrayals that took place in these massacres with Abdulmalik, who had been friends with Mbaezi and Ifeka. The last time Olanna saw Abdulmalik he had invited her to his house for dinner, but now he would probably kill her on sight. The conflict between Igbo and Hausa is partly a religious one, but Adichie also shows the Muslim Mohammed condemning the massacres.
Later Olanna sits on the floor of a train, surrounded by people. Something gets in her eye and burns, and she feels urine spreading across the floor. A woman near her is holding a calabash, and inside is the head of the her little daughter. The woman says that it took a long time to braid the girl’s thick hair.
This is one of the most poignant and searing images of the book, and we now see the source of the prologue for The World Was Silent When We Died. Adichie uses small personal tragedies like this to bring home the horrors of violence and war.