I don’t know how long I was out, but when I finally regained consciousness I realized I was in a moving vehicle. I woke up with a throbbing headache and a weary body. My eyes could barely stay open, everything around me was wobbly and my head spinned from dizziness.
When I finally forced my eyes open seconds later, I realized I was not alone, there were about sixteen other young girls in the vehicle – age range between 10–16. We were packed like sardines inside the steel walled vehicle, which I later realized was a shipping container.
Chiddy! Everything came flooding back and once again I began to panic, my eyes moved from one girl to another in search of her. After seconds of fruitless search my eyes rested on a small frame, curled into a ball and pressed to a corner of the moving vehicle – Instantly I knew it was Chiddy , she had on the same dress as the last time I saw her.
I tried to go to her but my hands and legs were tied, so I called for her, more times than I can count, but she did not stir – she was fast asleep.
“Please wake her up.” I pleaded with a girl seated next to her but she ignored me. Somehow I couldn’t take my eyes off the girl’s face – it was in a terrible state. Her eyes were swollen shut and had red patches around it. Her lips were also bruised and broken.
In return she glared at me angrily for gaping at her.
“Sorry.” I murmur turning away in embarrassment.
I had to make my way to Chiddy on my own. With my hands and feet tied in front of me I dragged myself on the hard steel surface of the shipping container until I got to her.
“Chiddy, wake up…it’s Chinny.’’ I tapped her lightly as soon as I got to her. She sprang up immediately – frightened. But as soon as she saw me relief washed over her already strained features and she burst into uncontrollable tears.
“Chinny! I have been trying to get you to wake up, I thought you were dead’’ She cried and grabbed me in a hug. My heart bled for her, I could see she had cried herself to sleep.
“I am fine Chiddy…why are we here Chiddy?’’ I asked taking her hands in mine.
“It’s Gida he kidnapped us!’’
The drive was never ending, I slept off twice and each of those times I woke up only to find out we were still on the road.
“Where are they taking us and why hasn’t the police found us yet?’’ I murmured to myself, but then I realized that the Nigerian police never really stop and search truck drivers, they only prey on innocent motorists from whom they are sure to get bribes.
What a rotten security system we have in my country, I connected my fist to the steel container in anger. The so called police officers in my country have renounced their humanity in pursuit of bribes, sometimes change as small as a hundred Naira – only a dollar divided in three places with some extra change. Every sector of the economy is sprawling in corruption at the expense of the masses.
The vehicle finally came to a stop at about 5pm after about six to seven hours long drive.
They had stopped to allow us a few minute of rest and bathroom break. Before they let us out they untied our legs but not our hands. Because we were not allowed to go earlier, some of the girls – my sister included had wet themselves in the vehicle, so it was quite a relief to be let out of the urine smelling container even in the middle of nowhere.
Why did Gida do this? Does he want money? What is his reason for taking us from our home? Those thoughts were racing through my mind when I saw the scoundrel. As soon as our eyes met, he gave me the most sadistic smirk I’d ever seen! His reaction instantly ruffled my already falling feathers. Without thinking I launched for him like the Apollo heading for its first space mission – forgetting that it’s hands were still tied.
“You bastard! How dare you do this!?’’ I yelled reaching for him, but he eluded me like the infamous Bermuda Triangle, laughing like a maniac every time he escaped my grasp.
When he had enough of toying with me he grabbed me and slapped me so hard it sent me reeling backwards to earth where I belong. My sister screamed and tried to run to me but Gida pulled her away while I struggled to pick myself back up. If slaps could make one see stars, I would swear I saw a constellation of dancing stars that evening.
However, the journey soon began again.
But after another thirty minute’s drive. We were told that the rest of the journey would be on foot.
We had walked for almost an hour when we finally arrived at a camp hidden smack in the middle of substantial greenery. It was almost dusk when we arrived.
The camp was in a warehouse in the midst of a thicket, it was like an abandoned testing site of some sort. It was shrouded roundabout by tall grasses and trees. Small shacks covered with palm fronds dotted the empty spaces around it. Barb wired fence covered in grasses surrounded the facility roundabout. Trees and tall grasses serving as shrouds stood on every part of the property.
The camp was filled with men – about fifteen in number. As soon as they saw us they began to jubilate.
These men had different ammunitions and guns strapped to their body. Most of them had keffiyehs of different colors wrapped around their heads. The clothes on some of their backs were overworn and in a terrible state. The general outward appearance of some of the men bordered between downright shabbiness and nonchalance.
It wasn’t long before I realized where we were.
The closer we got to them, the more I pleaded with God to rescue us forthwith. The men in the camp were the same men I had watched on my phone some weeks back, looting, kidnapping and murdering people in the name of religion.
Since they popped up on my phone screen I could not get the image of them out of my head, tales of what they do with young girls were still fresh in my head. My eyes darted towards my younger sister immediately and tears began to pour down my cheek – I am only sixteen how do I protect my ten year old sister from these monsters. I thought with overwhelming sadness.
My mind was in an erratic state when I spotted a girl of about 12 or 13 heavily pregnant and struggling to draw water from a well in the distance. Seeing her so young and pregnant confirmed my worst fears and drove me to further tears.
We met about four young girls there when we arrived but they did not acknowledge us or act like they had seen us.
After they made us all cleanup they put all sixteen of us in a single file. Then the leader asked the men without kwarkwarar – concubines/companions to pick one each from the girls. However, Gida quickly made it clear to them that he had taken I and my sister for himself – I almost threw up in my mouth as soon as those words left his foul mouth.
Thereafter, we were selected like second grade clothes from a local market by those men.
After the exhausting selection, three girls were left, they were given one of the shacks outside to stay in since all the men had picked out their own kwarkwarar’s.
I thought those young girls lucky and wished my sister and I were a part of them until later when I discovered the perverted reasons behind it – Those young girls became the camp prostitutes. The men could go in to meet with them and molest their young bodies whenever they needed a change of girls.
TO BE CONTINUED.
For Episode I
For Episode II