We were driven for what seemed like an eternity, the long drive was quiet, quiet not because we were tired, but quiet because we were uncertain of what lay in front of us, the realization that we had been taken sank in very fast, i had heard stories of people being taken captive and never heard from again, many of us had even paid visits to families who had lost loved ones either by way of a stray or intentional bullets, axes or machetes, or being taken away, i would always say the same things over and over again,
in my feeble attempt to console the bereaved silently thanking God that I nor any member of my family had fallen victim, and as I sat and thought about all these things, a depressing thought crossed my mind, who would console my own family, who would recite the popular slogan of consolation to my mother, who would?
I was jolted back to reality by screams and gun shots from the vehicle behind us, our truck stopped abruptly, and this made us topple on one another, the armed men in our truck jumped down immediately with their guns blazing, and from their screams, i realized that one or more girls had jumped out of the truck, and had fled into the bushes, the gun men made chase, shooting into the night, there was very little visibility, but we could see the sparks from their guns, I heard a loud sound in the distance, sounded like a bomb, yes I could tell it was because when you live in a war zone, certain sounds register in your mind, the way the sound of crackling firewood registers in your mind from years of roasting corn with my mother.
I heard some more gun shots, and it all went quiet, and from the darkness we saw shapes begin to emerge, they had torches in hand, they shone it on our truck, and one of the men pointed it directly at me, they were visibly angry, and did nothing to hide that fact, I stared directly into the light, not making any attempt to hide my face, suddenly the man walked up to me and struck me across the face, “do you want to defy me and jump like your friends? He asked me with some much hate in his voice, I remained silent, and then suddenly he jumped on the truck, and in a very loud voice he said “anyone who dares defy me, and jumps out of any of these vehicles will be butchered, your friends who attempted it are all dead”, my heart sank immediately I heard that, I sobbed silently, but in sobbing silently, we all sobbed together, and soon enough it became like a wailing choir, “silence” he yelled, and shot twice in the air, and immediately all went silent again.
The trucks came back to life again, and our journey continued, to an unknown destination………….
After about a few hours of driving on bumpy roads, with all the twists and turns, we arrived at our destination, the day was breaking already, so I could see a bit more clearly. We were ordered to get off the truck and sit on the floor, but I was quickly able to look around while I was still inside the truck, this place was like a small village, there were people here, lots of activity, I was totally surprised that such a place even existed, and to think it existed a few hours away from my school, one of the armed men noticed I was looking around, and suddenly dragged me down from the truck, I fell flat on the sand and bruised the side of my face, all he did was laugh at me, and walked away, I sat on the floor next to one of my classmates, she had cried so much, she was already dehydrated, her lips were dry and cracking, I pulled her close and tried to console her, but with each passing minute, my depression was beginning to get the best of me.
We sat on the bare floor and waited; our legs were tied in such a way that we were all bound together, which was ironic, because they were simply telling us in very clear terms, that we shared the same fate. The armed men came back a while later with some women, I don’t know if they were elderly or young women, they were covered in black, from head to toe, their face were concealed, and they didn’t talk directly at us, they would mutter their instructions to one of the men, and he in turn would bark out orders to us, some of the men then took us away in a group of ten, and I would later learn, when my turn came, that it was a sort of inspection, the covered women would check if we had any lady issues, it was a very humiliating and violating experience, they used such crude methods to check if my virginity was intact, and also to check if I had my period or not, and I wondered why they didn’t just ask, I was lucky, I just concluded my last cycle, but some others weren’t so lucky, because instead of being given sanitary towels, they were given carefully cut pieces of cloth, and isolated in a tent somewhere on the other side of the camp, I never found that out by myself, I was told by some who experienced it first hand, and I would later learn from one of the guards that sanitary towels are from the devil, passed down to the infidels.
Later that evening, after we had all gone through the humiliating inspections, we were given traditional attire, which covered our whole bodies, except our faces, they even gave us a pair of socks each, to cover our feet too. We were moved to a clearing, and ordered to sit down, I was surprised to see other groups of females, much older than us, sitting in various groups, learning and reciting as directed, and suddenly I panicked, and in my panic it hit me, these women had been taken before us, for how long? I could not tell, but from the blank stares in their eyes, their will to believe in any form of rescue had been taken from them, and suddenly I felt all my hope being drained out of me, I knelt down in the sand, bowed, buried my face in my hands, and for the first time since I was taken, I wept.
A man walked into the clearing, he was also in green, his face covered, he had a gun on his shoulder, and swords on both hips, that didn’t bother me much, since I was beginning to get accustomed to such sights, what petrified me the most where his eyes, the coverings on his face just left a hallow space for his eyes, they were dark and sunken, his eyes lacked any hint of white, it was as if his eyes just contained giant black pupils, sometimes after all the stories, I would wonder what the devil looked like, well at this point, all my wondering was put to rest, because I was staring at the devil right now, and all I could think of was his mother, I tried to wonder how she would feel, if she knew what he was doing, whom he was killing and why he was taking women…………………..
He spoke for only a few minutes, he spoke but in the local dialect, in English and also quoted some religious texts, but from all he said, I picked out this one line, that still haunts me, “you all belong to me now, and I will do as I please with you, get used to it, you leave when I say you can”, and with that he walked away, they left us sitting there, as though to allow the speech sink in, and it did sink in, but instead of it to break me, it strengthened my resolve, and I vowed to myself, I would run away from this place, or die trying.
Later that evening, we were all moved to another part of the camp, we were then divided into groups of twenty each, and ordered into various tents, these would be our living quarters for now, they placed an armed man at the entrance of each tent, some of the girls prayed, some wept, some were too afraid and confused to do either, while some just like myself, wanted the first opportunity to flee, so we began whispering among ourselves, we had to whisper in our own tent, because there was simply no way we could connect with the other girls, lami my childhood friend, had suggested we give a few days so we can study the environment, but I was not willing to stay here for another hour, let alone a few more days, so I suggested we take our chance that night, they wouldn’t be expecting us to, because they thought we were weak and scared.
The back end of the tent led straight into the dark bushes, I was far for being afraid, because whatever was in the bushes, was far less scary than what we were experiencing here, 7 of us had agreed to make a run for it, we waited for everywhere to go darker, and then one after the other, we began to sneak out, 2 girls first, then lami, I was much bigger than most of them, so I opted to be the look out and go last, and for a moment there was some hope, until one of the other girls whom had fallen asleep earlier, woke up and saw the tent moving, she was startled and screamed before I could get to her, the guard at the entrance rushed in, immediately I saw him, I knew it was now or never, so I dove under the tent opening and tried to make my escape, by this time lami and the others had already bolted into the bushes, I heard men screaming, and then I heard gun shots, more screams, but this time not the men, but the screams of frightened girls, I stood there dazed for a some seconds, my legs just wouldn’t move, I begged my legs to move, I knelt and tried to crawl, and while I struggled to crawl in the dark, my hand touched what felt like boots, instantly I knew it was one of the guards, I looked up and could slight make out his shape in the dark, suddenly I felt a sharp blow to the side of my head, and I passed out……………………………..
TO BE CONTINUED…..
THIS STORY IS A PURE WORK OF FICTION, ANY DATES TIME AND EVENTS SIMILAR TO REAL LIFE EVENTS ARE COMPLETELY COINCIDENTAL
Written By Arome Ameh (The Priest)