“Well, what do we have here?”
The idiotic narcissist gang leader asked. “ Mother dearest has a text from her daughter huh? ‘mummy I need you’
Jessica’s world froze. Jewel had texted? Jewel never texts her. She needs me?
“Oh God please be with my girl”
I need to text her. I really need to text her!
Jessica felt a sharp slap across her face. What else do you have hidden you vile woman! Trackers?
“Saheed search her everywhere!
And text that daughter of hers and get her here either for ransom or we sell them both as a package.”
Jessica felt like every word from this man was meant to taunt her.
My precious daughter.
She was not sure if silence or shouting was the best course of action. That did not stop her from shouting No! From the top of her lungs!
“So you do care huh?” Saheed said.
“You people normally act as if you don’t give a damn about families, always shooting and killing people.
How does it feel to have your own threatened?
But Allah is on our side; He brought you here after all.”
Jessica was just about to speak when she felt herself touched in the most despicable of ways. Someone was groping every inch of her body and it sickened her to the stomach.
She felt vomitus rise slowly up her gut and cursed. She could not stop it. She turned and erupted all over her assailants which only landed her another sharp slap. As his friends laughed at him, Saheed showered her with more blows.
“Stop it! We need the merchandise intact.”
“Yes boss!” He said dropping her to the floor. She found herself drifting to the painless darkness that continuously beckoned her.
“Open up this phone!”
Password? What’s the password?”
She woke up to someone strangling her by the shirt! She was gasping for air! She could not breathe, she really could not breathe! Her eyes were popping out and tears were flowing freely from her eyes. She was so scared, so frightened, what the hell was going on?
Then she remembered the kind of hell hole she was in and she felt like dying. She felt like just giving up and allowing this man to kill her.
What was there to live for anyway? Jewel hated her and Jack was gone. Her work well… what is a Pulitzer in the face of death?
Then the man’s words returned. Jewel had texted. After so many years her daughter had reached out and for more than just asking whether to pick her up from the airport. She had wanted help and by God Jessica would provide it. She remembered the plane ride, her baby drowning in her dream. She had failed to do so in the dream, she would not fail in real life.
With defiant eyes, she looked at the man who was still strangling her, even as he let her go. She found herself coughing and coughing as cold air returned into her lungs.
“What’s the stupid password?”
She wondered what kind of idiots she was dealing with who could not even decipher a simple phone lock.
“You’re that journalist scumbag from Kenya aren’t you?
Your country has been meddling with the affairs of our country for so long deploying its KDF to come and decide what goes on here!
You thought we would not catch up with you!”
She knew by now that 1.Saheed did not like her and 2. He was directly in charge of her and now her greatest fear had come to light.
“I saw that Pulitzer wallpaper. If you are here it means the KDF are still scouting our area.
You filthy lot!”
He muttered to himself how Allah was on their side and Jessica couldn’t understand.
Saheed turned to her, “I told you Allah was on our side! He brought you to us! What better message would He send to us!
NOW OPEN YOUR PHONE!”
Jessica stayed defiant. That phone held the contacts to her baby. Her Jewel. She would be damned if she let them have it.
She turned away from the phone and even as a series of blows followed she would not badge.
On her peripheral view she could see the lot of them kneeling and praying and that nauseating feeling returned. Without thinking and in the midst of receiving kicks and blows, she opened her mouth and asked,
“Does your God allow this? Beating up people for no reason?”
Then amidst coughing blood she said,
“Allah has no part in this! Allah is God and God is kind and loving! You are just fulfilling your own selfish desires.”
“You dare talk to me woman!” The man hissed. He was so angry.
A hard slap turned her already sore face to the side.
“You have no respect for me or Allah!”
“Allah is not slapping me now, is He?”
No sooner had she said that than she realised what kind of mistake she had done. The man hit her with everything he had. He picked up his rifle and continuously hit her and she trembled. At the back of her head she knew, she really knew she was going to die.
Suddenly, the blows stopped and she saw the man shoved off. Right before she could breathe, she felt her hair grabbed from the scalp. Her face was brought dangerously near the face of whom she knew now was the commander.
“Listen and listen to me carefully woman.”
The man did not shout. He didn’t even raise his voice. He spoke with such calm that it almost scared her.
“I do not care who you are. I do not care where you’ve come from but I shall and will kill you once our need for you is over!
Now if you dare mention Allah’s name again, our use for you shall no longer matter. Is that clear?”
She found herself nodding.
Now that password…
Jessica both heard and felt the threat. She felt it rise in her spine, she felt it turn to her belly, she felt it churn in her ileum and she felt it burn in her stomach and rise up her gut.
She was certain of one thing. This man would for sure kill her.
As she whispered the code, she felt sick. She was endangering the lives of so many contacts on her phone. Her worst fear however was Jewel. She was so worried they would get to her. They were miles away but she knew these men were powerful they had brought down a whole city in their country.
She felt her body flung by her hair to the cold floor and she landed with a thud. She could not stop the tears that came, a single drop, then a second…
Silent streams of humiliation, despair and sickening terror.
Jessica hurdled in a corner, crying, questioning and feeling so much pain. She had never seen a man raise a hand at her, not even once. She breathed heavily, all the muscles in her body in utter pain, she felt bruised beyond anything she had ever imagined.
Her own father had never even slapped her. Yes he had challenged her mentally, many a times she had felt like he had belittled her dreams and hopes, and yes he had told her many times she could not achieve what she aimed for but he had never raised a hand at her.
She missed him. She had not thought of him in years but she missed him. He had wanted a different career path for her. He felt she would have been fit better as a lawyer. He felt that her argumentative spirit would best be utilised there but she had wanted different. She had loved journalism from as young as she could remember. He had questioned its feasibility, the space for growth and told her she would not succeed much in the field.
She would never forget the disappointed look in his face when she had stuck to her guns. She had told him she would win a Pulitzer, that she would succeed and be the best. She had sworn she would prove it to him! And she had never stopped! She proved it to him long after she got married, long after she was on TV, no matter what accolades she got, she could not stop.
She missed him. She realized she had no idea how he was fairing. Sure, she sent money monthly to the Nyumba ya Wazee (old people’s home) but past the reports she got from sisters, she had no clue how he was.
“Oh dad, you were so right! Look at where journalism has gotten me into…” A silent sob broke from her. In the silence, she wished that she would hold him, that she could talk to him. She realized all these years all she had wanted was just affirmation. And in her search for it she had forgotten the true values of life, like love and family and thanked God that she had one more chance to do it, to save her daughter.
Her mind went back to her captors. Something about what they had said did not sit well with her! They actually believed they were doing this for Allah? Honestly? How is raping women, abducting others and reaping apart the peace of the society serving God? How could God – any God allow that? She could not wrap her head around it. As a person or as a journalist.
Straddled in a corner, she watched as they used her phone to call contact after contact with no response, she felt relieved, she had not put anyone in jeopardy. She watched their frustrations rise and she couldn’t help but smile. Saheed had said that Allah was with them because she had been captured. Could Allah, God, the Universe really had wanted her here? Tortured, beaten and hungry for some grand thing or even worse could He really have wanted her to die in the hands of these terrorists in order to perpetuate their own personal gain? God really?
“Everything works together for good for those who trust in the Lord.”
What good could come out of this? Her dying and these men getting Jewel or a ransom like the hell! What God supports terrorists?
As their frustrations grew, a deep guttural sound was heard rising, something like a laughter, all eyes turned to look at her and she gasped as she realised that the sound was hers, she was the one laughing and she was laughing so much.
All she could think was that “God was not part of them!” The realisation repeated itself over and over and it shook her core.