Jessica felt someone nudge her and struggled to open her swollen eyes. Thank God there was not much light in the room.
She saw a young boy with a lighter wave at her. He tried lifting her head and nudge her towards a cup. She was sure the contents would kill her but the boy seemed so hurried and yet so gentle that she chose to trust him. If she did not she would be beaten anyway. She opened her mouth and he fed her water.
She hadn’t tasted anything so good in a while! She honestly could not believe her luck. They had fed her close to nothing in this hell hole. She could not believe someone would be as kind as to offer water. She drunk thirstily. Gobbling it all down.
As fast as he’d come, the little boy having seen her satisfied left her. He didn’t speak to her, he didn’t even untie her but that kindness was enough.
She felt herself drift to sleep again, she was so tired and broken. She had lost all track of time; all she knew was that with every passing second, her death was imminent and she surprisingly welcomed it.
A second time, she was roused from sleep, the little boy was back, with more water. She drunk with all her heart. It was sweeter like he had added sugar to it. She felt strength returning to her bones.
A third time, she was woken by the boy, she was growing very fond of these little moments. This time, he held the tiniest of biscuits, again he held her head and nudged her to eat. It was such a small gesture but it renewed her strength. The biscuit must have been laden with glucose because it was the sweetest thing ever to come to her mouth. She could feel her blood warming up. For a few minutes, it felt good to be alive. Then as fast as he’d come, he again disappeared.
Jessica begun feeling like she was hallucinating him. He walked with such soft steps that it felt like he was barely even there. But she was content for now and thanked God for the little boy or her imagination of him.
Yet again, she drifted into sleep, a sleep so deep that she was woken by cold water splashed on her body, the sickening realisation that Saheed was back in the room and the revolting knowledge that the cold water was in fact urine! Urine!
She wondered why this man hated her so much? What had she ever done to him? Was it not enough for him that he had beaten her, countlessly assaulted her, humiliated her? What else did he seek to do?
“I thought you might need water to drink!” he said laughing cynically.
He untied her from the seat and she feared the worst. She didn’t know what else this vile man wanted to do, she saw him untie his belt and fear choked her throat.
No no no! NO God No! please God No!
Saheed was just laughing, lust pasted on his face! Jessica had never been with anyone else but Jack, she did NOT want this! “God No! I would rather die!” Just then, the commandant called out for him and he sneered and left.
“I’ll be back, little bitch!”
Jessica reeked of urine that had stayed in a bucket for so long, it was toxic. She wanted to strip and just shower, scrubbing herself with gravel to just rid herself of all the filth she felt. She felt so dirty, so angry, so humiliated. She dragged herself to the corner of the room, pulling herself with her body. She dared not stand. She felt pain where the ropes had held her to the chair for so long.
In the corner, she tried looking for a position where the wet clothes wouldn’t touch her and found none. Tears streamed down from a seemingly endless well and she broke out in sobs. She wished she could find anything to protect her, even a nail. She could not believe that these were her last days on earth. Whoever spoke of living hell, had been right. She was living out all her fears, one after the other and seemed unable to stop it.
Saheed, the foul man, came back and went ballistic to find she had moved from where he had left her. He kept hurling insults asking her who had given her permission to move. He took out his belt and started whipping her. Repeatedly. Endlessly.
She felt the belt land on her cheeks, her nose, her legs, her back, her thighs, her head each time more painful than the last. She tried curling into a knot to shield herself but that seemed to infuriate Saheed even further. He dragged her by her hair and pulled her to the centre of the room and kicked her repeatedly. He stepped on her stomach, kicked her crouch, the side of her waist… Jessica cried out until she couldn’t anymore, finally one blow to the head and she found she could not feel anymore.
She saw herself stand and look at Saheed. He was still kicking at her and she was still lying on the ground, quiet and it made no sense to her, Saheed had gone mad. It was as if he couldn’t stop. She saw the doors of the prison fly open and five people the commandant included rushed in and pulled him away from her.
The commandant was visibly angry and speaking in fluent Arabic. She watched as they checked for her pulse, she touched her hand, she hadn’t felt that touch. She saw them try to resuscitate her and looked away. She did not want to go back. She wanted this. To remain an observer, away from the pain that that body held for her.
She loved the emptiness she felt, the nothingness, she loved being free. She thought of her daughter, her father, and shook her head. She could not let them down. She loved them, she had promised herself, promised God.
“God please get me out of this pain, out of this place, somehow get me out of this pain, I promise to live every day loving them Dad, loving those whom you gave me! Please!”
She sighed, the silence was killing her, where was the silent still voice that always nagged her. Where was God?
She turned back to the frenzy that was going on in front of her, everyone rushing, running here and there then she saw that little boy that had come to help her. He looked so concerned. She saw him look up as if in prayer and she felt that in him, in this little boy, lay God’s answer to her. He turned and seemed to look directly at her, sad, as if begging her to come back.
Jessica understood Paul.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain, if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body”
That chapter had forever been ebbed in her heart yet had always puzzled her. Who had this man thought himself to be? That he could if to live or die? As if anyone had a choice!
But in this nothingness, she had never been surer of anything. She knew she hadn’t done anything of substance with her life when it came to serving God and it broke her heart. She had been such a go getter in life, but getting what? Fame? Awards? At what cost? She wondered genuinely if anyone had benefitted from her existence.
If she would live again she would change that, starting with her own daughter’s life. She looked at the young boy desperately trying to save her and now carrying her to her last place of rest and wondered how a young boy could end up with such responsibilities. How did he end up working for a militant group?
She sighed. She would never know. She cried out in the nothingness and no one heard her. She allowed herself time to let go of all the pain and the anger. She cried and screamed it all out; then she closed her eyes and waited for the pain she knew she had chosen.