|"I waited and waited for death but it did not come."|
In no more than a split second, I took it all in. I had been kidnapped and now I was in a very small room somewhere in an uncompleted building. I remembered how I had noticed two men following me at about two thirty in the afternoon. At a point I started running and they eventually caught up to me; I couldn’t recall anything after that, I didn’t even know what time it was.
Before long I began to hear footsteps; I could tell that it was a man. He was holding a torch and as he appeared at the door he pointed the torch at me, blinding me. He walked up to me with an easy pace; when he was standing right in front of me, he stooped, torch light still on my face. It seemed that he was staring at me for what seemed like eternity. Then in a flash he stood upright again and banged my head really hard against the wall behind me in a single swift action. The pain was explosive, I was sure that was my death, even more so as I noticed the blackness engulf me and my consciousness leave me.
This time, when I woke, the pain in my head was catastrophic; it seemed that my head was run over by a train. It took me a while to fully open my eyes and when I eventually did, there he was sitting right in front of me – my tormentor. I wondered how long he had been there for, though that was the last of my problems. I was unsure of what was to come my way next. Then, for some reason, my eyes wandered to his hands where he held a whip. At that point, I began to imagine dying as a martyr – I hoped I would die as a martyr.
Before long, my stomach made a faint rumbling sound that reminded me of a dying generator – one of those kinds you see in animated comedy. It seemed that my most generous host had understood because he left and returned about twenty minutes later with a loaf of bread and two sachets of water. At first I thought he was going to stab me and then use the water and bread to clean up the mess or even just suffocate me with the bread’s paper bag. Apparently, he bought them for me to eat. He dropped them right beside my head and helped me sit up. For a moment, I was certain he was not the same person who had banged my head against the wall. He placed the bread and water on my lap. I was starving but didn’t have the strength to cut the bread; perhaps it was my fear that sapped my strength. Again, my kind-hearted host fed me till half the bread and all the water was gone. He left and I fell asleep feeling confused.
When I woke up again, it was with ice cold water poured over my head. As I gasped for air, I was whipped with the most painful rope of twisted leather you ever felt. Now I was certain that was death. I waited and waited for death but it did not come. I cried till I could feel my throat no more, I ran from corner to corner of the locked room till I could run no more. Eventually, the soothing blackness came – the temporary death.
When I realized that I must have been back to earth, I wanted to go back to my place of rest. The pain I felt was unbearable. As the memories of my torture came to me, hot tears poured down the side of my face to the floor. I wondered how long I could continue, I didn’t want to believe I had survived the beating.
It was dark, I guessed it was about 2.00am but I still didn’t know how long I had spent there. I began to wonder why my Lord had allowed all that happen to me, then I remembered I hadn’t prayed – stupid me. I reminded myself that under no condition should I miss my prayers. I got up slowly with my whole body shaking in pain. I looked around, and as I expected, there was no water. I ignored the aching in my throat crying for water. With all the strength I could mutter, I bent low enough to dust my palms with some of the dirt on the concrete floor. Painfully, I rubbed my hands over hands, face and feet. I tried to stand but my body wouldn’t let me, so I decided I was going to pray while sitting. I wasn’t sure where to start because I wasn’t sure how many prayers I had missed. I found my hijab lying a few feet away from me. As I crawled to get it, all the muscles, tendons, bones, and cells in my body protested violently. I raised my hands to my ears as I had done all my life, saying the words that glorified my Lord. As I dropped my hands and folded them on my chest, a tear dropped. By the time I had done two complete units of prayer, my clothes were wet with tears. I didn’t know whether it was the physical pain or the psychological pain. Just as I was concluding my prayer with salams, my tormentor appeared at the door. I caught a glimpse of him from the corner of my eye and my heart skipped a beat. I hoped he would go away once he had noticed I had been praying, rather, he went and sat on the seat right in front of me which had served as my sutra.
Distracted, I sat there, my head bowed. Then for the first time, he spoke. My heart skipped a beat again but this time it remained still until after he spoke a sentence. He said, “When you pray like that, do you ask your god to bless you with people to kill? Wait, if the men get virgins in heaven, what do the women get?” the tears were uncontrollable; they just kept coming. I understood that this man was hurting me because of my religion, because of who I am. I could not begin to imagine what the so called Islamist sect, Boko Haram, must have done to him. A side of me felt really sorry for him yet another part was angry at him for taking it all out on a mere girl like me. I wanted to scream and let him know that all the violence perpetrated by those barbarians in the name of Islam had no basis in the religion, that I was sorry for whatever pain had been caused him, and that he should not be taking it out on me; but I could not. Somehow, I could feel his pain. I began to look at the bright side of things – dying because I was a muslim might earn me Allah’s Mercy in the hereafter. At this point, I was ready for death.
My kidnapper, tormentor, and host told me of how he lost his wife, son, and mother in a bomb blast in Kaduna. How he had to leave his home and his means of livelihood for a strange land for he had no family; he never knew his father. I cried for him but I cried even more for how badly the reputation of Islam had been injured by terrorists.
He must have drugged me for I found myself on a hospital bed after I woke.