“Has she had a gulp?” He turned to Zigi, “She has.” Zigi answered. They had forced me to drink their stinking milk from their filthy gourd. The gourd which contained sour milk was releasing a stench similar to that a carcass releases. I had refused to take any of their shitty milk but a few slaps they gave me reminded me I had no choice. “Does it contain any poison? Why are you forcing me to take it?” I fearfully asked. “It’s very good you silly brat!” Zigi answered me after a smack. “It’s stinking healthy! hahaha.. ” he told me as he took a sip. “Am I dead to you? hahahaha…” He laughed and handed the gourd to Kizito.
“Let’s go!” Kizito commanded. I slowly rose to where I had been sitting and took my stick. We had been walking for the past six hours and I could not tell for how long we would walk. I was as tired as a worn out shoe. I myself was weary, dehydrated and in pain. The torture I had gone through had made me weak.
It was at dawn when we had heard a commotion outside. It’s my elder sister who first heard the noise and woke me up. We rose up from the mat we had been sleeping on, and went to peep through the window. There was a group of men standing on our compound. We couldn’t see all of them as it was still dark but we could see that they were more than a dozen. Before I could utter anything to my sister Amina, we had heard a loud bang. It was our door that had been broken into and six men got in.
One carried me on his shoulder and another carried my sister. The others ransacked our small hut, which was used as the kitchen during the day and acted as a bedroom at night. I, together with my sister were taken out and that’s the last time I saw her. The guy who carried me was heavily built. I felt like he was a giant. I noticed that our cow shed was empty as we left our homestead. It’s the raiders! They had come again. It was a retaliatory attack. I could tell.
My village had raided the cattle of a neighboring village nine months earlier. We had expected that they would attack us the following month but they never showed up. We waited for the second and third months but they didn’t come . Villagers later concluded that they had given up and couldn’t strike after four months. How wrong they were, The village we had attacked, Bomani, was scheming how to execute a counter attack. They had been planning for eight months how they would teach our village Chaka, a ‘lesson’. Their attack was strange this time. They never carried anything apart from livestock when they attacked, but this time, they were taking young girls with them, they were also hurting the males. “This is the mother of all attacks!” I heard one of them chant as they made away with our livestock.
The gigantic guy had carried me for four kilometers when he put me down. You can’t escape now that we are a distance from your village. Use your legs and follow the others,” he told me as he put me down. There were other girls from our village who had also been abducted. I saw my friend Shinde weep as we walked. She looked sick. Shinde had been diagnosed with a heart problem when she was ten, she often fell ill and was always visiting the medicine man for herbs which helped her everyday. She did not participate in heavy activities while at home. The only chores she could do was sweep their compound. Her mother, who was a widow was also aging and not in good health. Both Shinde and her mother relied on their brother for everything they needed. I looked at her dry lips and knowing how fragile her body was, asked one of our captors to give her some water. “Shut up! I am no stream. Who do you think you are to tell me that?” is what his reply was. There was nothing I could do to help her . The captors could not listen to any of us. “Everyone stand still!” he commanded. We had been walking through a forest and had approached a clearing.
One of the captors reached out for his bag and got a large shuka. “What are the shukas for?” I whispered to Shinde, “Maybe they want us to lie down on them before they kill us,” Shinde whispered back. Oh my! They were going to butcher us like animals, I thought. “He took out a pen-knife from his back pocket and started to cut the shukas into long, thick pieces. He cut over twenty pieces then turned to us. “We don’t want you to recall the way once we are out of the forest , so we have a little surprise for you.” The captor said. He was preparing the blind folds from the shukas. He called us one by one and tied the pieces on our eyes. It was my turn to be tied when we heard a loud thud. It was Shinde. She had collapsed. The captors saw her fall but did nothing. “Let her die. Her kinsmen will come for her corpse.” One of them said sarcastically as they burst out in laughter. I cried after seeing Shinde. She was frail and had just passed out but no one could help her. What if it gets worse? I thought as I was being tied the blindfold. All I felt in my heart was resentment and acrimony towards our captors. I loathed them. Why didn’t they just take the animals as they always did? They had killed or injured the men back in the village, made away with our cattle and kidnapped us, the young girls. What kind of human beings were they? No, they were animals. People who have no heart are animals. They are just like the serpents in the bushes and lions in the jungle. I thought of my sister and cried. I didn’t know if my father was alive or was among those dead, I said a quick prayer for my brother and mother. I hoped they were not hurt. After blindfolding us, they gave each one of us sticks. The sticks were to guide us as we couldn’t see a thing. We left Shinde at the clearing. I thought of all the bad things that could happen to her if hyenas passed near her, I thought of what would happen if she woke up and found no-one around, her being a weakling, she would not get to the village on her own. I thought of the worst. What if she died? Her mother would mourn for days, her brother would be heart broken. I stopped thinking about the bad and prayed that all would be well with her. They had tied the blind fold on my eye so tightly that my eyes hurt.
We had walked through the forest when I realized that I was not in the company of other girls. What had happened? I didn’t recall any one telling us to separate. It turned out that they had planned that they take different ways while we were in the forest, so no girl would be in the company of another girl. We were a group of more than sixty at the clearing, (we the captives plus our captors) but once we were out of the forest, I realized there were only five of us. Four raiders and I. I had thought that they had tortured us enough on the way but they thought otherwise. The torture was to begin once they separated us. They whipped me severally, calling my elders names, they made me kneel on serrated bricks. A sharp stone jabbed me, perforating my skin till blood started oozing out. I thought I would die. I was whipped some more, and I loathed them more. Abhorring them is all I could do. I could not free myself and they were hellbent to teach my village a lesson. For a second there, I wished the raiding that happens in our community could stop for once. We were going through a lot of affliction at the expense of seeing who the mightiest of all communities was. It was hell. I was in distress and pain. If only my clansmen could stop this ‘I’m mightier than you, wait for us to raid’ nonsense, It could be better for all of us. I say nonsense because I didn’t see the importance of killing and torturing villagers just so your village would appear superior. But then again, what did I know? I was less than two decades old. This practice had been going on for hundreds of years. Way back before my great grandfathers were born. Who was I to change that? Could I even change it through a thought?