I summoned all the energy left in me to lunch into a long tirade hoping that some sort of rescue would appear.
‘Nobody, no people, no race or ethnic group has the right to visit violence on the larger society without check! Some of you feel you posses express monopoly to violence over others such that after visiting mayhem on innocent victims you come out tomorrow with masked, albeit, cowardly identity to claim responsibility. Imagine! Ofcourse poverty, I have heard several times, is a crime – that a poor man is an ambassador to the dead in the land of the living. Surely a dead man cannot die twice? Hence when an angry, hungry and poverty ravaged man steps out to commit violence and untold hardship against his fellow man, he does not consider his own demise. He puts a name to it. But Lord, those of you who for religion or greed visit untold gory violence on others surely have no excuse to stay on earth. May God have mercy upon you. The self righteous religious and ethnic bigots and the greedy and avaricious politicians who use you the illiterates and poor to perpetrate violence must remember that ‘he who kills by the gun dies by the gun‘. Tell me, have you lost all hope? Surely while there’s life, there’s hope’.
I finished the last sentence with a feeling of accomplishment. I had probably spoken like the great Mandela himself. Surely, that would hit a soft cord? The leader, who actually must be in his late twenties with smooth features that bellied his bloodshot eyes, inclined his head and regarded me. I felt a hint of hope. Then out of the blues my legs were kicked out from under me by one of the brutes behind me. While groaning with the latest pain as I hit the floor, their leader stooped low and with ridiculous menace in his eyes and voice, asked
‘For the last time rat, where did you hide your money?’
I cowered. Surely, all hope is lost now?
‘You’d better answer the boss now before I do your head in’. It was the man who’d just kicked me.
While all these were playing out, one of the men methodically ran his eyes around the room. He had moved closer to the grocery shelf with wheels and placed his shoulders against the side. I visible winced with horror. If they see Vanessa, I was done. I started to answer but my words were gibberish and incoherent.
‘I see the light boss, I see the light. Hahahahahahaha’. The man by the shelf exclaimed with exaggerated excitement. He had heaved aside the shelf and could see the paper door leading into my small room.
Suddenly, Vanessa ran out of the room momentarily shocking the assailants. But they quickly recovered and one of them grabbed and yanked her back before she could bolt out the door.
I felt piss easing down my trousers. My heart somersaulted several times.
‘Look, look. What do we have here? You preach about crimes and here you commit kidnap and who knows, even rape could be going on here’. The leader was visibly enraged now. My fate was all but sealed. Death awaited me, surely. Vanessa squirmed and struggled against the man holding him.
‘For your information, Ekene here is my Nigerian boyfriend, not a kidnapper. And certainly, not murdering thieves like you’. Vanessa screamed at the man stooping above me who chuckled, stood up and appraised her.
‘Hmmm, young girl, you have a striking resemblance to Vanessa, daughter of the minister for interior’.
‘Yes. And if you and your fellow apes don’t let me go now, I’ll make sure you are incarcerated for life’. Vanessa shot back at him.
‘Well, this presents a new …’ A heavy stone thudded on the shop door and interrupted the leader. I shuddered; apparently the few rioters remaining outside were getting impatient. The man who made the door discovery possessed a face that looked a lot closer to that of a pig. He came out simultaneously with the thud sound on the door, dragging a checkered fibre sack and impatiently poured the contents on the floor. My cloths, the little jewelry I managed to keep and black polythene bag tumbled out. That would be the end of me. My savings were in that polythene bag! Swine alike ripped it open and let out a triumphant howl. I knew I kept 10 wads of 1000rands notes which I planned to send home in two days time, of course after adding another 2 wads! Mr. leader dropped his club, licked his lips and robbed rigorously his palms in one sinister and triumphant motion.
‘You are nothing but ordinary thieves!’ Vanessa screamed at them while trying in vain to wriggle out of the brute’s hands holding her. The leader stared menacingly at her.
‘Just add kidnapping to it while you are making up the accusations’, he breathed and poked a finger at Vanessa’s forehead, ‘I’m sure the interior minister will pay handsomely for you’.