They walked in with so much alacrity; they weren’t in any kind of haste. Like a predator that already has its prey cornered they strolled with the gait of conquerors. Their heads were covered with checkered kaffiyehs and their eyes were so red that in the gloom of our dorm you’ll think it was all pupils. The machetes they held were dripping with the blood of my friends. Blood rose on those blades up to their rubber heads. The kind of dread they evoked had no dictionary meaning, it was something only the human soul could understand.
In the few minutes they were in our dorm, they saw us completely. All of us in various stages of the nakedness required for sound night sleep in the terrible heat of Northern Nigeria. All of us at the very early stages of womanliness with curves in their first trimesters, a body being moulded by unseen hands. All of us a picture of unfolding beauty.
As we all looked on in that terror induced stupor, transfixed, glued to the very spots we stood on like gazelles caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, we watched them approach us only this time their fear ingraining countenance had something else on it.
Even in our terror, the matured ones among us knew what that look meant. In that moment of sudden realisation, their whimpers began to climb in some sort of musical crescendo. Like the increasing buzz of an approaching hoard of insects, our whimpers grew into wails as the younger ones among us looked in the face of their seniors and saw the meaning tattooed on them.
Now death wasn’t our only fear but the molestation that would precede it. They will murder our innocence before they kill us innocents.
While some of us cried for mummies and daddies that were ignorant of our present plight, others said the Fatia and every other prayer they could conjure up in time of desperate need.
Then one of them walked up to me, looked me over as I automatically tried to pull my wrapper over my almost naked body and see if even in face of death I could preserve my decency – night gowns were an anathema to the kind of weather we had in the north. He brought his face few inches to mine and there was this repulsive stench spewing from the gap in face that’s called a mouth, the only smell more offensive was that emanating from his body, the smell was a smorgasbord of sweat, filth , local gin, marijuana, gum and something else that I couldn’t quite place. All of this revulsion was supressed by the fear the look in those eyes commanded. The next words that came out of his mouth sealed my fate while at the same time it revealed the fate of the other girls in my dorm.
The Halima Series is written by a good friend Chukwuemeka Ezeogu