Dalitsani Lucy Anselmo: Hold On

Jun 18, 2021 | Blog | 2 comments

By Dalitsani Lucy Anselmo

Everyone said you were a strange fifteen year old girl. You laughed with the boys and pinched and swore at girls. You always came home with muddy feet, ragged trousers and scratched skin that was oozing blood because you had been in a fight with some stranger in the streets. Despite your mother’s complaints that you were a girl and that you should stop running with the boys, you only pouted and walked away to your room. If your mother followed you, you would walk to her, stand right in front of her tall figure with your eyes raised and your hands on your hips. She would sigh and shake her head then walk out of the room.

You feared nothing and that was why when the sound of a bang broke the ghostly silence of today’s night, you rose from the bed and moved towards the window beside your bed that faced the main gate outside. You slowly but carefully pushed the curtains to reveal a small gap enough for your eye to peep through and see what had caused the noise. The dim light from the bulb outside made it difficult for you to see so you closed the curtains and got off the bed. You pulled the loose blue blouse from the stash of clothes you had in the washing basket and put it on, quickly tucking it in your black bum short. You opened the door and stared at the master’s bedroom where your mother slept hoping to see her rush out. But she did not. She probably did not hear the noise, you thought. You tiptoed to the sitting room and slowly turned the door handle of the outside door. The door opened and you walked out, closing the door gently behind you. You slipped on the sandals lying on the veranda and walked to the gate.

You heard a moan then a noise like the one you make when punching fresh of a person in a fight. Your blood felt warm in the cold night air and your fingers trembled. Your lips smiled and you quickly opened the small gate. Nothing is more refreshing than beating a thief caught at night, you thought. You were not going to miss your chance of throwing a punch or two at some random man who wanted to harvest where he never sowed.

A hand grabbed your neck and a heavy fist landed on your belly as you stepped out the gate. You coughed as you gasped for breath. Another blow landed on your back. There was no chance to scream as your skin pricked with pain. The cold air made it worse.

“Let her go, you chicken!” A voice yelled.

You knew that voice. It was a familiar voice that you had known since you were a baby. You raised your head and managed to see your older brother, Roland, get thrown into the boot of the Benz that was in front of your house. Warm tears poured out from your eyes. You wanted to speak. To yell and call your mother or the neighbours or anyone who was awake but your voice could not come out. You let yourself be carried and thrown into the backseat of the car. Your sandals fell off your feet. You could only wince.

“She’s taking up space,” one of the men said as he opened the door. “Put her in the boot with the others.”

Your legs were pulled and your body, scratching against the rough mats on the car floor, fell to the ground. A hand grabbed your waist and carried you behind the car. You managed to raise your head as one of the men opened the boot but a hard slap landed on your face and you felt hot liquid come out of your nose. “You,” you murmured as your body hit against another. The man laughed with his eyes popping out of their sockets. He quickly closed the boot. He was one of the men Roland and Akuzike, your other brother, had beaten this afternoon at the tavern.

“Sekani,” Roland murmured in the darkness of the small boot.

You tried to turn to lie on your back but you heard a groan from under you. “Simon?” You whispered.

“Yes. It looks like I am going” the voice wheezed, “to die with you guys.”

They laughed though it sounded like coughing and choking to your ears. But you smiled slowly knowing they were with you at this moment. You tried to turn again but Simon’s groans stopped you. The car started moving.

You felt the car come to a stop and a few seconds later, the boot door opened. The four men who had kidnapped you were staring down at all of you. Roland threw his leg at one of the men but missed miserably. The man from the tavern grabbed Roland’s leg and pulled him out of the car onto the sand. He stepped on Roland with his black leather boots. He punched him with his fists too and only stopped when his friends grabbed him. He was sweating from all the punches he had thrown at Roland.

That was when you saw Akuzike lying on the floor of the boot. The man who had beaten Roland grabbed him by the shirt and threw him out of the car tearing his shirt into two. You gritted your teeth. Half his face was covered in blood and he had not made any noise in the car. You got out then Simon too. The four of you were dragged together in a single file to a huge square tank. A man in a green camouflage army uniform saluted at your four kidnappers and walked past them. You tried to look at him hoping he would save you from these men but he disappeared around a corner.

You heard the jingling of the keys as one of the men struggled to open the door of the tank. The lights outside the tank were bright that you folded your hands on your chest because you felt like everyone could see through your clothes. The cold air was eating at you through the loose blouse and goose bumps appeared all over your body. Your stomach still hurt too. You looked at Simon. He was Roland’s best friend who lived next door and usually spent time at your house chatting until dawn. He always caught you staring at his big broad chest and thick arms and you would look away with a smile on your face. But now he was bent like an old man tired from working the whole day. He had one shoe on and no shirt on. His right eye was fat and red. Roland’s lip was plump from the beating and his body was covered in black bruises that were exposed through his shirt.

More soldiers passed by. It seemed the door did not want to open. It wanted the four prisoners to be exposed in the bright light of the barracks.

“What did these ones do?” One of the soldiers stopped and asked.

“Can you imagine they beat us at the tavern this afternoon? And it wasn’t our fault,” the one who had punched Roland yelled.

“Shah! Their mistake!”

“We will teach them that we are the law. Today is the day.”

They laughed hysterically. They were enjoying themselves pretty good. But their story was a lie that made them victims when in truth they were the bad guys.

You remembered your mother telling you and your older brothers to go look for Dennis, your cousin who had arrived that morning. He had told your mother that he was going to introduce himself to the city and had not returned till noon. You, Akuzike and Roland had searched every place but no Dennis was in sight. You went to look by the tavern and that is where he was. Drunk and lying on the ground, covered in brown dirt, getting punches from two other drunk men. You and your brothers apologised to the two men on behalf of your cousin and asked them to stop. But they were too excited to let the fun end.

Roland and Akuzike joined in the fray to protect their cousin. You pulled Dennis away to a safer distance and called to your brothers to throw more blows at the two rude strangers. The drunk men fell to the ground. You and your brothers carried your drunk cousin home and put him to bed. You were too excited by your victory that you did not see the men follow you.

The door of the tank opened and the four men pushed you four into the tank. A glowing bulb lit the tank exposing the wet slimy floor. Akuzike slipped and fell. You wanted to run and lift him up but your body was sole from the beating. You only looked down at the floor as fresh tears began to pour from your eyes again.

“You four will learn not to mess with us,” the two soldiers your brothers had beaten chorused.

They walked out of the tank and closed the door. You and the three boys sat down on the cold wet floor. You sighed. Your body was finally relieved to get off its feet. Your body was aching and you needed to lie down.

A hissing sound interrupted you all. You raised your head. Water was pouring in fast from a source you could not identify. You and your brothers quickly stood up. The water soon rose to your knees, then hips, then your shoulders. You could barely manage to keep your head above the water. You tried not to move since the floor was slippery. Sleep tempted you but you knew you would drown if you bowed down to it. You had to stand firm, like a stone or you would die in this place away from home. You needed to hold on. You wondered where this water came from. In the area you lived, water was a problem. You stayed weeks without water. Women walked long journeys searching for this precious mineral yet the soldiers were using it for torturing people.

Rambo, a war hero from your favourite movie series, crossed your mind. He had been dipped in sewer water when he was caught by the enemy soldiers. You felt like a hero too. A real warrior unlike these irresponsible men who were playing soldiers.

Your lips mumbled a silent prayer telling God that if he would let you live, you would be a good girl from now on. You promised to listen to your mother.

The water level began to drop after what seemed like years. Your blouse was wet and clung to your body. Your hands were on your chest trying to keep the little warmth within your body. Your body shook but you could not sit down because the water was still knee high. You looked at Akuzike. Despite his earlier body weakness, he was still standing there like a ragged stature that had witnessed years of wind. Roland too was hugging his body. Simon looked like he had lost his thick muscles overnight. You all had held on.

The door opened bringing in voices from outside the tank. A soldier walked in. He was new. He pointed to the door. The four of you slowly walked on your spongy legs to the door. The sun was just rising in the east and the scent of fresh bread tickled your nostrils. Your stomach rumbled. But you moved on in your wet clothes out the gate of the barracks and into the streets all the way home. You and your brothers and Simon did not speak a word to each other. You did not care the stares that followed you from the people in the streets. You just wanted to go home and rest before your mother realised you had been out.


  1. Klthm



    Amazed with


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