The ground beneath me seemed to be moving when I woke up. What kind of dream was this? I wondered. I had a terrible itch and I realized I couldn’t scratch it because my hands were tied. I looked around for Beatrice and Bobobo but I couldn’t find them. All I saw was darkness from the blindfold on my eyes.
“This one is big and strong, he will make us a lot of money,” someone said with a foreign accent—The type drunkards in Churo village and the drinking dens of Kabarnet town used while imitating the Al-Shabaab, albeit in whispers because of the unpredictable and dangerous temperament they claimed they had. “He will be a great servant. Those hands could lift a house,” he added.
“And this one, this one is beautiful. I might keep her for my third wife,” another one said and they laughed.
“I didn’t know you loved fools. This one doesn’t seem to have a mind of her own. She keeps repeating the same words,” another added.
Beatrice coming into conversation fired up my anger and I started writhing and turning. The ground still moved beneath me and something grunted in discomfort. I would have mistaken the sound for Bobobo’s but as it did, the surface on which I was placed moved too. Was I in the belly of a beast? I shuddered, willing myself to wake up but only seeing darkness.
“What about this one?” another one asked.
“This one is stubborn. We will send him to the Miraa fields. We won’t get much for him but it will feed my two wives for a week.”
“You mean three wives?”
They laughed again and went on to explicitly talk about Beatrice’s features; her hair, her smooth skin, round breasts, and wide hips. “I bet she’s as tight as a nun,” someone said in between more laughter. I wanted to tell them to stop but I couldn’t because my mouth was gagged so all I did was make grunting noises akin to those of Bobobo or the belly of the beast I was in.
“This one looks very affected by our conversation, he might be the husband,” one of them said.
“A small boy that couldn’t even provide for a flock of birds.”
“You know you will have to kill him now. Because even though he is a boy, he will become a man someday and seek vengeance,” another added.
And there I was my life on the balance yet again. I laid on top of the beast or in the belly of it with my heart in my mouth and waited for the answer. The fields of Miraa didn’t sound too bad now. I wouldn’t lack food, or water, I might even make friends and someday I might escape. I waited for a beat, half a beat.
“Death it is then,” someone said after what seemed like a lifetime. “We could leave him in this waste of sand. The blazing sun will do the deed for us,” he added as I made grunting noises, the beast all of a sudden feeling like home.
“We can’t risk it. This is a boy who seems to survive the harshest conditions. I wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up to your sleeping chambers tonight and opened your throat.
“Give me the dagger then, I will do it right here and get it over with.”
I felt my body being moved from the beast, then I felt the hot sand on my feet, and its harsh particles pricking my knees as I knelt. I said my prayer again. I thanked God for allowing me to experience the love of my mother and father, and the free spirit of Beatrice —And for giving me the strength to bring her and Bobobo this far and I waited for the dagger.
But it never came, instead, my blindfold and gag were removed and a man with a full beard, garbed in a turban, baggy clothes, pointy shoes, and all sorts of ornaments stood in front of me with a smile and open arms. “It’s me, your uncle. The Merchant of Dol Dol,” he chortled. “I got you, I know I did,” he added amidst laughter. These unsettling pranks would go on to be something he pulled often for all of our stay with him.