Bubbles of cold, frigid water surrounded the crevices of her face. She could bear the suffocation of her senses, but the sting in her eyeballs forced her to clench her palms till they turned white. With one violent pull of her hair, she was dragged out of the tub of water.
“Tell us where he is!” the brute who had dragged her here commanded, but she was still struggling to catch her breath. Her flowy but torn abaya was drenched in a nasty mixture of sweat, blood and water.
“Tell us!” He yelled again.
Before she could say another word, her head was back underwater, longer this time. Almost to the point where her consciousness was slowly fading away. She would never tell them though. Even if they shot every part of her body, he was worth it.
“That’s enough,” Ibidun’s calm voice streamed in through what was left of her hearing. Even under water, she could tell her former friend’s voice apart.
“Don’t you want to find the money? You want to let that dirty thief escape with ten million naira? ” the brute’s voice echoed.
“My brother is not a thief,” she wanted to tell them, but her mouth was occupied with saving her oxygen.
“But she has nothing to do with it,” Ibidun yelled.
“She has everything to do with it! She probably knows where the money is.”
A long pause. Too long. Her tied-up arms and legs struggled as hard as they could against the ropes. A couple more seconds and Sade would have been reunited with her parents.
“I said enough!” Ibidun gently dragged her up from the water, hands firm on her shoulder.
“I knew we shouldn’t have brought you.”
Ibidun snorted. “Well too bad! Our boss trusts me enough to be here, so deal with it!”
She didn’t want to listen to the two of them bicker over her life. Their words made her nauseous and sick to her stomach or maybe it was just the number of times she had been thrust back and forth into the tub.
Perhaps if she had actually listened to their words, she wouldn’t have been as surprised as she was when she was dragged up the stairs and dangled over the edge of the three-storey building. Her entire being jolted awake and all forms of lethargy went out the window.
“How did we get to the roof? Did I black out?” she wondered, thoughts speeding.
Her thin arms flailed hard against the gruff arms that were digging deep into her ebony skin. It took all the courage she had to stop herself from looking down at the ground that might soon become her grave.
“Let go of me!” She twisted around to look at Ibidun, pleading for mercy with her eyes. He looked away from her gaze and turned to the brute.
“Stop it, Fikun.”
“Tell us where he is!” Fikun growled into her ears, his nasty breath suffocating her worse than the water.
“I said I don’t know!”
“You think I’m joking here?” He pushed her lower until her shoulders lined up with the edge of the concrete roof. Her heart dropped so rapidly she thought she would faint.
“Will you really die just to protect your brother?” Fikun shook her violently from side to side.
It was a question she had already answered to herself when they kidnapped her a week ago. Bolu was her world, and he had risked his life over and over just to help them survive. Just two orphans, bracing this cruel world together. The least she could do was make sure he lived.
The hands holding her suddenly disappeared and gravity took over. Einstein was right when he said time was relative. Sade should have been splattered on that ground in less than a second, but to her, all movement slowed down and the world stood still. She could smell the rain that had just stopped falling, her eyes marvelled at the dust particles that were glistening in the golden ray of the beautiful sun, and her deep red embroidered abaya danced with the wind.
It was the perfect end for fifteen-year-old Sade, and as her lips recited the Shahada—the beautiful testament of faith to Allah and His Messenger (SAW)—one last time, her heart called out to her younger brother who was likely still hiding in the underground chamber of their house. She wished for him a life she couldn’t give.
But this wasn’t the end of Sade. That same lean hand grabbed her by the armpit and flung her to the left, over the rooftop. Her fragile frame hit the rough concrete. Hard. But she was alive. She had deep cuts and broken bones. But she was still alive.
She could barely believe it. She glanced up at the eyes of her savior, warm eyes surrounded by the glowing face of the friend she once knew.
“I’m sorry…” Ibidun mouthed, “…for everything.”
In the blink of an eye, Fikun, bulging veins and bloodshot eyes, lifted Ibidun off the ground and hurled him over the edge of the roof. Sade’s eyelids stretched open, eyeballs shifting from side to side. With her teary eyes, she no longer saw Fikun or the rooftop. The skyline had now been replaced with the picture of her, Bolu, and Ibidun running around their backyard, playing hide-and-seek with the widest smiles on their young, innocent faces.
The gruesome thud of Ibidun’s body landing on the ground pulled her out of her daydream into the harsh reality where she saw Fikun standing over her with his dirtied t-shirt. She wanted to scream and run away, but the rest of her strength unfortunately gave out.
“I..bi…” was all she could croak before the darkness took over.