It happened last night, after I was relocated to one of the dark rooms. I couldn’t see the faces in the room well, but the smell of hatred, anger, and anguish spoilt the thin air we breathed from small windows hung far above the room.
“You dey stay my space,” someone with the voice of a boy said. His mouth like a dead rat’s hole, I was unmoved.
Then, a slap hit my nose.
I left his space as fast as I could, like a hen that just survived the knife. I managed somewhere worse than where I had received the slap.
“Are you a Nigerian?” a young man asked me. I could hear sorrow in his voice.
“Yes,” I answered trying to stop the bleeding from my nose.
“Who sold you?” he asked the question of my life.
I tried looking at his face, as I remembered my journey.
My mother gave her life’s savings to help me leave Nigeria. We started our journey from Chad. Hours went into days, roads to deserts, until we were exchanged in Tripoli. It was too late to realise we had been sold. We were taken to an abandoned building previously owned by Gadaffi. We were on the fourth floor of the building and the north end of the room I was had a thick glass. So, I managed towards the glass to look beneath us.
I saw corpses and bones innumerable, including burnt people. Naked girls queued into a room – to be raped, I suspected. Some people were tied downwards alive.
I couldn’t resist the vomit that escaped my throat.
By morning, my neighbour returned. “I am John,” he said.
“Anthony, that is my name,” I told him.
“Anthony, breathe. Just breathe. Survive…” he told me.
“Courage. In such anguish, breathing is what will make us feel the warmth of home again, when hope has done the rest.”
Photo Credit: Anonymous News
This story emerged as first runner-up in the 2017 edition of the JB Afenfia Flash Fiction Contest. Read the story in 3rd postion here