SADE HARAM (II)

Violence can be conquered by greater violence—Frantz Fanon.

And so also terrorism.

Read the Opening Episode Here.

Sade opened her eyes and quickly shut them as pain surged from her skull through her body, to her heels. She was lying on the ground in a dark room. For how long? She couldn’t tell. She supported herself on an elbow and sat up. She was in terrorists’ den! She turned to the window, a zinc affair with tiny spotty openings that gave the room its brave attempt at illumination. She reached the wall of the window, and pushed it. It was rock jammed. She crawled to the door and shook it. It was locked, from outside. She was imprisoned, tightly. But she wouldn’t give in to this; she wouldn’t go so cheaply. Surely, there must be a way out. In fact, there need be no way, but if she was Sade she would create the way out.

#                                  #

Shaka laughed a dry metallic laugh. He was seated on the mat-covered floor of a dimly lit, poorly ventilated room, his legs under him. He was a thin, heavily bearded man, dressed in the full regalia of a warrior-clergyman, with rosaries and amulets; his holy book by this side, his machine gun by the other. His laugh, of course, didn’t reach his red-shot viper eyes. ‘So Sade is here with us?’ he addressed this question to Sami who stood before him.

‘Kwarai.’ Sami nodded.

‘You ought to have killed her there and then,’ Husseini said. He was the greyer, older version of Shaka; Shaka’s Nestor.

Shaka nodded his support.

‘I can go finish her off,’ Sami said.

‘Not yet, I have an idea.’ Shaka turned to Husseini. ‘We can test Boka’s medicine on her.’

‘Are you sure it will work on her?’

‘What have we to lose? If it doesn’t work, we shoot her.’

Husseini nodded. ‘That is worth a trial.’

‘Bala!’ Shaka hailed. ‘Tata!’

Two mal-nourished youths entered the room. ‘Bala, get me my box. Tata, go bring that bitch here.’

#                                  #

When Tata unlocked the door and sunlight threw a yellow hand into the room, he held his breath. Sade lay on the ground, unconscious, her shirt drawn so that it exposed a large chunk of her breasts. A sexual urge shot through Tata’s spine and he trembled with desire. Kick the bitch to consciousness and drag her to Shaka, his mind ordered. He had never laid a woman all his life. In fact, all his life he hadn’t been so close to such nudity. His spirit wanted to honour Shaka’s message but his body needed a little amusement… He dropped his gun by his side, placed one knee-cap on sand and dropped a sweaty palm on Sade’s bosom.

At the same time, Shaka was getting impatient. He had his box by his elbow and had brought out a small bottle of black liquid and a syringe. ‘What is keeping Tata?’ he demanded.

‘The girl is good-looking, Sami?’ Husseini asked.

Sami shifted uneasily before his superiors. ‘I can say yes if I am allowed to notice such trivial matter.’

Husseini laughed.

‘What is the matter?’ Shaka demanded.

‘Tata is having good time with the girl. Hihihihihi.’

‘That’s a deadly mistake. Sami, go get that rat and the girl here.’

Sami stamped out of the mud hall. He hurried passed the buses, lorries and cars parked before the hall, cursing under his breath as the sun burnt his senses. By the time he crossed the haphazardly cleared guinea corn field into a cluster of huts his temper was snapping hot. He would kill Tata when he laid his hands on the bastard. He passed youths smoking hemps and talking in groups, each wielding his gun like a nomad’s stick. He stopped at the hut where Sade was held prisoner and quickly drew out his pistol. Sade was gone. Lying on the ground in a pool of blood and feasted by an army of flies was Tata, dead.

Sami’s heart broke into turmoil. He brought out his phone and dialled.

‘Shaka, walahi ta gudu. Ta kashe Tata.’

‘Ran to where?’ Shaka screamed. ‘How did she kill Tata? What nonsense are you talking?’

‘I swear—’

‘Shut up, you fool and find her immediately. I need her here, alive! Wawa. Banza.’

Sami sighed as he returned the phone his hip. He should have known better. Sade was still Nigeria’s top agent. He should have shot her when he captured her; he would have avoided this mess. He fed his angry lips with a whistle and began to blow hateful blasts

#                                  #

Sade held her breath as the footfalls continued to draw closer. Her back was plastered on a tree and Tata’s gun held on the ready, more like a club than a firearm. There were two of them, she could tell from their footfalls. As they got to the tree, she emerged and knocked her gun on the first man’s neck. He lurched forward and fell to his knees. The second man lifted his gun but Sade was faster. He gasped, dropped his gun and fell. Sade drew out the knife from his stomach and faced the first who was crawling to his gun.

She lifted him by the ankle and began to drag him into the bush. His face was on the ground, but Sade didn’t notice. Her only resolve was to take him as far away from his fallen colleague as possible. His groans as she dragged him only made her more determined to start working on him. She stopped moving at a clearing over one hundred metres from the other. She dropped his leg and kicked him on the belly.

‘Aughh,’ he moaned.

Sade examined his face. His thin rectangular face and tribal marks meant he could be a Chadian. But he could also be of the north eastern borderline areas. He would understand Hausa. Sade’s inflected Hausa was rusty. She wished she had paid more attention during her Hausa lessons in Yari SS Camp, Bauchi which lasted for a year. But it wasn’t solely her fault. The authorities in Abuja kept interrupting her classes to send her on assignments overseas. But she would manage. She would talk a little and make him feel more heat.

She bent down to work. She tore off his cloth and tied his hands on his back. Then she placed him reclining on a tree. ‘I am going to question you,’ she said, the bloodied knife on his face. ‘I don’t want to torture you. If you let me torture you, you are going to pass through hell.’ She squatted before him. ‘How many girls did you people kidnap and where exactly are they quartered?’

He looked at her with sly arrogance and said nothing. ‘Answer me. Where exactly are the girls quartered?’

He twisted his mouth with obstinacy but didn’t open it.

Sade grabbed his ear and began to cut. An evil scream, the final cry of a trapped beast, broke from his mouth and tore the terrorist forest like a knife on rotten fabric. Sade quickly elbowed his chin and pressed down his mouth on the sand with her heel. ‘Shut up, you fool!’ The blood from his ear was flowing into his eyes, nose and mouth. He was now only whimpering. Sade withdrew her leg, made for a piece of his torn shirt which she rolled into a ball and stuffed into his mouth.

‘Now, you cannot shout. I will continue to cut your ear. If you still don’t want to talk, I will cut it off. Then I will go to the other ear. If you are ready to talk nod your head.’ Sade went on her knees and resume cutting the ear. The fellow threw his legs forward, shaking his entire being ruthlessly like a worm sprinkled with salt. Sade didn’t relent. She continued till she cut off his ear. ‘I have not even begun with you,’ she said. ‘You say you are a terrorist. I am also a terrorist. There is a saint and a terrorist inside every one. It is a matter of knowing which one to let shine. You have allowed terrorism glory in you because you are motivated by hate. I am also a terrorist, motivated by the green white green flag. And if it is the last thing I do, I am going to break you. Terrorism can only be conquered by greater terrorism.’

She removed the ball in his mouth. ‘Are you going to talk?’ He spat at her. She jammed his lips with a backhand. She re-stuffed his mouth. ‘We are wasting time. Now, I am going to make you talk.’ She made for his trousers and brought out his phallus, a leathery pencil. Sade hadn’t being with a man in ages, but the sight of this genital sickened rather than arouse her.

‘I am going to start cutting. I ask for the last time, where are the girls quartered?’ his eyes shone terror. When she placed her knife on the tip of his engine, her instincts showed yellow. She stopped moving and listened for a moment; slowly her instincts turned a burning red. She had company.

#                                  #

Sami stopped at the body of the rebel Sade had been torturing. He was lifeless. Sami turned to his two comrades. ‘She is close by, find her!’ The two men made away in different directions, their guns trigger-ready.

Sade is getting too hot, Sami thought ruefully, his fault. Shaka would have his hide.

Crack!

Sami turned sharply to see a co-insurgent fall.

Crack!

He turned the other side to see his second colleague fall. He pointed his pistol forward.

‘Drop that gun!’ Sade was behind him. He was trapped. ‘I thought you guys were tough but you are as easy as knocking sheep off… I say drop that gun and put your hand on your head!’

Sami hesitated; he half-turned and Sade shot him on the hand. He fell on his belly, writhing in agony. Sade came and squat over him, she grabbed him by the hair and whispered. ‘You saw me in action in the Niger Delta and you know what I am capable of. I just have one question for you, where are the girls?’

‘Shoot me.’ Sami heaved. ‘Kill me.’

‘I don’t have to; I didn’t come here for you. I am here for the girls, where are they?’

He shut his eyes. ‘Kill me. Better Sade than Shaka.’

Sade’s creativity snapped into action. She put her gun aside and turned Sami around. She lifted his hand and examined it. ‘It is not too bad. She removed his turban and began to tire his wound. ‘You were once a Federal agent. It’s not too late to come back…’

‘Shaka will kill me.’

‘He can’t. I will protect you. Team up with me and…’  Sade stopped. She sensed she had new company. She reached for her gun. ‘Leave that gun where it is,’ a stern voice warned. She was motionless. A steel hand grabbed her collar and drew her up. She stood before a gorilla whose nose twitched with nullification. Sade lifted a fist to strike him. But someone grabbed her hand from behind. She turned her head. Something crashed on her head. Blackout.

#                                  #

Sade opened her eyes to find herself lying on the mat-floor with Shaka towering over her. The smell of his scent hit her nose as the throb inside her skull intensified. Hatred mounted in her chest. ‘You terrorist,’ she cursed.

He nodded. ‘Look at my face. I am the Official Terrorist of the Federal Republic.’ His English was surprisingly fair.

‘You are evil,’ Sade said, ‘and I am your nemesis.’

He grinned. ‘Lift her up.’

Steel hands lifted Sade up and sat her down. ‘What are you doing?’

‘You talk too much. Just watch.’ Shaka grabbed her bicep and struck in the needle of his syringe. A gasp escaped her throat, as she shot forward but iron grips held her back. Then she strengthened out on the floor, her pupils rolling away from their white backgrounds. She passed out.

‘What is next?’ Husseini asked.

‘Watch.’

Four pair of eyes watched Sade like biologists would watch a specimen in the lab.

‘Bani ruwa,’ Shaka said after a moment. One of the men sped off and returned with a cup of water. Shaka sprinkled some on Sade’s face, kicking her on the ribs. ‘Wake up, bitch.’

Sade opened vanquished eyes. ‘Get up,’ Shaka ordered. Sade languidly got to her knees. ‘She will do whatever I tell her,’ Shaka said. ‘Say I hate Nigeria.’

‘I hate Nigeria,’ Sade drawled.

‘Say I am a bitch.’

‘I am a bitch.’

‘She could be pretending,’ Husseini said.

‘No, the charm is powerful. Her head is turned. Hey, hit your head on the floor three times.’

Sade knocked her forehead on the floor, thrice.

Shaka pointed to one of the men. ‘Remove your trousers and turn around.’ The fellow obeyed without question.

‘Sade, go and kiss his ass.’

Sade crawled to him and pecked a black buttock.

‘Kiss the other one.’

She did.

Shaka shrieked, ‘Kikikikikikikikikikikiki!’

‘This is too good to be true,’ Husseini said.

‘It is true,’ Shaka said. ‘Boka is a great medicine man.’ To the experimental fellow, ‘Return your trouser to your useless waist and go and tell Technana to arrange a bomb in a bag, set for explosion in two hours.’ The two subordinates left.

‘Sade,’ Shaka called. ‘We want you to carry suicide bomb for us, will you?’

She nodded.

‘Speak out, karuwa.’

‘I will.’

A long moment later, Sade was seated in a golf car, the bomb bag in the boot. Shaka was on the window for the final instructions. ‘Remember, you will drive to the Central Market, get to a place with enough crowd and roam about till the stop watch indicates zero-zero and the bomb explodes and kills everyone. Understood?’

Sade nodded.

‘Are you not happy to die for our cause?’

 ‘I am.’

‘To your death, Nigerian famous agent!’

Sade looked at the cheap stop-watch on her wrist. 1 hour, 54 minutes for the bomb to explode. She started the ignition, engaged gear and sped off to her suicidal mission.

To be continued, after NYSC Camp… Ajuwire!

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SADE HARAM (I)

There has not been a terrorist attack on American soil since Jack Bauer first appeared on TV. We must not neglect the power of make-belief. This is Nigeria and we shall fight terrorism, one word at a time.

8.02am, 30th May, 2014

She stood before the mirror and frowned at her cheekbones and the bags under her eyes. She ran her hand on her unmade hair and decided that she would shave it off. Her hair magnified the want of flesh in her face; additionally, she had no money to take care of it.

She sighed, walked to her bed and collapsed on it. She was thirty minutes late for work, but her legs weren’t looking forward to the two hundred or so paces to where she worked. The month was not half-gone and she was already broke, she had around six hundred naira in her purse. Too unsubstantial. She had to buy things; the light and house cleaning bills could wait, but her kerosene, water, sugar, vegetable oil, soap, detergents, seasoning, pepper, salt…

She sighed again. No, six hundred naira was a mere stone to the mountain of her problems. Perhaps it was time to ask the headmaster for a raise. How could she teach CRS and Social studies in six classes and write six lesson notes, six lesson plans, mark registers, give tests, mark them, record them and swallow the insults of the ‘senior staff’ for just eight thousand naira per month. No, she would demand a raise.

With this resolve she rose to her height, clad in neat, humble shirt over pant trousers, a textbook school teacher. She gathered her books with weary hands and began a giddy walk to the door. She opened the door and beheld a sadness-infested face of man, made up with a scar under one eye. Her alarm snapped.

‘Yes?’

‘Can I come in?’ he asked.

‘No, I am late for work.’

‘You won’t be going to work if you hear what I have to say.’

‘I don’t care what you have to say. Give way.’

He remained on her way. Her anger rose from her bosom but fell as soon as it came to her face. What could she do? She turned and walked back to the room. The bed was unmade, the dish unwashed and dresses scattered around, the home of the distressed. She didn’t care that this very strange stranger saw these.

‘What do you want?’ she demanded, ‘and I didn’t ask you to sit.’

He smiled a smile that he didn’t feel. ‘Nigeria needs you Sade.’

‘I am not Sade,’ she said.

‘Who are you?’

She threw her staff ID card on his lap.

He read it. ‘Juliana Bako?’ He laughed bitterly and broke the plastic ID into two. ‘You don’t need this Sade,’ he said as he saw her eyes flash with annoyance. ‘If money is your problem, the government can give you one thousand times what you are paid in this miserable school. Sade, class teacher? No, not when your country boils.’ He rose to his feet. ‘Nigeria is in a serious problem.’

‘Talk to the President then.’

‘The President knows about it and he needs you to help solve the problem, Sade. Anything you want, just name it, the government will wire it immediately.’

‘I want rest of mind.’

He looked at her hard and she returned his gaze without flinching. He fished out his phone from his hip and began to dial a number.

‘Forget it. No one on earth will make me put my life on line for Nigeria again,’ she said.

A moment passed, he spoke rapidly in the phone then stretched out the device. Sade didn’t collect the phone. ‘The National Security Adviser on the line, Sade.’ She didn’t budge. He returned the phone to his ear.

‘Sir, she wouldn’t talk to you.’

‘Put the phone on speaker,’ came the other voice.

The phone was put on loud speaker.

‘Hello Sade, how are you?’

Sade bit her lip but said nothing.

‘Sade we need your help… I understand how you feel about Nigeria but you should know that it is still Nigerians who saved your life and gave you your new identity. The Chinese think you are dead.’

Sade didn’t open her mouth.

‘Sade, help us and get whatever you want.’

‘Sade!… Hello, Sade!’ Then carelessly, the Security Adviser said, ‘There is something you need to know about Dozie.’

‘Dozie is dead,’ Sade said huskily.

‘That is what you think.’

He died in my arms.’

The adviser chuckled. ‘That is what your eyes wished to see.’

She snatched the phone and shouted into the mouth-piece, ‘Dozie is dead!’

‘Everyone on earth thinks you are dead, Sade; now why do you think Dozie too isn’t living quietly somewhere with false name and—?’

‘No, it can’t be! Dozie is dead; I can feel his loss in my heart. If he is still alive I will know; I will feel his breath. No, he is dead!’

The NSA emitted a grunt. ‘Don’t argue with me, Sade, not now. We need you to tackle the insurgents. It is essential you help us… after that, we will talk about Dozie. Adamu will brief you.’

‘Wait…’ the call was ended.

Sade looked at Adamu. ‘Dozie is dead!’

Adamu’s face was blank. ‘I don’t know about that. The NSA should know better. Now, listen, the insurgents are in Kaduna and we have reasons to believe that they are led by their leader Shaka. They are quartered in a nomad settlement inside Takwa forest.’

‘Dozie is dead,’ Sade said.

‘The security of our nation, Sade, should be our problem for now. There are insurgents—’

‘The military should be made aware,’ she said with irritation. ‘I have head ache.’

Adamu smiled with dismay as she took her seat on the mattress, her head on her palms. ‘We can’t involve the military for now. There are one hundred and fifty girls kidnapped from a boarding school last night and we can’t attack the terrorist base and endanger the lives of these girls.’

Sade looked up. ‘Girls kidnapped? Again?’ She was alarmed.

‘Again.’ Adamu was ashamed. ‘We have intel that the terrorists are quartered in Kaduna in preparation for a major attack on Abuja. So we have to act fast. We also need to rescue the girls before it inspires another international storm.’

Sade sighed. ‘Why kidnap girls?’

‘To use them as human shields. With the girls in their midst, we will not use airstrike. And also to embarrass the government. This is war, Sade.’

‘But why girls?’

‘Because they are damned terrorists!’

‘What do you want me to do?’

‘We want you to enter their camp and ascertain for sure that the girls are there, get their position and inform us on how best to strike.’

Sade rose to her feet. ‘Me alone?’

He said yes.

‘That’s a suicide mission.’

Adamu nodded, pained. ‘But you are the only one we can trust. The terrorists don’t know for sure that we are on them and if you are captured we know you won’t talk.’

‘If I am captured, they will torture and molest me.’

Again, Adamu nodded, pained. ‘The chances of capturing you are low,’ he said. ‘But you mustn’t expect the worst; just be prepared.’

Sade made to her desk, opened a tattered massive textbook and brought out a postcard-sized photograph of Dozie. He had his jaw in his palm, smiling brightly at her, his eyes locked in hers. Sade caressed his face.

Ninety-nine per cent of Sade said Dozie was dead, one per cent suspected he was alive… A teasing dilemma. Could she afford to risk her life in order to find out about Dozie, to satisfy one per cent of her?

‘There are over one hundred and fifty girls being abused by terrorists as I speak to you, Sade.’

‘There are fifteen thousand secret agents in the country,’ Sade said.

‘We know no one who can handle this better than you.’

Sade’s eyes were locked on the photo. ‘I am out of touch. And Dozie is dead.’

‘You may never find your man,’ Adamu agreed, ‘you may never rescue the girls, you may die in the terrorist camp, but I know you Sade. You can’t live with the blood of these girls on your thought. You have sacrificed a lot for this country, the girls need you.’

‘I am a school teacher. I teach the next generation. My pupils need me.’

‘And there are a hundred and fifty girls who will never go to school again, who will never have a shot at leading the next generation. Not just because they are kidnapped, but because people like Sade are still bearing old grudges. You can’t let this happen just to show us how angry you are.’

Sade said nothing.

‘Come on, Sade, your boyfriend being a worthy Nigerian will approve of this.’

Sade turned. ‘And where is he?’

‘I don’t know. But I know you want to help us; I can see it written boldly on your face.’

Sade still wasn’t so sure. She had done undercover agent thrice. Among drug dealers in Benin Republic, among traffickers in Libya and among the militants in the Niger Delta. She was found out in the last two assignments and tortured. Interpol rescued her in Tripoli while the militants released her when Amnesty was declared. She was a captive for at least a month in each camp. She was tortured at first then dumped with other captives. She knew that she couldn’t expect such from the terrorists, if they captured her….

‘Sade, we are wasting time.’

Sade put Dozie’s photograph away. ‘How do you want to do this? If I say yes, you will take me on a jet and drop me in the forest?’

‘We will go first to the Secret Service Division and get you equipped for the journey,’ Adamu said, half-successful in concealing his impatience.

If she didn’t do this, the crooked NSA was sure to turn her to the Chinese. And this time, there would be no hope for her. Better Terrorists than dying in the hands of the Chinese, she reasoned. But… was she so sure?… The Chinese won’t rape her nor cut off her head; what they would do was plant a bullet in her head. And they were even. But the terrorists! They would want to eat her cake and have her!

‘Sade, let’s go,’ Adamu’s voice cut through her consciousness. She brought out Dozie’s photo for one last glance…

Crack! Crack! Crack!

Adamu seized his breath, mouth agape; he fell on his knees and spread limp on her feet, blood gushing out of his back. Sade looked up as a tall thin youth wearing a white-turned-brown sleeveless over big jeans trousers, his pistol smoking entered the room. Another youth wearing a dirty white-check turban and wielding a gun across his shoulders like a nomad’s stick came to a stand before his comrade. The first pointed his pistol on Sade’s chest.

Sade shut her eyes. At least she would die with Dozie’s picture in her hand.

She heard whisperings in a language she didn’t care to follow. She opened her eyes when she thought she heard one of them mention her name. A third man had joined them. He was dressed in khaki with his eyes hidden behind dark goggles, between stubborn forehead and fanatical beard. He had a pistol held in his belt. He took off his dark glasses to reveal blood-shot eyes and spoke. ‘I know you,’ he declared, beads of saliva pouring from his yellowed teeth. ‘You are Sade!’

Sade’s heart broke with grief. Now she remembered him; he was Sami, her partner in the Niger Delta. A Secret Agent turned terrorist! ‘She is a government agent,’ he told the others.

‘Why did you become a terrorist?’ Sade asked. ‘Why betray your country after all—?’

Sami hit his fist on her abdomen cutting her speech short. ‘You bagger! So it is you that the SS want to use!’

Sade bent double, clutching her belly as pains tore into her intestines. Sami grabbed her on the hair, lifted her face up and gave her a rock head-butt on her face. She returned to her knees, her bloody nose on her palms. The men surrounded her. ‘Yensu fa?’ one of them asked.

They would kill her; there was no time for theatrics. She suddenly stretched up, snatched the pistol in Sami’s belt and shot away from the men, covering them with the pistol, her back on the door. ‘Take it easy,’ she said to them, jeeringly. ‘Drop your weapons and put your hands up!’

Sami lifted stiff hands above stubborn shoulders. ‘What do you think you are doing? You are already in our hand.’

She didn’t like the smug smile on his face. She—

A heavy object exploded in the back of her head. She didn’t see it coming; she didn’t hear it either. It just exploded, driving her senses out of her as she fell on her kneels then her side.

‘Shegia!’ Sami cursed. ‘Take her to the vehicle.’

‘But Shaka ordered us to kill whoever this SS man came to see.’

‘Yes, but Sade is different; she is too valuable to die immediately. Take her to the vehicle.’

Strong hands lifted Sade off the ground and carried her away.

To be Continued

Forty-eight hours ago, my eldest sister and godmother was delivered of a fairy baby boy, her fourth, my number ten niece/nephew, worldwide, incorporated. Hard Voices wish both mother and child everlasting Godspeed. Now the more kids come to call me Uncle, the more I… I don’t know.

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