It has been a struggle trying to cope with life challenges the other face of the world having been from a humble background. Here I was, in a new environment trying to make ends meet. The only hope I had was the level of ‘discomfort’ I left at home and how I wanted to make it right for all of us.
Lord knows I had gone through struggles to finally have the chance to experience life in a different way from what I was used to. The only friend I had was Bob. To think that we were all of an African origin, though from different countries, in a foreign land is what kept us close to one another. We had for long lived like brothers. Whatever was his was mine and so was the case for him. In fact, the only difference we shared was the different jobs we had.
Tik – tak – tik – tak! I listened and watched as the clock tickled. It was unusual for Bob to stay out late into ungodly hours of the night. I had waited long enough and was now beginning to develop cold feet. 11:47 pm yet there was no sign of Bob in the neighbourhood. Normally, we avoided staying out late because of the level of uncertainty attached to black people. You needed to ensure that you were not found on the ‘wrong’ side of the ‘law’ for your own safety and well-being.
At that particular moment, I had tried to reach out for Bob through his cell phone to no avail. His phone was going through but no one answered it, a fact that bothered me even more. It was definite to me that he was in some kind of trouble because there were so many loop holes that proved so. I thought of going to look for him but then again, I stopped for a second and thought.
“What if I also run into trouble like him? Maybe he’s just fine wherever he is.” I thought to myself. I smelt a rat but I could not help the dilemma. Doing so would land me in trouble as well and I did not want to bargain for that.
It was already half a day of the following day. Several months had gone and I had learnt to live without Bob. After all we all were grown up men and knew how to survive. Nonetheless, whatever had transpired during and after that experience kept me contemplating about returning back home. Even though I had just lived up to a year and two months in Europe. Everything had fallen out of place on my end. I kept thinking of how life used to be smooth back home despite not having all the pleasures I was enjoying now. Maybe it was just an indication that I needed to get back home.
As the day ended at my place of work, I longed to go and be with my companion. One that was sent to rescue me from all the uncertainty which had followed after Bob left. Anita, Anita was her name. She had been with me since. She was the reason I was still standing firm and struggled to cope with the negative turnout of events in my life. I knew I owed her everything I had because she came into my life just a month after Bob left and was the one that taught me everything I knew about surviving in Europe.
Since Bob had left, I figured it out that I needed a companion to stay with and since she was the only friend I had at that time, I decided she was the one I was going to invite in. Though, it has never been clear to me how we met. I was blinded by the love she gave me right from the first sight I had of her.
“Beb, do you trust me?” She asked in a soft voice. She used to ask me that whenever she needed to know or get something from me.
“Yes, of course you know that.” I answered. “Ok,” she said. Definitely, I knew something was up in her mind but she had not just yet let it out and so, I became rather concerned by what it was she wanted to tell me.
I had just alighted from a cab and was now walking down to my house. Suddenly, three heavily built men appeared in front of me and directly blocked my way. I tried to swerve on my right, they swerved as well this time beginning to get closer to me. It was obvious to me they were up to no good. I looked at them trying to get some clear glimpse of who they really were but none of them had I seen in my entire life.
For a while, I stopped and asked my creator why my life was in such a mess. I kept encountering trouble day in day out. As I was still trying to figure that out, a blue van drove right beside me. “Jump in!’ A female voice yelled. Thinking of what trouble was ahead of me, I quickly jumped into the car without thinking who it was and why she had appeared at that particular time when I seriously needed help. Before I could even shut the door, the van was already speeding off towards the direction of my house.
“Wait! Wait! Slow down!” I yelled. “My house is just down the road. I will appreciate it if you could just drop me off at that spot,” I added as I pointed at a parking bay just beside my house.
“That won’t be a nice idea,” the lady said. At that point, I gazed at her in disbelief and Alas!! It was Anita. The sight of her shocked me. But I immediately calmed down knowing that she was no stranger to me. Although, I was still surprised.
“Please, I know you have so many questions to ask but you just need to trust me.” She stated. It was true I needed to find out how she managed all she had done in just a short span of time. Maybe that was just not the perfect time to do that. I was willing to keep my concerns to myself until we found a safer place.
We had driven for nearly thirty minutes and from the look of activities, Anita was not looking like she was going to stop any time soon. I getting uneasy. She had also suddenly turned into being very commanding whenever I raised a concern about what was happening.
“Ok, you know what, I need to know what is going on, and you either tell me now or you stop this car and let me get out. Who are those guys?” I reckoned. Unlikely of her, she yelled back and ordered me to stay silent. Definitely, everything was a miss.
I had lost hope of begging her to stop the car. All I could do was have my fingers crossed that everything would turn out positively. Even though it was unlikely. First, where is she driving to? Why did she appear just when I needed help? Did she know the guys who were at the verge of attacking me earlier? A lot of questions lingered in my mind. I could not figure out answers to any of them.
Suddenly, the car diverged to a deserted road that led to a rather deserted structure as well almost eight miles from where we were coming from. A group of middle aged young men and women came out of the building that seemed to me as a warehouse as Anita stopped the car and asked me to come out. I was not sure what to expect at this point. Then one guy walked towards the car and dragged me out.
He then made me stand in the middle of them all. Just then, this time a female voice congratulated Anita for delivering on her promise. Although I was still clueless on what was happening, I unquestionably knew whoever these guys were, they were the same team with the ones who had attacked me earlier on. Including Anita who was now looking at me as she walked towards the van ready to drive off.
“So it was all a plan to accomplish your mission, everything we shared? Are you just going to drive away and let it go, just like that?” I tried to convince her otherwise but to no avail. She jumped into the car and I watched as she slowly disappeared into the horizon
“Now that we have him, what next?” I heard a voice ask just outside the room that I was locked in. “We stick to the plan. Let everybody be ready. We are leaving tomorrow.” Another voice replied. Suddenly, the door flung wide open then two gentlemen walked straight in front of me. As I raised my eyes to look at them, there he was. Bob himself in person. “This must be a mirage,” I thought to myself.
“I’m sorry we are meeting again like this friend,” he said. I did not know what to say to him. Again, he was yet another set up in my life and I guess, I just needed to live with it.
The following morning came and until then was when I realised that Bob was the leader of a clique that engaged in all manner of illegal activities. For this particular consignment, as they called it, I was demanded to deliver some container from a country that I was to be told when the time was ripe.
I could hear them discuss in low tones stating that as at that time, everything was working as they had planned. Whatever deal they wanted to seal would bring them thousands of dollars if all went well. That I was sure because they all seemed happy as they talked of how they were going to share the money amongst themselves.
I was still not sure of how Anita had gotten involved with such a group of people not to talk of Bob who was their overall leader.
After several hours of not knowing where I was headed, Bob looked at me with a smiley face and narrated, “We expect you to deliver a container from the port of Libya in a couple of hours. Note that this container has very delicate contents and should therefore be handled with a lot of care. You safely delivered it to us and you are a free man. Failure to that…”
I knew my life was at stake. The uncertainty of events that had transpired proved so. Although I was not aware of the exact contents, I knew my freedom was solely dependent on the delivery of that shipment. But again, I knew whatever Bob and his gang were up to was illegal and that is why they had chosen to sacrifice me at their own expense if anything was to go wrong.
We landed at Zuwarah International Airport in Libya at about noon and from there, I was assigned a driver from among the gang who was to take me to the port and ensure I delivered my own end of the ‘deal’.
At exactly 3:20 pm, the driver had already dropped me off at the Darna seaport as earlier instructed. Darna seaport is a general cargo and container seaport located in the Eastern coast of Libya that only allows docking during the day.
About ten minutes after my driver had gone, I was at the sight where I was to meet up some guys whom Bob stated would hand the shipment over to me. To my surprise, Anita emerged from the blues and asked me to come with her. What she did not tell me was how she even got there in the first place. She was nowhere close to what Bob and his group had described to me as the person I was to meet.
She told me whatever was bound to happen, she has already taken care of it. She also assured me that she was there to save me from the danger that I was exposed to. So, heeded to all that and followed her to her car.
Somehow, we managed to exit the port despite the heavy security around there. Things seemed to be unusual as we drove off gauging from the high level of security.
“I have always wanted a revenge over what that gang did to me. I just feel eased now that I am about to achieve my aim.” I looked at Anita in surprise as she said that to me.
She explained to me how Bob together with his gang were going to use me conduct their dirty business.
Moments after we left the port, we came to this place where arguably, there were tens of police cars parked outside a given building by the road side. Anita assured me that she had planned the apprehension of Bob and his group and yes, it was them that were being arrested for illegal participation in slave trade.
I could not believe it. Maybe, I could be the one being arrested but all thanks to her. Now I understood why she had asked if I trusted her some days back. We surely had a lot to talk about when we got back home. From the genesis of it all.