EMPTY VESSELS – PART 1

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ONE YEAR AGO

I starred with awe at the vessel. I was in my first year studying marine engineering in the Maritime Academy and my commodore asked me to join him in a vessel inspection. I had never been so far off shore until that point and I have to say, it felt amazing.

I left him to look around and try to understand and validate some of the things I was hearing in class while I looked at different rooms and equipment. I hadn’t wandered long when I heard a loud voice behind me.

“Small girl wetin you dey find here?”

I recoiled for a second and was about to give an answer but I was interrupted by the same person. “Wetin dey happen for this ship sef?” he said with annoyance. “We don dey bring small girls enter vessel now? Na wa o”

I didn’t know how to respond. I was a little scared and I did not know where my commodore had gotten to. He didn’t seem to realize that as he continued yelling. He had this look about him that made me suspect he was working in some labour room or brig (if this were a pirate ship). He was oil stained and scruffy but I couldn’t take in much else on account of his shouting.

“Guy… Commodore dey call you” I was saved by the fact that my accuser had just been summoned by the commodore and I could hear myself think. I went about my business not thinking much about the confrontation I had. It must have been no more than twenty minutes when I heard voices coming from a different part of the vessel and I hurried to check what was going on.

I saw my accuser being dragged somewhere and my heart skipped. My commodore was behind him and I had never seen him that angry before. “So you just shout anyhow?’ my commodore shouted “So there was a lady in the vessel and you didn’t think to verify quietly as to how she got there!”

I couldn’t help but think to myself “this is because of me”? I was told my accuser was being taken to the guard room and he was to be drilled. I couldn’t bear the fact that he would be tortured because of me so I started begging.

“Please commodore release him’ I cried and after a few minutes, he was spared.

PRESENT DAY

I find that as long as I am in Nigeria, I am not big on continental dishes. Thank God I can cook my own food. I know at this point you do not see yet why I made the previous statement. So it’s a year later and I find myself in another vessel; this time, I am on my Industrial Training and I am enjoying it. There were horror stories we would hear once in a while about militants and all but I had never experienced it so I didn’t care.

I decided to fill up my IT period with new knowledge so I thought to myself I should learn to sail. I approached the captain and he was more than happy to show me the ropes (get it?) and once every few days, I would go up to the deck and he would show me something new and before I knew it, I started to know I was doing up there.

One day I was up there sailing while the captain when a funny sight caught my attention. I saw some small boats on the water and the first thought that came to my mind was Look at these small boats o. Are they trying to get themselves capsized? but before I could complete that thought process, I saw what looked like fire coming from the boats. I looked closely as the came closer and I realized that what looked like sparks of fire were actually gun shots. That was when I knew this thing was real and I got out of there in a second. By the time I got to the lower deck,I could hear the commotion and I knew my ship had been taken by militants but that I dint know was that the militants had me in my mind when they came.

I ran into the engine room and locked myself inside and could only hope that I would not be discovered. I was the only female in that vessel and I feared for my life as I sat in a corner in the engine room. I wondered to myself what if everyone is dead by the time I go out? Oh God! I am going to die alone in an empty vessel.

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