“I sabi you na” he howled. “Na you I meet last year wey commodore wan carry me go guardroom”. Oh shit I thought to myself. Sitting on the cabin floor with my colleagues I wished I hadn’t come out to check what was happening…. Let me catch you up.
I shivered uncontrollably in the engine room and the more time passed, the hotter it became. You see, the engine room is completely impenetrable and if one is in there, even a bomb from the outside can do little or no harm to anyone who is housed in there but that was just the thing…it was almost airtight and very very hot.
I didn’t have a time piece so I couldn’t estimate how long I had spent in there. Our vessel was being taken by what looked and sounded like militants and I was scared … really scared.
After what seemed like a lifetime, I decided to poke my head out of my hideout and just as though they were waiting for me, I felt a hand on my shirt collar and that is how I was dragged to meet my colleagues.
“Na you we dey find since o girl” one of the gunmen said as he saw me being dragged to the cabin my colleagues were being held. “We know say them go do anything to release you”. My heart sank and as I hit the cabin floor, I looked around to make sure everyone was accounted for. Fifteen of us were jammed into this small cabin and there was this uncomfortable look one of the gunmen was giving me.
“I sabi you na” he said finally.
“No” I denied on Impulse “I don’t think so” I said
“Ah anh” he said, confused. “Na you I meet last year wey commodore wan carry me go guardroom”. I honestly didn’t remember him. I remembered the incident that happened a year ago but the faces of the people involved were vague.
Just then, he pointed his gun at one of my colleagues and I couldn’t help but gasp. “I go shoot am if you lie give me again” his look was fierce and he was angry.
What do I do? If I admit I am the one, who knows what he’ll do to me?
I thought about all the people I needed to make my peace with because I was almost too sure I wouldn’t leave that vessel alive. All the horror stories about vessels I had heard came rushing back to me. I knew there was no escape.
“Yes I am the one” I said with a shaky voice.
“I talk am” he said with some relief in his voice and that surprised me; I was expecting my answer to be met with rage. “Oya go cook something make we chop” he continued “this una chef na only continental him sabi”.
I got up from the floor and he followed me. I had previously made some Okro soup which was too much for me to finish and on getting to the kitchen, I opened the fridge and immediately went for it. He was monitoring my every move.
“No worry. Notin go do jyou for this boat” he said calmly. “You been save my life last year and I no be bad pesin”
I saved his life? He doesn’t want to hurt me? I didn’t react but I believed what he was saying; it sounded true.
“If to say you no beg for me, e for bad for dat guardroom” he continued.
Turns out he and his gang were hired by some of our crew members because of a disagreement they had with the Captain as it concerned appropriation of funds within the vessel. They had asked that I be threatened as the Captain had a soft spot for me. I was told that no harm was originally intended and the fact that I went into the engine room was the only challenge they had. The captain, on knowing I was safe became non responsive and according to what my captor said, If I didn’t come out when I did, perhaps the vessel would have lost her captain.
I warmed the soup and within fifteen minutes, the militants were done eating, they left the vessel with some of our oil and a lot of money but I wasn’t scared anymore, I had been filled in while in the kitchen and all I could do was wonder which of my colleagues could be this diabolical as to put all our lives at risk.
That was not my last time on a vessel, but it was the first and last time I had such an experience. I had always heard that one good turn deserved another but I had no clue, not in a thousand years that it would hold so true for me.