The terrain around the compound was a gentle ascension from sea level. But that was the only thing gentle about it. The ground was half sand and mostly coral rocks, with sharp edges that snapped her goat leather sandals apart when she didn’t land her foot too carefully.
Zohra remembered her father laughing at her when she tried to walk barefoot like her stepsisters and ended up with tiny and absolutely painful little cuts. He’d be laughing now too.
She gave up on walking on one sandal in about 15 minutes, and set herself down on a larger calcite rock that half jutted out of a bush. Only then did the flood of chagrin hit her.
It didn’t even make sense, she was here, and supposedly being kept safe from some unseen danger whose existence had only been attested to by the very same person who was keeping her here. Surely she had bigger troubles than rebelling at a stepmom who had once been her playmate.
Well, bully would be more accurate. Faridah had been younger, her older sister being the same age as and best friend to Zohra’s half-sister, Mariamu. But even then Faridah had been comfortable enough of her place in the village to make Zohra feel like an outsider, and a little less normal than everyone else.
Zohra had been sitting on her rock for about a minute when she heard the voices. She couldn’t see them yet, but she knew in not too long the men would emerge from the shrubbery from the direction of the homestead, and soon enough they would be laughing at the ‘yellow-yellow’.
Zohra was about to resign herself to her fate when she heard it. The staccato that she had only heard in movies was amplified as it rolled on the hilly terrain. She was still trying to translate the sound in her mind when something hit the rock she was sitting on with enough force to split a shard that then hit her on the arm.
For a moment she sat there, the sound of the shouting men and even more staccato echoing around her only vaguely registered in her mind. She was mesmerised by the rivulet of warm red that slid slowly down her arm.
She saw the figure rushing in from the corner of her eye, and heard the sharp swearing a moment before she was practically lifted off her seat, and pushed onto the ground behind a shrub.
She struggled to pull out of the near hypnosis as the man she recognised as Musa, one of her father’s men took off his shirt and wrapped it around her arm, all the while saying something to her that she could not comprehend. On the periphery of her mind, the thought danced, that the shirt was not so clean and that Musa did not smell too good.
He sat on his hunches obviously trying to figure out what was going on around them. Then he pulled out his phone and dialled.
When he whispered into the phone, “Boss, the girl has been shot,” she looked at her arm and saw that Musa’s shirt had turned from a dirty white into a fanning crimson red pattern.