It was the third night of the raid. We all perched on the edges of our seats, our last breath clinging to our nostrils, not sure if the next breath should be allowed or not. We had been counting the houses before ours that had been raided and we knew this night was our turn.
We were ready.
All our valuables were laid out on the central table. This was the night. Daddy’s laptop that just came from the USA was right there beside my Nokia torchlight phone, this was no night for discrimination. We only hoped the men would be pleased with our offer and leave peaceably.
We had been sitting in front of the television set for 30minutes when they came. Yes, we were watching TV. We barely saw what the actors and actresses neither did we take note when the screen briefly turned blue when light went off at the station. We just watched. Blankly.
“You know who we are. Open this door.”
We were three children. Being the first born, I was expected to get the door and I had rehearsed doing this since our neighbors told us of their ordeal the night before. We had heard a part of the shouting and the eventual crash as their door was kicked open. The men had pounced on the person closest to the door. It was bloody. No one was sure if he was going to make it. My parents had told me to greet the men respectfully when they came.
“Good evening sirs. Please come in.”
The man at the centre of the trio smiled, revealing a perfectly white set of teeth. None missing, none broken. He motioned for the other two to go in first. I quickly found my way back to my assigned seat, beside father. We were all scared but we, the adults, had somehow comforted ourselves with the thought that we were very cooperative and nothing was supposed to go wrong.
The leader, he had no mask on, unlike the other two. Most of the commands he gave were through signs like telling one of them to count the number of phones laid out on the central table. The guy counted eight and ‘fine teeth’ smiled, obviously satisfied. Not with the number per se but because it tallied with what they were expecting. They had enough info about what we had and what they were going away with.
My twin brothers, eight years old, were balanced on mother’s laps. They were obviously terrified at these men all dressed in black, two of them sporting masks and waving guns around as they pleased. The three of them looked exactly as the bad guys were depicted in all their horror movies. One of them even had a semblance of a vampire tooth.
“Your daughter is beautiful.”
“Thank you sir.” My father shifted uncomfortably in his seat. We had to discuss the possibility of sexual favors after the last raid. My mother had agreed to offer herself in my place if it ever came up. Father had vowed to rather die than watch his only daughter deflowered by some unknown thief. He had spat on the rug when he said that.
“She will make a good wife.”
His men snickered. It didn’t last long as ‘fine teeth’ threw a face in their direction. His authority was palpable. None of them looked able to defy him. Not even in their hearts.
“I believe so too… A good wife to the man God has for her.”
“I am that man.”
They were done packing the valuables and were now eating the chicken laps mum had fried for them before their arrival.
Father was losing his calm.
“We could just have her tonight boss.”
The silence after the shot was amazing. The guy stood, swaying slightly before he fell. I looked at ‘fine teeth’ and I began to see other features about him. Features I found myself appreciating, even admiring.
His eyebrows were perfect arcs and full. He had a slightly long face with full lips. He kept an afro which looked well kept and groomed especially with his sideburns. He looked muscled up but I could not be sure because of the leather jacket he had on.
His manner of speech was also attractive. And I found myself smiling at him.
“She likes me too.”
Father turned to face me. The sudden well placed slap from him wiped off the smile on my face.
‘Fine teeth’ was already raising his gun.
“Please…”. I was kneeling in front of him.
Mother was already in tears. This was not something we had envisaged.
“What happens if I don’t go with you… Sir?”
I knew what his answer would be but I wanted my parents to hear him.
“You’ll go with me, either with a family left behind or not.”
“Father, bless our union…”.
This ‘fine teeth’ really was something else. He actually wanted father to bless our ‘marriage’. Father was biting his upper lip as he does when he is about to explode. Mother had to hold his hand and squeeze, hoping he would calm down and see why exploding was a step away from ‘fine teeth’s gun exploding.
“God bless your union.”
He motioned for the other guy to carry the body of his dead colleague while I carried the bag containing the valuables.
This destiny I was about stepping into… The wife of a thief