I clearly needed some psychotic human traffickers after me before I could run solidly, nonstop, for an hour and a half. At least that’s how long I think I’ve been running. I can’t be sure. Bill must have noticed I’m gone by now but no cars have come from that direction.
I’m thirsty, drenched in sweat and out of breath. My feet are bleeding. Mind over matter, Samantha, mind over matter. If Beyoncé can practise in six-inch stilettos for a two-hour high-energy performance, I sure as hell can run for my life barefoot. With the lights of the town beckoning like a warm embrace, I pick up my pace again. It’s funny, I was just reading the other day about how some runners are embracing running barefoot, claiming that our bare soles are actually made to deal with terrain, naturally. Ha! They should see my feet now!
It takes me a while but I finally get there. As I approach the town, there is a lot more traffic than there was on the deserted road. Passers-by look at me oddly but no one offers me help. A boda boda almost runs me over! I must be a strange sight with my dishevelled hair, sweaty clothes and no shoes. Despite the strange looks, I feel safer with all the activity around me. For the first time since my kidnapping, I begin to relax. I walk into the first shop I see.
“Naweza kutumia simu tafadhali?” I ask the lady behind the counter, asking in Kiswahili to use a phone.
She answers that her place of business is not a public phone booth. I explain to her that it’s an emergency.
“10 bob per minute,” she answers.
She actually wants to make money off me? Whatever happened to helping out your fellow man? I explain to her that I have no money but she seems unmoved. What a bitch!
“Hapa niwapi?” I ask, requesting for information about the town.
She mentions a location about 30 minutes drive from Nairobi. That’s odd. I remember Nabil driving for at least an hour, maybe more. But I fell asleep so heaven’s knows where he took me before he brought me here. Or perhaps he was driving round in circles. I ask the lady to point me in the direction of the nearest police station. Asking about the cops makes her believe I’m really in trouble. She looks at my bleeding feet and enquires how far I’ve come from. I tell her I’m not sure, my voice cracking with desperation and she finally hands me her phone.
“Asante sana! Barikiwa!” I say to her, thanking her. She gestures impatiently and says that the call should not take long.
Who do I call? My mother? No, she’ll be worried sick and will have no clue what to do. My siblings? Yes. I try my elder sister but the dreaded voice of Maggie Wazome (the lady one hears when one tries to reach an offline Safaricom subscriber) comes on:
“Samahani mteja wa nambari uliyopiga hapatikani kwa sasa (Sorry, the mobile subscriber cannot be reached).”
I idly wonder if Wazome has some sense of irony when she tries to reach someone urgently and her own automated message comes on.
I try my brother next. His phone rings but he doesn’t answer. He hates picking calls from unknown numbers. Those two are the only ones I know by heart. My heart sinks. How many numbers off your contact list can you reach in an emergency without reference?
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