“Did you like the new clothes?” That was the hotel manager. It was the following afternoon.
“I don’t know” I said.
“But they are nice” He said.
“Yes they are nice”.
“You will wear one of them tonight to Italy” He continued.
I kept quiet.
He tried to give me more encouragement and advised me not to attempt to run away.
“Libya is dangerous now, especially for women. They kill people everyday. If you run away to a place you don’t know, they will capture you and send you back to Prison. We will not come to release you. You will stay there for many years and nobody will help you. So you must do what i say. My friend will come and pick you up by 8 this evening. If anybody give you anything to take to Italy, please don’t take it. If anybody ask you to swallow anything, don’t do it. When you get to Italy, your Aunty will come and pick you up” He had said before he left.
Without being told, he was right. Venturing out into the empty country would be dangerous. Not that i was going to be killed but i could be stopped and questioned. And if they discovered that i had no legal documents, i would be headed back to the Prison. And no matter how much Aunty Philo and his gang of traffickers wanted me in Italy, i knew that it wouldn’t take them much to decide against helping me again. The truth was that i was already at their mercies and i didn’t need to misbehave.
When the manager left, i decided that nothing would make me run away again. I was going to follow them wherever they wanted.
I was going to the Sea that night, at least if anything happened on the road, they would know that it wasn’t my fault and that would make them help me out. But i also knew that if i died on the road, my body wasn’t going to be flown to Nigeria. They didn’t fly me from Nigeria to Libya when i was alive. I had to go through Benin Republic – Ghana- Burkina Faso- Niger Republic before i got there. There was no way they would fly me home when i am dead.
For the rest of the day, i did nothing but prayed in my mind. I asked God to be with me, to secure me and to take me safely across the Sea.
Without being told, i knew that the Sea was a dangerous place to venture. I wasn’t a fish and as a result, i wasn’t designed to live in the water. I didn’t know how to swim, there was no big river in the area i grew up. Swimming pools were for the rich, i didn’t even see any swimming pool for the first 17 years of my life. The first time i saw it was at a hotel in Benin City where we were arranged to go and meet a government official who came from Abuja to inspect a project in Benin City.
Ten girls were arranged to go and entertain him and his entourage. We were paid to massage and have sex with them. We were taken to the hotel swimming pool where we drank champagne and played with them for the whole night until they left the next day.
It was my first time to do such thing but it wasn’t my first time to have sex. But those were stories for another day.
It was 8:20 pm when The knock came to my door. I had been waiting for it since 7pm.
“We are ready” The male voice had said as he pushed the door open.
I was already standing up with my yellow nylon bag containing one of the new clothes. I had been told to throw away the old one; therefore my entire property at that time was the two clothes.
“You look beautiful” The manager had said.
I followed him to the back of the hotel where the other man was waiting, it was the man who had come to the Misrata Prison yard with him.
There was a small gate at the back of the hotel that led to a single road, we followed it and came out to the road where his car was packed.
Two other girls were already seated in the car, both were Nigerians from their looks.
I opened the front door and entered as was instructed by the man.
A quick look at the back and a good evening was enough for the two girls seated behind me.
“The place we are going now is called Zuwarrah. It is an hour drive from here and it is close to the Tunisian Border. I will hand you over to the man who will take you to Italy. We have already paid for the transport to Italy, so you don’t have to worry. You will be taken to a large farm where you could stay for up to three days or even one week depending on when enough Passengers are ready. He will be giving you food and you are not to venture out of the place. The Police come there sometimes, so you must do as he say” Do you understand me.
We all kept quiet.
What was going on?
We were to be handed over to someone else once more.
We were to be hidden in a farm for up to one week depending on when they have enough passengers to make the trip.
Since i had decided that i wasn’t going to make any silly move, resigned to my fate.
I was going to do everything he had said.
What other options did i even have? None except to run away which i knew would be the biggest mistake of my “Journey to Italy” Career.
We drove in silence for several minutes until we entered the city of Zuwarrah.
We drove inside a hotel and were taken into one room; three of us.
When the man left, i asked the other girls where they come from.
They were both from Edo State.
There were both going to travel to Italy with me on the same boat and at the same time; Ayo and Tricia.
“But Ayo is a Yoruba name” I had said when she told me her name.
She said her mother was from Remo, somewhere in Ogun State or So.
We didn’t have much to discuss in the hotel room, except the introductions and the routes we took to Libya.
Both of them had been together from day one of their travels until that very day.
They had come from Northern Nigeria, A town called Daura in Katsina State Nigeria.
Their desert crossing story was more pathetic than mine. Their vehicle had broken down twice in the middle of nowhere and it was the Grace of God that saved them.
“Broken down? Tell me about it” I had demanded.
I was a little older than both of them. They were just kids, 16 Year old girls.
” Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.”