Life in a Libyan prison became unbearable just after a day.
My life had changed to something else.
The day we came in, we were shown around by a female Prison officer. And we had believed things were not too difficult until when the following day, nobody came to do anything for us.
The food they served us were nothing close to what we were used to.
It was true we were prisoners and had no rights whatsoever to make demands but i in particular never expected that things could get that worse.
After our lunch the previous day, we were told that we could join the other prisoners to play around until 4pm when we were to return to our room.
We couldn’t play with anybody; we had no friends. We just stood near a fence and watched as other people played.
We heard Igbo And Yoruba languages. We heard Edo too but were very cautions to approach anybody even those who spoke our own very language.
Everybody had suddenly disappeared around 4pm and while we walked slowly back to our room; two uniformed men approach us and asked us to lie on the floor.
They produced a whip and started hitting us.
Nina cried while i wondered what was wrong.
Was that the standard thing here?
No it wasn’t because after dealing with us, one of the men told us to run fast back to our room.
Oh! It was timing thing. We were supposed to disappear as soon as possible immediately it was 4pm.
Nobody told us to be in a haste about that. But we learnt the hard way.
“I am going to kill myself” Nina had said as soon as we got back into the room.
I got scared. “Listen Nina, we will get out of this. You just have to hold on”.
“For how long?” she started crying.
Despite everything that was happening to us, i knew that the other prisoners were going through similar situations. And since they were holding on, we should be doing the same too.
“Nina, there are many people here. They were happy playing their games this evening. We must learn from them. Just calm down, things will change, things always change” I had said.
Aunty Philo was nowhere to be seen or heard. The people who were supposed to take us to the harbour had disappeared.
Yes, i wanted to believe that they had disappeared because if they were also in prison, our situation would have been the worst.
I had prayed that they were not in prison because they were the only people who knew what had happened to us.
They told us not to panic when we were arrested. There must have been a reason for that, but it was just a hope.
The second morning after we were brought to the prison facility, Nina reminded me that we didn’t eat that night.
There was no alarm for dinner. But food was the least of my priorities at that stage.
While Nina announced that she was going to take her own life, i prayed silently that death would come and take me away but it never happened.
I stayed alive in that prison until we began to blend into the prison system.
We would hear the morning bell, got ready for our room to be unlocked, went to Eat our breakfast, went to play in the fields, went to eat our lunch, play a little more before retiring for the night.
Dinner was not on the menu, though sometimes, they came and shared some snacks late in the evening.
Our bodies were confined in one place and so was our minds.
The worst was our minds that wondered outside the prison.
Yes, our minds wondered outside the prison at all times; i thought about everything out there. I thought about if anything was being done to free us.
Aunty Philo who was our primary contact was in Italy, there was nothing she could do from there and even if there was, i doubted she could bribe the authorities for our freedom.
I wondered if the two men who were crossing us were also doing anything about our conditions. I had watched as they were also cuffed, it meant they could have also been locked up somewhere.
Our situation was that of hopelessness. The worst part of it all was that i refused to accept that i could spend months or even years there.
Two days after we were arrested, Nina got sick. She had started vomiting inside the room and when i asked what it was, she said she had contacted cold.
I had quickly pressed the emergency button fixed on the left side of the cell wall and a woman came two minutes later.
“My friend is dying” I had stammered.
When the woman asked what happened, i told her what Nina had been doing.
While i spoke with her, Nina was curled on the bed shivering.
“Please do something” I had nearly shouted.
The woman had left and returned five minutes later with three other people and a stretcher.
They carried Nina onto the stretcher and locked me back inside the room, then they left with her.
I had held the iron bars that served as our door and watched as they carried Nina away slowly.
It didn’t take much time for it to dawn on me that i could be left alone inside the cell for an unknown period of time.
For the first time since our troubles, i had a real cry. Not that it helped but there was absolutely nothing else to do. I couldn’t read the single Koran left inside the room and the worst part was that it wasn’t written in English.
I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t come up with any idea of what was going to happen to us next.
As i cried, i blamed Jamb for my woes. If i had passed the exams, i wouldn’t have been in that hopeless situation.
I slept alone that night, it was the worst night i have ever had in my entire life. I needed a companion to share the hopelessness with. I needed someone to talk to. I even wished that the prison authorities brought someone else to replace Nina pending her return; anybody, even a total stranger but it didn’t happen. I was left alone inside that cold room, not being able to think beyond the walls and tired of crying.
At a stage, i stood up and looked for an object to kill myself.
Yes, i wanted to end it all right there in the room but there was no life threatening object inside the room except the Koran.
I picked the the Holy book up.