Tied up in the dark like a pig prepared for slaughter, he nevertheless had a smile on his lips.
A little one, the confident smirk of a man who knows something his friend does not. His hands chafed by the thick ropes that bound them, his whole body forced into an uncomfortable position, with no companion but absolute silence, he nevertheless kept smiling. He had just heard some of the villagers complain that they couldn’t find anyone else to add to the list of victims. That meant the rest of his family got away, and Aminat too. He would also escape, he was sure of this.
He heard a soft thud, magnified astoundingly in the oppressive silence inside the hut. Then the sound of footsteps approaching. Had his time come?
Facing the possibility of death, Bello found that he was not afraid. Not really.
When you thought of it, everyone had to die someday, he mused, and although he would very much prefer later, it couldn’t be so bad to die earlier.
The door swing open and was shut quickly. Then there was soft panting as the person struggled to catch their breath…
A quick fizz as a match was struck, and the bright flame revealed Aminat, dressed in a boy’s clothes, hair tangled with leaves and twigs and other such refuse.
To say he was shocked was an understatement.
“What are you doing here?” He hissed.
“Rescuing you” she huffed and loosened his bonds. He rubbed his wrists to get the blood flowing again and sat up.
“You shouldn’t have bothered-”
“And stayed behind to let you die? How would I live with myself?”
Good question, he thought to himself. If it was her, he would do the exact same thing. At this point, they had finally found the door and after sneaking a peek, they determined the coast was clear and bolted like scared rabbits out of a rabbit hole.
The villagers were quite sure he couldn’t escape so the security was poor. It was embarrassingly easy for Bello and Aminat to slip out of the meager confinement and hightail it for the bushes.
Okonkwo wanted to make fun of Bello. All his life, the had secretly envied the quiet pretty ‘hausa’ boy who was everything he wanted to be but wasn’t. Tall, confident, rich, and to crown it all, Aminat obviously liked him. That was the worst. That he couldn’t forgive.
He had been at the front when they went to hunt for the strangers and had crowed with happiness when they found Bello cross-legged and peeling oranges. Quickly, he called the remaining miscreants and together they bundled him up.
And now, he had him, finally, his arch-nemesis was under his power. Feeling giddy, almost drunk with anticipation he kicked the door to the small hut open and was greeted with- nothing. No Bello.
He let loose a howl of pure frustration and ran off to gather the rest of the villagers. They had to sacrifice Bello, they had to.
Not too far away, the runaway duo heard the howl and quickened their steps.