Soon, the canoe was plying the water as the owner paddled. With no lights, the owner maneuvered his way through the darkness and avoided being spotted. In thirty minutes, they were in the middle of the river. The ride was smooth although the atmosphere was filled with tension.
It was then, William and Zaza talked about the names of their babies. “Let us name the elder twin Alan and the younger Albert,” suggested Zaza. “The names are very nice and I don’t have any objections to them,” said William. With that, the twins got their names, Alan and Albert.
In a middle of nowhere, a bright light was thrown on the canoe. All the passengers knew they had been caught. It was unnecessary to try to decipher whom it was since they would be executed immediately either by the rebels or the government army.
There was confusion and tension in the canoe as the light was approaching. Everyone was wondering what to do next. The most confused people in the canoe were Zaza and William because of their new born babies. Jumping into the water meant drowning the babies, which was out of the question.
Out of confusion, one passenger took his gun and aimed at the approaching light and took a shot. The bullet struck the light and there was sudden darkness following gunshots from the approaching people.
The passengers dived into the river one after the other. Those who couldn’t swim laid flat in the canoe waiting for fate to decide for them. William was among those who dived into the river with one of the twins leaving Zaza and the other twin.
Holding the baby above water, he was able to swim his way out of the water and dashed into a nearby forest. His adrenaline level was so high he forgot he was even traveling with his wife.
Zaza on the other hand, held the baby in her bosom to prevent any stray bullet from hitting him. She had turned herself into a bulletproof for the baby. As the people approached the canoe, it was now evident they were rebels. They were staging a covert attack on the government army when they came in contact with the travelers. They took the remaining passengers hostage as they didn’t want their operation to be foiled. Zaza was among the hostages.
She was taken to the rebel camp along with her baby. The twins looked so much like each other that they couldn’t be distinguished, but by names. Both parents thought they were holding the elder twin, thus Alan.
William moved through the bushes with the baby and finally came to another town. He realized he had crossed the border of Sierra Leone into another neighboring country. William thought of settling there with his son.
Zaza was also at the rebel camp. Her eyes were filled with tears as she was thinking about her missing husband and child. “Where could they be? Have they drowned in the river?” these were the thoughts running through Zaza’s head. Amidst this was also the fear of what was to become of her and her day old baby, Alan.
None of her captors had confronted her. They were made to sit on the bare ground with their hands tied behind their backs. Their fate were yet to be determined. Rumors had it that captors were either being killed or sold off.
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Meanwhile, William was wandering in his new environment looking for a place to stay. The baby was crying because he was hungry and William became very distressed. “Where will I get food for Alan? I can’t breastfeed him. I need to do something about this before he dies in my arms,” William said as he headed out to the various houses looking for assistance.
William saw that the people in his new environment were friendly and therefore moved to speak to them for help. He went from house to house to find help but all to no avail. He became very worried as he couldn’t bear with the situation anymore. He located a tree and sat under it while expecting a miracle.
“Hello Sir. What are you doing alone under this tree with the baby?” a lady asked him. William on hearing the voice looked up to see who was talking to him. When he lifted up his eyes, he saw a lady who appeared to be in her mid-thirties. “Humph! I’m stranded madam. I need food for my day old baby. As you can see, I am a male and incapable of performing that duty. That is why my countenance has fallen. Can you please help me to locate someone to feed my baby boy for me?” William asked with sadness and anguish in his voice.
“That is so sad mister, I am Derby by the way. You are very fortunate. I gave birth to a baby girl three weeks ago. So that means I am still breastfeeding. Listening to the cry of the baby, I can tell he is very hungry. Please hand him over to me to feed him,” Derby said while she took the baby from William.
As Derby was feeding the baby, she was filled with curiosity. She wanted to know why a foreigner was sitting under a tree in her village. And what fueled her curiosity was the baby he had in his arms. Who was this strange person? She opted to help because of the baby.
“Sir, can I ask you a question please?” Derby asked.
“Yes woman, you can ask any question you want to seek clarification to,” William replied.
“Why are you in our village? And why do you have a baby seeing you are alone without a woman?” Derby asked.
“Hmmm, I am from Sierra Leone. I know you have heard of the civil war in my country. My wife was due to enter into labor when the war started. She gave birth in the midst of the war to a set of twins. I wanted the safety of my family, so I escaped from my country with my wife and twins. We got ourselves into a boat to cross over to Guinea, but we were caught in the middle of our journey. I dived into the river with the firstborn of the twins whom we christened Alan and swam to a nearby forest. I wandered my way to this village. I don’t know what had become of my wife and the other baby, William said while sobbing.
Derby was very sad after hearing the story of the young man who sat in front of her. She was moved with compassion towards William and the baby. “I am sorry to hear that Sir. Do you have any specific place you are going to?” Derby asked.
“No madam, I don’t have any place in mind. I just want to seek asylum in a peaceful place,” William answered.
To be continued….