“It hurts terribly; I can’t walk, I …. help me….” Nafisa moaned, as she dragged her feet along the narrow corridor. “Walk straight na! Officer gon see you wincing like a sissy, and he throw you in solitary lockup, be strong! Stand up and walk Nafi!” Sofia hissed at her bestie, holding on to her massive weight by the waist, but the hurting woman could not keep it together. She groaned louder and louder, as she dropped grossly in a heap, clenching her teeth, while holding onto her swollen belly.
The prison camp officer noticed the commotion and came lashing out. “What is you two up to this time eeh!” “Excuse me Mr. Officer, she, she’s …..” Sofia tried to explain. “Move over you rascal!” The pretty man yelled, raising his cane ready to thrash Nafisa mercilessly for being a nuisance on a slow, Sunday mid-morning. Luckily, the gods saved Nafisa as she had already passed out and had to be dragged to the sick bay within the prison precincts. The inmates nicknamed Officer Roman Martins, Mr. Pretty, for his narcissistic behavior and an incessant fetishness with busty women.
Within hours, Nafisa had given birth to a beautiful child. She held her in her arms, and cried like a babe, evidently worn out from the birthing process and tensed with worry. Nafisa waited for the fate of her newborn. She did not give it a name, unsure of her future behind bars. The prison was no place for innocent souls. God knows she was a monster herself, and the pregnancy was a surprise even to the warders who only learned of it when she suddenly went into labor. At least she managed to keep it a secret.
Her voluptuous body made the safest haven during the pregnancy. Sofia kept her on the right diet and sacrificed her meals sometimes for the sake of the baby. She was an angel in the god-forsaken prison, tucked away in the heart of Lesvos Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. This was a refugee camp turned prison for asylum seekers in Greece. Inmates condemned to serving lifelong sentences in here had little or no chance of leaving the Island. Worse still, in the case of Nafisa and Sofia, who accidentally, or not, (who knows …) were found with 7 kilos of cocaine on their way to Europe.
Soon “they” would come for her baby, and Nafisa could not stop crying. She was madly in love with her child, never mind the circumstances it was created.
Nafisa had little strength to fight off Roman as he tore into her overalls, raping her on the bathroom floor, with a gun held to her face. On one occasion, he shoved himself inside her as she slept. This one almost gave her a heart attack; thankfully, he was carrot-medium sized. Once on top, Roman overpowered her each time he forced himself on her and only rolled over when he’d spiffed deep inside her.
Nafisa Kazuri had always been a big girl with a huge bust that made heads turn. She roared with laughter as Sofia Asibi exasperatedly narrated her ordeal with the border immigration officers. “This one’s for my Koko and this luscious green dress is for my baby girl; I sees her every time I go to sleep. I love me baby girl to de moon and behind.” She dramatized, with eyes closed as if to reminisce the last time she saw her daughter. “Officer like me story, he gives me a big smile and takes one sugar pop, shoving me luggage to de front.” “Aaai, stop na …” Nafisa begged, shaking uncontrollably from the laughter. Her lungs caved in and she couldn’t take it anymore with Sofia’s outlandish tale.
Such stories made the women forget all their troubles in the camp. It was a god-forsaken place. No one survived without “protection.” New offenders learned the hard way on how things worked in confinement. The officers on occasion allowed for gang wars to take place as a form of entertainment, sometimes someone died, and other times they ended up in isolation cells for weeks.
Nafisa and Sofia were the only Africans in the entire camp population of about 200 women. The first two years were challenging since everyone wanted the two dead, for being black. Nonetheless, the girls spoke Hausa, and Swahili concurrently to confuse anyone who had a keen ear on either language. It was difficult to tell what dialect these two detainees use, and it worked perfectly in their favor. The duo had traveled all over the world trafficking outlawed contraband. They could kick ass too, use any ammo and survive the harshest punishment meted out on them for whatever reason. But despite these amazing hardcore skills, life was tough. I mean no alcohol, no hanky-panky, no pools to laze around and swim, mountains of cash … It was the true definition of “I got caught in the act,” this prison life. It sucked, the air was stale all the time, and no one cared if you took a shower or you had a mild migraine.
On the first day, the menu consisted of cabbage, bread and a slice of cheese. Nafisa cried. Cabbage! She had hunger pangs all the time until she learned how to smuggle in candy bars and chia seeds from Mojo, a friend, and one of the most wanted persons by the Interpol . He couldn’t visit as often as he wanted because the undercover cops had him on the list of criminals on the run. Luckily, Mojo bleached his skin and dyed his hair blond, transforming himself into a yellow yellow fellow, with blue eyes. He paid off all the camp officials, including the Refugees management in command to be able to visit Nafisa without any complications. And they kept it a secret, but not for long.
Someone ratted him out, and the visits stopped abruptly. That is when Roman decided to violate Nafisa’s human rights. He was a vicious man this one, wanting her every minute, at a moment’s notice, and without politesse. He even had the nerve to penetrate her in the toilets. One time Roman tied Nafisa’s hands tightly onto the solid cell iron bars using his shoelaces and shoved himself in exasperatedly, slowly, thrusting hard until he was done. Nafisa dropped in a heap of madness and cried herself to sleep when the brutal man finished his business. It was a nightmare. But she got food. Lots of food. She always got the best meat cuts, fresh fruits, and large bread pieces during mealtimes.
The “Afrikan” toughies had scars too, from numerous defensive territorial wars in the god-forsaken camp. Mostly the Moslem and Asian gangs detested them so much. On the outside, the two acted strong and bitchy, but deep down inside; Sofia was struggling with ulcers and halitosis from the crack she’d consumed in the past. They could kick ass for sure, but two against ten to fifteen angry women at a go overwhelmed the duo on most occasions. And every time a fight broke out, they always landed in isolation cells. After the third year going back and forth from the dark cold cells to the sprawling sunlit yards, Sofia and Nafisa rather outgrew the fear of loneliness. Instead, they would keep each other company with ridiculous stories, and at times cry together when it got too harsh. There was never a dull moment, apart from death, they would chide along as if nothing had happened.
These seclusions created a strong bond between the African sisters. They made a pact to never stray at least 5 feet away from each other, for the rest of their lives in the prison camp. As long as anyone survived a stab, or a kick in the wrong place, everything was all right.
Ten days passed quickly. Nafisa enjoyed her stay in the penitentiary clinic tending to her baby; she was in good cheer, but a little tense from the silence of her superiors regarding the young one. Something wasn’t adding up.
On the 11th day, Sofia was finally allowed to see her best friend at the hospice, without cuffs. “Oooh, mi goodness, she so pale girl, and big too… she cooed over and held out her arms, can I hold her?” Sofia asked, “Of course, you can, here … careful with her head now ” offered Nafisa “She reminds me of Nolla, when I first held her, it was heavenly. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.” Added Sofia, smiling sheepishly at the little one. “I know, this girl has changed my life forever, I mean I’d do anything for her. She’s so Precious” Nafisa said, feeling so in love with her baby.
Roman walked in bouncing and smiling like the devil himself. “Okay you two party’s over, Nafi, hand over the baby to this woman,” commanded the cruel officer, pointing at Dr. Marie. Nafisa was dumbfounded; she knew this moment was going to happen, but not today, not today. “No! I ain’t givin up my baby, am going to choke her to death if I have to.” She said, in a shrieked voice.
“Please, don’t harm the child, she doesn’t deserve to die this way Nafi, say goodbye and let her go, you know this ain’t the place to raise no baby…” Sofia tried to coax her friend, but she was too grief-stricken with the sudden development of events. Nafisa began moaning and rocking her child back and forth, pressing the fragile being tightly to her large breasts. “Please ma, don’t, I beg you don’t do that…” Sofia pleaded.
“Give it here bitch!” … Roared Roman, shoving his way towards the bed ready to thrash Nafisa by any means anyhow. He knew the baby was his, and could not have her declare it in front of the doctor or else it would cost him his job. Sofia sprang forward, taking the stinging lashes on her back, as she protected Nafisa and her baby. “Give me the baby Nafi, she implored, this man will kill you, and you must stay strong if you want to see her again! We’ll make sure to keep track of her adoption. I’ll talk to the doctor, I promise, she shall not disappear into the system.” Sofia whispered into her friend’s ear, as Roman kept hitting and hitting her until the Doctor yelled for him to stop.
”What is wrong with you! Have you gone mad! Asked the doctor who almost fainted at the fierceness and ruthlessness expressed by Roman. These women have not resisted, and yet you lash out at them like a dog. Now give me the baby Nafisa, c’mon now,” the doctor insisted still shaking in anger from the madness of the situation.
Sofia slowly straightened up, holding the baby with one hand and trying to balance her bruised, broken body with the other; she turned around and handed over the wailing child to the doctor. Before the doctor could settle the young one in her arms, Sofia’s legs could hold her weight no more. She fell flat on her face groaning in pain… “Help! We need an extra hand in here,” the doctor yelled, as two aides came in and helped Sofia on to the adjacent bed in the tiny room. She passed out, and they had to quickly administer some first aid to keep her vitals steady and functioning.
“Now listen to me young lady, we’ll bring you the paperwork for you to sign off your rights over this child claiming unfit to raise her.” “NO! NO! NO! You need to wake Sofia; she said she’d handle dis, wake up woman! They took away my baby, help me, why is you dead when I need you, woman, wake up na! Cried Nafisa, give me my baby, let me hold her one-time pleeeaase…”
Okay okay, calm down, you can’t hold her in such a nasty mood, you must compose yourself now. Doctor Maria was already getting worked up.” I’ll not let her go. Now, here, hold her and say goodbye quickly.
Too weak to speak, Nafisa carefully placed her shaky dry lips on her precious’ forehead; she lingered there for a moment, tears rolling like a river and vowed to find her someday. Dr. Marie looked away, as she struggled to hold her tears from falling. This was a nasty break up, and she felt compelled to help the poor grieving woman. “Listen, she whispered to Nafisa, Canada, St. Josephina Orphanage, ask for Sister Beatrice Catherine Albert, when the time is right. “Thank you, doctor, bless you. Can you come back tomorrow; I need to give you something. Nafisa implored, smiling and crying at the same time. See you soon my little pudding; my spirit will be with you always.” Dr. Marie patted her on the back “Good luck, and stay strong. Look after your friend; she saved both you and the child.” “Yes Doc, I’ll be right here when she wakes up,” Nafisa assured the physician. She wiped her tears and closed her eyes; she was hungry but too weak to think about eating.
The next day, Sofia was looking better, but in great pain from the beating thrust upon her the previous day. “Salama? (You’re good?) Nafisa asked in Swahili, “Ni Lafiya. Ina Kwana?” (Am good, how did you sleep?) Sofia responded weakly in Hausa. “Nilijisahau nkalala kabisa. Nahisi njaa sasa.” ( I lost all my senses and slept soundly.) Nafisa added, looking around hoping to stumble on manna. Ni ma, ba su bar mana daga nan duk dare, sayyiduna? (Me too, did they leave us out here all night, unchained?) Asked Sofia, wondering why they were alone.
She tried to step out of bed, but her fragile bones couldn’t let her. “Doctoooor! Officeeeeerrrr!” Yelled Nafisa, the hunger pangs couldn’t let her stay still; she needed to eat. “What na! Why you screaming like dis a marketplace?” Retorted the officer in charge. “Wapi chakula, nahisi njaa! Matiti yauma, dawa za kupoza maziwa zi wapi? (Where’s the food? I’m hungry, my breasts hurt, where’s medicine to stop the milk flow?) Nafisa yelled back, unfazed by the imposing officer’s cane. “Unless you speak in English, I ain’t calling the doctor you sick freak!” the lady officer Snapped back. “Fine, when is the doctor coming? We hungry, and we need pain medication,” retorted the nasty lady. “No drugs for any of you suck it up!” Said the officer, unfazed by their current woes.
She turned back ready to leave, and in a flash, Nafisa hurled her water jug, striking the Officer at the back of her head. It was a muscular forearm that one. The rude officer fell, buzzing on the alarm tied to her waist. Two more officers responded promptly and came in hurriedly. They immediately hailed lashes at Nafisa, whom unlucky for her, Roman targeted her breasts, and he hit on them jugs severely until Nafisa passed out.
Dr. Marie walked in on the mayhem and fired her gun in the air. The two officers turned around, on seeing the gun, they pulled back. “On your knees you sick f**ks! Roman hesitated…, one more step and I’ll shoot both your kneecaps.” Warned the nervous doc. The bullies slowly obliged, as the doctor called in on the Superintendent. The sickbay is a few meters from the boss’s offices, so she came in immediately. “What in the world is going on? Is she dead? Asked Ms. Warrington, pointing at the battered inmate. Oh my God is Bernny dead, what happened?” “Probe them, I found these two pounding at Nafisa, now deal with your staff, I need to check on the prisoner for any internal bleeding, she took a heavy beating from these maniacs. Why do you let this shit go on Mrs. Warrington?” Asked Dr. Marie, confidently tucking away her gun, as she checked on Nafisa.
Sofia tried to get off the bed in vain, she could not do anything to save her friend, but thankfully, Nafisa hadn’t passed out. She needed to play dead to be safe. “Niko sawa dada” (I am okay sister) Nafisa let out a word of assurance to her friend who was already sick with worry besides her hurting bones and flesh. “Gode Allah! (Thank God!) Sighed Sofia.
Dr. Marie was relieved that her patient was alive and unharmed. Bruised, but out of danger. “You asked to see me yesterday, what’s up?” She inquired Nafisa.
Nafi smiled and handed her a letter saying “My heart is at peace now. I have written this to my daughter. Now please promise me, you will monitor her, and bring me photos whenever you can. When she turns 12 years, give her this letter. My spirit will always guide her. I know it; I feel it in my heart.
I shall be her guardian angel. I’ll be on my best behavior, so that if she ever wants to visit me, she will find no scars on me, just smooth healthy skin, lovely neat hair, but locked up for life. If the jailer decides to set me free for good behavior someday, the better. From now on, I live for my precious. “You hear Sofia! No more dungeon cells, be at your best. We changed people now.” Sofia smiled, nodding her head in agreement on realizing the absolute resolve in Nafisa’s eyes.
Dr. Marie hesitated at first but agreed to take on the dangerous task. “It’s risky, but I’ll do it for you, you’re a fighter, and I greatly admire your demeanor.” “Asante sana Daktari, (thank you so much doctor) Nafisa responded, relieved that the doc agreed to monitor her baby.
It was a joyous day at the clinic.
Nafisa and Sofia healed weeks later, and with special protection from the Superintendent, the two feisty women lived peacefully at the Prison camp.
With Dr. Marie’s unusual request to the foster parents, they christened Nafisa’s little girl Precious Alma Chiddle.
Precious read her mother’s letter fifteen days after her 12th birthday.
My Precious baby girl, if you’re reading this, Dr. Marie kept her word.
I was too emotional when writing this, but I do not want to overwhelm you.
I decided to write a poem, to keep it short and simple.
If you hate onions, you got that from me, I can’t stand the smell.
If you’re hungry most of the time, you also got that from me, I eat every four hours,
At least they let me eat in portions in here, else I’d be a full-blown war tank.
If you have a short temper, that’s me. And if you don’t like boys messing with your head, guess what? me too!
If you like swimming, dancing, and playing the guitar, I did that too when I was a free woman.
If you’re in trouble but easily get away with it, that’s my spirit protecting you, child.
And if deep down you felt you didn’t belong with your foster parents,
that was my spirit leading you to find me.
Before you tear this letter, just know I shed a tear for every word I wrote,
and my chest still hurts since the day they took you away from my arms.
My breasts hurt full of milk for six months because I
couldn’t nurse you my Precious, they refused to give me medicine to stop the milk.
But I loved you with my full breasts anyway.
I love you every day; I love you more than words can say,
and I love you more for reading this letter to the very end.
And if you’re crying as you wind up, I cried too.
If your heart beats so fast, you can feel it in your throat, mine too,
because you’re my truest Precious baby girl, and I
will love you till I die, and after.
Come to mama, my Precious.