Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 23

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This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series Enemy Circles - Season Two

Jomo, a young nomadic man was betrothed to a fellow clan’s girl, Bonajo, and they were to be married during the merriment of reuniting at the designated reunion camp in mountains of central Africa. Unfortunately, a huge war campaign was to prevent that simple thing from happening until after more than three years.

THE ESCAPE ROUTE

If you see him what is next?”Jango whispered to Bonajo, as they hid behind a short mud wall with some strange looking casks arranged one on top of the other, waiting for guards to pass on. It was very dark, several hours after the last prayer of the day.

After Jango pledged his allegiance, they spent the rest of the time planning how to reach the prison and talk with the prisoner discreetly. It turned out Jango could be useful in bribing the prison guards for the brief encounter. He arranged for changing the prisoner a private cell for the benefit of the encounter, though he agreed that Jango would return and make sure that the prisoner is in a proper state of health to meet with the ‘important person’ from the palace.

They were on their way soon after dusk to the prison, which was on the other side of the city. Bonajo insisted she must come along, even if she was not entering the prison. This was the first time Bonajo left the palace, she almost felt like running at full speed and not looking back. She decided there was no going back on the plans of escape. But something told her that the warrior man is worth taking the risk of knowing. The way he took the corporal’s lashes without flinching meant that he could only be a Fulani man.

“I don’t know yet. But my hope is that either we can help him or he can help us, one way or another.” Bonajo whispered back, before she hurriedly followed Jango as he leapt forward to another safe shadow.

“OK here is where you stay. I will be back in a minute.” Jango whispered in Bonajo ears soundlessly.

“Are you sure it is a good idea?” Bonajo was not sure. This was her escape plan, she should go with him.

“It is the best bet. And you are at a safe distance from here.”

Jango scuttled to the gates where he was stopped by the guards at the opened gate, as someone entered. After a brief talk he was allowed entrance too.

Enemy Circles on Memorila
Enemy Circles on Memorila

Bonajo was getting frustrated squatting in the darkness waiting for Jango, all kinds of fears making her mind a busy port harbouring ships of thoughts.

Then she saw Jango come through the gates. She half way expected to see him with guards coming to extract her from her hideout. But it was only him coming.

***

“Jango, everything has to be perfect. How do you plan to take me inside the prison without being noticed?” A couple of things could go wrong, Bonajo was aware of that fact. After he returned from his first trip he explained to her how he came to make it happen.

“Don’t worry my lady I spoke with the chief guard overseeing the prison at night. I told him that someone important from the palace missed the spectacle between the prisoner and the corporal, and is curious to catch a glimpse of the man. I even told him that you are going to be the King’s favourite, hinting that it is a woman, and so it will do him a lot of good if he makes friends with you. Reasonably, the guard was wise to know where to invest for future favours. In fact seeing how I easily convinced him to allow you enter the prison, with enough dose of dinar of course, I went to the extent of asking him to borrow us two guards’ uniforms which I hope would be useful somehow. He wanted us to meet him in another room different from the communal cell, so nobody knows of our visit.”

It was satisfactory, Bonajo decided. “That was well done. Now here is the plan. We will go into the prison, meet the man in the private cell, with luck he can speak one of the languages you or I know about. If so I will ask him a few questions to see if he knows anything that would help me find my surviving people or prove useful for our escape. I will offer to help him escape his probable death sentence on the King’s arrival.” She took a deep breath. “You said you haven’t seen him to decide whether he will be friendly or not?”

Jango prayed silently but did not object. “I talked to this man, his name was Audu. He said he was the companion of the man we are talking about.” Jango immediately told Bonajo, remembering the additional detail that was vital enough to require consideration. “He told me that the man was still ill from the beatings he received. When I told him someone very special wants to speak with him when he is awake and I promised to bring some medication later, he hadn’t objected.”

Bonajo thought briefly. “It won’t change anything; we will go ahead with what I told you. Are you sure he will be well up to see us tomorrow.”

“Yes, the guard was well paid. He will make him.”

“OK let’s go over the whole thing for the last time; tomorrow you will smuggle our luggage out of the harem before we head for the prison. We will sneak in cloaks into prison in case they are needed, if we succeed in bringing our man along what would happen later is in the hands of God, if he chose to stay we continue from there.” Is that a plan?

***

“I don’t want to speak to him” Jomo was feeling a lot better from the ointments Audu brought to him last night. He was up and well, saved for the faint aches and the bruises that needed time to heal. “Where do you get those?”

“The same person that wanted to see you sent them.” Audu applied some more salve to Jomo’s lean shoulders. “What if it is the King?”

“I thought you said he is not in town. And besides why would he want to meet me discreetly?” Jomo winced.

“I don’t know. He could be back; it is not like they must tell us. May be he was impressed by your courage and audacity. These people are crazy, you know.”

“Are you sure it is the King?” Jomo was beginning to consider.

“No, I am not. But if he wanted as much secrecy then perhaps he is indeed important, and killing him is worth doing, especially if that gets us out of here.”

The idea sounds great. Killing someone important and getting Audu but himself away. Everything he ever wanted. “What if it’s a trap?”

“Then there are going to be two traps.” Audu finished, and sat down on the bare sand of the prison floor. “We kill the important person, and pay the King a royal visit to his chambers, if he is in town.”

Jomo almost laughed at the crazy idea. Now somebody is crazier than me. “You are right, this is our chance of getting you away, and if that person is as important as it is claimed, killing him will be just fine. Did you say the man you talked with was black?”

“Yes but he sounded differently. He couldn’t be from any of the Savannah or Sahel tribes I know of. His Fulfulde was too heavily accented with Arabic language.”

“May be he grew up here.” Jomo said; feeling confused. He knew that he could never harm a fellow tribe’s man. Then he realized the important person could never be so. He was just an unfortunate born-into-slavery black man.

“Very likely because he sounded more Arabic than anything else.” Audu confirmed Jomo’s thoughts.

“We will be ready for them when they come tomorrow.” Jomo said, with a final resolution

 

 

***

The problem with their plan was that if things went accordingly they would be sneaking out of the heavily guarded prison with an additional person. The two of them would enter, but how could they explain the third cloaked person on their departure? Moreover, the prisoner might not even want to come along. And there was also the issue of his companion, who might want to come too, in which case they would have to carry on the original plan of leaving on their own, because the odds cannot be dealt with.

Bonajo prayed that he would come; later on they would see how he would get himself across the gates. To minimize the tons of odds staking against them she bribed the overseeing guard with too much dinars until he asked Jango no questions, and wanted the whole transaction to be over within a short time. Jango made some few more requests, though. He wanted fewer guards around the conference zone, which he consented to without difficulty. It was a sure deal but they had no time to perfect it, and hence had to take a quick shot at it.

Jango was not even going to give it much thought; it was a huge risk, a risk he was going to take because straying away from the norm felt good. He didn’t care what happened; he just wanted to do it. The more he stepped into the escape scheming the more it felt ok, this has to be the freedom Bonajo was talking of. All his life, he was told what to do. The simple fact he was doing this because he chose to felt so exalted that he spent energy upon energy without even noticing it.

Bonajo too felt she wasn’t going to miss this life, ever. All the fineries can be stored in hell; she wanted to be free as she used to be. Now that everything was set, the past twenty four hours were hectic. She was constantly trying to perfect their escape plan, which was never coming to perfection. Jango transferred their luggage to some discrete destination. They were a few items which they agreed to carry along. On top of that she packed a small bag of money and gold.

As an afterthought, she opened the small bag containing jewelries she stacked for the benefit of their journey and removed a leather pouch; her father-in-law’s talisman. She put it on, feeling the past rushing back to collide with the present. She needed the luck it carried, and hoped it will lead her somehow to a safer destiny, because everything seem uncertain even to herself.

“Can we go now?” Bonajo tried not to let her voice betray her emotions.

“Yes.” What Jango was feeling was more like excitement.

 

***

If everything went as planned it would make a lot of things easier later. Agnes knew it wasn’t the ultimate solution, but nonetheless, a very crucial one in tackling the larger picture. She paced up and down the length of her room as she waited. Her maid should be back by now, unless something went wrong, which meant she would be in trouble. The bazaar was in full swing and everyone should be out there, so there wasn’t much noise in the sleeping quarter part of the harem. The silence only contributed to her nervousness.

Since the last few hours Haggar left, Agnes was having anxiety building up sky-high, like Pharaoh’s pyramid in Misra. She admitted her plans were not perfectly crafted, but she also knew that there wasn’t enough time to do that. If Haggar had already stolen the crown she should have hidden it somewhere and got back by now to inform her. She also hadn’t heard any talks about a missing crown, but then everyone was out. That Haggar was not back to tell her about the update could only mean that either she didn’t succeed or she was caught and was being questioned, which meant that soon guards would be marching down to her chambers. Or perhaps she did steal the crown and was smart to completely stay away from the harem, and may be the queen hadn’t missed the crown yet? Suppose Haggar found the crown and was in hiding until night fall?  She kept on telling herself several case scenarios to make herself feel good and a few times imagined consequences if otherwise.

She would only feel better if she knew what was going on, she thought.

“My lady!” Haggar popped in like a nightly creature in a black cloak.

“Have you got it?” Agnes found herself grabbing the young woman.

“Yes.” She brought out something wrapped in a black shawl. “After I stole it, I quickly left the palace and went to my sister’s house in the city.” Haggar was shaking all over.

Agnes snatched it from her hand and hastily unfolded the shawl. There lain, was the Queen’s crown. “Why do you bring it here?” She barked hysterically. “I told you in a clear language that you should hide it somewhere. Why didn’t you leave it at your sister’s?”

“My lady, that is not safe, millions of things could go wrong with the crown kept somewhere. I decided to stay away until this time, if it’s not missed until this time that means it won’t be before we must have done what we needed to do.”

She was right. “Well done, Haggar” Agnes was glad to have a sharp-witted maid like Haggar. “Now give me your cloak and lay still in my bed. I will go to Von Edge’s room, we are almost late. God, thank you Haggar, but you really scared the hell out of me.”

“I am sorry my lady.” Haggar apologized, still finding it difficult to stop shaking.

“No, don’t worry, you have done well and you will be rewarded generously.”

Agnes put on the cloak. “If she saw me I was simply visiting to greet and my plan is ruined. If she didn’t, then she stole this crown and you will testify to that.” She stopped to think a little. “But it will be suspicious that I am in her boudoir at this hour, right?”

“Yes, my lady.” Haggar knew that luck is not a constant factor.

Her plans lacked strategy yet she was still progressing. It was pure luck and it might not continue so. Anyway, she won’t see me, nobody will, I will be careful. Better to remain optimistic, many people were lucky throughout their lives. She thought, trying hard to control her galloping nerves.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to do it instead. I mean, if I could steal the crown from the queen’s chambers it won’t be that difficult to plant it in Bonajo’s boudoir.” Haggar was not sure if she hadn’t had enough roles in the dangerous plot, but some heroism craze kept pushing her. Soon she would be in a ditch too deep to jump out, she told herself.

Agnes smiled at the loyal maid, checked her pocket watch; it had been more than fifteen minutes since Haggar’s return. Time flew she didn’t even notice it. “No, even though you could steal I don’t think I can trust you with this one. Just lay down in my bed.” She was already on her way; the black cloak she wore blew about from her energetic strides.

Outside, the harem was dark and quite. From the coldness of the night it was obvious that dawn was fast approaching. Agnes stealthily moved to Bonajo’s rooms like an enchanted viper, thanking Haggar for making it this late. It was the perfect timing she should have thought of. Not unusual, she met no one on the way, and thanked her lucky stars for that once more.

Her mind was thudding in her rib cage. If she succeeded in framing Bonajo as the thief of the Queen’s crown she might end up with a cut hand by the time the sun set tomorrow. Other parts of her loudly condemned her for doing what she herself was increasingly finding disgusting. But the other parts encouraged her to go on, telling her that if she didn’t do something her future would face a serious peril, and even her mother would be disappointed in her. This was what she was supposed to do to put herself at a better position. The only price was the left hand of some lowly heathen of a girl.

***

Jomo was not a bit surprised when a guard commanded him to follow him. He wasted no time to motion Audu to follow him too.

“No, not him, only you.” The guard’s brash voice was beginning to call the attention of the other five cellmates.

Jomo was waiting for that.

“If he is not coming I am not.” He returned to where he was sitting. He knew that the guard will not cause any hitch to the plans of whoever important was asking to see him.

Hesitation registered on the guard’s face. Apparently he was working against time. “Alright move your black butts, I don’t have all night.”

Jomo pulled Audu forward, not wasting time to give the guard a chance to change his mind.

Outside the cell’s door, a corridor stretched down left, where it turned left again at the end. The corridor was empty and the guard was hurrying them up to the extreme end.

After taking the left turn they reached a dead end, with a door to a small cell facing them. The interior space of the cell was not up to half of the one they were occupying, with only one small table at the right corner. It looked like an interrogation room.

“Wait here and don’t you move an inch or I swear by Allah I will kill you without question.”

The guard left in the same hurry, leaving the two prisoners to themselves.

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Series Navigation<< Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 22Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 24 >>

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Bashir Kabir

Born, raised and studied in Kano State, Bashir Kabir has a degree in Physics and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Physics, all in Bayero University, Kano. He is married with a kid and currently works at Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Kano.

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