When her eyelids parted, she wasn’t even sure she had really opened her eyes. Lying still, all she could see was a disturbing pitch black. Slowly, her tiny hands registered feeling. Then her back. Then her buttocks and legs. She felt folds of cloth beneath her, but the surface underneath the cloth was hard and rough. She was lying in a warm, funny-smelling liquid; the cloth had done a poor job of soaking it up and it was all over her legs and thighs. Confused, she sat up sharply and in panic. Her eyes tried to focus and adjust to the darkness but the best they could identify were oddly shaped silhouettes randomly moving about.
It wasn’t too silent, there were voices. Some extremely loud, some faint, none she could recognize. They made odd sounds, nothing she could understand, and they seemed to come at her from all directions. There were footsteps pitter-pattering non-stop in odd rhythms around her. Her sharp ears picked up one particular set, its consistent pattern began faintly and seemed to get louder and louder; they were approaching steadily in her direction. She opened her mouth to scream, but her throat felt like there was a marble stuck at the tip, blocking whatever sound wanted to push its way out. She tried to get up but her legs wouldn’t obey her. She rolled over onto her stomach, lifted herself on all fours, and began to crawl as fast as she could. In what direction, she didn’t know. All she wanted to do was scramble away, fast.
Before she could get far, large coarse hands grabbed her middle from behind. Her eyes widened to the size of fists as she watched the ground move further and further away from her. She flailed her arms and legs wildly, thrashing as hard as she could. The scream lodged in her throat pushed its way upward, but the marble wouldn’t budge. It hurt. Water filled her eyes but not a tear dropped. The blurry world began to turn slowly…no, she was the one being turned by the hands. In a split second adrenalin hit the ceiling, the marble popped out of her throat, the tears in her eyes had reached the brim and the first of them was about to drop. Before she realized it, she was face to face with … a face.
“Ei my child, where are you running off to?” the night kelewele seller exclaimed. She picked up her baby from under her display table. Spread upon the table were strips of cardboard boxes carrying the deliciously spicy fried plantain. Two kerosene lamps stood by. “Oh! And you have urinated on yourself too!”