Rarely do I get to share personal stories on my blog, but on this edition, I thought of sharing this one with you all my readers. More to this, is a simple fact that it is one that I would not want to elude my calling to mind. You may have undergone through this or somewhat more reminiscent of it.
Without further due, let us dive into it. I was a 21-year-old student in my second year, most times I used to walk from school to home. My school was located within downtown about 5km north west of the place I used to live. It used to take me an hour plus walking from school to home, that is if I take the highway route and a little less when I used the interior routes.
The interior route navigation entails, going down the trench, cutting through the woods to the creek before getting to the roadside and inhabited.
Though this used to be a lot quicker than taking the highway route, it was extremely risky especially in rainy season, with thick bushes and tall grass. The overgrown becomes denser when going down the creek or stream. With this route the scare of getting beaten by snakes, is as real as becoming a victim of attack by criminals.
When approaching the creek, you hear this gentle stream sounds, giving you a sense of both peace and fear. Certain times you could hear and see movements in the grass, an occurrence able to send a chill down your spine.
If you are lucky you get to see, insects that belong to the suborder Caelifera hopping, frogs and monitor lizards near the water. For those of you in love with such kind of adventures, you may find this thrilling.
As far as rumor surrounding this area, it was often reported to be a hiding place for robbers with a handful of stories of people getting assaulted and mugged. Some stolen items and goods used to be recovered from this site. Others would term this as a storage location for the criminals.
For me, this was a point in time when school was getting into the overdrive, preparing for exams, and winding up on group projects. During this stressful period, we used to leave school a little late than usual. So, on this rare occasion, after school I went home and used my preferred interior route.
I gathered pace, in the hope of passing through the woods before sunset. Unfortunately, it was getting dark fast, also given the amount of light that gets through the wild. Immediately after crossing the stream, something clutched my legs from behind. I lost conscious momentarily, though not literally. I could image all possible things, right from the things that I had seen to the unseen.
“Could it be a vicious animal, or a crocodile, monitor lizard or a bandit” if there was an option, I could choose the latter.
I held my own, looked around and thought to myself, “What the hell in God’s name a four-year-old damn girl doing in the woods alone?”
“Hey girl who are with?”
“What are you doing here all alone?” I asked?
The response was a speech that was not clear enough to be understood, just word muttering. Like someone speaking under one’s breath. She looked scared, uneasy, and tensed up but relieved to have met me. She ran towards me and held me and called me uncle.
That did not take long to figure out the child was lost and needed help. So, I took her by my hand and started walking towards the roadside to the residential.
I checked a couple of blocks near the residential to see if they would recognize her, but no one could identify her. I went down the market and asked people around, this too was not helpful.
Now, the night was falling, and with full cognizant of being a student, short of a place of my own. I was compelled to report the matter to the local police station of a missing person.
In the station, I got to the front desk and narrated to the officer the circumstances which I found the girl. I had my details jotted down alongside the statement. As I was about to step out, the girl cried “Uncle! Uncle take me! take me!”.
Her face was drowning in tears. The shrieks and screams attracted the attention of onlookers. It was quite uncomfortable for me, at the same time getting overwhelmed with emotions too.
I decided to take her to the nearby confectionery store, I got some old-fashioned treats and sweets for children. Then we went back to the station, this time she accepted to remain behind with a promise of me coming back.
I then requested the police officer to phone me if anyone comes to pick the girl up the following day. I was now going home feeling a little relived but sick to the stomach with a thought that she might have fallen in wrong hands.
I took a bus when going home, this time around a solitude walk was never an option. it was way too late in the night. I got home and narrated the story, it moved people almost to tears. Each time I retell the story, it always carries this profound effect.
The day that followed I never received any phone call from the police regarding the incident. So after school I decided to follow it up and check on her. I was told the girl was released picked up by her mom mid-morning. She never left any reference or contact details.
Ultimately, it is my belief we that we were all content with the final outcome as the alternative could have been worse.