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A Court Of Fowls: Episode 71

...‘Where are the men?’ I shouted, flushed with happiness at the success of our trip to Kenya. I jumped waist deep into the warm Indian Ocean water, ready to secure the dhow’s lines...

But Amina and Nimrod have returned to their camp in Somalia to hear the worst possible news.

Novelist Michael Conrad Wood continues his thrillinhg tale.

Chapter 24
Faith and Patience

When we sailed the dhow beyond Kaambooni lagoon towards
the familiar little grove of palms which lined ‘our’ beach, we expected
to find everyone from camp lined up excitedly, waiting to
greet us. For this had been more than a routine supply mission. We
subjected ourselves to considerable risk and had somehow emerged
unscathed. It seemed to us miraculous, yet we had not been dreaming.

We’d pulled off the stunt. If Muranga had been honest about
the environmental clean-up as well, we would be able to spend the
euros building and equipping our long desired clinic.

Oddly, only a few of the women had walked down to the shore
to wave us in – including my friend Habika and Joseph’s wife, Lolly.

‘Where are the men?’ I shouted, flushed with happiness at the
success of our trip to Kenya. I jumped waist deep into the warm Indian
Ocean water, ready to secure the dhow’s lines.

‘Have you locked them up for bad behaviour,’ I laughed.

The smile was soon rubbed off my face. Lolly ran forward and
gave me what seemed like an over-exuberant hug. She clung on,
tightly. I detected immediately that something was wrong. I looked
over her shoulder towards Habika who wore a look of sadness and

‘What is it, Lolly?’ I asked softly.

Tears began to stream down her face.

‘Joseph is dead, Amina,’ she sobbed. ‘He’s dead. And Sanya is
missing. Bad men came. They left a note. Come and see my poor Joseph,’
she burbled, beside herself with grief.

‘Dead? Oh my God. Oh Lolly, no! What do you mean “Sanya is
missing”? Who left what note?’

I didn’t know where to start with my questions or how to handle
sharing of her grief when the shock of her news about my daughter
was all I could think of. She began wailing without restraint. I spun
her around to face me.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked again, desperately.

Nimrod, still on board, had picked up the cause of Lolly’s distress
and came wading urgently through the shallows. But when Sanya’s
name was mentioned his reaction was the same as mine – utter
panic. Lolly pulled the two of us to her tent, with the other boys
from the dhow following in concerned silence. Joseph was lying on
his cot. His eyes were open, a look of disbelief on his face. A ripped
white t-shirt was wrapped around his neck and it was stained with
blood. Still howling, Lolly unwrapped the cloth. We recoiled, appalled
at the sight. Joseph’s throat had been cut, a sight I had already
seen more than once too often.

‘Please. Lolly. Please!’ I was crying now too. ‘Tell us what happened.’

She slumped onto the cot beside her husband, covering again the
gaping wound at his neck. She began to stroke his wiry hair. Calmer
now, more rational, she spoke as if in a trance.

‘It happened yesterday afternoon,’ she sniffled. ‘Sanya was taken
from outside school by two men. They sent another pupil back in to
Annie with a demand written in English. I can’t remember exactly
what it said. Not much. Annie has it, still. She came here immediately.

All our boys went straight out to search. They’ve taken guns.
Joseph had organized a sweep of the whole area. He must have run
into them to end up like this.’

‘Lolly, where was Joseph found?’ Nimrod asked, gently but firmly.

‘On the dirt trail south, less than a mile this side of the border.
Some of Sanya’s friends witnessed the kidnap. They told us the men
were driving a big white Isuzu truck. And it had ‘K’ registration,’ said
Habika, pointedly.

‘Then we are dealing with Kenyans,’ Nimrod remarked. ‘Amina,
we must go to Annie’s right away. We need to study that note. Lolly,
we are so sorry about Joseph. We will return soon to mourn with
you. But we must make haste to join the search for Sanya. With
God’s grace, she will still be alive.’


To read earlier episodes of Michael's novel visit
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