He could hear someone tread on the living room after knocking the door down with a bang. He certainly knew what this meant. Quick on his feet, he hid in a tiny closet behind ringed area where some firewood was burning in what resembled a kitchen.
Adam’s father had been away the whole day and hasn’t returned so he was at home with his mother and two siblings who occupied the room at the end of the tiny and dark corridor.
The streets of Mogadishu were a constant battlefield and a perfect breeding spot for all sorts of crooks, muggers and gun-wielding thugs. Carcases of dead bodies decorated the narrow streets, swimming in puddles of blood and sewage.
The rapid fire from the weapons was deafening and no one dared go outside day or night unless ready to follow the code of the crooks – kill or be killed. Shopping for food was often very difficult and Ali – Adam’s father – would go every once or twice a month (if possible) to the tiny groceries and fetch his family whatever provisions he could find. In the meantime they were subsisting on a severe nutritional regime of bread and whatever they could implore from the neighbours. Life outside the house was unbearable, and the safest place to be was indoors.
Adam’s safe haven – a tiny two bedroom house with a roof on top was at the time what he considered to be the safest place in the entire city; a place that sheltered him from the heavy bombardment of rival gangs. Now it was being invaded.
He could still hear the footsteps. By his judgment the steps belonged to about three or four men. Inch by inch they advanced, rummaging through the entire living room. In a panic, and petrified of what these raiders might do to them, he wondered if his mother and siblings were awaked by the noise. They slammed the kitchen door open and stood there looking around the room poorly lit by the dying flames of the fire. There were no lamps to illuminate the dimness, for they ran out of Paraffin the night before.
He was getting hot in the closet, sweat dripping down his eyebrows but he dared not move. His heart pounded heavily in his chest upon the procession of the burglars towards where he was hiding. It was beating hard and fast now. For once he wondered if they could hear the violent thudding of his faint heart against his ribcage, which was itself squashed by his knees. He placed his hands on top of his knees and rested his chin on them, trying to get a glimpse of the men from the tiny crack on the wooden door of the closet. With squinted eyes he could see them. They were four of them, just as he predicted, standing and laughing with one another, holding a huge arsenal of weapons – assault rifles, machine guns and small hand held guns – with bullets fastened onto their bodies. They looked menacing in every aspect. Two of the men retreated cautiously, circumnavigating the cutlery en route. They made their way through the dark corridor to inspect the other rooms in the house. ‘I cannot – should not – let them get to my mother, I can’t’, he thought to himself. He had to do something; He had to do it quick. The sitting was getting rather uncomfortable too; He squirmed around restlessly in the tiny space like a cat on a hot tin roof, careless of the amount of noise he’s making. Suddenly one of the men turned around to inspect the closet, suspecting he’d heard something and then BANG! A loud noise came from the corridor, his heart sunk.
Who was shot? As the two men in the kitchen went to inspect the gun blast, Adam came out of the closet hastily, afraid that his mother or one of his siblings has been shot.
He rushed towards the corridor, right after the two men. He strained my eyes, eager to discover the incident. Blood had been spattered everywhere along the shadowy corridor. No one was around. Where is everyone? Where are the intruders? He thought, rushing to the room where his mother and siblings had slept in. He kicked the door open and the nozzle of an Ak-47 pointed right in his face. He was taken aback, his heart stopped, he couldn’t catch his breath – the succession heavy pulses of gasps – reminded him of the time he nearly drowned in Seacoast. The heavy breathing left his throat dry so he swallowed some saliva to soak it. He couldn’t see the face of the person pointing the gun at him, due to the darkness that engulfed the room, but was now convinced that the person who was shot earlier was either his mother or one of his siblings. Why don’t they just shoot me for dead too? He didn’t feel comfortable. The nervousness was killing him. He was just thinking of running back cowardly into his closet again, regretting that he even came out of it, when the dark figure grabbed him by the hand and pulled him vigorously into the darkness. A familiar waft tickled his nostrils – It was his father! And it was he who fired the shot at the burglars and they fled away, one wounded badly. “God!” screamed Adam, heaving a sigh of relief and hugging his father tightly!