Zawadi ran forward to tag her mother. They had gone to the park just like they did every other Saturday. This Saturday was special though, because it was Zawadi's birthday.
Her eighth birthday. Her parents Lina Mwamba and Charlie Mwamba had brought her to the park as a birthday gift since they could not afford to throw her a party.
Her parents had gone bankrupt a few months earlier. They had used all the money they had for the treatment of Zawadi's brother, Jasiri, after they found out he had cancer.
Despite all their efforts, Jasiri succumbed to the disease. At the time of his death, his parents had lots of loans to pay. They had borrowed money from Taabu Kikubwa. He was a ruthless man , but Zawadi's parents were desperate at the time They needed an amount of money only he could give without security.
A very big mistake, that one had been. Taabu had insisted on making their lives miserable. He had acquired all their property including their huge trucks of land. Mr and Mrs Mwamba simply had to fight back for they had a daughter to feed, clothe and school.
Going to court was out of the questions for Taabu dealt in illegal activities. If they were to go to court then things would only get worse. On the other hand, Charlie had received a few threats from Taabu regarding Zawadi. He had threatened to take her away from her parents. To kidnap her.
This gave her parents sleepless nights. They had already made the mistake of getting involved with Taabu. There was no going back. Now all that was left was for them to not let their daughter pay for their mistakes.
Suddenly there was a commotion at the park. Gun shots were heard. People began running all over.
"Zawadi, Zawadi where are you? "Lina called out.
They couldn't find Zawadi through the commotion. They searched everywhere for her, everywhere, but they couldn't find her. When the commotion died down, she was nowhere to be seen.
She was simply... gone.
Zawadi looked for her parents everywhere but she couldn't see them through the large crowd that was running up and down screaming. She pushed herself forward until she got to the bench were they were seated a few moments ago, but they weren't there.
The commotion had died down but her parents were nowhere to be seen. She curled herself on the bench and began to cry. She was lonely, she was sad and most importantly she was scared.
This was not how she had pictures her birthday to end.She wanted to be happy and to play with her parents and to tell them she loved them. At this point she wasn't even sure if she would ever see them again.
"Hello little girl. Are you lost? "She heard someone ask.
She didn't answer. After all, hadn't her mother always told her not to talk to strangers?
"Its okay, I won't hurt you. In fact I know your parents. They have been looking for you but couldn't find you. So they sent me to get you and take you home. Won't you come with me? Mummy and daddy are waiting. "
"Who are you? what is your name? "
"Oh little girl , you can call me uncle Taabu"
She nodded softly before coming down from the bench. She looked up at him then back down. He truly looked scary, she thought, like the villains in her cartoon. Since he knew her parents then she must have been trustworthy. after all her parents sent him to get her, she reasoned.
"Shall we little girl? " He asked stretching out his hand.
She inhaled deeply before taking his outstretched hand.
Taabu led Zawadi to his car and drove off.
Zawadi started getting worried, they had been driving for a long time. Longer than it takes to get to her home. Of course she knew since her parents took her to the park every Saturday.
"Umm uncle Taabu? " she asked in a low voice.
"Yes little girl? "
"Where are we? This is not the way home. "
He chuckled darkly before speaking "wise aren't we? "
He took out a rug from his backpocket before holding it tightly against her nose. She struggled for a little while but soon fell asleep. Asleep or not she knew nothing was fine.
Zawadi woke up to an empty car. The car had stopped but there was no one else inside anymore. She looked around and saw uncle Taabu talking to some men. They looked just as scary as him if not more, she thought.
She knew she had to get away. As far as possible. Maybe she could still find her way back home. She opened the door slowly and got out .She ran as fast as her legs could carry her away from the car. No specific destination in mind, Just the knowledge that it was a matter of life and death.
She had been running for a long time when she ran into someone, sending her petite frame to the ground.
"Hey baby girl? Are you okay? "
"Yes ma'am. there is someone after me, please help. He will kill me. I just want to go home to my mummy "
"Oh baby! It's okay come with me. I will help you. "
"You Will? " she asked her voice laced with disbelief.
"of course. Lets go,shall we? "
My name is Ahana. What about you?"
"My name is Zawadi. Zawadi Mwamba"
"Well Zawadi, you must be hungry. Lets get you something to eat first before we go home. What would you like?"
"Hotdogs " she squealed happily making Ahana giggle.
"Hotdogs it is"
She led her to a hotdog stand where they both got a hotdog. She proceeded to tell Ahana about her birthday, how her parents had taken her to the park when suddenly there was a commotion . She went ahead to tell her how she couldn't find her parents and was offered help by a man named uncle Taabu, who ended up kidnapping her. And with that Ahana took her to her home.