The Runaway- Episode 18
by Luula Jama
After Jama left Mumina with the police and Zaynab, Mumina felt all her strength drain out of her body and she collapsed on the floor. Zaynab pulled her to her feet, then pushed her into the kitchen chair.
“Tell them who you are,” she said. She sneered and her eyes seemed to sparkle with the pride of victory. “Tell them how you blew up that boat, killed those people and ran off with the pirate’s ransom money.”
Mumina shook her head. “Its not like that.”
One of the policemen, his mouth full of khat and pools of sweat in his underarms, held up a hand.
“Quiet,” he said to Zaynab and she snapped her mouth shut.
“Ma’am, this woman thinks you had something to do with the boat to Yemen that sank earlier this year. Do you know anything about that?”
Mumina shook her head.
“What’s your name?”
“Mumina,” she said. “Mumina Rooble Hasan.”
“I knew it!” Zaynab said.
“Quiet,” the other policeman ordered Zaynab. “Bring us tea.” Zaynab chewed her lip for a moment, then complied.
“Were you on the boat that sank?”
Mumina laughed bitterly. “If I was on that boat, how could I be here?” She glared at Zaynab, pouring cups of tea. “I’d be dead. Somalis can’t swim.”
“Can you prove you weren’t on the boat?”
“Can you prove I was?”
The policeman sighed and picked his teeth. “Show me your identity card.”
Mumina took a deep breath. “I don’t have one.”
She shook her head.
“How did you get into the country?”
“Good question,” Zaynab said and the policeman silenced her with a harsh look.
Mumina searched for an answer. “I swam,” she said.
Zaynab laughed. “I thought Somalis couldn’t swim.”
“Some can.” Mumina wished she could throw the policeman’s cup of steaming tea at Zaynab’s smug face.
“I don’t see how we can arrest you for blowing up a boat we don’t even know you were on,” the policeman said.
Zaynab’s face fell. “She doesn’t have proper papers. She’s illegal. Like Ethiopians.”
The policemen both pushed their teacups away. “Good-bye,” they said.
Mumina stared at the floor and Zaynab followed the men to the door. She was about to close it, her shoulders hunched in defeat when she shouted, “Wait!” and ran after them.
Moments later, Mumina was under arrest. She wondered how much money had changed hands, or how many bundles of khat and packs of cigarettes.
“That’s what you get for inviting men into the house while you are here alone and I, your guardian, am not here,” Zaynab whispered into Mumina’s ear. “That’s what you get for not having an identity card. And for trying to steal my fiancé.”
She turned to the policemen and smiled. “I’m glad we have men in this country still willing to protect the honor of women like me. I took this poor girl into my home and she turns around and sleeps with men while I’m working. Two men in one day! I saw them both coming downstairs this very afternoon.”
An hour later, Mumina found herself in a jail cell crammed with fifteen other women. Her stomach growled and her throat was parched. She looked longingly at another woman’s rolled-up laxoox and the woman snatched it up.
“You only eat when relatives bring you food,” she said.
Mumina wondered how long it would take to starve to death. No one knew she was here. No one who cared, anyway.
© Poet Nation 2012