The ViGIRLantes (Part 2)

By on February 14, 2022

The shrubs by the roadside weren’t the most comfortable spot to lie in wait but it was all there was and Hannah was willing to work with what she had. She’d been in worse hiding places. Not so many days ago, she hid in a trench of sewage for nearly half an hour because it was the closest she could be to the local police station without being spotted.

Her preparation for this very difficult late-night practice involved rigorous training that she had undergone just after her A-Levels. Her grandfather owned a large piece of abandoned land in Kulambiro, just outside the New Republic of Kawempe, where she had camped for months, perfecting her fighting skills. She did this, unaware of what she would need the skill for, but very motivated to keep training. Once or twice,  her grandfather jokingly asked if she was planning on overthrowing the Government and she nodded, not too sure if she too was joking or if she was serious.

For Hannah, the love for fighting started at a young age. By the age of six, Hannah had knocked-in several boys’ teeth mostly in defence of innocent little girls who were being bullied. Back then, girls weren’t known to engage in fights. It was a turf dominated and controlled by boys. The boys fought each other, often for fun.

Every now and again Hannah joined them, occasionally inflicting more pain on one of the boys than she had planned to. She found it fun, therapeutic even, to thump any boy who acted poorly towards a girl. It came naturally to her that if a boy teased a girl, he had to be taught a lesson in a language of fists and knuckles because that is the language boys seemed to be fluent in. Once or twice she found herself fighting an adversary much stronger than she was, and on such occasions, a black eye, bruised arm or cracked rib was her prize to take home. This, she did without much worry because she received as many of these prizes as she dished out and with time, the boys at school and in the neighbourhood started to fear her.

Over the years her parents paid several hospital bills, some for her and others for her victims and they resigned themselves to raising a little female warrior. In fact, they called her Warrior Hannah and this name she held onto with a bit of sentiment – she loved it.

Warrior Hannah defended anyone who was being picked on but couldn’t do their own bidding. She lost more fights than she won but that did not bother her, as long as she dealt some kind of damage to her adversary.

And so she grew up dispensing her own form of brutal justice that most did not understand or approve of. While other girls yearned for dollhouses, little handbags, teddy bears and pink flowery dresses, Hannah was comfortable with running shoes, boxing gloves and toy guns. She owned her first pair of nunchucks at eleven.

Later in life, Hannah attempted to enrol in the armed forces but on all three occasions, she was turned down because the force was not too keen on recruiting one-eyed girls. She had lost her eye in one of those street fights with the neighbour’s son who himself had the unwanted reward of two broken ribs and a chipped tooth.

Hannah was always ready for battle and tonight was no different. Tonight was just like the previous nights – there was a level of stoicism required. Both the girls knew this and swore by it. Hannah and Sarah had been on this non-paying job for forty-two days now. The sisters were dispensing a special kind of justice. They combed through police records looking for names and faces of robbers who had escaped police custody. Then they went after them, studied their movements and operations for days, before taking them out in a meticulous and impeccable manner that sent a message to all criminals – Big Sister is watching! 

Together, the sisters had taken out a total of thirteen criminals over the past forty-two days and they always left behind a small note scribbled down in Red Lipstick 

“The viGIRLantes were here. XOXO”

The name ViGIRLantes had come to Sarah after a newspaper story describing a gruesome murder of two notorious city criminals by a group of ‘well trained and probably well-funded Vigirlantes. She wasn’t sure whether the reporter smartly intended to add the ‘r’ to vigilantes or if it was a genuine mistake, but the shoe seemed to fit perfectly – they were two girls dispensing vigilante justice so it seemed rather apt.

As a teacher of Literature in English, Sarah Acen prided herself in paying attention to detail, especially regarding grammar and spelling. And so the word Virgirlantes screamed right at her from the moment she saw it. 

Sarah’s work as a teacher wasn’t as fulfilling as she thought it would be. Yes, there were days when she went to work feeling overjoyed and excited about the job, and ready to impart knowledge into the minds of young enthusiastic chaps. Lately, however, there wasn’t much joy going around in the Republic of Kiwatule. The situation was not what she had hoped it would be. When the Teachers Association agreed to back the secession plan, she had been reluctant to join the cause. 

In her opinion, whether Kawempe succeeded in breaking away from Uganda or not, as long as Omuntu wa wansi was not happy with life, nothing good would come of the secession. The much talked about benefits of the secession needed to trickle down to even the littlest person in the Republic. So far, none of that was happening.

Right after the assassination of Paul Qwenga, who himself had been a teacher, things went from bad to worse. First, the Teachers Association of Kawempe broke up into splinter factions with one faction demanding a return to Uganda and the other insisting on the new order of things. Second, the standard of living hit rock bottom within just a few days. Third, and perhaps most disturbing for Sarah, the crime in the Republic of Kawempe was unbearable and intolerable. For the most part, she followed the news and got frustrated that every day there was a fresh case of a heinous crime being committed. 

The first day she spoke to Hannah about doing something, the sisters were almost convinced that there was nothing they could do but look on and hope for the best. This was before Boniface, Sarah’s best friend from the Teachers Association was murdered in cold blood by robbers who were so unbothered by their crime that they left strings of evidence leading back to them. While at Boniface’s funeral the sisters agreed that they had to do something, they just weren’t sure what.

The original plan was to report as many of these cases to the Police but they soon realised that the cops weren’t going to do much. There weren’t that many cops left in the force anyway so it was almost foolish to expect any form of protection or justice from them. 

And so Hannah introduced the idea of taking out the criminals. Sarah wasn’t keen on this because she had sworn her armed life away. She had promised to never touch a gun again after returning from service in the Horn of Africa. Her sister had not been lucky enough to get accepted into the army because of her missing eye but Sarah had been accepted after the very first application.

Because of her proficiency in several languages, Sarah was recruited as a translator for the UPDF in Somalia. She slowly found herself learning the workings on and off the battlefield and before long, she too was wielding a gun, a rifle at that. She was one of the most precise snipers the UPDF had and for four years in a row, she was recognised as the fastest rising young officer in the force. After her four years of service in Somalia, she came back to Uganda and retired from the army to seek a more modest life as a teacher of English in Literature. And again, she was hailed as the youngest retired servicewoman.

To Be continued …

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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