I did not see their faces. Not even a part of their body. They wore black balaclavas and black goggles like those for swimming. They had black gloves on too, and black Ninja clothes I’ve seen in movies.
I was escorted, like a prisoner, to a bazaar of waiting vehicles where I was hauled into one, like a common criminal. Imagine that, one of the most influential women in the Middle East, according to November 2012 Forbes Magazine, Middle East, being manhandled.
I was ready to explode but so far managed to maintain my cool, no matter what was boiling inside me. Probably because I knew that I was monumentally outnumbered, and perhaps my father was not bluffing this time. Maybe I had driven him to the edge.
Sixty seconds later the cars were on the move taking me to wherever I didn’t have an iota. But it was a short drive. Five minutes or so from my house in Karen.
They took me to Nakumatt Galleria. What were they doing? But before the question formed in my mind I saw what they were doing.
On the mall’s top floor is a helipad. I spotted two black helicopters with their rotors running. That was my ride out of the country, mercenary style. Great!
Where was everyone? Nakumatt Galleria is ever buzzing with activity. Today it was deserted like there was a 24/7government imposed curfew, or terrorists had sieged it. Who were these people? Terrorists? No, they didn’t fit the profile of terrorists. They were so meticulous. They were either the secret Mossad hit squad responsible for high profile assassinations all over the world, I deduced, or they were the marines who killed Osama bin Laden.
I was escorted to one of the helicopters and pushed in where I found more balaclavas. It looked more of a rescue operation than a kidnap.
One of the hooded goons extended his hand for me and I snorted. Now they were going knightly on me? No, thanks, I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.
When I was seated, the gentleman balaclava leaned in on my ear and said, “Shiri, this helicopter, apart from repatriating you, is leaving in exactly forty-five seconds. That means you have exactly as much time to make up your mind…”
Under normal circumstances I would have wanted to know more, like who the hell he was, make up my mind about what and bitch around, but I didn’t.
“I was against this,” he said, “but I’ve a way out. It’s upon you. The ball is on your court…”
“And what do you think you are going to do, knight in balaclava?” I asked sarcastically.
“I don’t think I have a choice than to go with you. Where do you want me to run to…”
By now the helicopter was almost lifting.
“Who talked of running? I know you don’t want to do this, your father is pushing you way beyond. But I know you’ll come around and see through it. I’m risking this for you, because I believe in you. This is where you belong, but not by force. Twenty seconds.”
“Shiri, you’re going to get off this helicopter. I’ll handle your father….”
“And how I’m I going to get off with all those guns trained on me, and I’m I going to paratroop…?”
He leaned on to my ear and whispered. He must have been crazy to think I’d risk my life to do what he was suggesting. My life is not a scene in a movie that needs all cameras running to capture the stunt.
My heart literally stopped.
But not because I was supposed to jump off the helicopter like a Special Forces soldier. It was because that voice I had heard it a million times, and when he leaned in on me I smelt his cologne and knew who he was.
It was Father Frank.