MAN HUNT IV
——_——————————- originally written by Ngee Mbah (dept -Radiography)
I was escorted to the police station, but not before I texted Perpetua to tell her what was going on. On reaching the police station, I discovered that the reason they came for me was because they had seen my national identity card on the floor of Francis’ sitting room. In my hurry to leave his house, I had carelessly left it, while I was packing my bag. In my defence, I had been distracted at the time; not that I told the police men that. Going into that matter would only make me look more suspicious. I also learnt the severity of Francis’ case. Someone had sliced his balls open and he was still unconscious.
The story I told them was that Francis had wanted to show me his house. I probably lost my ID card when my bag fell down from the table where I had dropped it. I stuck to my story and made sure not to input any details that I was likely to forget because I knew that irrespective of the sign posted over the counter that read,” police is your friend,” the police was definitely not my friend.
I had left my work place with the officers by 10 a.m, and by 1 p.m, I was still being questioned. Perpetua had not replied the text I sent her in the morning, she hadn’t come to the police station, and she was yet to call me.
So, here I am still, at the police station.The officers obviously, didn’t believe a word I had said; hence my presence here, still. It is about two thirty p.m, now, and I am still at the police station. Sitting on a chair, in front of a table, across a police officer, I am starting to get nervous. I am beginning to think this is not just a routine questioning. If it had been, they would have just collected my statement and released me, that is, considering the fact that they claim that I am not under arrest. I know this because this isn’t my first run in with the police. Actually, I have had quite a number of run ins with the police. As an adolescent who grew up in a rugged area, you are bound to get nabbed by the police once in a while; not because you did anything but because you were roaming the streets after some miscreants had done something and absconded, or you witnessed a fight that turned bad.
I run a hand, over my hair in discomfort, as the police officer, right across me gives me this weird scary look that I don’t like.
” We have a witness who says he saw you, running out of the victim’s home.” The officer tells me. I give a shrug, but had to force a certain level of carelessness in the shrug.
” I was in a hurry to leave.” I answer.
“Why were you hurrying? Did you have a fight with the victim.?” He wants to know.
“It was late and I wanted to just go home and rest.” I reply. The officer scribbles something in his notepad. I wonder what he’s scribbling, considering that we have been going over the same questions and I have been giving the same answers.
“The witness says your shirt was open and looked torn.” He says. This is a new one. He has not mentioned this before.
“Since this person is so talented at witnessing, he should have witnessed who attacked Francis.” I mutter. My stomach growls, reminding me that I am yet to feed it. Perpetua is still a no show and I wonder why.
“He only saw you and no one else.” The officer says.
“We know you did it. We just want to know why.” Hs adds. I barely refrain from rolling my eyes. This tactics is so old, we even see it in Nigerian movies.
“Oga, I did not do anything.” I answer. He studies me for a second, and scribbles some more. I decide to contact someone else, to come and get me out, since waiting for Perpetua is obviously a waste of time.
“Can I call someone?” I ask the officer. He relaxes on his seat, stares at me for a few seconds, then stands. He goes out of the room and comes back with my handbag which they previously took from me.
I take my mobile phone from my handbag and call Chuba. He is my other bestfriend aside Perpetua and the girls.
“Hello, Chuba. Can you come to central police station?” I say as soon as he picks the call, not bothering with pleasantries and small talk.
“What happened?” He asks. His voice clearly shows alarm and concern.
“Just come.” I say, not bothering to explain. There is no time for explanation. I don’t have the energy either. I cut the call as soon as he assures me that he is coming.
The officer leaves me alone in the room. He has done this a couple of times before, only to return with same set of questions.
This time, when he comes back, he doesn’t sit.
“Follow me.” He says. I hurry off my seat, and grab my bag, hoping this means I can leave. As we get to the counter, I see Chuba speaking with the police men there.
On seeing me, he stretches his right hand towards me and I rush to his side, for a hug.
“We’ll still contact her, if we have more questions.” The officer who questioned me says. Chuba gives a nod and we turn to leave. That’s when Perpetua rushes into the police station. Her eyes latches onto me as soon as she enters.
“What happened?” She asks, with eyes as wide as saucers, totally ignoring Chuba. They never get along, the two of them.
“I texted you in the morning.” I say, pretty pissed at her. She runs a hand down my left arm.
“I’m sorry. I forgot my phone at home and went off to work.” She answers, as we walk out of the station. We walk to Chuba’s car, a dark blue rav4, and enter the vehicle. I take front seat, while Perpetua claims the back seat.
“How did you get arrested?” Chuba asks.
“The officer said it wasn’t an arrest. They just questioned me.” I reply. He raises a brow and throws me a look as he backs the car out of the parking lot.
“I just spent money on bail. That, to me means you were arrested.” He tells me. That shuts me up. It takes thirty minutes to get to my house, from the police station.
As soon as I enter my living room, I let myself land hard on the cushion. It has been quite a day.
“So, what exactly is going on?” Chuba asks. I take a deep breath and give him the full details, starting from my mother’s pestering to my trip to the police station. When I get to the part about what happened to Francis’ house, Perpetua looks angry and guilty at the same time.
“That idiot!” Perpetua yells, obviously referring to Francis.
“All these came about because your mother needs you to snag a husband.” Chuba says, when I finish my story.
“No. It happened because I was foolish enough to let her get to me.” I reply. He looks at me in silence for a while. Then, hesitantly, he speaks.
“Well, you could marry me.” He says, almost inaudibly. I laugh because I know he is not serious. Perpetua gives a snort.
“Finally, he grows some balls.” She murmurs. I cock my head and look in her direction, with a questioning look.
“What are you talking about?” I ask her.
“Are you dense or what? He has had a thing for you for years and hasn’t spoken up. Yet, somehow, he has managed to monopolise your time and affection. Why do you think I can’t stand him?” She answers, all the while her eyes shoots daggers at Chuba.
“Don’t be silly.” I tell her. To my shock, Chuba vacates the cushion he has been sitting on and gets on bended knees. My eyes go wide as he digs out a jewelry box from his trouser pocket.
“I have been carrying this around for three years now.” He says. My breathing goes ragged and my heart starts to race.
“Is that what I think it is?” My voice comes out in a whisper because really I can’t believe this is happening. He flips the box open and there it is, a ring lying regally.
“Is today april first?” I ask, because that would explain why Chuba is on bended knees before me, with a ring.
“I have been waiting around for years for you to stop and take notice of me…” He says
“She might have if you had said something.” Perpetua mutters, interrupting his speech.
“… For the past fifteen years, since we have known each other…” At this point, I completely zone out, as a myraid of feelings flow through me. There is elation, first, then anger, lots and lots of it. I jerk up from the sofa.
“I have known you since I was eighteen and in all these time, it didn’t occur to you to speak up? What, you were waiting for me to get to menopause?” I yell, cutting off whatever nonsense he is trying to say.
He looks shocked at my outburst, and so does Perpetua.
“Get out!” I say. A part of me recognises the irrationality of my response, but I don’t care right at this moment. He springs off his knee, and reaches out as if to touch me. I recoil and insist that he leave my house. He put the jewelry box back in his pocket and walks slowly to the door and out of my house.
“That reaction was most unexpected.” She says, her eyes wide.
“Shut up before I face you, now. How could you know that Chuba was into me but didn’t tell me?” I scold.
“Everybody knew, except you.” She replies. My eyes shoot daggers at her, as I sat back down on the sofa. How could I not have known this?
Few minutes later, Perpetua goes home, while I sit in my living room, mulling over the events of the day. After some time, I enter the kitchen and make myself something to eat. I boil instant noodles and put a portion in a plate. Just as I stuff the first fork full into my mouth, my phone rings. I answer the call. It was Chika.
“Where are you?” She asks, hurriedly.
“Perps called. She says she’s at the police station. She was saying something about Francis waking up and the police coming to her house. I couldn’t really get the entire story. I am headed to CPS right now.” She says.
“What? I just got back from the police station after being questioned. How does this matter concern Perps?” I ask. I am so tired, the only thing I want to do is sleep. Going to a police station is the last thing I want to do.
“You were questioned? How come no one told me?” She wants to know.
“It wasn’t that serious. I’ll dress and come to the police station.” I say, as I drag myself to the bedroom to dress. My muscles ache as I move. I push the incident with Chuba to the back of my mind, not wanting to even think about it yet. The emotions accompanying it were just too confusing.
As I start to head to the police station, I wonder how Perpetua is connected to this mess.