Banji could never have envisaged his day would turn out so awry. Everything was against him and now, the moment he entered his house, his wife wanted babysitting. Talk ke, definitely not today!
“It has being a stressful day for me, Nora. I was in court today and from how things went, I may lose that Akindele case. He’s in police custody now”. Banji sighed as he remembered the endless hours of preparation for today’s hearing, only to have it all nullified by the defendants bringing up a point he had not envisaged, that solidified their position. He was out on a limb this time. He would need more information to make any headway with that case. To make things worse, his client was in involved in a road accident that claimed a life on his way from the court, and the police decided to detain him till they could establish what actually happened.
“Let me relax and tomorrow, I will be all yours”, he tried to pacify his wife while his own patience dried up like an open bottle of methylated spirit left in harmattan breeze.
“Come to bed first, please. I promise you will like this part of the day”, Nora countered in a hopeful voice but he only hissed in exasperation and walked out of the bedroom. He felt Nora only wanted small talk to lull her to sleep and tonight was not that kind of night as far as he was concerned. He undressed in the living room, leaving his clothes trailing after him as he headed to the guest bathroom instead of the shared one in the bedroom he just fled, just to stay away from his wife.
“She must have had an easy day at work for her to still be up” he mused as he soaped and washed himself.
“I wonder if there’s any yoghurt left in the fridge, I can’t bear to chew anything right now. A little yoghurt then I am off to bed” he thought as he mentally congratulated himself for the feeding arrangement he had with his wife. If not for that, he would be dreading her sad face when he announces he does not want any dinner. They had agreed that on week days, she does not have to cook dinner for him. When he gets home, he sorts himself out from the fridge.
“I have to make sure to get to the police station early tomorrow before Mr. Akindele says anything to implicate himself further”. He mused as his thoughts jumped back to work: how best to convince the Investigating Police Officer to join the search for the actual culprit in view of the fact that his client did not run over the victim. To the police, the evidence seemed to point to the man they already had but Mr. Akindele had been his client for nine years and Banji had been in his car on several occasions. The man is a careful driver, considerate of other road users, especially the commercial motorcycle riders, with their tendencies to break every rule of road usage. Bloodied sand clung to Mr. Akindele’s tyres and his fender was bent in every direction but he was not injured.
He had gone to the station immediately, carrying the mangled motorcycle along with him to report having run over the motorcycle on the road while swerving to avoid hitting a commercial bus in front. The commercial bus had hit the rider and presumably, the motorcycle had swerved to the other lane at the same time as Mr. Akindele veered there so as not to crash into the bus. The police had a question for Mr. Akindele which he could not answer. If he had only hit a motorcycle, how did blood get into his tyre? They concluded he was to be held guilty or at least complicit in the motorcycle rider’s death. The Investigating Police Officer had refused to visit the scene that day; he had been in court all day too.
He was drying off his body with his hands and wishing he had brought a towel in when Nora tried to open the door. He smiled and was happy he had locked himself in.
The moment Nora seemed to give up, his phone started to ring. He puckered his lips in annoyance, entertaining grumbly thoughts as he assumed she was the one calling his mobile. “What won’t this woman do for attention? She’s beginning to get selfish, I said I’m tired, haba!”
“You have a call!” Nora called out to him as the volume of the TV went up. The phone stopped ringing and picked up almost immediately as he unlocked the door. He sighed his helplessness and got out of the bathroom. Nora threw a towel at him without looking. He tied it around his waist as he surveyed his surroundings in a fruitless attempt at deciphering Nora’s next move. His wife was on the only settee in the living room, sitting yogi-style, eyes on the TV with remote-control in her hand. He walked past her and she smacked his buttocks playfully “you are hawt, dude”, she said in a fake accent, her eyes never leaving the TV. Banji ignored her and homed in on the shrilling phone.
“Hello?” He said into the phone and was about to check the caller ID again to be sure when he got a reply.
“Hello, my job’s done. I got the driver. He’s a youngster who got over-excited with the accelerator” Mr. T, the private detective attached to Banji’s chambers was on the line.
“Really, you got him? Where are you now?” He said excitedly at the good news.
“We are at Zone D in Mushin, he’s singing the right notes to our audience so just show up tomorrow at Zone D first so we can liaise with them to bail Mr. Akindele, 8a.m. please”.
“I got it, I will be there”, Banji replied very slowly now, half expecting Mr. T to say he was joking. It was barely four hours since he left the man and headed home. Is he truly done?
Thirty minutes after he parted with Mr. Akindele in the court premises, he got his call saying he was at a police station in Ikeja and the Police said they would have to detain him. He had turned back to go meet him at the station immediately and after hearing from both Mr. Akindele and the Policemen on duty, he called Mr. T. This is one hit and run they would have to produce themselves. Banji could not afford for his client to miss the next week’s court proceedings, he would surely lose the case if that happens. His boss had assured him he would lose his job if he lost one more case. That will happen if this current issue with the police is allowed to drag.
Mr. T is the staff whose emoluments never appear in the firm’s payroll and his contributions to solved cases never acknowledged officially either. When Banji’s firm started taking cases involving political bigwigs, Mr. T was the only addition to the firm. He helped with sourcing evidence, tracking absconders and guarding lawyers who were threatened.
They had been on the move all afternoon, combing commercial bus garages, asking park officials about a light-skinned commercial bus driver who wore a blue panama hat. It was like looking for a cow’s infected intestine after it had been tied and fried. The funny looks were embarrassing to say the least but there was little they could add. Mr. Akindele insisted that was all he saw of the hit and run driver. Although Banji suspected Mr. T was looking for much more than that when he kept walking from bus to bus in each of the parks. He would not say what it is and Banji kept remembering the rumours in the law firm that Mr. T was booted out of the Directorate of Military Intelligence by Officers he offended.
“Well, DMI or no, he’s a big asset to the firm. It’s one more win for us”, he concluded within himself as he returned to the present, realizing Mr. T had cut the connection.
Banji felt lighter as he returned to the sitting room.
He assessed his wife from behind the curtain that divided the bedroom and living room, wondering if it was sex she was waiting up for or she really only wanted to talk. Now that the tension he was feeling has been doused by Mr. T’s call, he prayed it was the latter, he would not mind that kind of therapy. Ten years of marriage and he still stared at her, enjoyed watching her; the years were not enough to make him ‘tired’ of her like some husbands claim happens. They had gone through a lot in those ten years, especially because there was no child. Not one pregnancy and it was his fault. He could not impregnate her but she was the one who took it to heart, running around in circles for a way forward, for solution. He prayed they would be able to afford a fertility clinic one day, before it is too late for her to carry the child herself, before she leaves him. It would save him from these quacks she was always introducing him to. It has been a long, long ten years… He jerked at the sound of his wife’s voice but did not hear her clearly.
“I’m pregnant” she repeated, still watching the TV.
“What do you mean by that? Do you think you should joke with…?”
“I’m pregnant, B” she said, raising her face to meet his annoyed own.
“Here, take a look at this”, she opened her palms to reveal a pregnancy test strip. It had two red lines. He was used to seeing it with her, a few times grabbing the whole pack from her and throwing it in the waste bin in moments of exasperation. “I cannot get you pregnant”, he would yell at her. “Stop this rubbish or let’s get out of this marriage” and she would cry and cry and cry, insisting that her God would give her a child within this marriage and how she could never bear to leave him. “I only need you to join your faith with mine”, she would assure him when she calmed down. Then he would apologize. On and on these things went between them until they met their latest Doctor. He had been particularly harsh with her the week before and had been looking for how to make it up to her. She dragged him to Dr. Expensive, as Banji called him. The doctor’s bill per consultation, all the detoxification, ginger chewing, and timed sex, gave him heartburn. Nora insisted it was just the bills that caused the heartburn. Now, five sessions and all sorts of diet-watching, detoxification and sperm boosting later…
“B, you are not saying anything” Nora brought him to the present.
He looked at the strip once again to confirm that there were truly two red lines. He could see the lines but he had to restrain himself from telling her to do a fresh one right then. Is she joking? Could she have painted it on? Is this another one of her pastor’s ‘faith it till you make it’ advice? He needed confirmation because if she was fooling around, then she was going to get a terrible tell-off.
“Look at the result B, I’m pregnant” she insisted. I had to test it myself as I did not see my period all day. I did this urine test this evening and it came out positive. This is the third strip and they all came out positive. They all showed the same thing. I am so excited but I do not feel any different, I don’t feel pregnant. This is…” Banji laid his index finger on Nora’s lips to make her stop talking so his thoughts, his joy could flow.
Pregnant! The detoxification worked! The ginger-chewing doctor with his alternative medicine had the cure…
“I impregnated you” he said to Nora tenderly. “You are pregnant, we are having a baby!”
“Yes, yes, yes” Nora replied, laughing as Banji picked her up and carried her off into the bedroom.