MONDAY, MARCH 10th, 2014.
Funmi gazed up at her ceiling, thinking about her day. Being pregnant was the last thing on her mind when she had woken up in the morning but right now it was her main pre-occupation. How come she never suspected anything? She had been so devastated by the rape and blackmail that she didn’t realise that she was late on her menstrual calendar by two days.
What had a menstrual calendar previously meant to a virgin?
She thought about how her mum’s eyes widened out in shock as she narrated her story to her. She was too weak to properly observe her mum’s further reactions as she had looked away in shame. It was easier talking to Mrs George than talking to her mum.
And not forgetting the not so little ceremony of having to see Dunni after close to a month which was a bit odd especially since she had previously seen her almost every day for the past three years. Dunni had become a big part of her world since Jumoke relocated with her family to London. She was the friend who had become a sister. Seeing the way Dunni doted on her made her feel really bad for having ignored her calls for the past two weeks, after-all she couldn’t and shouldn’t hold Dunni responsible for Bode’s actions.
‘Ah! Funmi, you’re finally home, I was just about to leave,’ Dunni had said. There was a sense of awkwardness in the way her eyes darted to and fro as if she wasn’t sure of the reception to expect. ‘I called you severally but you didn’t answer the calls.’
‘I’m sorry,’ she had replied, too weak to get into any kind of explanations. Dunni had immediately sensed like only a sister would that she wasn’t feeling too good and had immediately taken charge, pampering and helping her relax. Her ringtone cut through her thoughts, she looked at the screen of her phone and it was Jumoke again. This was the third time she was calling after she had called her earlier to tell her about the steps she had taken so far and of course about the pregnancy.
‘Did you call Daddy?’ Jumoke asked.
‘No I didn’t, but I’m sure momsie would have done that by now. I won’t be surprised if I see him tomorrow instead of the Friday he is supposed to be around.’
‘So when are you going to see the doctor?’ Jumoke asked.
‘I don’t know yet, I’m going with momsie to the Centre tomorrow, I will ask Mrs George for help. I’m scared, at-least that much I know.’
Having an abortion had never for once filtered into her mind. How do you have an abortion as a virgin? But here she was, in a situation where the only thought she could think about was the fear of what would happen if she didn’t have an abortion. She shuddered at the thought.
There was a beep…beep sound in her ears as she talked to Jumoke, so she took a quick look at the screen of her phone. It was her dad on call waiting. ‘Popsie is on call waiting,’ she said with a little bit of trepidation.
‘Pick the call, I’ll call you later,’ Jumoke replied.
‘And what do I tell him?’
‘He has always been your boyfriend, not mine,’ Jumoke chuckled. ‘Talk to him the way only you can.’
Funmi smiled. For the first time in her life, she didn’t know how and what to say to her dad. Jumoke ended the call, causing her phone to ring out. She was at the foot of a bridge she had no option but to cross, she sighed deeply, closed her eyes and tapped the green receive button.
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Mrs Badejo paced about her room, still shell shocked from the news her daughter had served her earlier in the evening. She could feel the effect the news had on her husband as she spoke with him.
‘I will be in Lagos on Wednesday,’ Dare had replied as calmly as he could under the present circumstances. He had just been lighted on fire with the news. ‘The minister would be coming for some inspection tomorrow, that’s why I can’t leave just yet, if he closes up early and I can make a last flight, then I will be in Lagos tomorrow, if not, expect me very early on Wednesday morning.’
Her husband loved their three kids but Funmi was his favourite. It was one reason he refused her request to join her brother Dare ‘Junior’ in Canada for her higher institution. They connected in a way only both of them could explain. And then it dawned on her, she was going to be blamed for this incident. Dare might not say it, but it was obvious that she had failed in protecting their children – his favourite. And that was the only duty she was supposed to be doing as a housewife.
She picked her phone up from the bed and made for her daughter’s room, opening the door as quietly as she could. Finding her sleeping soundly with her face to the wall, she slipped beside her and wrapped her up in her arms, a posture that would have made a photographic masterpiece.
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The book lay in front of her but she couldn’t read. The room had never felt so empty without Funmi and seeing her today amplified the almost inaudible voice of her conscience.
The phone rang. She picked it up from her desk and like she expected, it was Bode. ‘What’s up?’ He asked, his voice full of expectation.
‘It’s done,’ she answered and cut the call. It was a five second call.
Funmi had looked so stressed out, that it pricked her conscience that she had anything to do with her pain. It however didn’t change the plan for her visit. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that she had found so difficult to understand now made perfect sense. She was acting it out, putting her survival first before any other persons’ – even Funmi.
She helped Funmi to the room, her eyes scanning her friend whom she had not seen in four weeks. ‘You need to rest,’ she said.
‘Are you alone in the house?’ Funmi asked a little bit shocked. ‘Is momsie or Blessing not around?’ Referring to a relative that lived with them.
‘Momsie said she was going out to fellowship by five, that should be thirty minutes now,’ Dunni replied taking a quick look at her watch. ‘Blessing told me she was getting something on the street, surprised you didn’t see her.’
‘No I didn’t.’
Dunni’s eyes traced Funmi’s hands as they cuddled her phones. Those little objects were the reason for her visit. She needed to lay her hands on them but with the kind of protective cover they were enjoying from Funmi, she doubted her mission today would be successful.
‘I really need to use the toilet,’ Funmi said more to herself than to Dunni.
‘And you need my permission in your house?’
‘Nope I don’t, but I’m just warning you just in-case you might want to go to the sitting room if you don’t want to suffocate from the smell,’ she said her eyes producing a bit of the spark Dunni was used to.
‘Your school shit smell didn’t kill me, its your house shit smell that would kill me abi?’ Dunni said, her eyes still locked on the phones even though she was only stealing momentary glances at them from where she sat on the bed.
Both girls chuckled.
Funmi walked in the direction of her toilet, with both phones in her hands – Dunni held her breath. Was she going to take the phones to the toilet too? And then suddenly she turned, tossing her blackberry phone on the bed, ‘I don’t need this one,’ she said.
‘And you think you need a phone in the toilet right?’ Dunni asked, trying to push the direction of the conversation so Funmi would drop the other phone.
‘Gaming,’ Funmi said winking, shutting the toilet door behind her.
Dunni grabbed the blackberry phone, there was no time to waste at all. She scrolled to media, tapped, and then scrolled to the videos icon. As she tapped on the videos icon the toilet door creaked open. She quickly pushed the phone between her laps and froze. She had been caught red handed. Her heat-beat paced up.
‘Please help me with the tissue on the table,’ Funmi called out.
‘Ehn?’ she replied knowing that if she got up from the bed, Funmi’s blackberry phone would come crashing to the ground. She hesitated.
‘Don’t worry, Funmi said, darting to the table and picking up the tissue, without pausing for a second to look at her.
Dunni exhaled as she heard the toilet door jam, ‘that was close,’ she muttered to herself, quickly picking up the phone again. She scrolled down the list of the videos, her fingers quivering as she ran it along the track pad and there it was, Valentine 2014 and just as she tapped on the menu button, that annoying blackberry demon that always showed up to dance in your face and momentarily pause all operations popped up. Dunni bit her upper lip both in fear and fury. Why should this phone be hanging at this time? And just as suddenly as it came up, it disappeared, pushing up the options tab. The cursor was on the Play sign, obviously this was not a time to be watching videos, even though she was tempted to take a sneak peek at it. She scrolled downwards past the Rename and Properties signs and tapped on the next item, Delete. No video, no evidence, no case!
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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12th, 2014.
Bode was doing a round up of all the documents, it was the chance of a lifetime to impress his Managing Director and he wasn’t taken it for granted in any way. He had studied all the materials needed for the presentation and was just doing a quick review before the presentation coming up by twelve noon proper.
These were the kind of opportunities that positioned you in the right places in the scheme of things. His charm was on overdrive as he envisaged the smiles in the boardroom by the time he would have been through with presentation.
Gring…, the interphone rang, Bode picked it up at the first ring, it could be the MD wanting to know how prepared he was for the presentation.
‘Mr Bode, this is Mr Salako, the head security, your attention is needed at the reception.’
Bode winced. Why would the head of security be the one to call him from reception? Was Ada not on seat? Something just didn’t feel right about the call. ‘Hope there’s no problem oga?’
‘No sir, but please do make it quick sir, they’ve been here for a while,’ Mr Salako said, sounding as polite as he could.
‘Okay then,’ Bode said ending the call. They’ve been here… the ‘they’ just didn’t sound right. Bode picked up his phones from his desk and made for the door, locking it behind him as he left.
‘You may need to leave the key behind, Bode,’ Mr Emeka said hurrying up to him.
‘Why?’ Bode asked looking puzzled, ‘the last time I checked, I don’t share this office with anybody.’
‘MD’s instruction, she says we might need some documents for a meeting by twelve noon from your office.’
Bode was about to demand to see the MD when he saw from the look in Emeka’s eyes that there were people behind him. He turned back and just turning into the corridor was Mr Salako, the head of security accompanied by two men he had never seen. The annoying sweat beads broke out on his forehead. Something just wasn’t right.
‘Mr Bode, these are detectives Anslem and…’ Mr Salako paused turning to the taller man for help.
‘Detective Eghosa,’ the man said helping out. ‘Mr Bode, we’re officers of the Nigerian police force, Ojodu division and we will like you to come with us to the station to answer some questions.’
Why today of all days? And why now? Bode thought within himself. ‘Please officers, can’t this wait a little while, I have a presentation to make in about…’ He took a quick look at his watch, ‘fifteen minutes,’ he completed almost choking on the sentence.
‘Mr Bode or what is it you call yourself? Don’t mistake our politeness for weakness,’ the shorter, bulkier one of the two officers spoke out for the first time. His voice had the thickness of his weight and the grimace on his face showed his impatience. ‘Save your presentation, you will present it at the station. You’re being arrested for raping a beautiful, helpless young girl and you’re here talking about presentation, if you don’t respect yourself and follow us quietly, you won’t like the experience because your respect meter for me is running low.’ He stated, his eyes cold and deadly.
‘Mr Bode, you won’t have to worry about that, we have informed your management of our presence and I believe they can handle your absence. Mr Emeka I believe I’m right?’ Detective Eghosa said, looking at Emeka for confirmation. He seemed to be the more senior officer.
‘Yes you are,’ Emeka replied.
Bode was shocked that he knew Emeka by name. It meant they had been around for a while and had probably even seen the MD as the ‘informed your management’ line wasn’t at all lost on him. He was probably the last one in on the loop. He handed his office keys to Emeka, who collected it almost happily. He checked again for his phones and then his wallet, tapping his suit jacket to confirm that the items were intact, after satisfying himself, he signalled his readiness.
He walked down the staircase sandwiched between the detectives. It was almost like they expected him to make a run for it. He actually felt like it. He passed through the reception, putting on a prepared smile for Ada and the few colleagues he met at the reception.
‘I’ll just be two minutes,’ he said to Olivia, who was calling his attention to something. ‘Keep it for when I’m back,’ he said. It was obvious the news hadn’t spread yet, but he was also confident that by break-time, his arrest would be the trending topic in the office.
‘Can I take my car?’ Bode asked as the detectives ushered him into the taxi they came in. They had left one of their colleagues behind with the taxi driver.
‘No problem,’ Detective Eghosa said, ‘but one of us will have to drive.
‘Fine by me,’ Bode said. He really needed an air-conditioned ride to the police station or stand the risk of being soaked and dripping with sweat by the time they arrived the station in that insect looking taxi.
Bode’s mind roved all the way to station as he thought of the best person to call right now. He didn’t need to call a lawyer as Mr Salako had intimated him that Sesan, the company’s lawyer was already on his way to the Ojodu police station from an outside call to effect his bail, if there was a need for it. He was grateful to the company for that.
If Dunni did exactly what she confirmed to have done two days ago, then this arrest was really no problem. He was sure Funmi would be the one to come out of the experience shamed and disgraced. He curled the words in his mouth, rehearsing in preparation for when it would be right to spew them out, she’s my girlfriend, and we’ve had sex severally. She’s framing me up because I told her I wanted a break…. He smiled, liking the construction of the words. Detective Anslem’s advice wasn’t a bad one after-all, maybe it was time to present at the station. If he couldn’t wow his MD, he should wow the DPO.
The car grinded to a halt in front of a building in the police station. They were clearly at their destination. Everyone disembarked, while he waited to receive the car keys from the police man that had driven the car. He straightened out his suit as he was determined to make an impression in the station. He was sure Funmi and her delegation, probably a mum or dad would be seated somewhere. He wanted them to see him looking unruffled.
He followed the detectives into what seemed to be the police station proper as he saw police officers lined up behind a counter attending to all sorts of complains. It was not rowdy, but it was busy. His eyes caught Funmi at one end of the hall, close to what seemed like the DPO’s office, with a lady who was talking to an officer. The lady had her back turned to him. He grinned wickedly as Funmi’s eyes caught his. She returned his grin with a cold stare. He saw her nudge the lady lightly, obviously to inform her of his presence. He could see that she had come prepared with a lawyer.
The lady got the cue and turned around. Brushing her hair off her face with her hands, her eyes searching the room, obviously looking for him.
His lips purred open as their eyes connected, she was looking very sophisticated, professional and way more matured. He felt the tremors rush through his body, bringing back long forgotten memories of pain. He wouldn’t forget that face even if it hid behind several shades of expensive make up. It was the face that set him out on this journey of no return, the face that put him on the path that had finally led him to the Ojodu police station. The files in the lady’s hands dropped to the ground with a thud just at the exact time he called out her name in shock, Julia!