Culled from DAPPLED THINGS, a Fiction Novella by Iweka Kingsley
This weekend is my best friend’s wedding. I am her maid of honour. We have been friends since high school. We went our separate ways immediately after school. Life blew us away from each other. The separation made us fight our battles alone. We fought really hard. But victory was not our goal, survival was, and we survived; hence, I can say we fought a good fight.
We are back together now, stronger and better. What’s more important is that we have learnt a lot from both our experiences. That’s what makes this moment and the ensuing memories, very glorious. We dreamt of this day as kids, when we will get married to the men we loved. The only difference is that we dreamed of doing it together.
When you go away for a long while and you return, you realise that the only thing that changed, is you. I have been out of jail for about two months now. The whole thing still looks like a dream. Just when I thought all hope was lost, heaven smiled on me, a huge smile. It beamed its pure light on me and I was whole again.
I was in my cell that day. It had rained heavily. The warden came to announce that I had a visitor. I did not have many visitors while I was in jail. My mum only came once in a while. She was really disappointed in me. I did not expect any less.
My visitor was a lawyer. A new lawyer, not the clown I had at my first trial that could hardly remember my name. This one was different. He was more experienced in legal matters, and he was clearly more passionate about my case. He had gone through my file and figured that there was something not quite right with the entire case. He suspected I was set up. He handled the matter like he owed me a personal favour that he was bent on repaying.
When I asked him how he knew about me and my case, he gave me a very mysterious reply, “Never doubt the ones who truly love you, because true love never returns to you void.” That’s the thing with lawyers, sometimes you love them so much, other times you hate them even more, it all depends on which side of the court-room you are sitting.
I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about then. But something inside me told me that Tony was behind this somehow. He must have heard of my case, my trial and my sentence. He also would have figured that I was innocent. I found out later that his marriage to Seun never worked out. They never made it to the altar. He realised it just wasn’t worth it. He would not sell his love for money just like I did. Then I understood. It was Tony’s love that glowed like light from heaven. It brightened up my heart and gave me hope again. I was reborn by love most true.
And so the new lawyer, his name was Stanley Onyeyatoro; a close friend of Tony and a senior advocate of Nigeria. He got my case to be reopened, on the grounds that he had new evidence that proved I was innocent. It was a confession from one of the earlier witnesses who testified against me during my trial.
Stanley said it was the supposed death threats in form of text messages and e-mails that first called his attention. It seemed bogus. He argued that if I had actually wanted to kill Seun, why would I leave so much behind that could be traced back to me? Besides, there are very rare cases of people smuggling drugs into the country; and why would I carry the drugs, in the quantity that I did, along with me to Seun’s house if my intention was to kill her?
All of that led him to conclude that I was being set up. He did not have to look so far to see who was behind the entire plot. The whole thing had one person’s name written all over it. The supposed victim— Seun. He knew she would deny the truth, and that she had enough political power to stop his progress and make life worse for me in prison. So he did his thing secretly. He had a plan. He had to get Martha to confess.
There was only one way to do that. Make her an offer she wouldn’t refuse. He set out to dig up stuffs from Martha’s past that could be used to force her to come clean and get me out of prison. He thought of the drugs. How did she get the drugs so easily, and in such quantity? She had to have done drugs before, or was probably still involved in drug trafficking. Maybe she even worked with Seun or even Seun’s father.
Plenty rumours go by about politicians and their extracurricular means of making money. He dug deep enough and soon he struck gold. She indeed did drugs. He had got her in his trap and she had to play to his demands. His demand was quite simple: stand in court and tell the truth, that I, Maggie Alozie, am innocent of all that I was accused of. She had no choice; she was in a very tight corner. She agreed to do it.
I was in jail for over a year. It was a crazy experience and nothing in this world would take me back there. I begged Stanley to please tell me whom I owed my freedom to, just to be sure if my redemption was whole. “In time you’ll figure that out. Now go and sin no more”, he replied.
I did not have to wait too long to get my answers. The day I was released from prison, Tony was waiting just outside the gates to pick me up. It was a very awkward moment. For a while I was motionless and maybe breathless too. How do you face the one person you betrayed and then he still came around to save your life? We walked beside each other to his car, a loud silence between us. Tension oozed out of him too as we walked side-by-side, I wasn’t sure why. But I was sure my redemption had come.
“No need to explain anything Maggie, I know what happened. I know how much you love me.” Tony said to me in the car as he drove me home from prison. I had no idea what to say, but I knew I had to say something. I did not want to say the wrong thing. So I said nothing for a while.
“I’m sorry Tony.” The words finally came out of my mouth. They had almost choked me. He looked at me and smiled. I was calm immediately. He turned away from me and looked ahead of him, unto the road, before he said the next words.
“I understand now Maggie. They say if you love something, you should let it go and see if it comes back to you. You came back Maggie, and that means we belong together.”
“I can’t believe you are this calm and understanding, after all, I had no reason to leave you.”
“It’s okay Maggie, everything would be just fine.”
“I don’t deserve you Tony.”
“Don’t say that Maggie, it’s not all your fault.”
“Oh yes it is Tony, and I feel terrible.”
“What if you had to chance to make it up to me? Would you take it?”
“Of course I would take it, without thinking twice. What would you have me do?”
ABOUT DAPPLED THINGS:
The novella with its rich array of characters and plots captures several socio-cultural predicaments that characterize Nigeria. The lot of the story is told from the experiences of two major characters, Cindy and Maggie. It shows how they were dealt with and how they dealt with several issues that they encountered; how they failed and lost; how they learnt and succeeded. This is a story that has many sides. It is a story of pain, passion, grief, strength, betrayal, faith and love. It is a distinctive story told in a most engaging manner; one with many lessons to be learnt.
If you wish to get copies of DAPPLED THINGS, they are available for direct purchase in Lagos:
– at the Patabah Bookstore in the Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall, Shoprite, Surulere;
– LitCaf (Literary Cafe) on the 1st Floor of the E-Centre (Ozone Cinemas), Commercial Avenue, Yaba.
– And in Abuja at the Cassava Republic Bookstore, Shop 62, Abuja Arts and Crafts Village,Opposite Sheraton Hotel, Central Business District.
– Or anywhere in Nigeria (delivery included) via JUMIA.
– Or anywhere in the WORLD via the Amazon, Walmart and Barnes & Noble stores online.
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