Gbenga floated in and out of consciousness before the next person grabbed him. His throat was sore from screaming and his energy was depleted from taking too many punches, kicks and slaps. He had come to the conclusion that the policemen had left the station. He had screamed too loudly for anyone not to have heard him. His body bled from several places and his boxers was torn.
But I’m innocent…
He thought over and over again, wondering how the guns could have gotten into his boot. He thought of where he had gone and when anyone could have planted them. He felt something warm hit his head and realized that someone was urinating all over him. He felt dehumanized and stripped of any worth, his boxers barely hung on his solid frame and he felt someone prodding his buttocks with his feet.
“Gerup!” the perpetrator ordered. “Dance! Obo!” he called to a young man who was seated in a corner. “Give am beat.”
Obo got up and began to hit the gate with the padlock. Gbenga rose gingerly and swayed subconsciously to the beat. Suddenly someone slapped his head.
“You dey mad? Dat na dance?”
Gbenga held his head as tears spilled from his eyes uncontrollably. He wept like a child.
“Sorry sir!” he pleaded and forced his battered body to dance to the dull beat. The inmates began to laugh insanely.
Early the next morning, when Gbenga woke up he was alone.
“Hey! Stand up!” he heard someone say.
The policeman stared at him in shock. “Who do you like this?”
He looked around him and saw no evidence of anyone ever being with him in the cell. He could only look back at the policeman dumbfounded.
“Stand up.” the policeman said again, opening the cell and cuffing him. Gbenga was led to the DPO’s office.
Biola was in her supermarket when her phone beeped. Her husband had sent a chat message.
Are you satisfied?
She stared in shock at the pictures of Gbenga’s battered and bloody body. The one that satisfied her the most was the one where he covered his crotch with his hands as he was led out of the police station. His friend was trying to cover him up with his clothes.
I told them to let him walk out of the place naked. Chief typed.
Yes, I’m very satisfied. Biola responded.
Mama Eli stared at Yimika who was coloring a clown in his workbook. She was amazed at how neat and creative it was. She looked at him again and wished that he could have been different.
“Mummy.” Elizabeth called, holding up her pencil.
“Hmm?” she answered tiredly.
“How many brothers and sisters do I have?”
“Don’t you know?” she asked irritably.
“I don’t know. Does Daddy have more wives?”
“What kind of stupid question is that?” Mama Eli snapped, too tired to understand why her daughter was asking such a question.
“Sorry ma, I was just thinking that Daddy can marry another wife…”
“Shut up and do your work!” she said slapping the girl’s back. “Asking me foolish questions!”
Mama Eli was too distracted by her husband’s renewed interest in her. She wasn’t sure whether to be happy or sad about it. His touch had been rough but she was happy that he was back in her bed. She sighed and looked back at her son’s artwork. The clown was smiling back at her.
“What happened Gbenga?” Harry asked, shaken by his friend’s ordeal.
Gbenga was shaking his head in pain and confusion. He had just pulled up his trousers and worn his undershirt.
“Who did you offend? How could they not have known who did this to you?”
Gbenga thought on this.
“They obviously arrested you to deal with you. Who did you offend? What did you do?”
“No…” He started to say and then he remembered Biola. Could she have done this? Or could it have been Nneka or Fiyin?
“Who Gbenga? Tell me something so we can sue them!”
“Forget it Harry… just take me to a hospital.”
“Forget it? Do you know what you look like? How will you explain this to anyone? How can you let them do this to you and get away with it?”
Gbenga wasn’t listening to him, he knew he got what he deserved. He started to cry again as images of his victims’ fearful faces filled his head.
Chief Afonja studied the information that the private investigator had gotten for him. Gbenga worked with an oil and gas company, what kind of business could he have had for Biola? Even though he believed that his wife had been raped, he sensed that there was more to the story that he hadn’t been told. He stared at the picture of the man who had tampered so violently with his wife and looked at the framed picture of his wife on the table.
He heart didn’t melt as quickly as it used to.
Jomiloju was carefree, her greatest goal was to eat, sleep and take a bath. She squealed in delight as her body hit a chair and she rolled again to the other side, squealing again when her body hit a chair.
Mama Deji looked at her granddaughter rolling on the carpet and smiled.
“Enjoy your life before you get older.” She said, reaching for her glass of juice and taking a gulp from it. It was a quarter to seven and her daughter-in-law wasn’t home yet. Her stomach growled in protest of having not eaten since lunch. She was about to call her son when she heard the glass door slide. She got up to open the door.
“Mummy, ekuule.” Her daughter-in-law, Bolatito greeted.
“Ah welcome o! Why are you late today?” she replied gruffly.
“Late?” Bolatito replied amused. “I’m even early today, traffic was light. Sometimes I get home at eight-thirty.”
“So what happens to Jomiloju?”
“The nannies at the crèche stay with her until I get back…”
“So when do you make dinner?”
“Most times, Deji buys something on his way back or I make noodles. Either way I don’t really have to cook all the time.”
“Is that so?” she clapped her hands in amusement, trying to imagine chief buying food to eat from outside.
“Mummy, let me go and freshen up so I can make dinner.”
As Bolatito walked towards her bedroom she couldn’t help but notice how untidy the house looked or the stench of the trash that emanated from the kitchen.
“Wa-ter.” Yimika said again to Ene Johnson who was glad to hear the boy finally speak.
“Well done Yimika!” she said. “I’m very proud of you! Guess what? It’s time to color! You can color this big monkey for saying “water”!”
Yimika smiled at the therapist and the coloring book, it was the first time Ene had seen him doing so.
Niniola was at the cyber café again, she wanted to see the majestic buildings and the Caucasian students in their summer clothes again. Dele came in shortly after she had started browsing.
“So you weren’t going to tell me that you are here?” he said leaning into her.
She turned to look at him. “Hello Dele.” She said and turned back towards the screen.
“Ah ah!” he shook her chair, “The computer is not going away is it? Can’t you spend five minutes talking to me?”
“I have fifteen more minutes, I can’t waste five minutes.”
“So it’s a waste of time talking to me? It’s because you now know how to operate a computer.” He replied spitefully. He had barely spent five minutes with her and she was already intimidating him.
Niniola shook her head and continued looking at the screen, she wasn’t going to let her emotions get the best of her.
“I’m talking to you!” Dele kicked her chair.
“What is it now?” she asked frustrated.
“Is it because you’re fine that you’re acting up?”
Niniola smiled awkwardly, trying not to be angry and accept the subtle compliment. “Dele give me thirteen minutes please!”
“Okay.” He said, adjusting his knapsack over his shoulder. “I’ll be outside.”
Thirteen minutes later, Niniola was outside. “I’m here.”
“Finally! Let’s go to the eatery.”
“I don’t have money for that o.”
“I’ll pay silly!”
Fifteen minutes later they were eating meat pies and sausages with bottles of soft drinks.
“So you want to school abroad? Why? Can your parents afford it?”
“No, that’s why I’m applying for a scholarship.”
Dele laughed mockingly. “You think they’ll pick you? Do you know how many people apply for that scholarship? My friend applied for it last year and didn’t pass the exam. And he’s very brilliant.”
Niniola was discouraged. “But I have to try. I can’t just assume that it can’t be me.”
“Why should you get your hopes up unnecessarily?”
“So what should I do?”
“Apply to a Nigerian university.”
Niniola didn’t bother explaining to him that it wasn’t an option. As expensive and grandeur as it was, schooling abroad was her best bet. She had no one who was willing to sponsor her education in Nigeria.
“Okay.” She simply said.
“Why are you carrying a pouch on your waist? Are you a JSS 1 student?”
Niniola took it off subtly. “Oh! I forgot it on my waist. I didn’t want my nephew to take it.” She lied, she didn’t want him to know her hustle.
Dele looked irritably at her, she was eating her pie slowly as if she didn’t want it to ever finish. He smiled and shook his head, the girl was so amusing.
Chief Afonja knew that he wasn’t welcome in Mama Ayo’s bed yet he went to her room.
“I told you I would deal with him.”
“And you did Chief. Thank you.” She said gratefully, she had been vindicated.
“You’re welcome. Be careful next time please. You know you’re such a beautiful woman and there are all sorts of men out there.”
“Yes Chief.” She said, wiping her face with her hand and yawning.
“You are very beautiful…” he said, stroking her arm.
Biola pulled away and looked scornfully at him. “What are you doing?”
“Are you angry? I’m sorry.”
“What’s wrong with you Chief? Can’t you men think of something else other than this thing you’re carrying about?” she pointed disdainfully at his groin.
“Ah ah Biola don’t be angry, I was just overwhelmed by your beauty. I’m sorry.”
“I’ve heard. Good night.” She said and turned away.
When she was asleep, Chief Afonja slipped away and went to Mama Eli’s room. She was sleeping with her legs wide apart and snoring with her mouth open. In a few minutes he was done and asleep with his own mouth wide open, Mama Eli was wide awake feeling used.