I looked at the small wall before me and counted the days with the tip of my fingers and tongue; it was day five and I had little or no chance to being let out of the tiny hell hole I had gotten myself into. From my sitting position, I could hear the voices from the other cellmates as they screamed;
“Abeg Corporal…release!” They cried.
This wasn’t the first time I was visiting a prison cell, I remember visiting one at a very young age, then, it was my father who was locked up for disturbing the peace of the village, other times were my brothers who had been locked up for one crime or the other.
I wanted to scream and beg as the rest but couldn’t as my throat almost cracked up from thirst. I stood up from the ground and walked up to the huge metallic rail which separated me from freedom and stared. Police officers walked about and they spoke loudly as well, mostly ordering some cell mates to keep quiet. I was left in my small cell alone unlike other inmates who were locked up in groups. Opening my mouth for the first time in a long while, I coughed and spoke;
“Abeg, I fit see water drink for here?”
One of the policewomen who stood closer to my cell spat;
“Yes na…go buy am for outside.”
“Aunty Corporal abeg… I never chop since yesterday. Na dat beans wey I wack for the other night I still carry so.”
“You never see nothing! Child abuse and human trafficking na the biggest crime for we country now…you never see anything.” The policewoman repeated.
“Aunty I no traffic, I no abuse…why una dey talk all these thing…ehn? This no be the first time pesin dey yarn me yawa for dis same tori.”
The policewoman laughed and walked up to meet me, snorting to my face she said;
“Your Oga and Madam don gree say dem go lock you for hia, carry key troway…you never see nothing.”
My mouth stood open as I stared at her in fear and confusion, at that point I heard a loud voice at the counter, I recognize the voice because I have heard it one too many times. It’s my madam, this was the first time I was hearing her voice after three whole weeks, she had obviously just returned from her trip.
“I want to see that disgusting pig! Who and what does she think she is? Hawking my child on the streets of Lagos, where is she?”
“Madam, take it easy, this is not a place to show your fighting skills, this is a police station.” Said the policeman at the counter.
“Do you have children?” My madam asked, her face looking fierce.
“No…but I hope to, someday.” The policeman answered.
“Then you can never understand what I am going through. I came back from my trip to find out that my nanny has been hawking my child on the streets of Lagos and adding salt to my open wound, she almost killed my husband with her amateur plays at seduction…he told me everything.” My madam shouted screaming at the top of her lungs and beating her chest. “Senorita…if I don’t kill you then I am not who I am!”
“How dare you threaten her life, and in the police station too.” Shouted an offended policeman. “You too madam, are under arrest.”
“And you, police officer, are the biggest idiot on earth.” Madam snapped.
I heard the clink of the handcuffs as it slapped her wrists and I heard my madam’s protesting scream as she was hastily pushed towards my cell.
“You will pay for this; I will sue your bloody ass.” My madam swore.
To my surprise, the policeman nodded to the policewoman who had been speaking to me, and they opened my cell and pushed my madam inside, removing the handcuffs used on her in the process.
As soon as my madam entered my cell, I heard the cell door click and the chuckle of the policewoman, then I knew it was battle time. Madam didn’t even wait a second before she pounced on me, kicking, scratching and biting. I didn’t want to fight her back but the scratches were too much and besides, I had done her no wrong, the only thing I did was; make sure I exhibited her son’s talent to the world. I suddenly grew angry at her audacity to attack me and I roughly grabbed her legs and threw her down to the ground. I can swear I saw her eyes spin and I was scared that she would die from the fall but my fears were put to rest, she was fine.
I stared at her in pity as she struggled to sit up; the truth is; she shouldn’t have attacked me, I used to be a big fighter in my village days and was yet to be beaten till I landed in Lagos and was shown black and blue by Shade in Janet’s compound.
My madam seemed to calm down, she looked dazed and in shock, she sluggishly moved up against the wall and stared at me in confusion.
“You want to kill me now right? You hawked my son on the streets, you shamelessly tried to seduce my husband and now, you want to kill me. I should never have hired you.” She said.
“Abi you don talk finish?” I asked, when I saw that she was in no mood to answer, I continued; “I no hawk ya pikin…una no understand say the boy get talent..”
“Talent? Was it the reason you took him to different bustops everyday in a bid to make money? Mind you, I searched your room and found over twenty five thousand naira hidden under your mattress. Is this how you pay me for bringing you into my home?”
“So for de good wey I do, una no fit talk thank you. Ya pikin helep save im papa when him wan die… I see him talent come show de world, na bad I do una?” I started.
“My husband is asthmatic; it’s a condition that’s peculiar to some people. My son had been taught to give his father an inhaler whenever he needs it…are you that daft?”
I blinked my eyes, at first in confusion then later, in stupidity for I had been foolish all along and I had just understood what I should have known from the beginning.
“Una tell me say Oga get Rasthmatic?” I say, trying hard to defend myself.
“You triggered it…didn’t you? My husband told me…he told me how you pounced on him in a bid to kiss him and how he fought you off and was seized with asthma attack…my husband tells me everything.”
I was caught off guard by the last statement, ‘does he really?’ I asked myself.
“Madam…I know say, I for ask una before I carry una pikin comot for miracle, wetin I no know be say, why my kiss go give Oga rasthmatic.”
“Will you shut up? You kissed my husband and still have the guts to talk to me about it…you stink!” Madam spat.
“I know say I dey smell but I fine pass that sisi wey dey totori Oga when you travel.” I say.
My madam’s eyes widened like saucers.
“What did you just say? Senorita! What did you say?”
“Haba! No be you tell me say Oga dey tell you everything, why him no talk dis one?” I mutter.
“Wait a minute…I mean... he does tell me everything, or doesn’t he?” Madam spoke, more to herself than to me.
“Madam wetin I know be say… I wan comot for hia…if una no want me for una house again, make I go, no be for cell I wan stay, na Lagos hustle I come…” I was cut short by a man’s voice from the counter, without second guessing I knew it was Oga.
“How dare you lock my wife up with that swine?” Oga shouted.
“Don’t shout in a police station or I will lock you up too.” The policeman who had locked my madam up threatened.
My madam looked at me, this time, not with pride or haughtiness but in humility.
“Senorita…what woman?” She asks.
“Oga don come, abeg ask am yaself. I no want insult.” I say sounding hurt.
“Do you want the charges dropped against you? I can do that….just tell me what you know.”
“Charge? I charge you?” I snap, not understanding the meaning of charge in her context.
“No…it’s not that I mean I can release you from this cell if you tell me everything you know.”
I open my mouth wide for the first time and laugh.
“You…you wan release me…you wey dey for cell wan release me wey dey de same cell. I don even senior you for cell sef, if dem wan release pesin first…na me.” I say stupidly.
My madam looks at me in shock, she obviously couldn’t believe I was that foolish to think that she would be in the police cell for a longer time than myself.
“Senorita! I am the one who’s responsible for your being in the cell and I have the power to drop all charges against you.” Madam said calmly.
I laugh some more as I hear the footsteps of the policeman and Oga near the cell.
“You no get power to do anything.” I continue.
Oga and the policeman walk to the cell and the policeman fishes out the keys from his pocket and giving Madam a stern glare, he says;
“I hope you’ve learnt your lesson madam.” He says “You can go home now.”
My eyes widen I disbelief when I realize madam’s words were true; she was free to go.
“Madam I beg no leave me for here.” I plead tugging on to her skirt.
“Will you leave her alone? You swine!” Oga barked at me.
“She’s coming home with us.” Madam said.
I was shocked to the roots of my hair and so was my Oga who stared at his wife in disbelief.
“Sir, I would like to drop the charges and I am sure my husband wants to do the same.” Madam said, turning to face the policeman.
Oga’s mouth was open in shock but words didn’t emerge. As for me, I hugged myself in jubilation as I congratulated myself and kept muttering over and over again.
“Weldone Senorita! Weldone! Lagos go do you better, who sigh?”