She had been gone since morning and I was becoming worried. Her phone lines were off and Funmi couldn’t be bothered about her friend’s safety. For a spilt second I almost dashed out of the house, to go in search of her and I remembered that I was a half man now. A man who couldn’t even see his way through to the bathroom, a man who had become dependent. How could such a man protect his wife and family?
Dupe deserved better. She should be with someone who would fight nail and tooth to keep her safe. My ears picked up the sound of Mama’s heavy footsteps. She walked into my room and I perceived that she was also worried. Since I lost the use of my eyes I had become very perceptive to my environment. Even the smallest of sounds would jar me awake.
I could scent Dupe from a mile away, I could pick up Mama’s footsteps and I could also perceive when any one of them was angry, anxious, sad or worried and right now Mama was worried.
” Uche, there’s something I must tell you” She said.
My heart went up and I stood up hastily. Whatever it was she wanted to say couldn’t be good news by the tone of her voice.
” What happened to Dupe?” I screamed out.
” Eiiii Calm down nah ehn. I am sure she will be home anytime soon. Maybe she’s stuck in traffic.” She said.
I sighed heavily in relief.” What else do you want to tell me Mama?”
” Your brother called me yesterday. He’s been in Nigeria for over a month now and he wants to come back home. I know Chidubem has caused us a lot of grieve but he’s still one of us and we can’t turn him away. Please let him come back home.” She pleaded.
The boy had been nothing but trouble ever since he was born and he had caused us a lot of heart ache but he was blood and family and I couldn’t turn him away. He was also a lead to the the gang who had killed Nonye, I thought. I will get him to tell me who they were and how we could get them arrested.
” Alright Mama. ” I agreed.
” Thank you, my son.”
Her phone rang out and she walked out of the room.She returned shortly and I could perceive that her mood had changed from anxiety to sadness. Something had gone wrong and I felt it in my bones that it had something to do with Dupe.
” What happened to Dupe?” I asked.
” She has been arrested for murder. ” She cried out.
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Annie had walked into my office that early morning and without preamble informed me that Dupe was in the police custody for murder. I felt like she had slammed a fist into my nose. I couldn’t help slamming my fist into the wall, I should have known Uche wouldn’t be able to protect her. I shouldn’t have let her go to him, I blamed myself and I don’t think I would ever forgive myself. After Mrs. Ahmed made a big fuss, she wraped my knuckles in ice and Annie and I went to the police station. I remembered the last time I saw her, she had been distraught and although she looked tired she was beautiful still. She had walked away from me without a backward glance and I had foolishly let her.
I introduced myself to the director of the police station and requested to see my client alone.His boys had shown me into a waiting room and shortly afterwards, they led Dupe in. She looked so pale and weary and I felt like slaming my fist into Uche’s face again. He should have protected her! If he couldn’t he should have at least tried to speak some senses into her! she shouldn’t have gone to that woman’s house in the first place. she sat down and placed her hands on the table.
” I am your lawyer ” I said, trying not sound shaken. Whatever we had before was in the past now. I was her lawyer and she was my client and there would be no crossing of any boundaries.” I need you to tell me what happened and please do try to tell me everything you recall because that is the only way I can help you.”
She nodded her head and looked at her hands.I saw a tear slip on to her palm and I swore within me. I had promised myself not to get personal with her or allow myself to feel any emotions for her but it was too d–n difficult to do so.That is the only way I could help her. I didn’t want to break down in court when she’s been massacred by the prosecutor.
” Please look up and answer my question… Miss….”
” Mrs.” She said, head still bowed.
I wanted to scream no but I kept quiet. When had they tied the knot?
” So tell me what happened?”
” Funmi asked me to go see her……she wanted me to plead on her behalf.”
” Why does she want you to plead on her behalf and who is this Funmi person?” I asked, mentally filing away all the information.
” She…..I don’t know! I don’t know why but she begged me to and I couldn’t say no.” She looked up.”‘Sly, please help me. I didn’t kill her, I …..I can’t go to prison. Uche needs me. I am also pregnant please help me.”
” We will continue this tomorrow ” I said and hastily walked out of the room. Annie ran up to me and caught up with me as I walked towards my car. I couldn’t let Dupe see my tears, I couldn’t let her know that for once I doubted myself. I couldn’t let her see how scared and broken I was. I didn’t want her to see that i was afraid I might fail her. This wasn’t a good start and I needed to be the one in control and not my emotions!
” Shark, what happened?” Annie asked.
” D–n! Please don’t succumb to emotions”
” Annie when are you getting me arrested?”
She flinched. ” When Dupe is out”
” Good. You know where Uche lives?” I asked.
“‘Get into the car.”
I drove furiously, following her directions while she gasped occasionally as I almost brushed into the cars in front of us. At a point she had to beg me to slow down but the devil in me had been resurrected. I parked outside the gate, jumped down from my car and Annie hurried after me. She led the way to his apartment, his mother opened the door and froze at the look on my face. I asked where Uche was and she pointed towards his room. He sat so still on the bed, a stick by his side and I rushed into the room. I slammed my fist into his face and he stumbled to the ground. Annie and his mother rushed in and they both held me back.
” You should have protected her!” I shouted, seething with anger.
He staggered up and wiped the blood oozing out of his nose with the back of his hand.
” I know. I know” Uche said.
To be continued..