I spent four days at Division F Police Station before I was finally released.
I spent most of the days either weeping or brooding. Dark thoughts occasionally crossed my mind about my siblings, I’d asked unanswered questions about their welfare.
I bothered most, with the uncertainty that they had been locked up as well. I also asked myself where they would be; I worried about what would be happening to them.
Sometimes, the other inmates would make fun of me and call me names. Names like “mummy’s boy” or “omije oju…”
I wasn’t bothered because I knew that most of the inmates were mean by default.
I knew because I had seen movies about them. It was only a boy of my age who showed interest in me.
We would always try to start a conversation. Maybe he’s one of the internet fraudsters the DPO spoke about. I couldn’t ascertain that reality.
The second day I spent at Cell Fourteen wasn’t a day I will love to remember for the rest of my life.
A young man came to meet me behind bars that evening. “hey man” he called at me and tried to force out a smile.
I did not even turn to look at him as I continued humming the Rock of Ages hymn.
He tapped me on the shoulder a number of times before he decided to leave because I didn’t give him the required attention.
I stood at the same spot, behind the cell bars till night time. I probably expected a miracle or whatever you may deem fit to call it.
Another guy walked up to me. Actually, a far older man. He appeared to be in his late thirties, or early forties.
“Hellooooo, Omo mummy.” He said and stretched the words. He spoke like our Nigerian comedian, Broda Shaggi.
“I don dey notice u since yesterday and I no fancy d way u dey do like fowl wey pikin die for hin hand. “u gaz free yourself and forget about everything.
This place na place of joy… if u no happy for here, gbagbe you no fit happy for anywhere.” He said to me.
I asked myself what was there to be excited about, and why particularly he was excited.
But it wasn’t for me to bother about. I cast my eye on his face, I could not utter a word.
“Na me dem dey call Kesari. A.K.A. you see me, you die. I see you, you die… I be robbery gan. Dem talk say I be notorious armed robbery. But I sabi English o. I go school.
I was apprehended last week while on an operation with my gang members. Na poor info we get, guy.
But we gather dey my brother. We gather dey” Kesari said. He grinned and showed his yellow set of teeth.
I looked at him with so much displeasure that I didn’t know when a loud hiss escaped my mouth. Before I got to know what was happening, Kesari landed a hot slap on my face and rained punches on me.
It took a while before the police officer on duty that night could intervene. I felt sharp pains on my body that night.
I had dislocations as well, my waist hurt so badly that I couldn’t stand nor walk. I crawled to a corner of the dark cell where I sat and wept quietly for the rest of the night.
Kesari and his accomplice, Skye, were laughing wildly at me. The young guy of my age who had come earlier did not laugh. He came to sympathize with me.
“I’m sorry about what happened. I wish I could help but I couldn’t. If I dared, we would get beaten together” he said, while he tried to stretch my legs.
“By the way, I am Samuel” he stretched his hands forward, towards me.
“My name is Timmy” I bone-face like someone who just fired bazooka. I refused to shake his hands. Disappointed, he withdrew his hand. “What brought you here, Timmy?” Samuel asked. He sounded like an inquisitive woman.
“Theft related issues.” I replied him and looked away.
“Wow! So you’re a thief?” Samuel asked looking at me straight in the eyes and glancing at Kesari secretly like we had something in common.
“I am not a thief” I fought back Samuel’s allegation “things just had to turn out this way.” I added.
“Well, mine is just a case of straying.” Samuel coughed then continued. “I was on my way to my place of work that morning when a SARS van pulled over beside me.
I was dragged into the vehicle.” Samuel paused for a while, then he continued. “I was apprehended with thirteen others who were also on their way to work or home.
We were told to pay a ransom of a hundred thousand naira or we would be detained although we did nothing wrong.” Samuel coughed.
“Those who could afford it were freed as soon as the money was transferred into the officer’s account and those of us who couldn’t afford it were detained.
I tried to explain to them that I work in a junkyard and I have to walk miles every day while I push a cart around to gather used and condemn metals, but they turned deaf ears to all my pleas.” Samuel sighed. I instantly felt sorry for him. We were here by accident.
Samuel and I became friends that night and we were both freed the same day. Samuel had a similar story as mine, the only difference between us is that he never knew who his parents were, or what they looked like.
Samuel lived with his uncle in Egbe, Kogi State, until his uncle told him that he could no longer fend for him.
He left Kogi, afterwards in search for a greener pasture. He said he heard that Lagos has work for people. He met himself in Lagos for such reason.
He is a neat guy, one would not suspect he pushes cart to gather used metals. He told me he still dreams of becoming something better –
When I was freed from the police station, I dropped my siblings at the Motherless Baby Home as planned earlier while Samuel and I hunted for petty jobs so as to get engaged.