THORNS IN MY BOOT 20

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20

Two years passed quickly and my mother improved with every passing day; she had regained her weight, though she has never being a big person, she had always weighed about fifty five of sixty kilogram, her glow had returned but she could not talk, we communicate by writing in Yoruba language or by sign language, she wrote that she does not know why she could not speak and she had tried to loosen her tongue to no avail. The Doctor assured me that she would talk in due time, he said she had been mute for years without saying a word so she had lost her sense of speech but it is recoverable by special therapy and with the rate at which my mother had fought to come back to her senses, she would talk soon.

On the fourth day of May 1997 barrister Efe followed by Oga Frank the Warder came to our cell in the afternoon before visiting hours calling out my name right from the entrance of the corridor to our Cell, I jumped up from my afternoon sleep scared as to why my name was been called aloud in such manner, I was the only Ojo in the whole of the Prison.

They got to the gate of our cell beaming from ear to ear; Chike has been arrested o! He shouted; Chike and the gang have been arrested! Chike came home to visit his family at Easter! He was nabbed by the Police! He is busy singing to the Police at state C.I.D Enugu as I speak with you! Barrister kept repeating.

I ran wild inside the cell, I screamed till my head ached, I hugged each and every inmate; I hugged them so tight my arms were aching afterwards. An elder inmate started a worship song and the whole cell became charged with rendition of worship and praise songs. I rolled on the floor like Baba Miko and wept tears of joy after almost seven years of incarceration.

Where is Barrister Amaka? I eventually found the voice to ask Barrister Efe; she should be in Enugu by tomorrow, she has gone to Agbor to inform the Agbor Police and the prosecuting Family about the latest development.

Kai! This Amaka na man! I shouted; what a man can do a woman can do better! Imagine what the Police station at Agbor could not do, a single Girl has done it! Ha! May God bless her! May God give her a husband that would appreciate her! A man that would know her worth! Ha! Victory at last! Glory be to God almighty! I danced like I never did for a long time, as my fellow inmate sang I danced like David danced in the Bible.

October 9th 1997 I was set free by the Court! The hearing was brief and clear. Baba Miko, Mama, Barrister Amaka and Oga Inside were all in Court. Mr. Chike and the gang were all sentenced to life in jail with hard labour without option of fine or bail.

The Judge took a cursory look at me, and then he skimmed through my file
How old are you? He asked me directly.

I remembered what Barrister Amaka had told me; I was borne on the 6th of September 1974 ma! That means I twenty three years old ma! I said.
And how long have you been on awaiting trial? She asked.

Since 1991 ma! About six years plus now ma! I replied

She nodded her head, she skimmed through my file again then she removed her glasses and cleaned the lenses before putting it on again, she looked at the Counsels and beckoned at them to approach her, they did and discusses for about ten minutes then the Court went for one hour recession.

Immediately the Court reconvened, the Judge court came in, received our compliments and proceeded immediately with the hearing.
Mr. Ojo Makanjuola Stephens! You have spent over six years of your life in incarceration already! You were sent to prison when you were barely seventeen years of age, a minor! A juvenile! A teenager! Whoever did that? That was wrong!

The purported crime which you committed at the age of seventeen should have been taken care by a juvenile Court and not sending you to a maximum security facility, the Police did not help matters as they were in a haste to heap all blame on you and bury the case. The divisional Police Officer and every Police Officer that handled this case shall be arrested and prosecuted for negligence of duty and gross incompetence!
For having spent six years in Prison already, Mr. Ojo Makanjuola Stephens! You are hereby discharged and acquitted of all charges and you are free to go home in peace. She banged the table and she rose! Case closed!

I turned back to see my Mother talking hurriedly and gesticulating to Baba Miko who stood looking at her with opened mouth. mama has started to talk! I walked towards my friends, I hugged Oga Inside, I patted his back and thanked him for everything, I moved towards my mother, she was on her knees with arms spread toward heaven speaking in tongues and in Yoruba language, It reminded me of her night vigils back in the Village, I turned towards Barrister Amaka, she just stood there as if afraid to move, tears were pouring out of her eyes, Oga Inside came behind me and nudged me forward then he whispered into my ears.

She was not wearing their Lawyer uniform as she was no longer my Counsel, she wore a light blue Jeans and a fitted white silky blouse that clung to her body; I walked straight to her with open arms and embraced her, she wept uncontrollably as she rested her head on my shoulder and wrapped her slim hands around my neck. I raised her chin and looked into her eyes, they were inviting and our Lips locked.

To Be Continued

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