NOTE:This is a work of fiction
Bayowa Coker, Staff, HotNews Naija
When I drove towards the giant walls, I felt repressed: I’m going to hear how Mrs Israel deliberately waived her house to take the confinement of a prison – and whatever fate dooms her. Maybe it wasn’t deliberate. Maybe she had a good reason for her action. Her sister had told me about her, how she took laws into her hands, but today I would hear from the horse’s mouth.
It wasn’t a blithe morning, to begin with. I was going to hear a story at one queer place. The thought of it made my stomach sick. Though the sun had set out to resume its duty across the sky, the cloud was as white as milk, the world was bright – in that way, no electric light could match – but I didn’t take it as blissful. Far from it… How would a woman commit such a huge mistake? How would she justify the stolid action that had led her to that besmirched institute? And, there is the thought of family, money, relationship….and work.
It was in this atmosphere that I met the ‘government institute for corrections’ when I entered. (Editor’s note: name and location has been removed). Everyone I met was in a uniform. The commonest was the blue dress over blue short. Others, the superiors and liberals, were smart, a cream coloured shirt and trouser.
I watched the woman as she walked out of the cell. I watched as her body, now roughed and dirty, ambled out. She was tall, wore a pair of bathroom slippers that were previously used. The soles had worn; the previous user must have had wider feet because the size was bigger. Her hair was unkempt and the blue uniform was as dirty as the walls of the buildings – walls covered with stained paints. Her dress was marred around with dark stains. Hair was free, rough and extended towards her shoulder and stopped at her neck.
At my request, we were given a space to discuss which was not too far from the cell where she used to sleep. I wanted something private but was given a space where that outside could see us. Pairs of eyes looked at our way intermittently, though they pretended they didn’t care, their eyes could not just keep off. Anyone coming in would face us directly as we were sitting near the entrance.
A desk stood at the right corner where two men sat. The two men were opposite in comparison, the first was fat – he used the last hole on his belt to hold his large trouser to his big belly, the other man was skinny he seemed small, like what the first warder would feed on for lunch.
Every interval, men or women in blue uniform would walk past our seat, giving us the we-didn’t-care-what-you-are-saying altitude, but I knew the expression was for us to go ahead, they were lurking around to get a bit of the discussion. Perhaps they would get an opportunity to feature in a big newspaper. Who wouldn’t want such? Who wouldn’t want the world to read their story and maybe mercy would come?
I had no choice than to enjoy the public-privacy while it last.
‘So ma’am, let’s start. What brought you here?’
She stared at me and it seemed we might start with some tears.
‘Madam?’ I called softly, the warder behind shaking her head at her or at us.
She sniffed and began her narration, the story of how her husband ‘murdered’ their daughter.