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Maigari was tensed in Captain Nwanze’s office,
Maigari: “but Captain you promised there will be no bloodshed aii! Why would your men attack my people!”
Captain Nwanze smoking his tobacco as he gave deaf ears to Maigari’s rant, “no. This is ridiculous! Why would you descend on them, Captain I can bear witness that there weren’t coming to fight you or your men or anybody!” he was shaking, “But I trusted you captain! Why, my friend?”
Captain Nwanze was getting irritated by his rant and signaled the soldier by the head that knocked Maigari out using the gun, the egde. And dragged him out of the house.
The news went viral that Bala was dead.
As they laid on the ground Captain Nwanze ordered for his men to pour water on them- they had all passed out. Bala was the first to revive and he was taken into the guard room. It was in that same room that Maigari was kept; he had fainted as a result of been hit by a gun. Maigari couldn’t look into Bala’s eyes,
Bala: “If…if you had stood for us we would have seen you as a hero rather than the villain that you’re,” he paused to catch his breath, felt nauseous and very weak- he was dizzy too, “See your life! Now the blood of those that you and your friends killed would be on your head. May you die a more painful death”
Captain Nwanze picked the landline and dialed a number with his legs sprawled on the table,
Captain Nwanze: “This is Captain Nwanze calling from Gurara district office. I’m sending a criminal to the state capital to be detained for threatening the peace of my district. He organized and reported some youths attacked the village head, but they are safe for the timely intervention. We recorded a few casualties.”
“Roger that,sir!” the voice said.
Captain Nwanze gave out a poisonous smile;
Captain Nwanze: “ Maku!”
Maku ran in,
Maku: “Yes sir!”
Captain Nwanze: “Bring Maigari out!”
The door of the guard room creaked open,Bala and Maigari did squint their eyes as light flashed in. Maku called out,
Quickly he gathered himself and stepped out,
Maku ordered one of the men to give him water and he gulped it as he felt life creep into his him again; he sighed, “Thank you! Thank you!!”
Maigari followed Maku behind. Captain Nwanze was busy puffing smoke out,
Captain Nwanze: “Have your seat!”
Immediately without arguing he jumped on the chair; still shivering. Captain Nwanze removed his glasses, “ I didn’t mean to scare you, I just needed to bring you back to your senses!”
Captain Nwanze: “It’s good that you’ve gotten the message! We are friends again!” he smiled and handed him a glass of gin, “take and relax!”
Maigari gulped it as he wore a frown the drink had hit him.
Maigari: “Thank you!”
Captain Nwanze: “Another shot?”
Maigari shook his head,
Maigari: “I’m fine, captain!” he seemed to be gaining his composure.
Captain Nwanze: “Now I want you to testify against Bala before a panel that would be set up to prosecute him. Tell them he and his youth attacked us and almost killed you!”
Maigari: “That isn’t a problem aii! The stupid boy that was threatening me! A whole Shekwomwasa saying I’d die miserably!”
Captain Nwanze nodded,
Captain Nwanze: “I see he still got guts. I’ll teach him a lesson. He’d never forget!” he puffed out smoke and gulped a glass of dry gin, the fore head wrinkled as a resulting of the frown caused by the hot drink, “Maku, make arrangements for Bala to be transferred to the state capital!”
Maku: “yes sir!” he saluted and left.
A WEEK AFTER
Kyauta went to check on Bala’s father who had fallen ill as the result of his son’s arrest. Paralysis had grappled him. Since he had fallen ill Kyauta had been the one coming to bath him and look after him. As she entered the compound, she saw Kauna who was returning from an errand.
Kauna: “Good morning.”
Kyauta: “my mother in law!” the name always make Kauna feel very shy, “where are you coming from?”
Kauna: “I went to grind beans for pudding.”
Kyauta: “Okay, how’s baba doing?”
Kauna: “toh,still same!”
Kyauta: “and Diana?”
Kauna: “I don’t know for her o! Please, make her leave this house! She is making life unbearable for me especially. Always sending me on unnecessary errands and if I don’t want to go she’d use the unborn baby to blackmail me, “she mimicked her, “do you want me to have an unhealthy birth? Don’t you know I’m carrying your nephew or niece? She keeps rubbing that on my face! Make her go! She doesn’t even check on baba!”
Kyauta went straight to Bala’s room and banged on the door,
Diana who dragged herself out of bed,
Diana: “Kauna is that you? Have you boiled my water for bathing?” she opened the door and to her disappointment it was Kyuata, “what are you doing here?”
Kyauta shook her head,
Kyuata: “To do what you can’t do! Take care of Bala’s father.”
Diana: “Ah, I’m pregnant I don’t have strength to take care of an ill old man.”
Kyauta: “you’re so pathetic. The old sick man you’re referring to is the grandfather of your child that is if it’s truly Bala’s which I’m sure it isn’t but time will tell! We are all going to be here until the child is born then the true father would be known.”
Diana:” eh,eh,please do…”
Kyauta: “… hold your peace I didn’t come here to banter words with you.I just came to warn you to stop bothering Kauna because the next time she complains of you I’ll practically drag you out of the compound by your hair!” she said and left, “fool!”
Diana wriggled her mouth at her and shut the door.
Diana on her way from the market heard someone call her name. She had just passed the primary school. It was Timothy. He ran after her,
Diana: “what does this one want?” she hissed.
Timothy: “I’ve been calling you since!” he managed to say still gasping for air.
Diana: “and so? What do you want?” she spoke to him in a cheeky way.
Timothy: “Diana baby!”He tried to touch her but she moved back.
Diana: “Quit calling me that name! Say what you have to say. I don’t want people to start saying all sorts you know I am carrying Bala’s baby!”
With his mouth wide opened,
Timothy: “Diana, you know that baby is mine! Why would you take my baby to live with my enemy. Don’t you know that’s insulting!”
Diana: “You’re a fool! Can you impregnate a woman! You impotent tout!” she hissed again and fled,
Timothy in sobbing tone said,
Timothy: “Diana don’t go and stay in that house with my baby! I’m the real father! That baby is mine!” he screamed at a spot and she went out of sight.
THREE MONTHS LATER
Bala had been transferred to the state capital although he was yet to face the panel that would either tell him if he is to be sentenced to death or serve jail terms. But he was thrown in cell anywhere without trials.
Kyauta was in the room crying. For the past three months that was she always did. Cry, cry and cry. She had lost weight, hardly ate and never had enough sleep. She was always in tears. Countless times she had gone to Maigari to plead with him,
Kyauta: “Your highness!” she’d kneel before him in tears, “please, talk to your friend the captain to release Bala! I beg you with God!”
Maigari: “I’ll try my best!”
That was the response she got the first time but nothing was done and the last time she visited he greeted her with very bad news.
Maigari: “See Kyauta I don’t want to mix words with water. It is going to be hard to release Bala!” she started crying, “crying wouldn’t change a thing. Bala chewed more than he could swallow can you imagine that he attacked me and the captain with his boys!”
Kyauta: “Ah,your highness! You know that isn’t true! Why are you being cruel and selfish!” she flung herself to the ground crying.
Maigari fuming asked his guards to send her out,
Kyauta: “Stupid girl! You come to my palace to insult me? What nonsense! Children of these days don’t respect royalty anymore. Kai! Wawuya! Shagiya!!”
Her father entered her room, Kyauta had her head buried in the bed sobbing-pale and feeble she laid on the bed,
Kyauta’s father: “How long do you want to continue this,eh?” he sat close to her.
Kyuata raised her head as phlegm ran down her noise,
Kyauta: “Baba, why would they do this to me, eh? Bala is innocent of the crime they accused him off. Baba you know he is!”
Her father sighed,
Kyuata’s father: “I know that my daughter but the elders can do little or nothing at all. It is Maigari who is supposed to plead Bala’s cause but he is acting all scared of the ruthless Captain. Our hands are tied we can only hope and pray,my dear.”
Her mother entered,
Kyauta’s mother: “My Daughter, please try and eat something. This is pounded yam and your favourite soup.”
Kyuata sat up,
Kyauta: “I don’t have appetite,mama!”
Kyauta’s mother was almost in tears,
Kyauta’s mother: “we can’t lose you too now. That would be too much loss for the village to bear,please,mama na!”
She opened the food for her daughter,
Kyauta’s father: “try and eat!”
Kyauta forced herself to eat but the food didn’t pass through her throat.
Kyauta’s mother: “what’s wrong with you? Do you want to kill yourself for a man who cheated on you by getting your friend pregnant?”
Kyauta gaped at her mother,
Kyauta: “Mama, I don’t want you talking like this. It isn’t Bala’s baby I’m sure and Diana isn’t my friend please!”
Her father looked, gave his wife a stern look.
Bala was brought before the panel, Maigari testified against him and some other people who were hired by Captain Nwanze and the judgment was against Bala. He was to serve three months jail terms after which he is to be hanged. Bala couldn’t believe his ears. His world came crushing. There was nothing he could do. Hope became an alien word to him. All he did was count the days he had left. Captain Nwanze left victorious.
Would Bala be hanged? What could be done to prove his innocence?
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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