Amina rushes back to the shop and quickly drops her bag at the sales girls corner. She hears her madam voice in her office fuming and she knows that she is in for some trouble. She goes into the madam’s shop.
Amina: “Good afternoon, ma”.
Madam Shine: “What is good about the afternoon when you left my shop before close time?”
Amina: “I am sorry, ma. There was an emergency at home and I had to quickly attend to it.”
Madam Shine: “What sort of nonsense emergency is that , ehn Amina? Couldn’t you wait till you close from the shop before going? If you are working in the bank or another place, would you leave to attend to some stupid emergency at home? At your age, I was a banker and a mother of three. I was able to manage my job, attend to my husband’s needs and still take care of my children. That’s how I saved enough money to put up this business when I resigned. You are here, no husband, no children and the job you have, you won’t take serious.”
Amina: “I am very sorry, ma. It won’t repeat itself again”.
Madam Shine: “Sorry for your miserable self. Next time this happens again, you are fired. Get out!”
Amina leaves her office with a heart heavy. Once again, the plight of her prolonged spinsterhood has been thrown at her face. A tear drops from her eyes and cleaning it, she resolves in her heart to do whatever it takes to get married that year.
Amina rushes to the police station immediately after closing. She has just four thousand naira on her and she stopped by at a food vendor’s place to get some for Kamal. She hopes to secure his bail with the money that is left after paying for the food.
When she arrives at the police station, she meets two female police women who are busy conversing. One of them though very fat is eating dodo and groundnuts with a sachet of water in her hands. “Good afternoon, ma”, Amina greets them. They ignore her and she repeats the greeting. The fat one with her mouth filled with groundnut snaps at her.
Officer 1: “Who is ma? How can you look at gallant officers like us and call us ma? Are you okay at all?”
Amina: “I am sorry, ma. Erm…officer. Please, I am here to see Kamal, Kamaluddeen Abubakar”.
Policewoman: “Because you are here to see somebody, we won’t hear word again? Can’t you see that I am eating? Why didn’t you come to see the person since? Better wait for me to finish what I am doing”.
Amina sits on a wooden bench waiting and watching as the two women kept talking and ignoring her.
After about 30 minutes, two other male policemen whom she recognizes as the ones that came with the landlord to arrest Kamal arrive. They take over from the policewomen, who pick their bags and attempt to leave when Amina gets up. “Officer, you said you will attend to me when you finish eating”.
Policewoman: “Is that why you stood up as if you want to prevent me from going out? Who are you seff that we can’t go home after our shift? Can’t you see other policemen at the counter? Go and meet them, now. Mtcheww”, she hisses brushing Amina aside.
Amina walks up to the mean looking policeman who has just resumed duty. “Oga, please I am here to see somebody”. He ignores her and continues writing in a book. After a while, she repeats what she said earlier. “Oga, I am here…”
Policeman: “I hear you, can’t you see that I am writing? Why did you allow those women go without them attending to you? What is the name of the person you said you want to see?”
Policeman:”I don’t have anyone who bears that name here.”
Amina: “Sorry, I mean Kamaluddeen Abubakar.”
Policeman: “Na now you call name”. He glances through his book and exclaims in a loud voice
“Is that not the idiot that almost ran away when we came to arrest him? You can’t see him tonight”.
Amina: “Ah, officer, please. Let me just see him and give him some food. He must be very hungry by now.”
The policeman collects the food and a tip of 500 from Amina. Then he tells Amina that the only one who can bail Kamal is her landlord. He advises her to see the landlord quickly before the case is taken to court. “Your boyfriend says I should help him tell you to do everything possible to get him out of here. He said he cannot spend the night here say him don start to dey sick. He is even shivering there”.
Amina: “Oh, my baby. I can imagine how terrible it is for you in there. I promise to get you out today”. She dashes out without waiting to confirm if the policeman had taken the food to him in the cell or not.
Amina gets home just when the landlord is about going out for his usual evening stroll.
Amina: “Good evening, sir.”
Amina: “Please, I want to see you”.
Landlord: “You mean you cannot see me right now? That means it is not just husband that you need, you also need to have your eyes examined.”
Amina: “That’s not what I mean, sir. I want to talk to you privately”.
They walk back to his room, a three bedroom apartment which he occupies alone. The man is a notorious womanizer whose wife having been tired of her husband’s illicit affairs ran away with her three children.
Amina: “Sir, please I am begging you in the name of God, forgive Kamal so that he can be released.”
Landlord: “You know what to do if you want me to release him. Amina, look at you, a pretty lady like you wasting time on a jobless fellow who has nothing to offer you. Accept my request, be my girl and I will spoil you with money in this town. I will give you one of my flats as a gift and if you do me well, I will marry you. You need a real man to take care of you.”
Amina: “I have told you before and I am repeating it again; I am not interested in your proposal. I will get married at the right time, you are already married. I think you should be preoccupied with bringing back your wife other than chasing girls around.”
Landlord: “Okay. So, you have the effrontery to even talk back at me and make reference to my ex-wife and lifestyle. We shall see, I will make sure that your boyfriend rots in police cell. Look at this old lady that I am trying to help rejecting me because I am married; you who cannot even get a man to propose to you talk more of marriage. Remember that I gave you a quit notice this afternoon. If you don’t pack out of my house before I come back, your things will be thrown out.”
Amina is thrown into another bout of confusion. She knows that the landlord will make good his threats and throw her things out and she doesn’t have money to rent another place and she couldn’t bear to see Kamal spend the night in a police cell.
Question: Should Amina give in to her landlord’s demand so as to secure her accommodation and set Kamal free? Will the landlord keep to his part of the bargain? Will Kamal understand if he finds out what she did to get him out?
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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