“He’s lying sir,” the policeman told his superior.
The DPO looked at chibuzo, and a wave of pity washed all over him. Since the man was sure he was the thief he saw in his backyard, he had no choice but to put him inside a cell and it was worse than he had nobody to come and bail him out.
“Sir, my things have been missing for a while now,” the man said.
“It started from my television set, standing fan, a small portable generator to my stove which I purposely left outside. How he even got into my house is what I don’t know but thank God I was able to catch you today” he said looking at Chibuzo.
“Oya remove your shirt and keep it here,” the DPO told the boy. Chibuzo complied, and they all gasped when they saw the scars on his back.
“DPO can you see what I’m talking about, this boy is a real thief” the man continued pointing at Chibuzo’s back.
Chibuzo who was now feeling weak from loss of blood and hunger didn’t say anything. He knew he was finished. Madam Cecilia has denied him. Even if he was told to go, she wouldn’t take him back. He was sure of that. He was pushed inside a cell with such force that he fell down and scraped his knees. He didn’t have to look to know he was bleeding. He could feel it running down his legs. I can’t take this anymore. I want to die. Let me join my parents. Am all alone in this wicked world. God please take me, he sobbed. His eyes were now dried so tears didn’t come out. Why bring me into this world and leave me to suffer? If only I died instead of you mama. Please come and take me with you! This time around, he shouted it. The policewoman who was at the counter heard this and tears started falling down her cheeks. She had been married for a while without children but here was this child wishing for death. Even if he did what he did, they shouldn’t have beaten him to a pulp. The boy is bleeding in all parts of his body. They didn’t even get him a doctor to look at him, she thought within herself. Such is life.
That night, Chibuzo dreamt, and this time around, it was his mother he saw. She was crying and he tried to reach for her but something kept making it impossible.
“My son please take heart, we have not forgotten about you. We are watching over. Remember after the rain comes sunshine. Please dear, stay on for a while. A man shall ask you my name soon. Tell him just one word ‘Adaeze’. It shall be well with you. Goodbye, my son” she said and disappeared right in front of him.
“Mama, please take me with you, I am tired of being lonely” but no one answered him. His mother was gone. He woke up with a start and looked around. He was disoriented for a second. His body was what reminded him of where he was. His whole body was in pain. His broken nose throbbed. He lay back on the cold floor and tried to sleep again but he couldn’t. His fever was now raging.
“Anybody there?’ He called. It was midnight and he wasn’t sure there was anyone there. He heard footsteps and managed to stand up. When the footsteps got closer, he saw that it was a woman.
“What is it?” She asked with a little kindness. The others had looked at him with scorn.
“Please ma can I have two tablets of paracetamol? I have fever and my whole body feels like I was hit by a bulldozer” he said trying to make light of the situation. The woman alarmingly opened the cell and examined him. The boy is sick, she said to herslf.
“Ok wait am coming” she said and left leaving the cell door open. Chibuzo noticed it but stayed where he was. He was in so much pain and besides he had no place to go. The ground was too cold so he couldn’t lie down. Standing was becoming difficult too.
His knees were now wobling but he resisted the urge to lie down. The policewoman returned with some drugs and a bottle of eva water. She forgot that Chibuzo had not eaten and gave him a tablet of Paracetamol and fansidar. The water tasted like heaven to him. Nothing had touched his mouth since the day before. The woman wanted to tell him to lie down and she realised that he couldn’t lie on the bare floor while he was sick.
“Let me come” and she disappeared and reappeared with a mat and his shirt. It was bloody but it was better than being shirtless.
“Thank you very much ma” he took the mat and his shirt. It was now smelling from not being aired. He put it on and nearly vomitted. He removed it and gave it back to the woman. The woman understood and reminded herself not to forget to buy him another shirt during the day. Chibuzo lay down on the ground and cried out in pain. How could they do this to this poor child? The woman asked herself. She now doubted that it was the boy who stole the items the man insisted he took.
“Try and sleep dear, I’ll come and check on you before I go off duty” She said and locked the door. Chibuzo tried to answer but nothing came out of his lips. The woman left and went to her duty post. Three hours later, Chibuzo woke up. His fever had become worse and he was sweating profusely. His ribs were also aching.
He couldn’t call out for help. He was still in that condition when four hours later the woman who was due to leave came to check on him. What she saw shook her to the core. She rushed out crying and shouting for help.
“The boy is dying o. Make una come o”
Everybody even the DPO went with her. By then, Chibuzo had become unconscious. They carried him to the federal medical center and treatment commenced immediately. He was still in the hospital two weeks later when the man who accused him of stealing from him came to confess that Chibuzo wasn’t the theif but his own son whom he had driven from the house because he impregnated a a girl of twelve years. The DPO was so angry and disappointed in the man. He remembered the way they had treated the boy. Worse than a theif. The boy is still in a critical condition because of that and here he is saying he’s sorry for any inconveniences.
“I’m sorry sir but you have to pay for damages. The poor boy you accused is in the hospital currently suffering from acute pneumonia and other injuries he sustained as a result of the beatings he sustained”
The man looked at the DPO and sighed.
“I’m not giving you people a penny! What happened wasn’t my fault. The boy was caught running. How was I supposed to know he wasn’t the one?”
“Sir, you are not leaving here till you pay the sum of fifty thousand naira. So call whomsoever you have to call”. A constable came and took the man into a cell. The man continued shouting and ranting.
“I know my rights! You can’t make me pay anything!”
Some people are just heartless. The DPO thought.
Back in the United States, Mrs Grace was feeling worried. She kept having a feeling that something was not right but she couldn’t place it. They had seen a newspaper saying her husband was a wanted man and it was the main reason they had left she later learnt from her husband. He had explained everything to her. The Vice President had given him a sum of Hundred billion naira to keep for him because he was thinking of divorcing his wife who was cheating on him with her driver. He didn’t want the woman to know he had that amount so that she wouldn’t covet it. Being a wanted man was the price her husband had to pay for his dear friend. The Vice president has assured them that very soon it will all be over. He has met with them and explained to them it only needed to be put down in paper and they’ll be free to come back. Another problem they were having now was that Madam Cecilia’s mobile phone has not been reachable for a while. She needed to hear Chibuzo’s Voice. Samuel had been asking after him recently and she too wanted to know how he was doing. He must be taller now, she thought absent mindedly tracing the contours of his face.
She was still in that position when her father whom she had not seen since they arrived walked in.