Dr Fejiro stared at the boy, seated in the holding area of the police station, intently. He tried to find the resemblance; the connection between him and the boy, but he could see nothing. He walked to the reception and asked to see the investigating police officer for the case. Detective Hamza came and took him to the interrogation room, where Voke was brought back to.
Detective Hamza: “Doctor, I am sorry to bring you here this early but we need to get as much information as possible. The other culprits are still at large. This one claims that he had no idea that his brother was a robber, and that he didn’t know of his intention to rob you. Look at him very well, was he one of the robbers there that night?” he asked as soon as Voke was brought in.
Dr Fejiro: “not at all. They were three of them, I told you this before. They were older men. Bigger than this boy here. He was not at my place. You say he is the brother of the robber that killed himself?” he asked, staring at Voke.
Detective Hamza: “yes, his younger brother.” He replied, sighing in frustration. The case was not going anywhere.
Dr Fejiro: “can I speak to him privately. Just for a minute.” He said, looking from Voke to the detective.
Voke raised his head and looked at the man. “what can he have to say to me in private? So this is the man, Friday calls our father? I wonder what he has to say.” He thought to himself then bowed his head down.
The detective walked out of the room and closed the door behind him. Dr Fejiro and Voke sat in the room, staring at each other for several minutes.
Voke: “did you come to stare at me sir, or there is something you have to say to me?” he asked, rudely.
Dr Fejiro: “did your brother tell you anything about your father?” he asked.
Voke: “I don’t understand. What has that got to do with the robbery.” He asked in return.
Dr Fejiro: “your brother claimed that he was my son. I want to know if he told you about me?” he asked.
Voke: “I have not heard of you before. According to him, our father is dead. he said you are our father?” he asked.
Dr Fejiro: “many years ago, when I was younger and carefree, I dated a girl. She never told me that she was pregnant and when we ended the relationship, we lost all contacts. If she had a child for me, I can understand that but two children? How is that possible?” he asked, talking to himself.
Voke: “you can always do a DNA test to confirm; it is no big deal.” He replied.
Dr Fejiro nodded and stood up. He left the room without another word. A police officer came and took Voke back to the holding area.
Ashley got to Benin late in the morning. She quickly boarded a bus going to Third Junction, off Sakponba road. From there she took a Keke into Saint Saviour road, a really bad road, especially in the rainy season. The keke stopped her at the junction where another street met with the road. She paid her fare and walked into the street.
She walked down almost to the end of the street before she saw the signpost of the orphanage home, she sought. She entered the premises and asked for the director of the home. she was directed to an old woman, who was seated on the veranda plaiting a little girl’s hair. She greeted the woman and the woman replied warmly. The woman invited her to seat on the veranda with her and she sat beside her quietly.
Director: “what can I do for you, madam?” she asked, her eyes on the hair she was plaiting.
Ashley: “many years ago, I brought a boy here, my son. I had left Nigeria immediately after. I am trying to trace the whereabouts of the boy.” She replied.
Director: “how old was the boy when you brought him and what year was that?” she asked.
Ashley: “he was five years old. This was about twenty-two years ago.” She replied.
Director: “that is a long time o.” she replied, turning to look at Ashley properly. “he will be a man by now.” She added.
Ashley nodded and stared forward, avoiding the sad look the woman was giving to her.
Director: “I will have to go back, into old files, to get that information. You will have to go and come back. Drop your number with me.” She said.
Ashley: “how long will it take?” she asked, as she brought out her phone from her bag.
Director: “as long as it will take. We are talking twenty-two years here. You are even lucky that we do not burn files like some organisations. We are even trying to move our files into computer, so that everything will be digital.” She said the word ‘digital’ with the dignity of someone who did not know what the word meant.
Ashley sighed. She could not make this go any faster, pressurizing the woman. “I will have to get lodgings somewhere in town. Something cheap.” She thought to herself as she stood up. She gave the woman her number then she bided her goodbye.
Dr Fejiro was ushered into the D.P.O’s office by a police orderly. He shook hands with the man and sat down opposite him.
D.P.O: “All these youths in this country, they have become a menace. I don’t know if it is poor home training, or unemployment that is the cause of their truant ways. They will dare anything, do anything to get money. Don’t you worry your head, doctor; we will get to the bottom of this. I have assigned the case to my best boys. Don’t worry, even if we do not recover the money stolen, we will make sure the culprits are caught and used to make a statement. That boy in there is just the beginning, we will get the rest.” The man said, breathing heavily as he spoke, his huge stomach spread before him like the globe of the world.
Dr Fejiro: “i want the case dropped.” He said, calmly.
D.P.O: “what! You were robbed sir. Thank God your daughters and wife were not molested. What would you have done then?” he asked, staring at him in surprise.
Dr Fejiro: “i thank you for your zeal on my behalf but i want the case dropped and the boy in the holding area be released.” He replied, calmly.
D.P.O: “i do not understand you. Why would you want to drop your complaints now?” he asked.
Dr Fejiro: “Because it is a family matter. I was angry that was why i called the police. But i have thought about it and i will like to handle the matter as the head of my family.” He replied, sadly.
D.P.O: “but…” he said, before Dr Fejiro cut him off;
Dr Fejiro: “Desmond, kill this case abeg. This is as a friend begging a friend for assistance. Kill this case, please.” He replied, pleading.
The D.P.O stared at the man, a man he respected and called friend then he sighed. He nodded his head and picked up his office phone, and then he ordered that Voke be released immediately. He turned to Dr Fejiro who had stood up. He stood up too and shook hands with him
D.P.O: “do you know what you are doing?” he asked his face serious with concern.
Dr Fejiro: “No, i don’t. I am just trying to prevent an avalanche, the best way i can.” He replied, turning to the door.
D.P.O: “avalanche…” he muttered, in surprise.
Dr Fejiro: “Have a good day, my friend and thanks.” He said, then he walked out of the office.
A week after Brukeme submitted his CV to the shop at Delta Mall, he was invited for an interview. He came dressed in his Sunday best, well starched and pressed. The interview did not take long. After it, he sat on the mall walkway and watched the people passing to and fro with their purchases. “Money dey dis town o. See as people dey buy things, dey spend money.” He thought to himself. Then he suddenly stood up, surprise on his face. He walked fast towards a group of girls walking towards the rest room.
Brukeme: “hello.” He said.
The girls turned as one and differing expressions passed their faces. Kate was bewildered and she looked at him curiously. Ese did not see him, she turned away with a blank look on her face. Her hands were still bandaged and in her eyes, could be seen the horror of her pain, locked in the empty gaze with which she looked at everything. Fidelia’s eyes blazed with fury and fear;
Fidelia: “yes…what is it? Why are you following me? What is it?” she said harshly, her teeth holding back the need to scream.
Brukeme: “I am not following you o. I came here for an interview, i just saw you and i thought to say hi?” he replied, frowning at her reaction.
Fidelia: “hi back. Now please leave!” she said.
Kate: “i know you. You were at our house that night…that night…” her voice wobbled as she remembered the night in question.
Fidelia hissed and adjusted her glasses which she had on.
Fidelia: “let’s go.” She said, and turned abruptly, dragging Ese and Kate along. “Stay away from me.” She muttered as she rushed her sisters away.
Brukeme stared at her, with a frown on his face. He turned and ran into a girl, about to turn into the restroom section.
Brukeme: “oh…sorry. i didn’t see you coming.” He said quickly, holding her close to keep her from falling.
The girl smiled shyly and moved away from his embrace.
Brukeme: “Hi, my name is Brukeme.” He said, smiling.
Lisa: “hi. I am Lisa.” She replied, shyly.
Brukeme: “where are you headed?” he asked.
Lisa: “to use the restroom.” She replied, giggling.
Brukeme: “no…i mean after that?” he replied, smiling.
Lisa: “i want to eat at the food court.” She replied, as she walked away.
Brukeme: “I will be waiting here for you!” he shouted after her.
She laughed and walked fast. As she passed, Fidelia appeared, staring at Brukeme with anger. Brukeme, looked at her, confused. Then he shrugged and walked away. Fidelia’s knuckles grew white with strain. She turned to where the girl had gone.
Question: Dr Fejiro wants to cover up his family’s shame. Do you think he is doing the right thing? Will Ashley still find her son? What do you think is Fidelia’s feelings for Brukeme like?
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