Breaking Free (2) – The bile was rising in Somachi’s throat, her skin was crawling with hives and yet, they said she had to do it. Her father’s fingers were drumming on his thighs as he sat beside her, while the heavy-set lady from the agency Uncle Somto ran, was leafing through a pamphlet.
When she finished, she handed the pamphlet over to Somachi. It was about rape. The bile rose again and Somachi threw the pamphlet to her father’s lap. She couldn’t bear to look at it.
The police station was as busy as a beehive. It was a run-down dilapidated compound that looked more like a face-me-i-face-you neighbourhood than a police station. It smelled of urine, fowl droppings and decay.
The woman behind the counter was writing on an ancient notebook that looked about ready to fall apart. She smiled at the heavy-set lady from the agency and beckoned on her to shift to the side so they could have a private conversation.
Somachi stood beside her father who was shuffling from feet to feet in a helpless, frustrated gesture.
The heavy-set lady walked over to them. “They’re going to bring the boys out so you can identify them. Can you do that?”
Somachi nodded, her eyes on the ground. Her body began to tremble violently, a sudden ache springing up in her head. She heard the shuffling of footsteps and knew the boys had come in.
“Are these the boys who almost raped you yesterday?” the heavy-set lady asked.
Somachi nodded without looking up.
“You have to look up and see their face to make sure you don’t make a mistake. I know you’re scared but they can’t do anything to you now.”
She looked up slowly, the view moving from bare dirty feet, to boxers and then, their faces. There they were, all four of them. She quickly looked down again and nodded. “They are the ones.” She said to the fat lady.
Just then, a couple walked in. The woman screamed as she saw the boys and rushed to them. The policewoman held her back. “Madam what is your problem?”
“How dare you keep my son in this hellhole overnight? How dare you? Where’s your DPO?” The woman said in an enraged tone. She spoke with the command of one who expected to be obeyed immediately. She was Chike’s mother.
Chike’s father glanced at her, then at her father. She saw the moment the light entered his eyes, the realization that her father was the generator mechanic who serviced his generator every other month.
Shame crept up her spine and she held her feet together, to resist the urge to run.
“Madam, please calm down.” The lady from the agency said, “The DPO is not yet on seat and besides, this…”
“Was I speaking to you? Who are you by the way?”
“My name is Blessing Affiong. I am representing the girl whom your son and his friends almost raped.”
Chike’s mother’s eyes switched sharply to Somachi, who quickly bent her head down, her heart beating wildly. “This is the thing accusing my son of rape? This horrible, ugly child?”
“Madam please, mind your language.” The agency lady said.
“And you,” Chike’s mother swung to Somachi’s father, “After everything my husband and I have done for you, you repay us by sending your daughter to falsely accuse my son? How much did they pay you? Eh? I can double it.”
“Amara,” Chike’s father began.
She cut him off by waving her hands. “Emeka please, you sit there and allow these riff-raffs to besmirch our family name, over that thing there? My son would never stoop so low as to look at her, talk more of rape. This girl here is a liar. She has had her eyes on my son for years, you cannot believe a word she says.”
“That is for the court to decide.” The agency lady said calmly, her tone showing that she has dealt with this kind of situation before.
“Over my dead body will this case get to the court. This case will be thrown out immediately. Chike didn’t even touch her.”
“Yes, but he tied her up, slapped her severally and almost choked her to death with a pillow. This girl you so carelessly accuse would have been dead if not for the intervention of..”
“Oh shut up.” She thundered and whipped out her phone. “Have you even asked the girl what she was doing in a room with boys? She has been sleeping with my son and she dares scream rape? I will make sure that she goes to prison for pulling this stunt.”
Fear slammed into Somachi. The agency lady held her hand. “Don’t worry. She can’t do anything to you. These boys will pay for what they did.”
As they sat there and waited for the DPO, Somachi glanced up at Belema, the boy who had saved her. His head was down, his body covered in red marks. Tears rose to her eyes and she vowed she would protect him, no matter the cost.
To be continued…