Mr Onkwani alleged that I had tried to steal his vehicle – (Breakfast in Jail). I could not even believe him and what I was hearing. He asked again, who I was and I told him yet again. ‘What was wrong in doing three things at ago?’ ‘What if I had mentioned I also sold land for a living?’ He would freak his pants off! He went ahead on this crazy lecture about how he was born in a poor family, lived in a mud hut for most of his young life, attended school without shoes and sometimes, slept hungry. He went ahead to say that he had worked hard in school regardless of the hardships in his mud hut and shoe-less life and got good grades and is now working hard to build a business. He wondered why I was not as genuinely hardworking as he was or everyone else.
He brought up the issue of the military once again just as two other police officers were walking in. They sat down across from us.
“Ata mimi hapo kwa jeshi ndio nataka kuskia!” said the grey haired officer in a poorly fitting, nonmatching civilian attire.
The office was now crammed with officers. It felt like I was the most dangerous criminal around. Mr Onkwani even got bolder. For some reason the officers in the room gave him a superiority complex of sorts. He shifted in his seat, raised his head a bit and held his shoulders higher. He looked at me with a look meant to be intimidating I am sure. I have worn it myself several times in service. Some voice inside him was telling him ‘you are the king now they are all listening to you.’
“Haya, Jeshi! Twambie.”
“True, I was in the military. Air Force to be specific. Technician served for years 7 what is so hard to believe?” “You have my certificate of service right there! Check it?”
“Mimi sijui hio ni nini, It’s a paper it can be forged (Sounded something like forched)” “Ama aje nani?” referring to the police officer next to him.
I was looking at him and wondering how he could be in the same space, I was. Such thickness* is unacceptable. All he needed to do was pick the document and look! In any case, I don’t know what business he had asking the questions. It was not his call. He had his field day yesterday and my night in jail was a score for him. He then asked the question he had asked over 3 times now since I met him. Why I would leave a job that everyone would die for.
“Huko kwetu Kisii vijana wanajaza uwanja wakitafuta hii kazi! Ata mimi nilijaribu hadi nikapita miaka!” “Give me a position now and I would gladly accept.” His accent was so deep here he lightened my spirits up!
‘Uwancha! Wanachaza! Kaasi! Nkt!’ – my inner voice mocked him.
“Ata kwetu, sio Kisii tu!” I responded.
The shabbily dressed police officer took the green book and scrutinized it. He was giving me curious looks as he did so. The certificate does not have a picture on it. But it has two pages of what Is supposed to be a testimonial, which is hand written by your superior and stamped by the commander. In my case, the Air Force Commander.
He spoke and said:
“Hii kwanza kama ni fake, ni kesi ya Military Police.” “tunaweza kuitia hawa wa hapa Karen!”
“Fanya hivo basi kama huamini!” I shouted at him.
“You see, this young man is not even remorseful,” said Onkwani. “Tell us about the pilot part.” “Wewe ni pilot wa wapi?”
Another police officer looked at me sternly and said “hapa naona imeandikwa Student… Pilot… Licence…” *Stammering through the words like a class 4 student who just met English*
“NKT!” I clicked so loudly that everyone was shocked. One even clicked back!
“Student pilot! Private pilot! Commercial pilot! Balloon pilot! Wote ni pilots!!!” “So you are trying to say I am also not a pilot?” “Tell them where we met yesterday!”
Of course, he did not mention it. We met next to Ninety Nines Flying School at Parapet’sparking lot. Which coincidentally was just next to the Police station at Wilson. We argued for over an hour and a half. Push and pull over facts. The intention here was to intimidate me, but they would not break through that shell. Trust me if I was a civilian and never knew about police officer’s insecurities, I would have already done something unthinkable by now. However, I was patient. Some officers started leaving the room. They realized the red beret stunt would be egg on their faces, because they would just whisk me away and then let me go because I was not lying. My only loss would be the car hire fee for no car. They would let me go. I had not committed any crime. They figured that handing me over to the red berets would mean they cut the potential of a hefty bribe by up to 80%. At this point, I had vowed I am bribing no one. I could stay there for as long as they wanted.
Meanwhile Mr Onkwani was exposing himself as an immature man who was full of esteem issues. I never saw what my being here had anything to do with his humble background. I respect humble backgrounds, being in one, but he did not need to try smearing it in the way he did with his insecurity or whatever it was. At some point, I figured he might be thinking I was a well off pilot who had money or a son to some well off person who I would call and get me out of the mess. Which also applies to the officers. They thought a pilot would not spend a night in jail and he would pay his way out. Not this one. To this point, I had not made any call yet. Onkwani ranted on and on about his poor family background. At some point, he mentioned his wife. He said he shared with his wife his encounter and how he almost lost his car and they had prayed for me to change. He went ahead to say I almost stole his car which he had not even finished paying and would have killed him if it was stolen. He added that I was too young to be a soldier and already out of the system.
|Credits: Karen & Lang’ata District Association’s website|
I was ordered out of the room and I went to the reception area. Lunch was just coming in. I poked my finger and another dose of poorly cooked Ugali killed my appetite. I was forced to make a call. This I did. My phone’s battery was almost dying. Messages rained into my inbox, you would think I had subscribed to an idle dating channel. I called my friend Young, who I would explain the story later when he arrived. I was to sit for exams on Friday the same week and I had not yet cleared part of the fee so I had requested some friends to send me some money so that I could sort out the debt and sit for the exams. I was to travel on the immediate Sunday. They had not sent the money but they had replied saying they would send it later.
I then returned the phone to the officer manning the OB desk and got back to my cell. I was done with Onkwani’s rants and I just wanted to be in my own space. Weird, being in the cell was better than being around the idiot. Time flew, no incidents, or new cellmates. At around 6pm or there about, supper was brought (The flag whistle had just been blown). Same dish. Ugali and cabbage. I poked the Ugali as had been the tradition over my stay. I was so hungry that reflex just turned one finger into two and I found myself pinching off the sticky mess and putting it to my mouth. I picked a leaf of cabbage and struggled chewing through the yucky mess. I went on and on until I had enough. I had cleared half the plate. The guy would mock me if he found out I enjoyed this particular meal after dismissing lunch.
I then paced around the room thinking about nothing in particular. Something to do with if I should call home, if I should tell my sister, if I needed to call a lawyer, would I be spending a longer time in jail, will I be released, will the food mess my stomach, what should I do with Onkwani? When I got tired, I returned to my corner, sat down, and for some reason (Inner peace, distress, hopelessness, anger, rage, confusion, embarrassment) sleep took me away to another place.