I woke up with a start, due to the disturbance at the door. It took time to register. The warmth from the ‘lump’, I had for dinner, had worked its magic and I got warmer and registered some sleep. Someone was at the door, or two maybe. When the door opened, a man was pushed in. The officer did not even seem to notice me. He was a new face. It was another shift at the station maybe, or he was out in the field and this was his catch. He locked the cell door behind him and left. I looked up and studied the man carefully. He was around 55 – 60 years of age, grey haired and a chocolate complexion. He wore a heavy and oversized jacket and an old cap. He was medium sized, and his one shoe limp seemed a bit exaggerated. I guessed he had a limp initially. He did not even say hi. Not that I deserved it. Just felt that way. Maybe the cell was starting to get to my head. I may have been here long enough to feel as the king around this fortified kingdom.
I was curious to know what he had done but I could not ask him. I decided to keep quiet. My curiosity would not last for long though, because my answers would deliver themselves. Apparently, this guy managed to get a phone in here. ‘How now?’ Calls started coming in from I-don’t-know-who. He was wise enough to check the door first and confirm no one was coming before he could answer the call. I could not help but listen-in to the conversation. From the few details I could gather, he was here because of tenant – landlord disagreements. Plus a mix of family feuds or something. He used his vernacular all along and I could hear all he was saying. I learnt that he had a wife who they had disagreed over property or was it a business partner, who was a woman but they disagreed and then he ended up here. I got confused at some point and I lost the whole plot. But at the end of it, I got it that he was the landlord, and he had been set up by some woman – I could not tell whether it was a wife, daughter or business partner but it was a woman who got him into the situation. That call was hanged up and another one came through. This one was brief. It was a business call – material supply and delivery kind of talk. Then the next one and the next one… all business, I got bored and moved to the door.
I peeped through the key hole and another dramatic event was happening at the reception/ occurrence desk. A man of my age or younger, dark skinned & with long hair was reporting a case. It was a weird one. Someone had taken his car. How had he taken it? He just drove it off from the parking lot in their compound. Turned out the guy was his stepdad. Sounded like they had been in bad terms for a while and then he decided to punish the son or whatever it was by taking his car. The problem was not about the lack of clarity of the case being presented here, it was the way it was being presented. The problem with the guy according to me was his approach of the whole issue. He looked like he was seconds away from crying. Again, he was the mushy mushy kind of people who have to use “woiye” and “Aki” all over with sign language to top it up. (I am not even sure mushy mushy is applicable here) but you get my idea. It’s a police station!!! No one wants to get that softness here. He just sounded like a big baby and that is why he was told to go home to his parents and be an obedient kid.
My roomie was still making calls, quickly hanging up, and hiding it whenever he heard footsteps. At some point, he almost jumped when the phone rang! ‘Who smuggles a phone into such a place and still keeps it on ring mode?’ He fumbled with it before it attracted the attention of an officer. He picked the call and after a short while, he tinkered with it and was satisfied it was on silent mode and then he put it back to his pocket. I was jealous for a moment that he had a phone here. Then I remembered that even if I had mine, it would be useless. By now, it would not even be worth anything. I stood by the door and enjoyed the view outside from the 20mm peephole. Then I spotted my relief at this point. Young and family. He came with his wife and their 5-year-old son. For some reason I felt like I had been released already.
There was a woman who was operating the desk at the time. She had a black scarf covering her hair. I could see Young try to get her attention but she was busy writing something on the occurrence book. After what seemed like ages, she looked up and with a smug on her face greeted them back. ‘I thought her shift just started, why would she be acting like she had not been released since the day started though?’ I banged the metallic door screaming through the hole like a mad man.
“Young! Young! Young! Niko Hapa!!!!” *Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Kick! Kick! Bang! Bang!”
I used my knuckles; hurt them, used the side of my small clenched fist; hurt that too, my foot, which still had the shoe and then my palm. Didn’t seem to work. ‘So all that inner strength had come to an end? At the moment, there wasn’t by the way.’ I banged on that door as if there was nothing else to live for! ‘I thought I enjoyed it here?’ The door and my freedom were one. The woman officer seemed to notice. She left her chair and walked with this master frown on her face towards our cell. I motioned to the new guy so that he could ‘brace for impact’. I wouldn’t want him blaming me for getting busted with his phone here. The lady banged the door in return with her palm and shouted!
“Unyamaze! Ama niitane usaidiwe!”
“Nimekujiwa bana! fungua hii mlango!”
“Wewe ndio nani?”
“Si umehandiwa over kitabu, usiniulize! My 24 hours are almost up! Omba mungu zisiishe nikiwa hapa! Ndani na sijaenda korti”
That seemed to bring her to her senses. Just for a while. The she got back at me with a string of words and phrases mixed with what I was to check later in the perverts corner of the internet. Either she had a super bad day, or we could blame it on the calendar. She banged the door one last time as she walked away. Well, I tried my best. I decided to wait. I watched as the couple talked to the officer. Ndung’u came in. They talked for a while and the woman was sent to get me. I whispered “anakuja” to my roomie and stepped aside to clear the doorway.
“Kuja na hizo nduru unapiga piga hapa, uwache!”
I laughed. I had no response to that. He looked at me expecting a response to counter that but I lacked the words. I let her be.
“Mtu wenu ndiye huyu?”
“Ndio hio kabisaaaa!!!” Said Young in police dialect.
“Aki pole sana, what happened?” asked Mrs. Young.
“I am not sure what these people want? They will tell us.”
A man I had spotted earlier in cargo pants a muscle tee and a crew cap turned out to be the OC. I was told to get back inside and wait for them to discuss my issue. So they followed Ndung’u to the high office and I was escorted to my cell by the woman who I already concluded hated me. ‘Maybe her ex looked like me?’ Otherwise, I could not ascribe her disgust or whatever that was, to anything else. I sat at my corner as usual and buried my head in my knees again. I do not know what happening but I was praying and for some reason, I do not think I was coherent enough while at it. Maybe it was panic, or the loss of faith. I just do not know. But all through my stay here they were prayers of a different kind.
After what seemed like an hour, they got back to me. They had been negotiating my bail which had started from as high as Ksh 100,000/-. I was told the case had already been filed and my accuser was nowhere in sight. Therefore, there is no way it could be withdrawn without his consent. Written consent. I would be released on bail which stood at Ksh 25,000/- and I would be appearing at the Kibera Law Courts Wednesday the following week. So this was not over after all. I needed to get a lawyer it seemed. Another clueless bit of life. However, that was a valley a distance from the current one. Raising the bail.