Pressed against the cell bars and clutching at it for dear life, Tokunbo watched her mother being led away. With every step farther away, her heart dropped, and even before Felicia disappeared, her presence was largely missed, sapping every feeling of warmth and shield in the room, leaving Tokunbo in doom.
Felicia left, barely taking another glance at Tokunbo, for she couldn’t bear the sight of her kid amongst criminals. Like Tokunbo, she fought tears too, and swore to get her out shortly. The best lawyers will be recruited, the best of everything until Tokunbo was totally detached from the crime and all that had to do with the false accusation. All of these Felicia thought as she made her way out of the filthy cell.
As Felicia finally disappeared down the hall, panic crept up on Tokunbo as the pungent smell of filth in her nostrils reminded her of reality and stripped away every bit of confidence in her mother’s promises, as fear wrapped around her like a blanket. It was only detention and in a few hours, she would be out, but already she felt sick to the stomach, the thought of prison even more sickening.
With her eyes shut, Tokunbo sucked a huge breath in quiet meditation, speaking a few self-assuring lines to calm herself lest she broke down before the criminals behind awaiting her fallen defenses or even the slightest show of weakness to prey on her. If she was to survive the prison, she needed to be strong, she knew. And so for long moments, Tokunbo didn’t leave her position at the far end of the prison bar but rather allowed her mind to dream, a technique not new to her, as was her to-go tactic in bad situations. Except on this one, it barely lasted, as reality somehow wiggled its way through, especially its impact on her father’s political ambition. Not to mention the pungent stench of sweat and urine that clung in the air, that she longed for fresh air.
She wrinkled her nose in disgust when she realized that some of the stench had rubbed on her. Taking a quick scan of her environment, she wondered how that the rest coped with it, some even comfortably asleep despite it. Briefly alarmed by the dirt and germs rallying the cell walls, she cringed but soon shrugged it off choiceless, as that was her only option if she were to survive hell and maintain some sanity. For already, she’d thrown up twice in six hours, had to wipe it off with a tissue paper carelessly tossed by a female corporal, well accompanied with insults.
Tokunbo started to lift her hands to cover her nostrils but put it away almost immediately when hit by the repulsive smell on her hands.
Eighteen more hours, and the mandatory twenty-four hours detention, will be over, Tokunbo told herself, taking solace in the soft music now wafting from the warder’s radio. Though crackly and jarred from poor reception, it was audible enough that she allowed being lost in the ethereal bliss of Enya’s angelic tone, almost forgetting her situation when Asa’s unmistakable powerful voice soon rolled out in the unmistakable rendition of her hit single Jailer.
A wan smile appeared on Tokunbo’s alert face as she thought the irony of the lyrics to her present situation, it brought tears to her eyes. However, choosing not to shed it but enjoy it, she sang along in soft whispers, taking a sweep past the crowded room, in search of the perfect spot to rest her legs for they’d began to hurt from standing too long.
Soon she found one, and with deep longings, eyed the only free spot at the corner of the room, so close to the scary junkie, making it impossible to settle there. And as though hearing her thoughts, the scruffy haired woman whose eyes had been previously shut, opened them and glared directly at her, an interesting look in her eyes. It wasn’t the first time Tokunbo had caught her stare but had chosen to ignore it and act seemingly unaffected when it shook her deep to her bones and made her skin crawl.
Tokunbo could tell her fear was possibly well relayed on her face, for the woman’s devilish smirk deepened with a knowing look in those lewd, sinister eyes, soon closing again like the others in feigned sleep. But Tokunbo knew better, and vowed never to get close to the lady no matter what.
Time passed, and as night drew even nearer, so did Tokunbo’s agitation and dread of spending the night at the cell with total strangers. She would hold a vigil and certainly will not bat a lid, not only because of the cramped space barely enough to contain all eighteen of them but also for her scrawny looking cellmates, whom no one but God knew what they had on their sleeves. Not that being awake made such a huge difference, but at least she’d get to see everything. Tokunbo couldn’t risk being caught unaware.
Suddenly seized by fear and paranoia, the temptation to call her father heightened all at once. He could pull some strings; get her out in a heartbeat. But then she and her mother had been through that-along with her father’s intervention would come the media rave, possibly ruining his chances of a gubernatorial position and automatically-his life. Thus keeping him in the loop was right for them, for now.
Muttering a quick prayer for Dimeji and vindication for herself, Tokunbo kicked out her feet, stretched them, when she accidentally kicked an empty bowl in the process, stirring seventeen grungy faces back at her, some of them with deep scowls, some with quiet indifference as the stainless steel made a clanking sound against the floor. Tokunbo passed a modest apology, dismissing each back to his business, except the lady at the corner whose glare had grown even more intense. Though chills rose up Tokunbo’s spine, she managed a most intimidating glare that soon had the woman turning away.
Tokunbo’s belly growled, reminding her of hunger, and even heightening her frustration as she took an irritated glance at the empty bowl which had caused quite a nuisance. Just a few hours back, it had been used to serve the most watery beans in the most inhumane manner and uninterestedly she’d watched them gobble it greedily as though in a competition of some sort.
It was survival of the fittest, not only did she not stand a chance with the women, she’d had no delight whatsoever in joining the dirty handed savages. And so when one of the big-haired bully had growled for her share her portion of the bromate filled bread, Tokunbo had happily rid it to her.
Most of the lot had easily recognized her act as not of fear but panache and had been quick to label her ‘ajebutter’ a term for one of great privilege, just as they’d poked and teased her about her name from the moment she stepped in detention. Her name ‘Tokubo’ had caused quite a stir since the warder announced her mother’s arrival. ‘Show-off’ she’d heard quite a number of sneers behind her. And really, they were right. Although she’d never given her name that much thought, considering the class she’d dwelt in all her life. But now in the midst of the low class, her name Tokunbo simply spoke for itself ‘a child born abroad.’, and in that world where the low class belonged, being born overseas simply meant privilege. All of these were reasons enough why she mustn’t lower her guard. If her name had caused such a stir, what if they knew her last name and her relations to the gubernatorial candidate, she would be toast, literally torn in two.
For that reason, Tokunbo was thankful for her mother’s quiet visit without the brood of security as was fast becoming custom with her family. The woman had been smart enough to lay low but not so low that her simple attire had reeked class and opulence to the cellmates. From the corner of her eyes, Tokunbo had caught their predatory stares on her mother, now the only thing that was probably keeping her off their way was the reputation she’d forged for herself on walking into detention. First entering the cell and meeting the hungry, scrawny, unfriendly faces, Tokunbo had known that no imperial air would work here, and so she’d opted for a laid back, tough and confident persona, refusing to be intimidated by the scraggly lot and their predatory scowl. That, however, had not still stopped one scraggly hand yanking at her luxurious extension in a manner far from appreciation, though her mouth spoke it, her action and glare negated it.
Another had touched her then, wanting to scratch her well-tended skin she was sure, but then of reflex she’d slapped her hand off barely breaking a sweat, catching the admiration, challenge, and surprise in the eyes of many. Though her karate skill will surely come handy at such time as this, she didn’t want to fight. If anything she wanted to scream her discomfort and have them off her back, but she knew better. She must stay strong, constantly be on her toes as she counted down the hour. And so far, that had helped as most had backed off, challenged by her easy confidence, except for that one at the corner who seemed to see through her brave persona-her vulnerability.
The lady might be a junkie as one of the ladies had referred, but Tokunbo knew better than to underestimate the others as there were no saints in here, except lesser demons perhaps, which was why she had kept to herself all along.
Every now and then, there’d be that one that either scratched at her skin or her tangled hair-a sure abode for lice, while another sniffed incessantly, reminding her that she was dwelling in the midst of crack heads and criminals. Not that she was critiquing or condemning them or even demeaning their lives to her’s with privilege, but it was clear enough that she was a sheep in the midst of wolves, for a crime she knew nothing about.
She was not meant here. If anyone was, it was the woman at the other cell, the prostitute the police officer had done well to segregate from her, knowing what catatonic violence that would have resulted had both been kept together.
Fury burned in Tokunbo as she relieved the moment that she’d been forced to break her values and fall for a petty fight for Dimeji’s sake. How she hated Dimeji for that. Just hours after leaving his home, mid-way off, she’d realized that she’d left her purse at his place and had taken a U-turn back to retrieve it, only to catch the woman with him.
Tokunbo had been raving mad. Not only at the fact that her man had had the audacity to bring another woman when her footprints were barely dried from his home, but for the fact that he could bring a prostitute to his home; their soon-to-be matrimonial home. That to her had been the height of disrespect and she’d lost it. Even the woman’s street style had nothing against her black belt taekwondo skill.
She’d fought like a beast and had chased the woman out, returned and vented the rest of her fury on Dimeji. It was true she’d been mad and disappointed, but not mad to poison him or even try to kill him. Of what point would that be? Yes. she’d prepared the afternoon meal, but she had not poisoned it! By any chance, it was the prostitute–the side chick, she’d defended to Tega who barely listened, but promised to vindicate her. As it was, Tega was her last strand of hope. And if things did go awry, she’d get a good lawyer, especially as she had access to the most prominent ones in the country. However for her father’s sake, she hoped it never went to court. The last thing he needed was a bad publicity or a supposed scandal to sully his political ambitions.
Tokunbo lifted to the nearing footsteps, resounding upon the empty hallways. Whoever it was was with a company. Not like she was expecting anyone but as it had become her habit since entering detention, her senses were more attuned to every single detail, and of quiet anticipation, she watched a corporal appear in the bend with a feminine form in white flowing abeyah. The woman had a matching scarf wrapped around her face and shoulder like an hijab, donning dark shades. Her clothes were conspicuous and obviously well displaced from the police station, but as she neared, even in the dim evening light, the face took form, instantly earning recognition as a smile broke free on her face.
It was Aisha. What was she doing here? Tokunbo wondered, mentally riled, knowing the lady’s mission. Aisha was there for no other reason but to gloat she knew, and so she wouldn’t allow her the privy of that. She wouldn’t let her get under her skin or see her despair. And so for starters, she concentrated on Aisha’s outfit which was strangely unlike her. Tokunbo regarded the woman’s strangeness as Aisha nodded her acknowledgment to the corporal who had pointed her out like it was necessary, before taking a few steps back, allowing the women privacy as he had earlier allowed with her mother.
Now, Aisha couldn’t hide her smirk and delight at seeing Tokunbo at such lowly state. She could wait for moments and gloat; she thought and did just that, wishing for a split second that the woman be locked longer than the mandatory twenty-four hours. How prison would suit her, she muttered. Thoughts of it was greatly tempting and as she drew closer, she threw the woman a condescending stare, her grin widening even more calculatingly in a deliberate bid to hurt her. Tokunbo played indifferently, If Aisha didn’t know any better, Aisha might have been deceived into thinking otherwise when in truth, shame reeked a repugnant scent from deep within Tokunbo.
Tokunbo was riled now, angered beyond pretense, and with such will power, she fought the urge to slap the smirk off Aisha’s face. As though sensing it, Aisha grinned, even more, rejoicing at the pain she was inflicting on the woman, and enjoying watching Tokunbo’s fist clench around the bars and the intense fury in her eyes, all a clear indication of her impact on her.
Aisha studied Tokunbo’s disheveled appearance, mentally working means to strike her below the belt again. Her clothes, she noted were the same one she’d last seen her with, her milky skin covered in multiple mosquito bites sure to multiply over the night. And wrinkling her nose in disgust, Aisha took a step back, covering her nose somewhat exaggeratedly as her eyes scanned the filthy environment.
Good! Aisha’s heart flipped in delight, satisfied at the flash of embarrassment that crossed Tokunbo’s face. Her mission was playing as planned; to lower the high and mighty ladyship, get her off her high horse, watch her get trod in the mud and then grovel. The last bit was what she most anticipated, yet still a fantasy, but one she would work to bring to fruition.
Already from the look of things, the first parts were already been accomplished. Tokunbo wasn’t only treading in mud, she was fast sinking in it, and this time Aisha giggled, forever capturing in her heart the look of sheer disdain and hate in Tokunbo’s face, one she need not have a camera to preserve. Risking a visit to the station was worth it after all. Aisha was thinking about all of that, glowering and basking in it, but caught unaware when Tokunbo spat on her unexpectedly. Aisha blinked, her eyes darkened in rage behind dark shades she slowly took off to glare at the woman. The crowd behind had grown alert, with small mutterings and interest in the unfolding scene.
The corporal had started to dash to Aisha’s defense, but with a swift wave, Aisha warded him off, coolly, retrieving a handkerchief from her bag and deliberately wiping her face as though it didn’t matter when in truth she was close to biting the woman’s head off and punishing her. Unlike Tokunbo, Aisha was no princess and had no qualms in retaliating. But all she had to remember was that the woman was behind the bar, weak and conquered, leaving her winner by default. Only at the realization of that, did Aisha smile again. She could get used to this, Aisha thought. Perhaps she should let the woman rot in jail, for she was becoming well blended there.
“What do you want?!” Tokunbo growled, tired of the silence. From the prickle, at her nape, she knew they were being watched, and hated it even more as she wanted nothing but to rid the woman and the others of the show.
“I think I deserve better Tokunbo. I didn’t leave my home for nothing on a beautiful Saturday evening to come dialogue with a criminal when I could have been doing a thousand and one other things.”
“Then why bother show up?” Tokunbo snickered, stifling anger and the urge to strangle the woman as her blood boiled a hundred degrees hot. If not for the barricade separating them, she would have launched on the woman. It wouldn’t matter that the skinny street girl was no match for her. And worse, Aisha laughed. From the daring way she eyed her, there was no doubt she knew her thoughts.
”I just thought to pity you and free you from here. But it seems like you love it here.”Aisha stated on gritted teeth, low enough for only Tokunbo’s hearing alone. Wrinkling her nose in disgust, she shrugged and continued with another hint of a smile. “But then I don’t blame you, you blend so easily here.”
Mostly captivated by the unmistakable note of seriousness in Aisha’s voice Tokunbo was quiet, chunking down her pride for forced humility as she looked past the woman’s infuriating tone and words. At this juncture, Tokunbo would kiss anyone’s feet to get out of detention, even the devil’s if need be.
“Like it or not Tokunbo, your redemption lies with me, but I guess I’ll just take that back and go with it.”
“No! Please, come back.” Tokunbo cried as Aisha turned to leave. Aisha stopped a smile hidden in her scarf as she slowly turned to Tokunbo, watching her in lewd contemplation before closing the gap between them until they were only an air’s breath apart, only demarcated by the rails. For Aisha, it was like a dream come true. Never had she imagined Tokunbo would grovel for mercy, and here she was helpless and begging. It was a wondrous sight to behold and one Aisha would revel on for many nights to come.
“I can help you because I know who hurt Dimeji.” Aisha whispered, ignoring Tokunbo’s sharp inhalation. “But first, I want to hear you beg me, again!”
Pride surged in Tokunbo again and for a moment she considered telling the woman off, but then with a herculean feat, she bit her tongue and plead. Not because Aisha asked for it but because deep in those dark sinister eyes laid something-some secret she wanted privy to.
“No, not like that. Please Aisha, I need your help.” Aisha corrected with a delightful glower.
Swallowing uneasily, Tokunbo shut her eyes in deep mortification at what she’d been reduced to, but however, choosing to dwell on the brighter side, she reopened her eyes and plead, chunking the last bit of pride. “Please Aisha help me because I’m badly in need of help.”
“Good!” Aisha grinned in satisfaction. “I’ll help you. But the question is, are you ready to pay the price?”
A quick glance behind the sea of hungry faces, and Tokunbo knew the decision was already made as with an unwavering glare, she turned back to Aisha . “Name your price,” she responded with newfound confidence.
Hi loves, hope you enjoyed this scene as much as I did. New Episode coming up tomorrow. *wink*