The Agbero Blog
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Prison Chronicles: Three Kings
The policemen had shouted at me all through, punctuating their curses with slaps and kicks.
“Bastard! Na inside cell you go die! Your papa go join you for here for him burial. Na here u go born your first pikin. Na here you….”
This sergeant went on and on. He was the one I had broken his head. They stripped me of my clothes, leaving just my boxers. All my money don go. Dem come talk say make I write statement. The silly part na say na dem dey tell me wetin I go write.
“Oya, write say you collect my gun, you wan shoot me, but I overpower you, you come break my partner’s head.”
Sho? Me? Dem think say I dey craze? Write wetin?
“Oga, me I no write anything o. I want my lawyer?”
“Lawyer? You dey craze? Nobody dey give anybody lawyer here o. Lawyer ko, lawyer ni!”
We drag am o: write, lawyer, write, lawyer, write…
After dem see say I no gree to write anything, dem drag me into the cell, where the two kings were waiting for me, worse than vultures urging a prey to die….
They formed two teams at opposite corners of the cell. The two kings each sat on a small stool, smoking weed, while their followers – four each – crowded around them, taking turns to fan their masters. It was like a silent mini-war was going on. Once in a while, threats would fly across the room. Once, a man rose from each group and fought at the centre. It was almost a fight to the death, with blood flowing from bleeding heads and each man ending the fight only when they were completely exhausted and unable to fight. The police officers even came to watch at one point, hailing the fellow they rooted for.
I must have been there for over two hours, just sitting away from the two groups. No one even did as if I had entered the room. And na dat one even fear me pass. But the worst never even start. Suddenly, the one on the right spoke.
“Wetin you bring come for your master?”
The other king immediately replied.
“Shut up! Na me be him master!”
I swallowed hard.
“Obe, be careful o! No start wetin you no fit finish o!”
“Sere! Your mama no fit, you small man!”
Both men had stood up; their voices boomed in my head. Sere stood on his stool. He appeared to really be a small man. A police officer screamed from the counter.
“Obe! Sere! Cool down o! We wan sleep.”
The two men backed down.
“We fight on him then,” Obe said.
Fight on me ke? The four men from each team stood up and advanced towards me. I took a crouching position. They meant what they said: they were not going to fight for me o, they were going to fight on me! The eight pounced on me.
They fought against each other and they all fought me. It was a crazy fight. One wey I neva see before. These guys dey craze? I stood my ground o. The vex wey I dey vex from the police beating just dey rise in me like say he wan burst. I screamed like an alarm clock, throwing punches and kicks all around. Because the guys don waste dem energy on fighting each other, e dey easy for me to overcome them. Soon, the eight men stood in a circle around me, panting and heaving and not daring to make a move.
“This one na ultimate warrior o,” Sere remarked.
“You never see…” I replied. My head don crazy. I no know wetin come over me o, but the next thing, I scattered the men aside and charged at Obe. Obe was taken off guard, and besides the guy don lord over people so tay he don weak for body. He still sat on his stool as I got to him, his fat body covering the whole stool as if he sat in mid-air. Before he could say kilode my fist connected to his jaw. He let out a loud grunt as he fell on his back. He didn’t get up.
The eight men looked at him, speechless, as I turned and headed towards Sere. It was funny: Sere was actually a midget! A mere bastard dwarf! Na dat one even vex me pass. Dis baba kukuru was controlling boys to come fight me? But the guy na real coward o. He shrieked and darted around the room, his hand thrown into the air.
“Dis one na mad man o! Officer, na mad man you carry come o!”
He ran behind his men, and everybody shrank as I approached. Obe was still out.
“Listen, all you people! My name na Taju; go ask for me for garage. I no care who una be o! I ready to die!!! And I ready to die with all of una!”
“Broda, no vex now,” one of the eight minions said.
Kai, na so prison easy? Or na so-so sissies dem dey bring come prison these days? I thought quickly.
“How dis Obe become oga for here?”
Sere answered, “Me sef no know! But he don become oga even before I come here. He don dey here tay-tay o!”
It was another guy who replied, “Ah! Sere? Na killer o! Dem talk say him kill three men with him bare hands!” His eyes were wide as he spoke. As if he was talking about a legend. I looked at the Sere and wondered if he could kill a rat with a trap.
“Ehn, me sef I don become oga be dat!”
Na so I become king for prison o! On my first night! On my first trip. Kai! They “allocated” two men to me, one from each group and promised that any new “fish” would be mine. Meanwhile, since there was no extra stool, one of my followers got on all fours and I sat on his back. Sere provided a cigarette. I puffed away like Puff Daddy. Ah! Enjoyment galore.
When Obe woke up, he couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. He screamed and raved. He meant to fight me and I stood up to meet him. He seemed to think better of it when he noticed that Sere was not objecting. He calmed down and the night progressed. Nobody could sleep really, after all that excitement.
“How you take reach here?” I asked the boy behind me, who was fanning me steadily with old newspaper.
“Na wa o. Na my papa put me for here o. Me and some boys for area arrange on how to steal the transformer. One way sha, the landlord association catch us. Dem just talk say make we pay to replace the transformer o, but my papa own too much. He talk say I no go learn if I no spend one week for cell. I don dey here for five days now.”
“Good for you!”
“You nko?” I asked my stool.
“I break my oga shop.”
“Yes now. I break the shop, carry the electronics wey dey there go sell. But na him friend I sell the goods to and I no know. Now I dey here.”
The three followers of Sere were brought in just tonight.
“We were just walking on the street jeje o, when police van just park. Dem drag us inside, talk say we dey wander. For past ten? When we reach here, dem talk say make we bail ourselves with 1500 each,” the first one said.
The third one butted in, “Na me talk say make we no pay. Dem don catch me before. Me I no go pay dem kobo! See, when 5am reach now, dem go reduce the money to 1000. By 6am, na 500. By , na free!”
“No be illegal job dem dey do? Dem oga must not come here in the morning and see us here. We no commit any crime now.”
The second one just sat there quietly, huddled together.
“Bros, u nko?” I asked one of Obe’s men.
Obe retorted, “Mr Man, face your kingdom o!”
I no argue. Na true he kuku talk. I told my boys wetin me I do.
“Ehn? You beat Olopa? You break police head?”
They were all in awe. Even Sere who had “killed” three men. Dis people wey dey dis cell no be criminal at all. Petty thieves and small time offenders dem all be. Dem no fit pull devil for prick…
We were dozing when cries and screams woke us up around . Armed police men were dragging two half-dead men into the cell. They threw them into the centre of the cell and exited joyfully, congratulating one another. One policeman lingered and addressed The Three Wanderers.
“You no go bail yourself? Oya, come bail 1000 make you dey go home.”
“Oga, we no get money!” the three chorused.
“Okay now. Then we go charge you go court for morning. Stay there ehn.”
When the policeman had gone, the Stubborn Wanderer said, “See? I told you!”
“Wetin dem come drop here?” Sere asked.
Obe looked closely and exclaimed, “Armed robbers!”
We were all puzzled. “How you take know?”
“See dem legs now. Police don break their knee with gun. Na only armed robbers dem dey do dat to now.”
One of the two figures stirred. He let out a wail. He raised his head and I could have recognized that head anywhere.
He looked in my direction, half-delirious, half-puzzled that someone could know him. He let out another wail and fell back to the floor. He didn’t stir again.
The Stubborn Wanderer was right. With shoves and angry looks, two policemen drove the wandering party out of the cell and set them free. A minute later, another policeman came back.
“Who be Taju?”
“Follow me, bastard!”
I bade a quick farewell to Obe and Sere. Sere immediately took charge of his former followers.
Agbowo and Sikira were waiting for me at the counter. Agbowo tried to look angry but he couldn’t manage it. He smiled when he saw me. Sikira tried to rush towards me, but a policeman stood in the way.
“This boy dey lucky o. If not for you, Mr Agbowo, we no go let am go o.”
I took possession of my clothes. My money was gone, but I didn’t mind. Bastards!
“Taju-Taju! You wan kill police ehn?” Agbowo said, patting my back as we exited the police station. Sikira held my hand tight.
In Agbowo’s car, he told me that they had paid the police 10,000 for my bail and an extra 5,000 to the policeman I had wounded as compensation.
“But no wahala, TJ, you no be dat kain person. You be our own man. And never never forget dat.”
My head swelled with gratitude. Agbowo dropped off Sikira and me at my house.
“Ehn-ehn, Agbowo, I see Sunday for inside cell o. Dem talk say na armed robber.”
“No so we see am o, TJ. No worry, we go give you the full gist when you come park. You fit take the day off today sha. Just relax, ehn?”
I thanked him a million times more as he drove off. Sikira led me in to take care of me.
Enough galala thereafter. I can’t shout… ;-)