“Who dropped this bucket here? ehn? Who is the idiot that dropped this dirty bucket in front of my flat?" Azuka barked, “The idiot that dropped this bucket here should come and pick it on the count of 1…” she went on to count till ten then smashed the bucket in pieces.
Her neighbors looked on, Azuka was an emotionally unstable young lady whose consistent nagging was no news.
“Azuka!” Her landlady screamed at her
“Mama what?” She frowned
“Why do you always instigate trouble?” That bucket belongs to Mr. Isaac and he dropped it when he heard his phone ringing. This war you’re brewing would land you in serious trouble.”
“Mama please!” She raised her hand in defense. “If Isaac was sensible enough to drop the bucket inside that gutter.” She pointed at a refuse-filled gutter by the tap. “I wouldn’t be instigated. Whatever trouble he wants, I’m capable of giving him triple its worth.”
“Where is the insane animal that is destroyed my bucket?” Isaac shouted from behind the house barely a minute after.
Azuka took off her scarf and tied it around her waist ready for a fight.
The other tenants stood to catch a good view of the impending fight. This Saturday held interesting promise. Azuka had been away for one week and the only weekend she was away had been boring.
“I am the one!” Azuka replied sarcastically
“I know you’re ill-mannered and stupid but destroying my bucket will fetch you a good slap” Isaac launched forward to hit her. Azuka dodged, circled him, picked up an old dumbbell used by some children in the compound who fancied the art of body building and hit him on his head.
Isaac fell, jerked for a bit and went silent.
Shouts of “You don kill am, you don kill am,” filled the air. Azuka knelt beside his body and shook him vigorously. “Isaac, Isaac stand up na…. this one na joke o” she shivered.
“Just shut up o, shut up there, nor be you dey form strong woman? My friend, shut up!” Another woman replied her.
The landlady and a few boys rushed off to the nearest police station while some men held her to the ground to prevent her from escaping.
The arrival of the policemen deflated the growing crowd. Azuka was taken to the police station as other tenants looked on.
“Naso person take dey die?” The landlady asked, baffled.
Azuka paced the small cell-room. She had been arrested on two occasions but both of them were for lighter offenses. On the first occasion, she had beaten a man to a pulp and on another, she had stolen from a young woman headed to work. Those offences had confined her to jail for a sum of 2 months.
This time, she was arrested for murder! She was either going to face a lifetime jail term or death by hanging.
“Hello Azuka,” the warden walked into the small cell room
“There is someone here to see you”
“Who?” Azuka asked. She had no one
“Some lady, her name is Chioma” he replied
“Chioma?” Azuka was petrified. The only chioma she knew had relocated abroad. Her only sister who had defied all odds to be better than what life threw at her.
“She will be with you shortly,” the warden responded and walked out.
A frail looking woman walked into the cell room in company of a clean shaved young man. They seemed like a couple.
“Chioma!” Azuka gasped
“Azie!” Chioma replied wearily
“I told you to stay away from me and all the trouble I bring, I don’t want this life for you, you have shaped yourself into an admirable young lady, last thing I want is to drag you into my mess.”
“I cannot. I am everything I am today because you put your life on hold for me, you shielded me from the thorns life presented. I can never leave you. I have tried to reach out to you severally, I wrote you and called, but you never responded.
“My life is a mess baby,” she smiled. “A big mess, I was a tout, you Chioma have done well for yourself, all I did was give you the pedestal; you mapped out every good thing that has happened to you”
“Let me help you, I cannot repay your kindness, give me a chance to help you my sister…please,” Chioma sniffed
“I’m ruined Chi. I’m going to jail!” Azuka cried
“No, I’ll make sure you don't. Dan and I read the news. I have been searching for you for a very long time now.”
“I have been bitter Chi, bitter that life has never been fair to me, us… It was just a fight and I didn’t know he would die, I…” she stammered
“Miss Azuka,” a quiet Daniel spoke up.
“Sir,” Azuka sniffed
“My name is Daniel Afolabi, I’m a lawyer and human rights advocate. This case looks difficult but with what your sister has told us. We might have to use that in court to get you a lighter sentence.”
“How light?” Azuka asked
“As it stands, you either face a life term in jail or death by hanging”
Chioma broke down crying
Azuka closed her eyes and allowed the tears to flow freely.
“But, with the patchy stories of your upbringing Chioma narrated to me, I think we might be able to get you 10-15 years with five years of it in a rehabilitation home. You’ll have access to a psychologist/psychiatrist
“You think I’m crazy?” Azuka barked
“I’m not saying…”
“Oh please do not come here and judge me! I am not crazy” Azuka spat
“Hey, sis... Chioma spoke softly, we went through hell together but you lived in hell. You were more on the receiving end. I also went through therapy too to be better. I think its good enough. On the brighter side, the world will get to hear of your story and the inhuman treatment that shaped your life. This will help parents and guardians to care for their kids more. You’ll be doing a whole lot of people good.”
Azuka stared into space. She wanted to do well. This was it... Her chance to do good “I stabbed him.” She said
“Stabbed who?” Daniel asked
“My stepfather.” Chioma lowered her head. This story was a gory one. Azuka’s tales were gorier than gory itself.
“I was sixteen. He started sneaking in my room from when I was 7 to rape me. At first, it wasn’t frequent but after my mom caught him and she was too scared to speak-up, he became bolder, and he came to my room every night. By the time I was fourteen, I had been pregnant twice and had gone for abortions on both occasions.” She smiled. “My mother- She didn’t want the shame, and every time I cried out, she insisted she was only trying to protect her home. I could live with it. I lived with it. But Chioma was innocent.
So one night, I walked into my mother’s room and I found her and her lover having a physical fight. Chioma was sprawled on the bed. From the conversation, he was tired of having me and wanted Chioma for the night. When my mother refused, he resorted to violence and tried to have his way with chioma, I was wounded, I didn’t want chioma to be like me so I went to the kitchen, took a knife and stabbed him 16 times! That was for every year I had lived on earth.”
Daniel wiped his forehead. “16 times?” This lady was damaged
“My mother couldn’t live with the fact that I killed my step father- so she turned herself in and was charged for murder but got a lighter sentence because the lawyer said it was self-defense, her lover had left bruises on her so it was easy to use that against him.”
To be continued......
To be continued......