I stand back and watch Bisi’s pliant hands put in handcuffs. I can’t believe she admits it. Kenny’s words are highly implicating. If this is true, she has a murder case, and an attempted murder to answer to. Murder in Nigeria is punishable by death.
Kenny insists there are witnesses who heard Bisi accuse Toro. And Toro is still alive. Hopefully she will make it out, and able to testify against the boys who did this to her.
I stand beside the police van just before it pulls away with Bisi. I need this moment with her. She remains on the floor of the bucket where she was pushed into, her eyes glued to a particular spot on her handcuffs.
She doesn’t look at me, much as I wish she would. It’s only me and her. Kenny talks to the policemen and insist he’d rather stay back at the hospital and come later to the station.
I reach out and pat her roughened hair back. She flinches but doesn’t look up. I may never understand but my feelings for her has not changed.
“I will come and look for you at the police station. Don’t be afraid.”
A small sob escapes her lips. Her hair is so soft under my touch and I don’t care if anyone sees us at this time. She needs my support and I will give her. I wipe the tears in her eyes, something I’ve longed to do all night.
“Once we’re finished here, I will come to the station. Hmm?”
She gives me her small characteristic nod and I step away from the van as it pulls away. I am right, and if I am wrong, so be it.
Mr. Akande walks up to me. “That girl is trouble, Abbey. If you want to leave this state alive, let her alone.”
“She has survived without you till now. And she will survive after you’re gone.”
He walks away with that, and stands by Mr. Ojo to await the expected arrivals.
First is Toro’s sister and her husband. Once she steps out of a black Nissan Almera, I notice the resemblance. She runs into the emergency ward, ignoring us. Her husband hurries after her. Moments later they rush out and go to Mr. Ojo who points to Mr. Akande. I am still by the road where Bisi left me, and not inclined by any means to take part in this tedious task of answering their questions.
Nonetheless, I got a finger directed at me and Toro’s sister and her husband walk over. They don’t introduce themselves and bombard me with questions. I answer the ones I can. They join us in waiting and pacing.
Then comes the staff of the hospital and Toro’s sister follows them to regularize the necessary paperwork.
The toughest part of the morning is when the officials of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) arrived. Mr. Akande is virtually wobbly on his feet. Six men and two women are in the team, escorted by two policemen, who interrogate us all. Kenny becomes a total mess when the zonal coordinator questions him.
At about 2p.m., I am finally free to leave.
The NYSC officials claimed Steve’s body and signed for it. An ambulance arrived and took his body away. I assume they will send the body to his family in the South-South region of the country. What a colossal waste.
The doctors Fortuna called upon, who were known to the friend she visited on the campus, meet up with us.
“She’s not conscious yet. She may not be for some time because her condition is not stable,” one of them explains Toro’s condition.
It’s what we were told before so what’s new? I bite my lower lip. “Will she be alright?” The doctor hesitates, and I add quickly. “I have an idea of what they did to her.”
“Well, we suspect a disc in her spine may have ruptured. We can’t do anything about it now, till she’s more stable. Otherwise, she lost a lot of blood, and sustained other minor cuts.” The doctor shrugs. “She will be fine. Let’s just pray for her.”
Ding dong not-merry bells ring in my brain. “Her spine. She may not walk again.”
“It shouldn’t get to that.”
The two doctors walk away.
With Steve’s body gone, and Toro’s family here, I reckon I have other important matters to attend to. Bisi is in police custody. I shudder at what I imagine they could do to her.
Fortuna opts to return to her friend and later come to Abagboro, though the NYSC zonal coordinator issued a recall to the three of them immediately, and gave them a vehicle to take them to the village to pack their belongings.
It meant I will sleep alone tonight.
I get a lift with Pastor who graciously offers to escort me first to the police station to find Bisi.
“With the youth corpers leaving today, you can move into my house so you won’t be alone in your quarters.”
They were sweet words to a weary soul.
“Thank you, Pastor.” I nod. “I’m most grateful.”