The cold, night air reeled against her sensitive skin, leaving goosebumps at its wake. The stars and moon decorated the sky while feeding the earth with light.
From where she stood by her room window, Nora took a deep breath and then let out a soft sigh. She then looked out, below. Her eyes resting on Kay’s masculine figure. The one person who had come to dominate her thoughts. He stood outside with a bag in his hand and seemed to be searching for something inside it.
“Kay,” She called out to him, her voice moderately loud and seductive.
Kay looked up from what he was doing. He put away the bag and smiled at her. “Nora, my love. I’m so sorry for keeping you waiting. I am…” Her attention drifted away from what he was saying as she noticed a dark figure had emerged from the shadows. The tall, dark figure snuck up from behind and before she could raise alarm, it drove a sharp object into Kay’s back, causing him to cry out. The figure struck a second blow with the same sharp object before running off, leaving Kay on the ground to struggle in pain.
Scared about what had happened, Nora ran out of the room and was soon by his side, out in the open. “Kay please, no.” She cried. “Please don’t die. Please.” She cuddled him in her arms.
“Dey there they deceive yourself.” She heard him say. But his voice wasn’t normal. It sounded feminine. She wondered if his situation was what caused the change in his voice
“What?” Nora frowned and looked down at him. Her tear blurred vision prevented her from seeing his face clearly but all the same, what she saw was enough to tell her that Kay was actually dying in her arms. He couldn’t have been the one that talked.
“Kay, please don’t die.” She begged some more.
“Hahahahaha…” The voice came again.
“So you still dey there they deceive yourself ba?” Nora looked down again but this time, Kay wasn’t dying. He was laughing hard at her instead. “Murderer!” He screamed at last. “Murderer!!!”
His piercing voice shot her out of her dream state with such force; she nearly hit her head on the wall of the cell room. At the other side of the small cell room, the inmates were laughing hard at her. She soon got to realize she had been talking out in her dream and since the inmates knew why she was arrested, they laughed at her.
“A murderer playing innocent.” The bigger one among them said, hissing.
“She killed him and still has rights to dream about him.” The fair-complexioned one with her head the shape of an orange said.
“If she killed him and his spirit haunts her, that’s ok. But talking sweet talks for inside dream with man wey you kill? That’s witchcraft.”
“No mind her. You think say na by dreaming dem wan take release you ni?” The bigger lady asked, shooting a scornful look at Nora and daring her to reply or say anything stupid.
Nora knew better than to reply. The bigger woman had been a thorn in her flesh since she was brought in three weeks ago. She had received enough beating from the women. Enough to tell her to respect herself. What pained her at the moment was the fact that they had to get into her dream and disrupt her moment with Kay. Even though he was dying, at least he was dying in her arms. She could be with him at the time of passing. Although it was only a dream, it meant a lot to her.
Pulling herself into a sitting position, she cuddled up at her corner and turned away from her inmates, who still happened to be making terrible remarks about her.
Three weeks back, on a Tuesday night, Kay was stabbed. She couldn’t go to the hospital with the family because she was not allowed to. She was simply a housemaid whose presence was needed in the house, nowhere else. She and Mustapha waited all night, but the Adepojus didn’t come back home until about 10:00 AM the following morning. Nora wanted nothing more than to find out if Kay was ok. But what she got was something else. The Adepojus came home with some policemen and she was accused of plotting with someone to end Kay’s life.
“But ma, that’s not true” She defended herself. “I didn’t plan anything with anybody. I don’t even know what you are talking about.”
“Save it, Nora. The person already confessed.” Mrs Adepoju said, sternly. “So you can keep your pretence.”
“Errm mummy, don’t you think we’re rushing things here?” Tayo surprisingly came to her defence. “I don’t think Nora is capable of such. Besides she is very close to Kay and Kay likes her.”
“Shut up, Tayo!” Mrs Adepoju reprimanded him. “What do you know about likes or friendships?”
“I don’t know much but I know that if Kay was here, he won’t allow this.”
“Shut up and get out of here, Now!” His mother ordered, pointing at the staircase. “Or you want her to attack you too before you know that such things are not to be played with?”
“Ma I don’t know what’s going on but, I didn’t hurt Kay,” Nora said, as the reality of what was happening dawned on her. “I saw someone in the shadow tha…”
“So you saw someone? And you didn’t think to say anything till now?” Mr Adepoju growled with anger. He had been silent because he didn’t know how to handle the girl he now saw as part of his family. But with such information, he couldn’t hold back.
“I would have told you. But you all rushed Kay to the hospital. I didn’t have the chance to say anything but I….”
“Save it! Nora.” Mrs Adepoju yelled. “Save it for when you get to the station because you will have a lot of explaining to do there.”
“But I didn’t do anything bad,” She begged. “I’m innocent. I would never hurt Kay.”
“I took you as a daughter, Nora. I’m still wondering why you decided to pay me with evil….”
“But sir, I didn’t….”
“….the evidence against you is very inducting, Nora.” Mr Adepoju continued. “Because of that, I will have to let the police take you.”
“No! No please. Please.” Nora begged, tears already streaming down her cheeks.
“Daddy please don’t do this.” Tayo tried to step in but his father pulled him away.
“Dad this matter is between us. We can settle it in-house.”
Unfortunately, all plea fell on deaf ears. The stern-looking policemen cuffed her hands and took her away in their van. Nora cried throughout the short journey to the police station. She wondered why her quiet and well-ordered world had suddenly turned upside down. First, it was Kay coming into her life, making her think of nothing else but him. Then, just when she was beginning to accept what she felt for him, he had to get stabbed. She was worried all night long. So worried that she only slept for two hours. She wondered all night if Kay was ok. She also wondered about the person who stabbed him. The person didn’t come to steal, obviously. He was probably hired or a dangerous person who Kay had fallen out with.
But then, how did the person get into the compound? How did he know Kay would be outside at that precise moment? What was the person’s reason for the assault? And most importantly, Who was the person?
Nora had no answer to her questions, neither did she have an answer as to how she would get out of the predicament.
At the police station, she was allowed to call her parents. On hearing the sad news, they quickly rushed down to check on her. Tears silently streamed down her father’s cheeks while her mother cried out in pain.
Her emotions were suddenly in turmoil. “Is it a crime to be a house help? What could have brought such ill fate to an innocent child?” Her mother kept asking, in tears. Nora tried to console her but how could she? When her own emotions were in disarray. Her eyes were still red and very wet.
“Tell me your own version.” Her father urged, wiping tears off from his sad eyes and soft cheeks.
“I didn’t kill him, daddy.”
“They said the person who confessed is your friend.”
“Daddy, I don’t have male friends. I didn’t even have time to make friends in that house. All I did was work, work and work.”
“The security man,” Her father swallowed.
“What about him?” She frowned.
“He said there was a particular man that came to visit you every afternoon….”
“What? That is a lie, daddy. He is telling lies. Why will Mustapha do this to me? I never let any visitor or would be friend in when my bosses were out. Mustapha knows that. Why is he lying? Was he paid?”
Her father sighed like a heavy load was dropped off his shoulders. He needed to hear from her that she didn’t commit the crime she had been charged with. Nora had never lied to him before, no matter how sensitive the issue was and because of that, he always took her words seriously.
Relieved that his daughter was innocent, he took her hands in his and squeezed. He was happy that she did not commit the crime, but at the same time, he was sad. He was sad because he knew that his bad financial situation was the main reason his daughter was now behind bars. If his business had not collapsed, she wouldn’t have been forced to be a maid, neither would she be accused of such a hideous act.
“I will get you out, my dear. I will..”
“But we don’t even have money to hire a lawyer.” Nora cried.
“I saved up most of the money you sent home.” He said, a small smile tugging at his lips
“You saved?” She asked, confused. “But you needed the money.”
“I never wanted you to be a housemaid, let alone remain one. So I saved up, Hoping that you’ll be able to start a business someday.”
“Oh, daddy.” She cried, touched that he had actually saved for her. If only she had known about it earlier, she would have left her housemaid job and be far away, doing business. “But now we’re going to have to spend our savings on a lawyer.” She sighed.
“It is sad, but yes. I will get you out of here my dear. I will do everything it takes.”
“Oh! My daughter.” Her mother managed to say, as she moved to hug Nora. “My child, my baby.” Her sobs shook her fragile form.
“I will be fine, mama,” Nora said, finding strength in her father’s determination to get her out. “By God’s grace, I will be fine.”
Her siblings couldn’t come to see her yet. Upon inquiry, she learnt that schools had started exams and her siblings couldn’t afford to miss any paper.
Bringing her mind back to her cell room, a little tear escaped her eyes. Things had taken a very bad turn for her. If anyone had told her she would be arrested for murder, she would never have believed. How could a woman she had come to love and respect, charge her with murder? Oh, murder. She thought as more tears escaped from her eyes. It simply meant Kay was dead. It should have been her, not him. If he wasn’t so stubborn about helping out with the dishes, he would have been alive, and maybe she would have been dead.
“But how? Why?” She whispered. The one man she had come to love was dead. Why didn’t I ever give him a chance? why didn’t I ever tell him I was into him? She was mad at herself for feeling too proud to admit her feelings but then, all she could do was sit in her own corner of the small room and cry.
For the rest of that night, Nora cried and prayed. It was all she could do to remain sane.
Morning arrived sooner than she had expected. Streaks of sunray streamed in through the only window in the small room and illuminated the place. Most of the inmates were still asleep. Nora, already emotionally exhausted from crying all night, began to feel drowsy. She was dozing off when a policewoman came to stand in front of the iron bars. The key turned in the padlock and soon, the bars were pulled aside.
“Nora Orughe.” The officer called.
“Yes, that’s me,” Nora answered, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“You have a visitor.”
She was sure it was her lawyer. Her father had spent two weeks looking for a very good lawyer. He wanted a lawyer that would be dedicated to her case, not just the money he’ll make.
Her father had visited the night before to drop food her mother prepared. It was then he told her the lawyer would come.
Its high time he came. She thought, getting to her feet. Nora walked out of the room and the cell gate was locked again.
“Follow me!” The officer ordered.