“Yes, let’s search her bag, but this man, you have no shame, seriously. Most people here are convinced that your wife has stolen the items belonging to these two women, and you are still looking for evidence? Seriously, I can’t believe that some people can stoop so low. Even the girl you are trying to defend knew she is guilty, that was why she tried run away”
The woman’s insult pained Ndubuisi in the heart. He wanted to react aggressively but decided to calm down and then said: “Listen woman, I don’t want to hear one more insult from you, do you hear me?”
While he was still speaking, the woman who had Ogechi’s bag poured the entire items that were inside on the floor.
“See, here are the things she has stolen” she said, without knowing the things Ogechi stole from the women.
“Bu…..t….bu…..t…..erm….but how come? Does it mean she didn’t steal it?” The stockfish woman stammered, wondering where her fish could be. “I thought you said you saw her stole the fishes” she added, asking the smoke fish woman
Still on the same train, the smoke fish woman was looking astonished as well.
“She even had the guts to wrap them in a nylon” one of the women who followed to nab Ogechi spoke up, thinking that the items on the ground were the ones Ogechi had stolen
“No, they are the ones she bought. My missing fishes are not here. She didn’t steal them. What about you?” She turned to the stockfish woman and began asking her.
And seeing the reaction on their faces, they all realised that they were only accusing Ogechi for a crime she never committed.
“Oh my God! Does it mean we were inflicting her with so much pain for something she didn’t do? What kind of nonsense is this? You told us that she was the one who took your goods, and we acted on that, without having a second thought. Now, we have caused an innocent girl with so much pain just for nothing.” One of the women said
After discovering what was happening, some of the women took to their heels: “Seriously, this is a disaster, and this man won’t spare us for harming his wife, I better run away before his anger descend on me” one of the women who ran away said
“Like I said before, police would have been the best solution to handling this problem. You should have handed her over to the police and allow them handle the situation, but you decided to take laws into your hands. Jungle justice is not the best solution to solving cases like this, what if she had died from your aggressive beatings? I am asking you all, what if she had died?” Ndubuisi angrily asked
“You are right, we made a very big mistake, please forgive us. It will never happen again” the smoke fish woman apologized
“Forgive you said? Just take a look at my wife, see how much pain she is enduring just because of your foolishness. No, I won’t allow this matter to end like this. You all will pay dearly for it.”
“Pay for it, how? Please, what are you going to do to us? We have accepted our mistakes and rendered our apology, what else do you still want from us.” The smoke fish woman blurted, rudely.
“What’s wrong with you? Speak to him softly so as to melt down his anger and you are here, trying to aggravate things. Don’t you know that we are on the wrong here” one of the women whispered to the smoke fish woman.
But Ndubuisi remained quiet, he did not reply her.
But when the stockfish woman opened her mouth to apologize further, the policemen arrived with their Van.
Earlier, when Ndubuisi left the house after he was informed of what was happening, he quickly put a call through his friend who was a police officer and requested him to storm the village square with his men to avert a disaster, because he knew how dramatic jungle justice could be. He feared then, that he could not reach Ogechi on time before the women mistakenly kill her in the process of trying to torture her for the crime they were accusing her off. He already knew then, that Ogechi was passing through challenges. He knew that Ogechi couldn’t have stolen the items, that it was merely a frame up ganged up against her from somebody in that village.
Following the route that led to the market square, the policemen met them on the way.
“Are they policemen? Seems like they are coming here?” One of the women quickly dashed into the bush. When the others saw what was about to happen, they tried to do the same, but the policemen stopped them.
“Stop there? If you take another step, I will shoot all of you” the thunderous voice of the police officer stopped them from making further movement.
“Officer, arrest all these women for trying to kill this innocent woman for a crime she did not even commit. They were taking laws into their hands, doing the works of the police on a girl who is innocent of their accusations” Ndubuisi said, narrating what happened.
“Oh no! He shouldn’t have gotten the police involved. He is making things complicated for me. These women are right, just that I managed to get rid of the evidence before they reached me. Now, how do I convince him not to arrest them?” Ogechi thought in her heart and then touched Ndubuisi and began pleading with him not to arrest them, that they were only doing what they thought was right.
“No my dear, they have to face the consequences of the sins they have committed. What if you had died from their terrible beatings? You see, I am not doing this just for your own sake, I’m doing this to teach them a lesson so that they don’t have to repeat the same mistake in the future. Can’t you see what happened? You are innocent, but yet they treated you like a criminal. So many innocent souls have lost their lives from this wicked act, called jungle justice because they were not given chances to defend themselves”
“Oh my God! How do I explain to him that I’m not actually innocent? Things are getting more complicated for me. How do I save myself from this horrible situation? And nothing I tell him now will make him change his mind. He is highly educated and don’t reason like the way the entire villagers do” Ogechi was still lost when the officers whisked the women away.
“Now, let me go and get you treated first. We are leaving this village today, I can’t stand any more drama. And we are not returning here until I figure out what is really going on.” Ndubuisi said, taking Ogechi to the hospital to get her treated.
The news of how the women got arrested spread like wildfire. The woman who ran into the bush returned to the market and spread the news.
On hearing it, Okwuchi felt weak. He felt so bitter that her son was attracting the angers of the entire villagers by getting the women arrested.
“He should have let them go and not getting them arrested. The outcome of this won’t be good for him, at all.”
“Okwuchi, are you not forgetting the main thing here?” Nkechi asked
“And what is that?”
“Ogechi managed to escape from our clutches again? I am beginning to think that that herbalist is fake, he deceived us. The women were sure that their goods were missing, but how come they were not found in Ogechi’s bag?”
“Nkechi, I have Ogechi’s matter to worry later, but right now, I’m concerned about my son. He should have consulted me first before taking that reckless action. I will force him to release those women at once.”
“Consult you? Have you forgotten that your words no longer mean anything to him after he got married to that gold digger, have you forgotten?” Nkechi asked
“No my friend, this time, I will make him listen to me. He should get them released, otherwise, the kinsmen and the Umu-Ada will be on my neck. I don’t know why he is not following the customs of our land”
“Okwuchi, have you forgotten that he is educated? Clearly, his level of understanding has superseded what ever the tradition stipulates”
“No Nkechi, that one is learned shouldn’t be an opium for him to forget his heritage and the customs guiding it. Maybe, he doesn’t know the consequences of this action he just committed, I will list them out for him. He should have taken the matter to our village King and not getting the women arrested. Let me call him him now and instruct him to get them released.” But as she was trying to make the call, Ndubuisi returned with Ogechi.
“Good, here he is” Okwuchi said, fuming in anger, approaching to scold Ndubuisi, but he wedged her.
“No Mama, not now, I am not in the mood. My main concern now is my wife, she needs to be taken care off. We will be on our way back to the city, I don’t want her to spend one minute in this village” he said, heading inside
“No Ndubuisi, you have to listen to your mother, it’s for your own good” Nkechi said, but Ndubuisi ignored her
“Ndubuisi, you must listen to me because I am your mother. What has gotten into you? After you got married to this low life girl, you have really changed. Why are you defending this thief? This girl is about to destroy you, can’t you see it? She is trying to ruin your life. Are you so blind that you can’t see the handwriting on the wall?”
“What is she doing? She always looks for a way to mess things up. I better control her now before she let’s the cat out of the bag”
Nkechi said, trying to control Okwuchi before she expose them.
“Mama, is there something you are not telling me?” Ndubuisi asked, sensing the hatred in Okwuchi’s eyes.
Mama Why? By Ngozi Lovelyn O.
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