Martins had been cooling his heels in police cell for more than eight hours now and he still couldn’t tell what his offence was. The officers that came to his residence to whisk him away on a Saturday morning he should have spent with his expectant wife were not helping matters either. They left for their duty post immediately they dropped him off at the police station like a common criminal.
Runo had been crying all day. She still couldn’t believe that she had been raped by hoodlums. Actually the second guy was just getting down to business when they all took to their heels on sighting a police patrol van from afar off. So technically Runo was raped by just one hoodlum but that was enough to leave her traumatised afterwards and probably for life. The damage had been done and no amount of pacifying and consoling could bring her out of her misery.
Nkechi and Uju had been with her from the night she was discovered in the abandoned building till Saturday evening though not the entire duration, but both girls took turns just to ensure that Runo was never left to herself. Runo had been taken to the hospital that night with the help of Mr. Obong. She was placed on observation and a series of test carried out in the morning before she left the hospital. So far so good, but the Police had been invited at some point and a report of the rape incident was officially filed at the Area ‘G’ Police command which had led to the arrest of Martins since he was the last person with Runo before the ugly incident. Runo had told Police men that all she remembered was Martins dropping her off in front of her compound and moments later she was hotfooted into an uncompleted building and severely raped. She had been unconscious for some minutes afterwards just before Uju and Nneka mustered up the nerves rescue her.
Uju and Nneka were going out for the night when they came out of their compound to find a lady’s hand bag on the floor, just in front of the gate and a shoe in the middle of the road adjoining. Uju was the first to spot the handbag and was immediately taken aback, while Nneka who was behind her stood rooted to the spot.
“Uju wetin happen now? Abi you see ghost?”
“Woman bag dey in front of gate”
“Woman bag? Abi thieves dey operate?”
“E be like say them just operate finish but I sure say the person wey get this bag they this compound”
“You sure? Omo see shoe for road sef” Nneka had just spotted Runo’s shoe in the middle of the road. “Na wao! Wetin happen for here now. Uju you sure say we no go enter house back so? Me dey fear o”
“Relax! Make we confirm first na! person fit dey trouble so”
“So na you be Voltron – defender of the universe. Abeg I dey…” The sound of a Police patrol van from a distance cut short Nneka’s response, scaring the living daylights out of the duo and just immediately some hoodlums ran out of the uncompleted building opposite their gate. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, Uju and Nneka ran back into the compound. However, when all had returned to normalcy, Uju peeped through the gate to be sure the coast was clear
“Nneka come out jare, make we dey go Quillox”
Uju we fit still go anywhere like this so?” Uju bent down towards the handbag when she noticed light from a phone come on. That was the moment she found out that the bag belonged to Runo’
“Wetin happen?” The alarm Uju suddenly raised took Nneka unawares.
“Na Runo get bag o!”
“Runo?” Nneka is shoked
“I swear to God.”
“How you take know?”
“Come see now” Uju drew her room mate close to the bag but Nneka had not yet confirmed her friend’s discovery when they heard disjointed groans from the uncompleted building and later noticed the other pair of shoe just in front of the building.
“Where is that sound coming from?” Nneka asked alarmingly
“Na there, abi you deaf ni?” Uju was getting impatient with her room mate’s agitation
“He be like say na dere that babe dey o! abi no be from that building those guys run comot just now?”
“He be like so o. Make I go check the babe o! make she no go die inside that building” Uju tarried to the uncompleted and walked into it stealthily. She darted out almost immediately. “Oh my God! Nneka abeg come o! na Runo.”
“Chineke! Them rape am?” Uju nodded her head slowly
“Holy Mary! Ah! Why now? Why the poor girl?” Uju and and Nneka carried a semi-conscious Runo back into the building, away from further danger.
Then both girls started banging on Mr. Obong’s gate when Runo slipped into unconsciousness again. Mr. Obong had come out of his flat, though with sleepy eyes to attend to the girls. The middle aged man was alarmed when he spotted Runo lying unconscious on the floor
“Abasi! What happened?”
“Please we really need to take her to the hospital then we can answer whatever questions you choose to ask her” Uju pleaded.
That was how Runo found herself in the hospital with the help of her neighbours. Now that she was out of the hospital and back home with Uju and Nneka by her side, memories of what actually happened before she was discovered by Uju came to fore. She had slept and woke up at intervals since she came back from the hospital, and was surprised that each time she opened her eyes she always found Uju and Nneka, sometimes just Uju and other times Nneka by her side. It was a shock to her because she never expected any of them to care about her since there was no love lost between herself and the duo before the incident. Now they had suddenly become her buddies, always attending to her every need since they rescued her from the uncompleted building where her innocence had been snatched from her. Runo opened her eyes for the umpteenth time that day. This time around she found both Uju and Nneka seated on the edge of her bed. They had brought lunch. But for a pack of Hollandia Yoghurt she had in the hospital, Runo had resisted all attempts by her neighbours to feed her. Nneka had just brought a meal of rice and plantain for Runo.
“Sweetheart, how are you feeling now?” Uju was the first to probe.
“Forget it Uju, it can never be the same again”
“I know dear, but you can’t continue to torture yourself”
“Honey you need to take something. We prepared rice and plantain. Try it, you will like it” Nneka said solemnly
“I’m not hungry”
“Yes you are dear. You haven’t had anything today. Please try and take something” Uju lent her voice
Nneka opened the lid on the meal in preparation to spoon feed Runo but a knock on the door distracted her.
“Who be that?” Uju immediately goes to the window to ascertain the intruder, “Na Mr. Obong. Should we let him in?” Runo nodded her head slowly in affirmation
“Don’t worry Uju, I will be fine.”
Uju goes to the door to let Mr. Obong in…
“Well done sir”
“Good evening girls. How is she faring?”
“Well, still trying to recover,” Uju responded
“We are trying to feed her,” Nneka added.
“She has refused to eat?” Mr. Obong inquired.
“Yes o!” Nneka exclaimed.
“Haba Runo, you have to take something now”
“I will sir, I just need some time”
“Don’t worry, we will get to the root of the matter. The police have promised to apprehend the culprit” Mr. Obong assured.
“How is Oga Martins? Has he been released?” Uju asked.
“What?” Uju voiced.
“Since morning? Has he not given them the information them require?” Nneka quizzed.
“Abi him never write statement?” Uju added.
“I have no idea”
It immediately dawned on Runo who had been trying hard to comprehend the ensuing conversation that the wrong person had been arrested.
“Wait a minute, Martins was arrested?”
“No dear, they took him in for questioning,” Mr. Obong tried to allay Runo’s fears
“Questioning indeed and him still they police cell” Nneka quipped.
“Martins has nothing to do with this. If there is anyone to be arrested then that person should be Jamiu,” Runo said tearfully.
“Jamiu?” Runo’s revelation shocked Nneka
“Young lady are you saying it was Jamiu that raped you?”
Slowly hot tears rolled down Runo’s cheeks, while her neighbours stared at her in wide shock mingled with pity.