“Objection My Lord! The Evidence Act 2011 in sections 78-85 expressly forbids counsel from asking my witnesses scandalous, vexatious and needlessly indecent questions. Asking a catholic priest what he would do if his girlfriend stopped picking his calls amounts to impugning his character!”
That was when I snapped back to reality. I was cross-examining Father Melvin who was in court to testify in the assault charges brought against a certain Father Francis. I argued half-heartedly that I was taking this somewhere, that I could draw a nexus between the question and the real reason why a reverend Father would beat up nuns in the convent.
Sesi Hundeyin, Defence counsel looked at me with the uttermost confusion- what on earth had gotten into me? I didn’t even notice that the entire court had their attention on me. Surely I was not mad to deny my catholic faith in such a flagrant manner!
Just then, Justice F.J. Oniekoro declared he was going on a recess and ordered both counsel to meet him in chambers. Of course he gave me a dressing down before asking “this your sudden loss of concentration- what’s this about? Are you ill”?
/> “Your Lordship, that was just a slip. I am feeling very okay”
“that was NOT one slip. You have been asking objectionable questions. You didn’t even challenge Defence counsel on quoting the wrong sections of the evidence Act. You owe a serious duty to the State, The Court, and your client to prosecute this case with all diligence. Am I clear?” Justice Oniekoro said, and he dismissed us both. I wondered if he could not have done that more privately- but Rules are rules. A judge handling a matter cannot have any conference with a counsel in the absence of the opposing counsel.
As I packed my things off for the day- my wig and gown into the side pocket of my court bag. Always the side pockets- it keeps them straight even after you fold. Sesi tapped me from behind and said “bro you sure say everything dey fine?dis one wey you carry face like fit-and-proper for Enugu campus”
“omo you know as woman wahala dey be naa. Four days now madam never answer her phone” I replied, laughing silently at the complainants. You see, they cannot understand why the prosecutor and the Defence lawyer can be talking after bitterly attacking each other in court a few minutes ago. They must think I’m corruptly selling the case to the highest bidder. Sesi excused himself for a few minutes to answer a call from his partner Deyon- obviously some matter had come up and the client was insisting on Sesi.
/>“guy, just give it a break. You’re probably worrying too much about this.”
It seemed like a joke- but sesi’s phone started ringing again. It rang and in a few seconds he pulled it out of his jacket pocket- then he held up the phone for me to see who was calling.
We were both surprised because up till this morning I had been dialing nonstop. He kept nodding as he listened and said “yes…? Really? Are you serious? Well, yes…okay…I know…okay”
What the heck are they talking about?
“Sesi what were you talking about?”
“sorry bro, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I really can’t tell you what she said. As it stands I have just been retained as her lawyer. Rule 17 RPC”
Damn that useless Rule 17. He really couldn’t divulge whatever his client told him, even in court. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but nowhere does it say “when your friend’s girlfriend isn’t picking his calls”. Sure, I understood, but not even the silent plea in my face could sway his decision. Sometimes I complain he has too much integrity.
Back at the office, I replaced the law reports I’d taken with me and made endorsements on the file jacket. Then I got myself some hot water from the dispenser, sipping slowly and deliberately looking straight ahead as I walked by Faith Adebo’s Office. Faith, our madam-at-the-top picked the first office and made sure she was glassed in- she could see everyone come and go. If she even saw that I noticed her, she would SURELY summon me into her office for a blow-by-blow account of everything that happened in court. Not today.
I sat tired at my desk, swiveling from side-to-side, feet on my desk just the way I hope to do it when I become the boss of this place. Practice makes perfect doesn’t it? At this rate I should be competing for world champion, swiveling division. And I turned it over. What on earth could I have done now? It’s only March, her birthday isn’t till September (so I’m sure I didn’t miss it). I’m sure it’s nothing to do with the monthly visitor she always mumbles about. I know I’m not due to see her till tomorrow, but what if she’s not home tomorrow? What if she doesn’t want to see me?
So I decide I’ll just dash over. I sped through the rotary at Area 1, past games village, past Sun City. It wasn’t until I got to Sunnyvale that I used my brakes, narrowly missing one of those tricycles that the city council felt are safer than Okada. Down the dusty off-road track that used to be tarred. Through the gates…the security guards don’t bother to check me today- they know me well enough (plus I give them 500 naira to buy a malt or two). Right to Northwall drive, past the Vale Mall, and then I parked at 49.
I knocked on the gate. Suddenly the window blinds in her living room slid open, and I saw her, face unmade in the early noon sun, green spaghetti top and white shorts. I wonder for a moment if she’d let me stand in the sun, suit and all. I didn’t wait long though- she opened the gate wordlessly and locked it behind me. She sent the dog off to his “room” and walked me through the back door into the kitchen and back into the dining area. The TV was stuck on CCTV.
We sat in silence, she not saying a word, and I too befuddled to start. Then the annoyance started building. That was it? You don’t pick my calls for four days and you see me for the first time after that stupid conference in Natick, Boston…and no hug
? no kiss? Not even a handshake? Real classy, babe. I feel so loved right now.
I pick up the guitar in the corner and start strumming softly, singing Asa’s “jailer”…Aminor, Cmajor, Dminor, Gmajor. I flashed back to how that song used to make her nice Amara smile no matter how sad she was (or angry). And then Nkechi Stopped me.
“can you just stop that?”
“Really? That’s the first thing you say to me?”
“P…I don’t know. Things are just…”
“hey, what do we do when the world turns crazy?”
She looked at me, a tiny smile tugging at the corner of her lips.
“we smile, and say ‘I’m superman, biatch!!!!”
“That’s my girl!”
Obviously she had something serious on her mind. Even the diamonds I gave her didn’t cheer her up like I’d expect. She just said “thanks P” and left them on the table. I tried to make small talk while she worked up whatever was in her mind. At some point she said
“P I’m gonna have to leave you soon. I have a friend coming over and we haven’t seen in 5 years”.
I was more pissed than ever, but trust my acting skills. Obviously the woman had something on her mind, and wouldn’t share until she was sure I couldn’t help out with anything. I definitely would not worsen that by displaying any annoyance. As I said my goodbyes and walked out the gates, I couldn’t help wondering whether I’d made a mistake. Everything my dad said about never going back to the same girl twice. So I left work early, went to her house and I got a very nasty package- no warm greetings, no explanations, no “hey, what can I offer you?” She didn’t even beg me to stay a few more minutes!
No wahala. There’s work tomorrow. I didn’t bother to microwave my dinner- I just ate the cold, peppery spaghetti. Dragged myself into the shower and washed the day’s sweat off my body. Just as I turned out the lights to sleep, my phone buzzed. Text message from Nkechi.
“P…I think I have a stalker. Been calling me 49 times since everyday. Always 49 missed calls. I’m scared, I don’t know what to do…”
No shit…You don’t know what to do? Why am I the lawyer boyfriend with a black belt in Kung Fu and 6-pack?
I angrily turned off my phone for the night.