An Event That Made Me Cry

With much manhandling and profanities, they led us to their van and whisked us away.
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Greetings, esteemed readers!

I hope this finds you in good health and high spirits. Today, I want to share a deeply moving experience from my past that left an indelible mark on my soul. It made me cry. Join me as I recount the events of a year that forever changed my perspective.

An Event That Made Me Cry

Year: 2010

After completing my secondary school education, life took an unexpected turn, leading me to seek employment at a Microfinance Bank along Port Harcourt road in Aba, a stone’s throw away from Crystal Park. The circumstances that pushed me into the job market were not of my choosing. My family was going through a profound financial struggle, and I felt compelled to step in and find an additional source of income.

With unwavering determination, I embraced my responsibilities at the bank, tirelessly introducing new customers, reviving dormant accounts, and earning the respect of my superiors and colleagues. Punctuality became my hallmark, as I would always arrive at the office thirty minutes before the start of the day, eagerly waiting for the gatekeeper to join me.

Only once did this gatekeeper beat me to the punch, outpacing my commitment to punctuality. Nevertheless, I remained dedicated and continued to arrive early every day.

Little did I know that my punctuality would subject me to an incident of police brutality, an event that left me emotionally shattered.

On a particular day, I embarked on a long walk from Alaoji to Crystal Park, having given my transportation fare to my siblings so they could attend school. I left home before they did, and as I made my way along the path, I heard familiar voices calling out to me. It was my siblings, excitedly waving at me from a bus. For some inexplicable reason, tears welled up in my eyes. I waved back, smiled, glanced at my wristwatch, and quickened my pace.

Moments later, I arrived at the office, only to find that the gatekeeper had beaten me to it. He was there, along with the receptionist and another female colleague, a credit officer. Just the three of us.

Needing a moment to ease my weary limbs before diving into the day’s tasks, I sat in the reception area. But I had barely found respite when a forceful knock reverberated through the main entrance, a protector leading to the staircase.

Four stern and unfriendly policemen stood outside, demanding that we open the door. Since it was not my responsibility, I gestured to the receptionist to attend to them, as it fell under her duties.

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They wanted to see our boss, armed with an arrest warrant.

The receptionist informed them that our boss was not present and tried calling him, but his phone was switched off. Impatient, the policemen concluded that our boss was on the run, and they decided to apprehend someone as a bait to lure him out.

“Open the door!” they insisted.

Reluctantly, the receptionist obliged, and they barged in. They handcuffed me, the receptionist, and the other lady, who put up a spirited resistance. It took considerable effort and beatings to subdue her.

With much manhandling and profanities, they led us to their van and whisked us away.

Our destination: CPS, Aba.

Upon arrival at the police station, I managed to send a distress message to my father before my phone was confiscated. We were then escorted to the prison section, where I found myself in a suffocating room permeated with the stench of urine, decay, rodents, and cigar smoke.

Resident inmates subjected me to their demands for money and other unspeakable things I have chosen to forget. But one among them intervened, saving me from a brutal beating that would have reduced me to a state akin to a withered, sun-scorched vegetable.

Later, this saviour of mine inquired about what had brought an innocent-looking teenager like me to their wretched abode. I shared my story, and he reciprocated by recounting his own ordeal. Falsely accused, arrested, and abandoned there four years prior, he had become trapped within the confines of despair.

He assured me that I would be granted bail the next day, convinced that an extraordinary grace hovered over me. He said, “This is not your place. When you get out of here, please remember me.”

He paused, sighed, and wiped away his tears.

That moment, dear readers, made me cry.

Before noon, my parents rushed to the police station, but their efforts to secure my release were frustrated by the unwavering determination of the Nigerian policemen.

My mother brought food, but the inmate’s tragic tale had robbed me of any appetite. Thus, I spent my first night in that dismal dungeon alongside men whose breath reeked of neglect. These were men whose spirits had been shattered beyond repair, men who had forgotten the color of the sky, men who were alive yet devoid of life. They were undeserving of mercy, while I, who had known no joy, found myself among them.

The next day, before the sun could ascend to its zenith, I was granted bail.

Through my father’s influence as an ICPC fellow and with the collaboration of his colleagues, my boss was apprehended, arrested, and ultimately incarcerated in place of my colleagues and me.

Returning home, I found my siblings in tears, yearning for their ‘big brother.’ I embraced each one of them, imagining how that kind inmate would embrace his three children and wife.

Regrettably, I know not what fate befell that compassionate soul. I was powerless to extend assistance to him, left only with the ability to remember him in my prayers.

God, I hope, will repay his goodwill with the gift of freedom he so earnestly deserves. Alas, in this unpredictable world we inhabit, certainty eludes us.

We reside in a country where evil men are celebrated as saints and oppressors are deified, while innocent masses are led to the gallows like prisoners of war.

Let us remain steadfast, dear readers, in our pursuit of justice and compassion, for it is through our collective actions that we can transform our society into one that champions the cause of the oppressed and rewards kindness with dignity.

Till I write you again, may your hearts be filled with empathy and your spirits ignited by the flames of resilience.

With ❤️,
Jaachị Anyatọnwụ

2 Comments

  1. What a beautifully scripted yet touchy account. If most people share their experiences, you will wonder how we got to this level of decay. Nevertheless, I keep hope alive. One day… Just one day, e go better. My prayers to the unknown samaritan.

    • Thank you for your kind words about my story. I’m glad that you found it to be both touching and well-written. It really is a shame that so many people have had to experience the kind of decay that is described in the stort. It’s hard to believe that we’ve come to this point, but I’m glad that you’re keeping hope alive.

      Thank you again for your comment. It means a lot to me.

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