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A WALK TO REMEMBER

A WALK TO REMEMBER

It was a Thursday like any other, since the lockdown. I was done with my task for the day and I felt it was time for my walk. This walk had become a habit since I purchased my Samsung phone. If you are not familiar with Samsung phones, they have a health tracker (Samsung Health App) that counts your daily steps. Each month has a target (usually 200,000 steps then got cut down to 100,000 –all thanks to the current pandemic). I had gotten used to getting my monthly badge upon completion. The plan was simple, add an additional 10,000 steps by taking my usual trek route.

The path I took meant walking from my Estate to Onike. While taking a walk through this path, I’d usually see Police pickup vans pass by, fellow fitness enthusiasts and a few bike-men driving by. The 7th of May had a rather extra surprise for me.

The president had just announced the eased lockdown, we could once again move freely, before 8 pm.  I started my walk at 9 pm and everything was the same. Cars drove past while I monitored my steps from my phone, pleased with myself as my step count went up. As I was getting to the end of Barikisu Iyede street, I saw a Police squad car ahead. They always drove past in my previous walks so I saw no reason to be alarmed. I kept moving, with my headset, listening to Roxette’s hit track “it could have been love.” Suddenly, the beam from a flashlight brought me to a halt.

“Where are you coming from?!” was yelled generously at my face. Before I could respond— “Where is your facemask?!” Again, with no pause for a response, “That is your first offence,” the pot-bellied Officer continued.

Startled, I looked right and saw another guy beside me, in the same confused ship as I was. In seconds, thud!!!, went the sound of the door shutting us inside the van. In the van, we saw a chubby guy trying to negotiate with the officer in the driver’s seat. Negotiations did not go well. As we sat in the van awaiting our fates, we saw other “smarter” individuals running, possibly because they were more familiar with the situation. We considered that option, sadly our legs did not move until we were taken to the Sabo Police station.

At the Police station, the chubby guy was slapped several times for trying to take pictures of proceedings. This escalated to another lady being slapped for “sluggishly” refusing to drop her phone. Her brother did not take this well and he was thrown inside a cell to calm his nerves. All I could ask myself was, “Who send you message?” We were informed we would be released by 6 am, during a briefing by the Presiding officer. The announcement doused the phone incident and we were told to keep our phones. The situation now looked simple to me; I was stuck with 26 other individuals (excluding the officers) till dawn. My war would be with time, ably assisted with a swarm of mosquitoes and the awful smells within the precinct. A smell whose justification could only be an additional torment to inmates. I mean, why else would rational people work with that smell? Why else????

I had made it to 1 am. I sent a text to my brother who stays with me to inform him I wouldn’t be home till morning. Obviously, not mentioning my situation, after all, it would be over soon or so I thought. Providence it seems had a different idea and she came as a lady dressed in a neat uniform. She counted us, took our names and said we would be arraigned in court by 4 am. This obviously did not sit well with us, folks started crying. A guy asked to use my phone to make calls which prompted me to make mine.

I called my boss at work, who explained that as a Banking-allied developer, I could have used my pass, which I knew nothing of. I have decided to pay more attention to company emails… (a pass I am yet to collect. Shey they are not chasing me like this). He said he’d make some calls and get back to me. He called later stating all his contacts were asleep and I’d have to wait till morning. At this point, I started to imagine life as an ex-convict. Sure, it might score me points with the ladies, but it was primarily to distract myself from the terrible smell and straddle myself for court.

The time went by slowly and by 4 am we all awaited shipment. IT NEVER CAME! We were thankful— I was particularly glad they went with the presiding officer’s verdict. We were released by 5 am. I dreaded having to explain all this to my parents or sister. I’d hear words like, “you see your life? you act like nothing can happen to you,” all of which I’d rather not hear. I have concluded I’d wait till my niece’s wedding to tell the story, so 25-30 years from now. That is definitely safe distancing.

I did walk home from the station—might as well put in those steps. All I wanted when I got home was a bath! I sprayed my lavender air freshener over and over again. I have not taken a walk since then.

That smell definitely did the trick.

IYADI CYRIL

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