The Day I Died



Hi, my name is Paul Ijaola. I am standing right in this huge courtroom and the light is blinding. My holding cell usually has very little light so I am blinking rapidly, trying to introduce my pupils to this new environment. I'm in the box, but not as a witness or plaintiff. I am the accused.

I look around the courtroom and I see familiar, forlorn faces. My mother and siblings are looking very drained. My father is absent and I'm glad about that. He never cared much. Politics has eaten him up. And there is my lawyer- a cunning woman who is trying her best to lie away my guilt. And I hate her for it. I must pay for my sins. I can see reporters too, with their cameras itching to flash after the proceedings. The courtroom is jampacked. Were the scenario different, I would have rejoiced at the thought of pulling such a crowd.

Everyone seated is aware of the possible outcome of today's proceedings but they are daring to hope against hope. I can see their eyes moving around, searching for God-knows-what.

And oh, there you are. You just walked in and you don't want to look my way. But I understand, dear friend. So I'll just stand here and watch you join my sympathizers and haters alike. I don't know where you belong now.

Ha! There's the judge. She has been staring daggers at me as if to deal with me with her murderous gaze. Her unflinching eyes send shivers down my spine but I must look unfazed. The clerk has gotten up and soon, my lawyer and the prosecution will join battles. I know what the judge's verdict will be. I am a man on death row; I am only waiting for the judge to slam her gavel hard on the table.

You see, while these two liars exchange verbal punches, let me tell you why I am standing here in this tiny box; a condemned man.

******
My life was pretty smooth up until I gained admission into the university about four years ago. I was lucky to have gotten my choice course- Law. Then my father, a senator, married another wife and began to misbehave. Of course, he met all of our financial needs but as far as I was concerned, my mother was husbandless and my siblings and I were fatherless. But that is not the real reason I’m in this mess. I brought myself to this point and if you must point fingers, point them at me.

You see, at a point during my stay on campus, I decided to contest for the revered position of Attorney-General of the Students’ Union Government. I had my father’s millions at my disposal, my CGPA was first class material and I had managed to endear myself to quite a number of people. The only thing I needed was the right connection. And that was how Nelson became a part of my story.

I met Nelson Okechukwu during one of my Tuesday ‘alignment’ meetings. He was later to become my godfather of sorts, my confidant and accomplice. But let’s get back to our story. My story.

So, after my meeting with the stakeholders, one thing led to another and I became a staunch member of the dreaded Lethal Enigma fraternity; and my problems began to pile up. Lethal Enigma promised to eliminate my opposition and they did just that. Donald Ajimobi, the other contestant, was found dead in his room. The coroner concluded that he had overdosed on a particular drug. But of course, we knew how he died. At the moment, however, I saw nothing wrong in it. To me, it was all school politics.

Eventually, I won the election and everything that happened prior to the election was soon forgotten. Or at least, so I thought.

I remained a loyal member of Lethal Enigma and I was also the Attorney-General of my school’s SUG. Nothing went wrong until I failed a particular course. This was a huge stain on my hitherto perfect record and so I went to see the lecturer, Dr. James Obidi. The man, a devout believer, refused to be bribed. He told me I was going to repeat the course and that would have seriously affected my ratings. So I involved Lethal Enigma and we decided to go visit him. What happened that night was unexpected.

When we entered my lecturer’s house, I looked up and saw a picture of Sandra, my former girlfriend. I got the pretty girl pregnant and because I didn’t want any issues, I forced her to abort the child. She died in the process and I had to heavily pay the doctor to keep his mouth sealed. In fact, I dated her for just six weeks before she told me about the pregnancy. And during that period, she never told me about her family. She never mentioned that Dr. James, the man we had come to kill, was her father. For the first time in my life, I felt a twinge of guilt. My hands were already soaked in blood as it were.

Still, I was a strong man and I had to prove it to my brothers. Unfortunately, we were unmasked and Dr. James knew just who we were. I saw the horror and fear in his eyes, I saw the sweat run down his face, I saw him begin to shake and I could have simply asked him to pass me. But I pulled the trigger and shot him. Again, something else happened that night that would change my life.

Somehow, two weeks after the shooting, I was arrested and charged to court for cultism and murder. I was unfazed because I expected my father to pull strings but he did not even bother. So I was on my own and with the help of my mother, secured the services of one of the best lawyers in town, Mrs. Eniola Sokunbi. And she was doing a pretty good job until one day, the prosecution lawyer presented a key witness. Can you guess who it was?

It was Dr. James Obidi.

Yes. I felt the world spin the moment the heavy black doors swung open and the man was wheeled in. He had somehow survived that night and it was his turn to haunt me. Heavily bandaged on that day, he told the court everything he knew. That was when I broke down and confessed everything. The judge, as well as the court, was stunned at what I had done. My lecturer flung his crutches at me when I mentioned his daughter.

Time flew and my case began to gain prominence. Arrests were made, confessions were heard and Nelson was killed in a fight with the police. But I was to have no respite. The judge took her time to gather and consider evidence and that was why she shifted her judgment to today.

That is why you are here with me in this court today, waiting for the woman in the robe to speak.

************************

Yeah. That's all. Let us go back to the courtroom. The judge is about to deliver her judgment. I think she's going on about how people like me should be uprooted from the society. But I know that already.

There! She has said it! I have been sentenced to death by firing squad tomorrow morning. I can hear my mother and siblings wailing. I forgot to tell you. I am the first child and only son of my mother and that explains her agony.

Tomorrow, I will die at the hands of soldiers or policemen, it doesn't matter. I am not worried. Tomorrow will not be my date of death. The day I died was the day I met Nelson. And tomorrow, when I draw my last breath, I will curse that Tuesday-the day I died, and every other Tuesday to come. The policemen have come for me now. I have one more night to spend in the comfort of my holding cell.

Tomorrow, do not cry for me. The bullets will not kill me. I killed myself long ago.



Disclaimer: All the characters in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to characters, living or dead, is pure coincidence.

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